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POP MUSIC : The Impact of Dylan's Music 'Widened the Scope of Possibilities'

May 19, 1991|ROBERT HILBURN

What Bob Dylan song means the most to you--or stirs special memories? Here is how some distinguished pop artists answered the question:

BONO

"I Believe in You"

"Dylan writes songs about God and women. . . .I like it best when he mixes them up."

JONI MITCHELL

"Positively Fourth Street"

"I can't really pick just one because I like so many, but the Dylan song that really grabbed me was 'Positively Fourth Street' and the reason for that was the subject matter seemed at the time so unique. What it said to me, not only is this a good song, but it means that we can now sing about any kind of emotion. I don't think there was a song before that that defined the kind of hurt expressed in that song. It widened the scope of possibilities for songwriters."

SINEAD O'CONNOR

"I Want You"

"It'd have to be 'I Want You.' When I first heard it on 'Blonde on Blonde,' the version was so fast that I didn't notice how beautiful it was until I heard it again live on the Budokan album. That's when I could see the sadness and beauty of it."

LOUIE PEREZ

"Blowin' in the Wind"

"When I heard 'Blowin' in the Wind,' it was the Dylan song that made me listen and wonder and realize the power of what songs can actually say to people. Up to that point, music moved me and got inside me, but it wasn't until I heard Dylan that I started paying attention to the writer names under the titles on records. The song is timeless. It means just as much now as it did then. . . . To this day, he's still writing songs I wish I had written."

VERNON REID

"Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat"

"Bob Dylan's emotional range, his art and the depth of his craft are so vast that it's very hard to choose one song that means the most to me. It boggles the mind to even consider it, but 'Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat' is probably my favorite. There are much more important songs--'The Times They Are A-Changin',' 'My Back Pages,' 'Simple Twist of Fate.' They are all astounding, but I like the dark humor and the attitude of 'Leopard-Skin.' But I also have to mention 'All Along the Watchtower' because it was the song that brought me into Dylan--the Jimi Hendrix version."

ROBBIE ROBERTSON

"Just Like a Woman"

"When we recorded 'Just Like a Woman' (during the 'Blonde on Blonde' sessions, where Robertson played guitar), I thought, the song had this real universal thing . . . it was something anybody could sing. Albert Grossman (Dylan's manager at the time) said he thought we should give the song to Frank Sinatra, but I thought that was a ridiculous idea. I suggested Otis Redding and he recorded it, but he never released his version because he couldn't get past the line, 'with her fog, her amphetamine and her pearls.' And I liked Otis even more because he wouldn't be dishonest and just put out the song anyway if he couldn't find himself in the song personally."

TOM WAITS

"Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands"

"All of Bob Dylan's songs are carved from the bones of ghosts and have myth and vision . . . 'Desolation Row,' 'From a Buick 6,' 'Ballad in Plain D,' 'Restless Farewell,' 'Visions of Johanna,' 'Boots of Spanish Leather ,' 'Dark Eyes.'

"For me, 'Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands" is a grand song. It is like Beowulf and it 'takes me out to the meadow.' This song can make you leave home, work on the railroad or marry a Gypsy. I think of a drifter around a fire with a tin cup under a bridge remembering a woman's hair. The song is a dream, a riddle and a prayer."

STEVIE WONDER

"Blowin' in the Wind"

"It's a toss-up between 'Like a Rolling Stone,' 'Blowin' in the Wind' and "Mr. Tambourine Man.' I think I'd go with 'Blowin in the Wind' . . . the simplicity of the lyric, yet it is so strong . . . it says so much."

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