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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bob Dylan's 70th Birthday: The Bob and Neil Saga

Neil Young and Bob Dylan
Entertainment Tonight on 4-1-86

Today is Bob Dylan's 70th birthday so Happy Birthday Bob!

Earlier this year we chronicled The Bob Dylan and Neil Young Saga as part of the "Bob Dylan 70th Birthday Countdown" on the National Bob Dylan Examiner by Harold Lepidus.

Bob Dylan and Neil Young are friends and mutual admirers. They have appeared on stage together numerous times, and have even referred to each other in their songs.

But we were asked by National Bob Dylan Examiner "So what about those Bob & Neil fans? What's up with that?"

So here was our reply to that age old question...

Bob Dylan and Neil Young: A Fascinating Saga

Bob Dylan and Neil Young are friends and mutual admirers.  They have appeared on stage together numerous times, and have even referred to each other in their songs.

So the relationship between Bob Dylan and Neil Young is a fascinating saga indeed.

While Dylan is universally acknowledged as the most influential and important 20th century singer-songwriter performing today, Young is among a very small contingent of contenders for second place. Young's integrity and credibility place him among a distinguished group of artists to be compared to Dylan.

As a long time Neil Young fan, we've never really perceived any rivalry whatsoever between the Bob and Neil fan bases, and find the whole Bob vs Neil discussions to be a bit tiresome. It seems no matter your preference, both men are living legends and musical geniuses.

Nevertheless, the whole Bob and Neil business can be quite humorous.


Back in 2006, we linked over to a blog post on Top 10 Reasons Why Neil Young is Better Than Bob Dylan. The tongue-in-cheek posting created quite a bit of an uproar generating nearly 100 comments from outraged Dylan fans. So what exactly would any Dylan fan find objectionable??

Top 10 Reasons Why Neil Young is Better Than Bob Dylan:

1. Neil has a better voice than Bob

2. Neil is a better guitar player than Bob

3. Neil has a better Good-to-Bad Song Ratio than Bob

4. Neil Never Sold His Music To a Commercial

5. Neil Embraces the Younger Generation of Musicians

6. No One Plays Neil Songs Better Than Neil

7. Neil's Farm Aid & The Bridge School Benefit Concerts

8. Neil Is More Diverse

9. Neil Never Played With The Dead

10. Because I Like to Piss People Off

The Eight Track Mind blog goes on to deconstruct each argument point by point. To say some of the reasoning is provocative would be an understatement.

In "retaliation", the Dylan community returned fire with both humor and wit to which we waved the flag on Top 10 Reasons Not to Goof Around With Bob Dylan Fans. For example, Dylan fan Mikey spoofs:

More Top Ten Reasons Dylan is Better:

1. Neil's tendency to make one-off right wing political statements (e.g. "Let's Roll").

2. Neil's Everybody's Rockin'.

3. Neil does not regularly tour with Crazy Horse, his best band and he obviously knows this fact.

4. Neil stopped selling "Greendale High" t-shirts on-line.

5. Bob's influence allowed the Beatles to write and record Rubber Soul.

6. Bob is an American and Neil is Canadian.

7. If there is another CSNY reunion and I have to see Graham Nash on stage, I may off myself.

8. More Star Wars Jawas on stage would have made Live Rust a better video.

9. Neil has never been called Judas.

10. Neil hasn't invited me to the Broken Arrow ranch yet.


Bob Dylan and Tom Petty & Neil Young
"My Back Pages" at BobFest - 1992

In the end, this comment from Karen sums up where many serious music lovers stand on the Bob vs. Neil debate:

I love Neil Young. I am a fanatic. First and foremost, a Rustie (Neil Young fan). But I also love Bob Dylan.

Neil has been very clear over the years on his own admiration and appreciation for Bob Dylan, he (Neil) has called Dylan the master on several occasions. Neil has said many times over that Dylan was an inspiration to him. One of the funniest, more recent comments was during a recent radio interview about 'Prairie Wind', Neil's latest album, the interviewer had apparently heard that Neil does a great impression of Bob Dylan (presumably Dylan's speaking voice, given the context of the interview.) Neil pauses, and as his manager literally breaks into the studio to make sure Neil is NOT going to impersonate Bob Dylan on air, Neil says, Impersonate Bob Dylan, huh? Hey, I've been doing that for forty years. Haven't you been listening?

