In a recent interview with Bill Flanagan, Bob Dylan revealed who his favorite songwriters are. The list is surprising in that it doesn't include hardly any of the top names that immediately spring to mind as Dylan's peer group (with the exception of Randy Newman.) Here's the list and my comments. I'm interested in what you think.
#1 on Dylan's list is Mr. Margaritaville himself Jimmy Buffet. Now, I like Buffet fine and he's had a nice career, easy going, laid back, looking for a lost shaker of salt. But puh-leeeze! For Buffet's name to pop up ahead of Joni Mitchell, Niel Young, Paul Simon, James Taylor...I could go on and on...
Next on the hit parade is Gordon Lightfoot. I've always admired this guy, even intend to do a piece on him here in the SongMine. He had an amazing career coming up with real winners every few years like Sundown and The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. And I hear he's been going through some real tough times lately. So I hope Dylan's endorsement will help give him a lift.
After Lightfoot Dylan names Warren Zevon! Again, a likable bloke, talented. And you have to admire his courageous exit, making a final album as he was losing his battle with cancer. But how many really great Warren Zevon songs are there? Somebody clue me in to what the killer Zevon songs are--I mean the ones that really dig in, like the other songs we've discussed here at the Mine.
After Warren comes Randy Newman, who is totally worthy and has produced some of the deepest, widest, strongest, bravest (and funniest) songs in the whole SongMine canon. So no arguments there.
John Prine is the next name to float over Bob's transom. Again, I have to say, I've always liked the guy, he's come up with some real nice stuff. But John Prine and not Leonard Cohen??? I will say I have lost touch with Prine's work for quite a while so maybe he's got material I don't know about. Please, enlighten me if you're a Prine fan.
And then there's somebody I don't even know: Guy Clark. A number of wise men have told me he's great so I guess I'll have to check him out. Meanwhile, you tell me, does he deserve to be on Bob Dylan's all time top list?
I remember years ago Dylan gave an interview and revealed then that his number one musical influence was the Sir Douglas Quintet, led by Doug Sahm. Now I know Sahm was a child prodigy and is considered an important Tex-Mex country guy, but "She's About A Mover"?? I dutifully went out and got Sir Douglas Quintet records and listened, and I didn't hear what Bob heard. I think he was either just being nice to Doug Sahm, or was goofing on the interviewer.
What do YOU think?
(Cate Blanchett as Bob Dylan in "I'm Not There" "Everybody knows I'm not a folksinger...")