Bob Dylan rarely gives interviews or speeches. So to hear him speak for thirty minutes at the MusiCares event is a rare chance to listen to one of the genuine fathers of modern culture.
He talks about music in general, how he learned to write songs, his definition of rock and roll, some of the fine singers, producers, and writers he knew and knows. He wonders why the critics were so hard on him:
Critics have been giving me a hard time since Day One. Critics say I can’t sing. I croak. Sound like a frog. Why don’t critics say that same thing about Tom Waits? Critics say my voice is shot. That I have no voice. What don’t they say those things about Leonard Cohen? Why do I get special treatment? Critics say I can’t carry a tune and I talk my way through a song. Really? I’ve never heard that said about Lou Reed. Why does he get to go scot-free? What have I done to deserve this special attention? No vocal range? When’s the last time you heard Dr. John? Why don’t you say that about him? Slur my words, got no diction. Have you people ever listened to Charley Patton or Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters. Talk about slurred words and no diction.
It is a marvelous piece and well worth the read for anyone interested in the history of North American music.