When Bob dylan was a kid who grew up in the 1940s and 1950s in Duluth, Minnesota, he was a huge fan of radio. “I was the last generation who grew up without a television,” he once said. Much of the music he heard over those decades was country and western. In interviews, he has talked a lot about Bill Monroe, The Stanley Brothers, Hank Williams and other stars on live broadcasts from the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. Throughout Dylan’s career, country music has remained a passion and a source of inspiration. Here are nine of his country music heroes.
Bill Monroe and his older brother Charlie helped create what is known as bluegrass music. Bob Dylan once said, “The stuff I grew up on never gets old. I just got lucky to get it and understand it at this young age, and it still rings true to me. I still prefer to listen to Bill and Charlie Monroe rather than any current record. This is what America represents to me. One of his favorites? “Drifting too far from shore.”
In September 1960, a classmate loaned Robert Allen Zimmerman, 18, a copy of Woody guthriethe autobiography of On the road to glory. The man who would become Bob Dylan was obsessed. About a year later, he researched the folk legend at Greystone Park State Hospital, where he was being treated for Huntington’s disease which would eventually kill him. Dylan performed a tribute he wrote to his idol titled “Song to Woody,” which met with Guthrie’s approval. Dylan later said, “His repertoire was out of class. His songs made my head spin, made me want to gasp, for me it was a revelation. It was as if I had been in the dark and someone had turned on the main switch of a lightning rod.
Bob Dylan once said he vividly remembers hearing a country music superstar Hank williams “very early on, when he was still alive” on the Grand Ole Opry radio shows. Dylan said: “Even at a young age I identified with Hank Williams. I had never seen a robin cry but I could imagine it and it made me sad. When he sang: ‘The news is out / All over town.’ I knew what it was, even though I didn’t. When he died, it was as if a big tree had fallen. Hearing about Hank’s death caught me squarely on the shoulder. The silence of space has never seemed so strong.
Bob Dylan once said that one of his favorite female artists was a country singer. Patsy cline, placing her in a parenthesis of impressive individualists. He included Patsy Cline when he said, “I’m talking about artists who have the will to conform to no one’s reality but their own. ”
There was a revealing moment at the 1964 Newport Folk Festival when Johnny cash, who had just completed his own series of fascinating songs, gave his guitar to young Bob Dylan. The couple enjoyed mutual admiration. Dylan said, “I keep a close eye on my heart… I must have recited these lines to myself a million times. Johnny’s voice was so loud it made the world small… In plain words, Johnny was and is the Pole Star; you could guide your ship by it – the greatest of the greatest, then and now. “In the early 1960s, Cash said that country music was sometimes slow to spot a good new trend, but it was exemplified by Dylan. He then recorded a number of Dylan songs, such as’ It Ain ‘t Me Babe “and” Understand Your Man. “The couple finally worked together in February 1969, when Bob Johnson – who had been a producer for both men before – recorded 15 songs with them over two days, including versions from “I Walk the Line,” “Ring of Fire” and “One Morning Too Much. Their version of Dylan’s 1963 song” Girl from the North Country “was released on Dylan’s 1969 album. Nashville skyline.
When asked in 1965 which poets he “unearthed” Bob Dylan named Rimbaud, Ginsberg and comedian WC Fields. He also named country singer Charlie Rich, whom he called a “good poet”.
In 2017, Bob Dylan appeared as part of Willie nelsonThe Outlaw Music Festival Tour. It was no coincidence: Dylan has appeared on the same festival as Nelson on several occasions and has been a fan of his music for decades. Some of the works he has publicly praised include Nelson’s version of the classic songbook “Stardust” and the country singer’s album starring Norah Jones and trumpeter Wynton Marsalis.
As well as being a fan of traditional country music stars, Bob Dylan also extolled the virtues of Guy Clark and is said to have owned all of Townes Van Zandt’s albums. But one of his most poetic tributes was to the late John Prine. Dylan told Bill Flanagan, “Prine stuff is pure Proustian existentialism. Midwestern Spirit Travel to the Nth Degree. And he writes great songs. I remember when Kris Kristofferson first brought it on the scene. All that stuff about junky soldier daddy Sam Stone and Donald and Lydia, where people have sex ten miles away. No one other than Prine could write like that.
The Flying Burrito Brothers
The Flying Burrito Brothers, co-founded by Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman, were one of America’s most important early country rock bands and Bob Dylan loved their 1969 debut album. The Golden Palace of Sin. Dylan said Rolling stone in 1969: “Boy, I love them… I’ve always known Chris Hillman, you know, since he was in the Byrds, who had a particular sound. And he’s always been a great musician. The Brothers records knocked me out. The Brothers were, in turn, fans of Dylan and recorded three of his songs: “If You Gotta Go, Go Now”, “I Shall Be Released” and “To Ramona”.