The Twitterverse was abuzz yesterday with well wishers congratulating Bob Dylan on the occasion of his 71st birthday, which also happened to be just a couple of months past the 50th anniversary of the release of his first album. I thought it would be timely to pay a brief tribute to Bob in this week's Friday Bruce Fix.
Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen were both signed to Columbia Records by the legendary John Hammond. These signings happened roughly 10 years apart. Neither got off to a great start as their first albums did not sell all that well, although that would change. For recognizing the young talent of what are arguably the two greatest American songwriters of the past 50 years, we should remember John Hammond's great talent.
Bruce was initially marketed as the "new Dylan" and had to fight to get as much band as he did on his first record, 'Greetings from Asbury Park'. I could be wrong but I don't think Bob was marketed as the "new Woody Guthrie", and even if some wanted to, the Columbia marketing machine wouldn't have made as much noise about it as they would for Bruce 10 years later. That aside, Woody influenced Bob a great deal, and Bruce to a lesser extent.
Bruce was clearly influenced by Bob Dylan, as evidenced by some of the songs he has covered in concert and from his comments when he inducted Bob into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. 11 years later in 1999, Bruce joined Bob in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I guess Bob got there 1 year quicker, and that's probably as it should be for a guy who changed the course of popular music.
So, Happy Birthday Bob, one day late, from Your Friday Bruce Fix. Here are two Bruce Springsteen covers of Bob Dylan songs, followed by Bruce's speech for Bob's induction into the Hall of Fame.