# Analyze this equation: Taylor Swift=Bob Dylan

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Analyze this equation: Taylor Swift=Bob Dylan

They both write and perform their own songs. They both are loved by a loyal fan base. They both aren't, technically speaking, the best singers. Therefore, they are equal. The only differences we can find between the two are merely superficial. One is female, one is male. One performs country, the other folk/rock. So, other than whether or not you like them, there is no way to distinguish between them.

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Re: Analyze this equation: Taylor Swift=Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan is an icon....a pioneer in building Rock Music into what it became by the early 70's. An immense figure in music history.

Taylor Swift, I doubt can hold Bob Dylan's harmonica, come back in a decade and see if anyone remembers her.

Let me try a similar one:

Pee Wee Herman = Bill Cosby

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Re: Analyze this equation: Taylor Swift=Bob Dylan

Really?!

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Re: Analyze this equation: Taylor Swift=Bob Dylan

In response to ZILLAGOD's comment:

Bob Dylan is an icon....a pioneer in building Rock Music into what it became by the early 70's. An immense figure in music history.

Taylor Swift, I doubt can hold Bob Dylan's harmonica, come back in a decade and see if anyone remembers her.

Let me try a similar one:

Pee Wee Herman = Bill Cosby

How is Taylor Swift less of an icon than Bob Dylan? What is an icon, after all? Taylor Swift can't be faulted for an accident of birth. She is helping to create the music of today moreso than Mr. Dylan is. She can't help it that she wasn't around in the early 70's. Also, what does it matter if you are remembered or not? Lots of people remember Herman's Hermits, too. Some greats like Charley Patton are barely remembered at all. You'll need to do a much better analysis than this.

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Re: Analyze this equation: Taylor Swift=Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan is a vastly superior songwriter, one of the greatest and most prolific songwriters in history.  That's how I distinguish between them.

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Re: Analyze this equation: Taylor Swift=Bob Dylan

In response to Hfxsoxnut's comment:

Bob Dylan is a vastly superior songwriter, one of the greatest and most prolific songwriters in history.  That's how I distinguish between them.

What makes his songwriting vastly superior? Being prolific is about volume. Does number of songs make him better than Swift, seeing the huge head start he's had on her?

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Re: Analyze this equation: Taylor Swift=Bob Dylan

Well, I'm not doing an in depth analysis.

Because I don't see a point to doing that.

I gave my opinion. And I believe it is valid.

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Re: Analyze this equation: Taylor Swift=Bob Dylan

In response to devildavid's comment:

They both write and perform their own songs. They both are loved by a loyal fan base. They both aren't, technically speaking, the best singers. Therefore, they are equal. The only differences we can find between the two are merely superficial. One is female, one is male. One performs country, the other folk/rock. So, other than whether or not you like them, there is no way to distinguish between them.

Well there is one big difference in my opinion. Other groups (Byrds, Peter Paul and Mary, for example) would perform Dylan's songs. I always felt he was a songwriter first, singer/performer second. And Dylan's songs seemed to be talking for his generation about society.

I see Taylor Swift's songwriting equal to her being a singer/performer. And her songs are more personal, speaking for her, rather than about society. They're not songs that other groups are lining up to cover.

Dylan's songs have have had a social impact that Swift's songs haven't had. Swift, however, has a better stage presence and is a better performer. That doesn't make Dylan better or Swift better in my opinion, just different.

I have a tremendous amount of respect for Swift because she seems to respect performers who came before her and is willing to step out of her comfort zone (performing with Def Leppard for example). And she does write her songs and play guitar, and music, rather than image, seems to be her priority. She lets her music define her, rather than how risque or outrageious she can be.

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Re: Analyze this equation: Taylor Swift=Bob Dylan

OK, I'll play.

If anything, Miss Swift has accomplished more in her short career than Dylan had done at the same point in his. (the only fair way to compare them)

The main difference being that, as a child prodigy, she didn't need to struggle initially to learn her craft the way that Dylan did by following the Guthrie folk-based route.

For what it's worth, several legendary singer-songwriters (no doubt influenced by dylan) have sang her praises and spoken of her in glowing terms.

That said, Swift has succeeded in an already well-established genre: country pop; whereas Dylan effectively bridged the folk and rock worlds in a way his contemporaries didn't.

Time will tell whether her songs have the staying power or will develop the literary heft of Zimmerman's finest....

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Re: Analyze this equation: Taylor Swift=Bob Dylan

They're not contemporaries.

Dylan has a legacy already in place; unless we judge Dylan for his accomplishments of the early part of his career, we're comparing apples to pork chops, IMO.

You say above, DD, that Swift can't help that she wasn't born in the seventies.  No, but that's far from the point.   Again, if you want to compare them at this stage of their careers, it's only fair to go into the way back machine and look at Dylan at the same age as  Swift is now, or with the number of years in the music industry.

They were not "groomed" in the same way, manner, to have the same expectations, same goals.