So. Whether you like Bob, Neil, both or neither, it's all one song...

"I'm listening to Neil Young, I gotta turn up the sound
Someone's always yellin', 'Turn him down'
Feel like I'm driftin', driftin' from scene to scene
I'm wondering what in the devil could it all possibly mean."

~~Bob Dylan's "Highlands"

"No one can touch you now,
But i can touch you now.
You're invisible.
You got too many secrets.
Bob Dylan said that.
Somethin' like that.

~~Neil Young's "Bandit"

Also, see the new issue of Broken Arrow: "Great article on 'Young Plays Dylan Plays Young' that chronicles the songs that Dylan has covered of Young's and vice-versa".

Happy birthday Bob! Thanks Bob for having Bobfest!
(And Thanks Harold!)

Entertainment Tonight on 4-1-86


At 5/24/2011 12:55:00 PM, Blogger BecauseSoundMatters said...

Happy BIrthday Bob!

At 5/24/2011 01:06:00 PM, Blogger BecauseSoundMatters said...

But I do wonder why i have to read this sentence every time I go to the very best Neil Young website in the whole wide world: Neil Young... also known as the Godfather of Grunge and the second most influential singer-songwriter of the 20th century still performing today....

Everyday I have to read that my beloved Neil is the second most influential singer-songwriter of the 20th century...

Why? Because Le Noise is the best album of the 21st century? A Treasure will be the very best live album of the 21st century that was originally recorded in the 20th century with players visible in the video that you are actually not hearing. Yes. That's cool. No one will get over it.
; )
Love your site and thanks for all the god work!

At 5/24/2011 01:39:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...


Thanks for kind words. It's appreciated.

And good point.

Funny, we wrote that back in the 90's and never really updated it after Y2K.

I guess the thinking was that NY was most influential in the 20th. Although, one can argue even more so in the 21st.

So you think saying "second most influential singer-songwriter of the 21st century still performing today".... makes more sense?

Any other suggestions that make sense relative to the Dylan allusion?

Funny that no one has really ever argued the point. We thought for sure some McCartney fans might take issue...

ps - the last line of your comment has a typo ... we hope?!

At 5/24/2011 02:04:00 PM, Blogger BecauseSoundMatters said...

Ha, ha, that's not a typo! You're doing a pretty good job. Remember when Lennon said that The Beatles at a certain point were more popular than Jesus. That was transfered into "bigger than God" pretty soon afterwards...

"second most influential singer-songwriter of the 21st century still performing today"... I wouldn't mind if you just skip that sentence instead of updating it... or replace it by: Neil Young once was a member of Crazy Horse... or ... Neil's old home in Winnipeg was visited by Bob Dylan in 2008... Okay, I will come up with a better one soon.

At 5/24/2011 03:02:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One obvious problem with the above (tongue in cheek) list - Neil DID play with the Dead (and it was a Bob song - Forever Young)

At 5/24/2011 03:24:00 PM, Blogger SONY said...

Bob Dylan 70 years old. I'm younger than that now.

I'm not sure I agree that Neil is the better guitar player, cuz I love when Bob is rolling it out. No two flavors are the same, no two women, no two men, no two drugs, no twin kids.

These two embrace the inhale/exhale phenominon of breathing. Each a separate and necessary embodiment of the rock and roll experience.

Judas and Peter? The betrayer and the the denyer? I don't know about that. All I know is I can barely make it without either.

And mom always had a favorite kid. Just different days for each of us.

We can only wonder what the third one (Lennon) of the triplets would be like in these days.

At 5/24/2011 04:29:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sir Bob Dylan & Neil Young, 1975

At 5/24/2011 05:13:00 PM, Blogger SONY said...

IF there's any interest, I today posted a live cover of Knockin on Heavens Door on the Facebook Page for 'The Neighbor Hoods'. That's us. A bit of electric autoharp and such.

At 5/24/2011 07:28:00 PM, Anonymous Mother Nature Rock'n' like a Wagon Wheel... said...

"I’m a sweet bourbon daddy
An’ tonight I am blue
I’m a thousand years old
And I’m a generous bomb
I’m T-boned and punctured
But I’m known to be calm..."

