Bob Dylan Torture Test Puts Teenagers on 72-Hour Dylan Binge

dylantorture.jpg
The hits, they keep-a-comin'. 

Seattle's The Stranger recently conducted a brilliant field test, if you will, which forced four 17-18 year olds to listen to nothing but Bob Dylan for 3 days. Specifically, the youngsters had to listen to Dylan's exhaustive three disc set Biograph while they packed for college and hung out with the rest their recent high school graduate friends. The young subjects were asked to rate Dylan on four categories: "Relevance to my life," "The quality of his voice," "Degree to which my parents thing he's important" and "Degree to which I think he's important."

The results were, for lack of a better term, rather candid.

For those not in the know, I do have a thing, if you will, for Bob Dylan. His Christmas album was awful, he has a ridiculous bias from the editors of Rolling Stone and his quirky little ticketless Warfield Show was misguided.

That being said, I'm not an 18 year old who's never heard the dude sing. My lame opinions on Dylan are one thing, but other, fresh opinions on Bob Dylan are something entirely different. Sure, go ahead and say "why should I care about what some 17 year old thinks about Bob Dylan?" If you're a big enough fan -- one who is competently secure in their fandom -- of Bob Dylan, then this shouldn't get to you. Hell, it shouldn't matter at all. Those who like Dylan but have begun to question why exactly that is should take note of The Stranger's interesting study.

Some of the better quotes from the piece are as follows:

A Dylan marathon is a draining thing, and I was not grateful to be engrossed in fairly complicated lyrics when hungering for the visceral emotional relief music can provide.

Listening solely to Bob Dylan over the course of three 90-degree days while packing for college is something like being in solitary confinement next door to a rambling lunatic with a guitar. Some of the strumming is painful, some achieves sentiment, and SOME comes close to sounding like music.

The majority of Bob Dylan's songs remind me of a run-on sentence by Jack Kerouac set to music.

I think that his name will go down in history, because it already has, but that doesn't mean I think he's supremely important.

Dylan's voice can never surpass his whiny, moaning, complaining tone that he has made for himself. He is by no means a great vocalist or even a competent one, but he is able to tell stories.

And that really says it all, at least for me. His name has -- and will continue -- to go down in history, but why should relatively young music fans with their own individual tastes and appropriate music idols/legends have to believe what everyone else does about Bob Fucking Dylan? 

This study does range on ad nauseum -- self-inflicted, I might add -- for all things Dylan, but there is something to say about his relevance in the year 2010 that The Stranger very eloquently laid out. Force kids born in 1992 to listen exclusively to Bob Dylan for 72 hours straight and there is bound to be some truth in there. These subjects bravely, I might add, took a risk that ended in them exposing a unique situation with generational gaps in contemporary music. 

Just let fucking teenagers listen to whatever the hell they want to. Is it Ke$ha, Drake and Justin Beiber? So what -- that's their generation's music. Stop trying to force Bob Dylan on them. I know that there are 18 year olds out there that love Bob Dylan, and there's nothing wrong with that. I would hope those same kids do so in moderation with some newer music -- music being produced by some of their generation's better talents (and devoid of Autotune).

I cannot argue Bob Dylan's place in the lexicon of popular music. I know I will take some shit for this one, but I feel The Stranger did something wonderfully relevant to the topic of younger music fans dealing with pop music from past generations. If a kid is going to listen to Bob Dylan, it's going to happen -- and that is no one's choice but their own.

You know what the last thing an 18 year old wants to hear? How "great" Bob Dylan is and how they are "missing out" by not having heard his music. It's patronizing, manipulative and it accomplishes absolutely nothing. Discovering new music is an exhilaratingly organic experience, why not just leave it at that?

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9 comments
pruimerman
pruimerman

I am sixteen and personally love bob dylan! I dont care what college kids say.... I like it anyway

Dudeskoodle
Dudeskoodle

Revles says "would not want to be subjected to the trash he's come out with since maybe '94. "How areCross the Green MountainAint TalkinWorkingman's BluesNot Dark YetStanding n the DoorwayMississipiPo BoyTryin to Get to HeavenFloaterHigh water RisinMoonlightSpirit on the WaterForgetful HeartLife is HardFeel a Change Coming On

Honestly how they be classified as trash? How can you imply they are not as good as these pre accident songs:

She Belongs to MeMaggies FarmBallad in Plain DMotorsycho NitemareI shall be Free #10Its All Over Now Baby BlueBob Dylan's DreamQueen Jane Approximately

Funny that Time out of Mind (1997) won the best album GrammyModern Times and Together Through Life were number one albums in many countries despite the fact he was in his mid to late 60s when he made them.Your definition of trash is silly. As Bob says in a pre-accident song "There's no success like failure" well your definition of it anyway Reveles.

dhg
dhg

who exposes anyone to an unfamiliar-to-them artist with a "torture test" of 3 days of non-stop listening? I would not be the passionate Dylan fan I am if I had not stumbled on ONE song, just one, and allowed the love I have for this great musician's to grow at its own pace. I am a classical musician; and only 'just discovered' Dylan in 2007. at the 10 shows I've seen of his, since then, I have seen many young people around me- relatively new to him- and completely thrilled and engaged with the performance.

reveles
reveles

i'm not sure i quite understand who exactly is not "letting" teenagers listen to whatever they want to. some people thing bob dylan is amazing and some comment on him negatively as in this piece. i am a long time fan of his "pre-accident" stuff, but would not want to be subjected to the trash he's come out with since maybe '94. most people my age (28ish) that are dylan fans disagree with me suggesting that he's as solid as ever. i offer this: if you were walking by a bar and heard "modern times", "together through life", etc... and didn't know it was bob dylan, most people would probably assume it was some shitty bar band consisting of "weekend musicians" who never quite made it big time. but because it's bob dylan, i think people feel compelled to say that it's good. while i would say that he holds a significant role in history and pop culture, the relevant reasons for such would be his activism and support for civil rights during an earlier time and not for any contributions he has made of late. but that, of course is just this dude's opinion...

Vince
Vince

What a dumb and useless "article." I'm not a super-huge Dylan fan, but come on! Who gives a shit what a bunch of whiny, know-nothing college kids have to say about anything? If not for other people telling me how "great" some artist was or telling me I was "missing out" by not having heard their music, I might have never listened to the Afghan Whigs or Tom Waits or Failure or any of the other bands/artists that have meant so much to me. Evangelizing and being evangelized to (by a trusted source) is part of the "exhiliratingly organic" process of discovering new music.

This sounds to me like an excuse for a hater to troll for comments. Congratulations, sir, you've accomplished just that! But you've also exposed yourself as a complete buffoon in the process.

Buffoon.

Brooklyncocky
Brooklyncocky

biograph is a big box of crap generally anyhow. there are better things to start with.

Repetitive Redundancy
Repetitive Redundancy

The same results would likely be achieved with 3 consecutive days of listening to any musical artist.

Robert Johnson
Robert Johnson

Make kids of 17 listen only to John Lee Hooker for three days and then get their responses. Their opinions would be equally meaningless and would not reflect on John Lee in the slightest degree.

Anonymouse
Anonymouse

It would be interesting to see a comparative study giving students the last three Dylan albums in reverse chronological order. An entirely opposite reaction might result.

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