This is a piece I have been intending to write for a long time. Of course, without Nick’s help, I never could have done it. If you can think of any of your own Robbed Dylan classics then please let me know.
Bob Dylan has been ripped off more times than Candy Darling’s leg waxing strips, often with equally painful consequences. In fact, strumming out a nasal piece of nonsense poetry has been pretty much a statutory rite of passage for any guitar group since Zimmerman began.
So, who has thrown away their Vicks inhaler, bought a harmonica and wheezed out the best Dylanpressions?
Well, you may be surprised…
Sweet Louise by Pete Molinari
A Virtual Landslide
Not only is the Sweet Louise sleeve and video a pitch-point-perfect study of Dylan’s Desire period; Molinari’s song also sounds a touch familiar. Maybe it’s the harmonica. Maybe it’s the drawled out vowels. Maybe it’s the hint of echo. Maybe it’s the descending chord sequences. Maybe it’s the guitar. Actually, now you mention it, maybe it’s the whole frickin Zimmerdeal.
This Girl Taught Me A Dance by The Strange Boys,
Strange Boys and Girls Club
This Dylan swindle has the important element of sounding like it was recorded through a funnel in someone’s basement, probably by a guy in striped trousers and a polka dot shirt, as a group of ‘artists’ sat around and smoked Lucky Strike. Ryan Sambol, the lead singer of this Texas beat combo, has one of the best Robbed Dylan whines this side of an angle grinder.
Milk Cow Blues by The Kinks
The Kink Kontroversy
The Kinks? You mean, the cream-tea-and-gravy-chaser, playing-football-down-by-the-village-hall, scouts-blazer-and-bowler-hatted, snatching-kisses-from-the-vicar’s-daughter epitome of British pop’s golden age? Well, the combination of Ray Davis’ yelping vocals in the second verse, and the ‘Bob’s gone electro’ approach to the blues, makes this as much a Dylan rip off as ‘Warning’ by Greenday is a sly nod to ‘Picture Book’.
Atlantic City by Bruce Springsteen
Of course, having grown up in a log cabin, deep in the mist-covered hills of Appalachia, Bruce ‘More American Than Krispy Kreme Doughnuts’ Springsteen never had the chance to hear a Bob Dylan record before whittling his first guitar out of moose horn and spruce. But his harmonica-accented, guitar plucking folk tales of the human struggle do bear an uncanny resemblance to a certain folk rock musician. Coincidence is an strange thing isn’t it?
Rocky Raccoon by The Beatles
The White Album
Imagine if the vultures from the Jungle Book had decided to take a little trip down to the East Village instead of hanging out with that pesky tiger-magnet Mowgli. Now, imagine that they’d become totally enamoured with some crazy chain-smoking donkey called Bob who became hooked on speed and ended up crashing his donkey bike into a hill. Well, that’s the sound of Rocky Raccoon.
Heart of Gold by Neil Young
The whinging baton of string tortured howling at the moon passed between Bob and Neil like a nasty bout of food poising for several years. Dylan admitted to being unable to listen to Heart of Gold when it came out, but seemed to be pretty much the carthorse at the reins of the Neil Young bandwagon when he released the helplessly Helpless-sounding ‘Knocking on Heaven’s Door’.
Carolina Drama by The Raconteurs
Consolers of the Lonely
Hey, have you guys ever heard ‘Hurricane’? It’s like this kind of guitar-driven epic narrative ballad of injustice and murder? There are like banjos and stuff in the background? You should check it out.
The Handle Song by Soledad Brothers
The Soledad Brothers
According to legend, The Handle Song’s continuous, chugging, rhythm is inspired by the hundreds of years Jack White’s housemate, Meg White’s boyfriend and the White Stripe’s slide guitarist spent as hobos travelling the great American railroads. The original version was actually recorded using an old oil drum and some cat guts, after the band were robbed in the deserts of Arizona by a toothless bandit known as ‘Slackjawed Willy’.
To Be Young by Ryan Adams
That’s it. Game over.
Nell Frizzell and Nick Scott