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 Everett True

why Bob Dylan is wrong

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Bob Dylan

This isn’t supposed to be a pop at Dylan himself. Mostly, I’m indifferent. He was a different generation, and remains a different generation.

The following was thrown my way in the comments section to 8 Things You Should Avoid Saying in Response to a Music Review You Dislike, and I’m aware that it’s been lifted out of context, with no time frame attached. The reason I’m drawing attention to it is because it’s indicative of sloppy reasoning on the part of a certain type of musician, and it crops up again and again, not because I necessarily think Bob Dylan is talking like a fucktard here. (Although, obviously, we can’t all be brilliant in every facet of our lives.)

Drew says:
I guess Bob Dylan broke one of your rules then. Because he talked about how little value he places on music critics because he said most of them don’t understand music, chord structure, and what it takes to write a song because they’ve never written one, never played an instrument and never would. Dylan said he valued book reviews more because at least the people writing them had actually done the activity (writing) they were evaluating.

Not sure I agree but that’s what he said.

I had a similar conversation with Eddi Reader on Twitter. Both Dylan and Reader are confusing music criticism with musicology, a common enough mistake but one on a par with that fucking idiotic quote that gets trotted out every fucking five minutes by some clueless fucktard thinking they’re making a revelatory statement about music criticism, “writing about music is like dancing about architecture”.

I guess, then, that the difference between good music critics and musicians then is that the critics often understand the nature of good music, but musicians (and fucktards) rarely understand the nature of good music criticism.

(Perhaps I’m being unfair on Dylan here. Perhaps he fully understands the nature of good music criticism. Perhaps he’s merely referring to those idiots who rule the roost – yes dullard sheep-like Pitchfork imitators, I’m looking at you – who think it’s good criticism to attempt to describe the music and do nothing else.)

Also: define ‘song’. I’ve written hundreds – thousands – in my life, most with chords, structures, melodies. I can play several instruments. I can sing. I’ve performed on stage hundreds of times. I am ONLY a failed musician if you judge ‘failure’ in the commercial sense of the word. Yeah, why not? Fuck art and the anti-establishment and anything that isn’t J.Lo. What we want to know is … can your ‘music’ shift units and make some middle-management consultant rich?

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