He's folk. He writes ingenious lyrics.
No, not Bob Dylan. We're talking about the next Bob Dylan.
Who is this guy? He must be good. And he his, but he's not just one dude. Over the years — really, since Dylan got started in the early '60s — numerous musicians have written enough moving songs to be lauded with the title.
It's a sort of dubious honor. No one called “the next Dylan” has quite achieved the overwhelming success and popularity that the real Dylan has.
Still, “the experts” keep awarding the title.
With Dylan coming to town Saturday, we wondered,“Who's been called 'the next Dylan'?”
He's never been called the next Dylan because, well, he actually is Bob Dylan.
Dylan's been lauded for his lyricism and social commentary as well as his transitions between folk, blues, rock and gospel music throughout his career. He's done nearly everything and he's done it well — so well that he has Grammys, Oscars, a Pulitzer Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
That's a tough resume to live up to, which may be why musicians don't often like to be compared to him.
Loudon Wainwright III
Called “the next Dylan” by: Himself.
He wrote a very satirical song called “Talking New Bob Dylan” in 1992.
Wainwright was inspired to be a songwriter by seeing Dylan perform at the Newport Folk Festival in the early '60s. Like many artists, which he mentions in his song, he was signed by a record label looking for other Dylan-like songwriters.
Wainwright's songs are folky and often satirical. You may know him from a few film and TV roles including “M*A*S*H” and “Knocked Up.”
Called “the next Dylan” by: Bob Dylan.
Well, not exactly. Like Wainwright, he came from a wave of songwriters hailed as new Dylans. Still, Dylan called Prine one of his favorite songwriters in a 2009 interview.
Prine's self-titled, debut album was hailed as folk genius, and it still stands up today. His gruff vocals and lyrical style were widely compared to Dylan, who has recorded some of his songs and appeared onstage with him at one of his first New York City club appearances.
Called “the female Dylan” by: All the same people who called her a “confessional songwriter.”
So many people labeled her the female Dylan that she posited that Dylan should be named “the male Joni Mitchell.”
Mitchell's style is very similar to Dylan's and she doesn't really appreciate the comparisons. In a 2010 interview, she called Dylan a plagiarist, saying, “Everything about Bob is a deception. We are like night and day, he and I.”
Called “the next Dylan” by: Columbia Records.
Springsteen's label wanted to promote him by comparing him to Dylan, and Springsteen thought it was kind of dumb. “The old Dylan was only 30, so I don't even know why they needed a ... new Dylan,” Springsteen told the New Yorker.
In the early days, the Boss' personal style even emulated Bob Dylan. Musically, he was decidedly more intense and critics loved him. Eventually music critic Jon Landau wrote, “I saw rock and roll's future, and its name is Bruce Springsteen.”
Called “the next Dylan” by: Rolling Stone.
The magazine dubbed Oberst indie rock's Bob Dylan in an article called “The Next Wave: Ten Artists to Watch.” That same year, the magazine named Bright Eyes' 2002 album, “Lifted or the Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground,” as the year's best indie rock record.
Like Dylan, Oberst first started out as a folk artist — one guy and one guitar. During his career, he's wavered between rock and folk, alt-country and electric. His lyrics have become more political, too.
“I thought I would never sing political songs, but now it seems like the only thing worth singing about,” he once told the New York Times.
Called “the next Dylan” by: Robert Christgau, the dean of American rock critics, while reviewing his debut album. Christgau wasn't alone. Most rock critics made the same comparisons.
Hear his nasally voice and some of his talking blues songs and you'll quickly notice the similarities to Dylan, especially in songs such as “Jerusalem” on 1997's “Dan Bern.” Bern acknowledged it musically with his song “Talkin' Woody, Bob, Bruce & Dan Blues.”
So, who really is the next Dylan?
Originally known as a folk troubadour, this guy has jumped around in his music and made folky albums, electronic albums, punk albums and pop albums. He's known for his heart-on-his sleeve lyrics and also gets political from time to time. Social messages permeate his songs. And, like Dylan with the Traveling Wilburys, he made a supergroup with some of his famous and talented friends.
Like Dylan, his singing voice has never been called “smooth.”
Conor Oberst, no stranger to those in his native Omaha, has a career whose broad strokes most similarly mirror those of Dylan, as mentioned above.
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