NOV. 6, 2007
A Bob Dylan hoot night is a genius idea. Damn near anyone can do Dylan better than Dylan: Bobcat Goldthwait … Fran Drescher … Jaleel White … Stephen Hawking – pretty much any voice that’s remotely intelligible and doesn’t sound like chicken fat being fed into a garbage disposal will do the trick. This is not to say that Dylan doesn’t have talent. He’s monstrously talented. Freakishly talented. Dylan’s oeuvre looms so large it overshadows the instruments of its delivery (including Bob himself). Dylan could squat and shit on the stage and the mojo from his previous work would likely score him a standing O. It probably takes a monumental amount of effort for Bob not to phone it in. It is either his blessing or curse to be in an eternal self-esteem building workshop. Imagine going through a day where everyone from aging hippies to college coeds to flying nuns slaps you on the back and insists that you’re something just short of the Second Coming of Jesus. Just because Bob often sounds like he’s speaking in tongues doesn’t make it true. Imagine the pressure he must feel and the restraint he must exercise to not just scribble out some trite little ditty like “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” claim it’s a metaphorical epilogue to “All Along the Watchtower” and then go skiing in Aspen on the royalties. Dylan’s songs have been covered by everyone from Accidental Porn to Zombie Girlfriend and all acts in between – many of which you’ve actually heard of. That’s currently 20,000 covers and counting. Most of it is exceptionally beautiful songwriting, but by that standard Leonard Cohen would also be stacking mad mounds of mailbox money. No, there is something else at work here. There are clearly a staggering number of people who hear Dylan sing and think, “I couldn’t murder that song any worse than he already has,” and it’s exactly that kind of pathos that butters his songwriting bread – or at least keeps him swimming in it. Think about it. No one covers Rush, Journey, or Queen songs for the same reason unless they’re in a wedding band, a piano bar, or on a drunken karaoke binge. However, if you can string together three simple chords with any semblance of rhythm you’re probably going to be knock knock knockin’ on heaven’s door. Does it mean you’re going to do it well? Not at all, it just means you’re probably going to sing it better than Dylan. The challenge is to give the song the treatment it deserves, not the treatment it has already gotten. Tonight local musicians from revered bands like Zookeeper, Zykos, the Stillwater Pioneers, the Idiot Winds, Mustangled Up in Blue, and the Tunnels will be attempting just that at Emo’s Lounge. In between bands DJ Jester the Filipino Fist will be filling the voids. Really, the question is: Who isn’t afraid to cover a Dylan song? Well, maybe Tom Waits, but his hoot is Friday night.