Songwriting is like any other form of writing, there are critical factors that can make writing average, very good, excellent, or exceptional.   You'd have to give us some criteria to judge the songwriting.  You didn't.   Otherwise, it's not quite fair to backtrack on all of our comments, b/c you didn't set up a premise yourself first.

One wrote songs about the backdrop of society.   One has had his songs covered by artists across the world, across the spectrum.   One has songs that are in the Library of Congress' permanent collection of Americana's best, and will be preserved forever.

One sings autobiographically about coming of age, her life, her (many) ex-boyfriends, and relates to (PRIMARILY, but not exclusively) a female audience.

If you really think there is no way to distinguish between them, I am surprised.

If you wan to level the playing field this flatly, it would be 'fun' to do so in another thread.   We could all give examples of "this artist" = "this artist" using the same basic formula.  :)

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Re: Analyze this equation: Taylor Swift=Bob Dylan

I have to confess the only Taylor Swift songs I've heard are her radio singles.  I liked the first couple I heard.  I hated the two most recent ones I heard: We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together, and I Knew You Were Trouble.

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Re: Analyze this equation: Taylor Swift=Bob Dylan

In response to yogafriend's comment:

They're not contemporaries.

Dylan has a legacy already in place; unless we judge Dylan for his accomplishments of the early part of his career, we're comparing apples to pork chops, IMO.

You say above, DD, that Swift can't help that she wasn't born in the seventies.  No, but that's far from the point.   Again, if you want to compare them at this stage of their careers, it's only fair to go into the way back machine and look at Dylan at the same age as  Swift is now, or with the number of years in the music industry.

They were not "groomed" in the same way, manner, to have the same expectations, same goals.

Songwriting is like any other form of writing, there are critical factors that can make writing average, very good, excellent, or exceptional.   You'd have to give us some criteria to judge the songwriting.  You didn't.   Otherwise, it's not quite fair to backtrack on all of our comments, b/c you didn't set up a premise yourself first.

One wrote songs about the backdrop of society.   One has had his songs covered by artists across the world, across the spectrum.   One has songs that are in the Library of Congress' permanent collection of Americana's best, and will be preserved forever.

One sings autobiographically about coming of age, her life, her (many) ex-boyfriends, and relates to (PRIMARILY, but not exclusively) a female audience.

If you really think there is no way to distinguish between them, I am surprised.

If you wan to level the playing field this flatly, it would be 'fun' to do so in another thread.   We could all give examples of "this artist" = "this artist" using the same basic formula.  :)

The bolded part is the point. I did not say you couldn't judge by criteria. Just because I didn't provide criteria doesn't mean you can't use any. That is the whole point. There is this thing called quality. It does exist. But quality is not proven by opinion, it is above opinion. It is not proven by accolades or popularity, it is above them. It's not proven by anything except the inherent value of whatever it is. That is the elusive crux of the matter I was trying to elicit by my bold(?) equation.

So I would argue that it doesn't matter how broad or narrow an audience for someone is. This says nothing about the quality of the music. There exist those people who correctly say that Bob Dylan can't sing very well. Is that a fact? Does it matter? The quality of the songs is not dependent on the social impact they have. That is just a by-product that doesn't reflect on the quality of the music. Opera has limited social impact, yet the quality of opera singing towers above many forms of music. Why? Because it takes skill that very few people possess. It takes hard work and training and only the best of the best can perform it. Are these valid criteria to use or is it all just opinion?

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Re: Analyze this equation: Taylor Swift=Bob Dylan

For me Dylan is kind of a special case; he's a musical artist but I think he also has to be viewed as a poet.

Another tangent that I could veer off on here is whether the criteria that are used to measure the merit of poetry are more objective than the criteria used to measure music.

For example, is anyone going to argue that Shakespeare or Yeats or Eliot aren't great poets?  I don't think so.  By the same token I think few will argue that Dylan isn't a great poet.

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Re: Analyze this equation: Taylor Swift=Bob Dylan

So Justin Bieber is more worthy of praise than Muddy Waters. He ships more units and quality is just opinion.

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Re: Analyze this equation: Taylor Swift=Bob Dylan

Actual quote from an early 1960 thread on this Music forum.

"How dare you compare that young whippersnapper Dylan to Perry Como?"

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Re: Analyze this equation: Taylor Swift=Bob Dylan

In response to ccnsd's comment:

So Justin Bieber is more worthy of praise than Muddy Waters. He ships more units and quality is just opinion.

That is the key point. Is quality just an opinion? If not, is it a fact? If it is a fact, it has to be backed up with evidence.

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Re: Analyze this equation: Taylor Swift=Bob Dylan

In response to Hfxsoxnut's comment:

For me Dylan is kind of a special case; he's a musical artist but I think he also has to be viewed as a poet.

Another tangent that I could veer off on here is whether the criteria that are used to measure the merit of poetry are more objective than the criteria used to measure music.