At 5/25/2011 01:00:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The logic for argument #6 doesn't make any sense!

At 5/25/2011 01:12:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@5/25/2011 01:00:00 PM - which #6? there are 2 lists.

fyi - this is satire and really none of them should make any sense whatsoever....

At 5/25/2011 01:43:00 PM, Blogger SONY said...

it's the #6th sense only that matters anyway!

In these matters anyway.

At 5/25/2011 04:30:00 PM, Blogger BecauseSoundMatters said...

Excuse me Sony,

what does matter?

At 5/25/2011 04:35:00 PM, Blogger BecauseSoundMatters said...

6. No One Plays Neil Songs Better Than Neil

Well, I just was listening to On The Beach as performed by The Walkabouts....

At 5/25/2011 04:52:00 PM, Blogger JimDC821 said...

Hey, how about "Neil Young, the single most influential singer/songwriter on Thrasher's Wheat?" Just kidding...

How about:

"Neil Young - the most influential Canadian musician of all time - and among the top five most influential singer/songwriters in rock history" (in the that 5: Dylan, Neil, Lennon/McCartney, Townsend, Jagger/Richards)....


At 5/25/2011 05:04:00 PM, Blogger BecauseSoundMatters said...

Hi Thrasher, I kind of like the idea that you wrote that introduction back in the nineties. Keep it like that. And the godfather of grunge sounds cool too! Grunge? Well, you you know I do love this place and old Neil as well... have you checked N.Y. dot com recently? Store is updated and we can buy some nice tees now.... some new ones... and old ones... but the vinyl section still sucks... wish they paid some more attention to good sounding tunes.... anyway, personally I am really looking forward to "A Treasure".! First of all because Ben said it was a Treasure and second because I've always liked Neil as a country artist. You know he just released "Old Ways" before "House" and "Techno" music were getting the hip thing back in the eighties. You know what, the country music Old Neil played did fit perfectly in that electronic period of dancing. "I Movin On" by Hank Snow. This is Theme Time Radio over here. Well, I've been listening to Amber Jean a lot... and Grey Riders and Southern Pacific... what is it anyway???? Is it Country? No. Is it Country-Rock? Is it Country-Punk? Is it Country-Acid? County Neil I guess... Peace, Love and Le Noise! Oh... Buffalo Springfield Again! Yes!

At 5/25/2011 05:10:00 PM, Blogger BecauseSoundMatters said...


1. Lennon
2. Neil
3. Dylan
4. Richards
5. McCartney

At 5/25/2011 05:59:00 PM, Blogger Stephen said...

Neil Young is a great musician but he's not in the same class as Dylan. Period. The output and quality just aren't there. Most of the 10 reasons are silly and provocative.

At 5/25/2011 08:14:00 PM, Blogger SONY said...

BSM - 6th sense bra = ESP, intuition, cosmic interpretation.

It's the stories in between the lines. It's the single groove all the way into the label.

At 5/26/2011 09:50:00 AM, Anonymous Mother Nature on the Roll said...

People have always tried to split, lump, or classify to compare music genres (and the people who create it) since the beginning of rock'n'roll. It's what they do when they try to pretend they understand it.

If you think you understand rock'n'roll then you probably don't understand it at all because rock'n'roll is all consuming.

The only people who understand rock'n'roll are the people who create it and the people who appreciate it. It's a symbiotic relationship that goes beyond basic human intelligence.

Bobby Z.'s melodies and lyrics emerge out of chaos and rebellion as much as it emerges out of strip joint fantasies.

Who really benefits when we classify Neil's stuff separate from Bobby's stuff? What is the point?

At 5/26/2011 11:08:00 AM, Blogger JimDC821 said...

We all want our idols to be recognized for the creative geniuses that we know them to be. We want them held in high esteem by the public at large since we feel they tap into certain universal truths that we KNOW everyone should recognize as profound and prescient.

In Neil's case, I want people to recognize that I am not some kind of nut for thinking he's one of the greatest of all time - but at the same time, one of the reasons I like him so much is because not everybody "gets" him.

And, I guess that's all right with me (I'm only bleeding...)

Jim in DC

At 5/27/2011 05:35:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@JimDC821 - that sums up a lot of our feelings as well. thanx.


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