For example, is anyone going to argue that Shakespeare or Yeats or Eliot aren't great poets?  I don't think so.  By the same token I think few will argue that Dylan isn't a great poet.

I would argue that Dylan isn't a poet at all. He is a songwriter. There is a difference. Even if I would concede he is a poet, I would not rank him as a great one. But, is this a fact or an opinion?

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Re: Analyze this equation: Taylor Swift=Bob Dylan

In response to devildavid's comment:

I would argue that Dylan isn't a poet at all. He is a songwriter. There is a difference. Even if I would concede he is a poet, I would not rank him as a great one. But, is this a fact or an opinion?

It's all opinion.  None of it falls in the realm of empirical fact.

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Re: Analyze this equation: Taylor Swift=Bob Dylan

In response to Hfxsoxnut's comment:

In response to devildavid's comment:

I would argue that Dylan isn't a poet at all. He is a songwriter. There is a difference. Even if I would concede he is a poet, I would not rank him as a great one. But, is this a fact or an opinion?

It's all opinion.  None of it falls in the realm of empirical fact.

I disagree. There is in fact a type of writing called poetry and practioners of it. The styles change through the years but the basic fact of a form of writing called poetry endures. Songs may appear to be poetry and maybe some are, but they are usually written as songs and not as poetry with musical accompaniment. They are meant to be sung and not recited.

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Re: Analyze this equation: Taylor Swift=Bob Dylan

In response to devildavid's comment:

I disagree. There is in fact a type of writing called poetry and practioners of it. The styles change through the years but the basic fact of a form of writing called poetry endures. Songs may appear to be poetry and maybe some are, but they are usually written as songs and not as poetry with musical accompaniment. They are meant to be sung and not recited.

I gotta disagree right back.  The line between poetry and song lyrics can be virtually indistinguishable, and the intention of the author is not necessarily relevant.  For a great recent example, the Waterboys made an album with lyrics consisting entirely of poems of Yeats, completely unaltered, and it works beautifully.  In my estimation, someone who didn't know where the lyrics came from would simply think they were great lyrics.

At the very least, many of Dylan's lyrics are referred to as poetic lyrics - so there's your blurred line right there.

Leonard Cohen is another example of a highly poetic lyricist.

What about Gordon Lightfoot's The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald - is that not a poem set to music?

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Re: Analyze this equation: Taylor Swift=Bob Dylan

In response to tcal2-'s comment:

Actual quote from an early 1960 thread on this Music forum.

"How dare you compare that young whippersnapper Dylan to Perry Como?"

Comparing is one thing.   No one has said Taylor Swift is not talented or that she doesn't deserve her props.

The premise here is that TS and Bob Dylan are indistinguishable.   Look at the OP.

Now tell me you agree with that.   You do?

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Re: Analyze this equation: Taylor Swift=Bob Dylan

In response to Hfxsoxnut's comment:

In response to devildavid's comment:

I disagree. There is in fact a type of writing called poetry and practioners of it. The styles change through the years but the basic fact of a form of writing called poetry endures. Songs may appear to be poetry and maybe some are, but they are usually written as songs and not as poetry with musical accompaniment. They are meant to be sung and not recited.

I gotta disagree right back.  The line between poetry and song lyrics can be virtually indistinguishable, and the intention of the author is not necessarily relevant.  For a great recent example, the Waterboys made an album with lyrics consisting entirely of poems of Yeats, completely unaltered, and it works beautifully.  In my estimation, someone who didn't know where the lyrics came from would simply think they were great lyrics.

At the very least, many of Dylan's lyrics are referred to as poetic lyrics - so there's your blurred line right there.

Leonard Cohen is another example of a highly poetic lyricist.

What about Gordon Lightfoot's The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald - is that not a poem set to music?

Then I could say Taylor Swift's songs are poetry, or rap is poetry. What is it that make lyrics poetry? What does it imply? I started this thread to attempt to get at that "something" that makes a song special, that sets it apart from the ordinary, the mundane. Is it really indefinable or just a matter of opinion? If so, hoiw do we "know" it when we hear it? Is quality a fact and if so how do we demonstrate how and why it is? Or is quality completely relative, subject to opinion, and thus virtually meaningless?

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Re: Analyze this equation: Taylor Swift=Bob Dylan

What Hfx said above, initially, is that Dylan is a special case.

When you have a minute.   A must read:

Bob Dylan: Musician or Poet?

"Creative activity at a certain level renders genre categorization moot ... "

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Re: Analyze this equation: Taylor Swift=Bob Dylan

In response to devildavid's comment:

In response to ccnsd's comment:

So Justin Bieber is more worthy of praise than Muddy Waters. He ships more units and quality is just opinion.

That is the key point. Is quality just an opinion? If not, is it a fact? If it is a fact, it has to be backed up with evidence.

I already backed it up with sales. If quality is simply a matter of opinion then clearly more people think Justin Bieber is better than Muddy Waters because he sells more.

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