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PostPosted: Sun June 17th, 2018, 22:08 GMT 

Joined: Tue March 8th, 2005, 12:56 GMT
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I'm going to make a slightly dangerous personal assertion regarding the songwriting skills on Paul Simon and how I think he is superior to Bob Dylan. I say this as someone who began as a Paul Simon fan but soon became more enthralled with and in the mystical other-worldly gifts of Bob Dylan, to the point that Bob Dylan as an influence on me far superceded and still does, Paul Simon.

However, getting down to the nitty gritty:

For me Dylan was a zeitgeist artist, he shot through like a comet at a time when no one had perceived what he was then to do. And he did it with a small limited palette, a minimalist musical ability, though very fine it was, yet an ability to merge forms in a completely revolutionary way.
So as a trailblazer and an influencer, to be the first person to lay a flag on new territory marks him out as a great historically.

Often those who come after are not as great but perhaps more refined.

Paul is more refined. Musically more gifted than Dylan, lyrically more finesse, more sheen. The ability to toy with melody and harmony and sound texture and phrase and musicianship far exceeds Dylan. Simon has constantly kept things interesting in his career with his exploration of different musical forms. Dylan has wandered much himself and tried different hats on, but has stayed very much within the forms he first grew up on. Again this is not a criticism. But after reading bits of Hilburn's Biography on Simon, I think Simon is the far superior craftsmen.

What do people think?

Bob is my number 1, always will be. But Paul deserves to sit atop the mountain with Bob in his own way.


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PostPosted: Sun June 17th, 2018, 22:23 GMT 

Joined: Fri January 5th, 2007, 23:38 GMT
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1). Simon might be the superior craftsman, but he is not a genius. Dylan is.

2). Dylan deploys the greater usage of words-don't take it just from me, but Professor Ricks counts as quite an authority. The Nobel people aren't entirely without it, either. I think words take priority over other art-forms (in saying that, I'm not intending to denigrate the others, in any way).


Last edited by Mickvet on Sun June 17th, 2018, 22:26 GMT, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun June 17th, 2018, 22:25 GMT 

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I think Simon is also a genius. He's just musically more developed in a formalised way than Dylan.


Bridge Over Troubled Water, Still Crazy After All Those Years, American Tune... These are reaching for Gershwin.


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PostPosted: Sun June 17th, 2018, 22:31 GMT 

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I am a huge fan of Simon and Garfunkel, Paul Simon (and also Artie!)

But i found Hilburn's recent book to be deathly dull... neither he nor Paul Simon (100 hours of interviews!) seemed to have anything interesting to say about Paul Simon's life....and yet so many books have been written about Dylan without getting close to the magic and the mystery of the man.

Calling Paul Simon a craftsman feels ike damning him with faint praise. I like the guy, i am paying a small fortune to see him at Hyde Park in a few weeks time.. but he is a charisma-free zone., and Hilburn's book only seemed to confirm this.

Dylan's art jingles and jangles, it roars and it growls, and is full of intrigues that Paul Simon's work doesn't quite get close to....great craftsman though he may be. Dylan is the great American artist of the last 60 years - Paul Simon is an excellent singer-songwriter who has made some very good records.

Back in around 1970 i loved them equally. But these days i think they are not even close.


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PostPosted: Sun June 17th, 2018, 23:18 GMT 
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Mickvet wrote:
1). Simon might be the superior craftsman, but he is not a genius. Dylan is.


You saved me a lot of time, and readers (potentially) a lot of blather. Dylan gets to a level of transcendence that puts him in a very elite category, regardless of his other shortcomings.

I also think Paul Simon is fantastic, as a writer and performer, I'm not trying to put me down in any way whatsoever. He is as good as it gets.


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PostPosted: Sun June 17th, 2018, 23:39 GMT 
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There is a lot to be said for Simon over Dylan. Paul Simon is a better craftsman, a better record-maker, and a better guitarist. Musically, he's all over Dylan. He's also more ambitious with his recordings, trying more new things than Dylan who continually goes back to folk-blues as a resting place, and when he does try new things (post-70s) tends to embarrass himself (Sinatra triple album). Simon's vocals are still in good shape (unlike Dylan), and his studio recordings of late are almost as good as anything he did in the 60s/70s, which we can't say about Bob.

But Dylan was the trailblazer and reeks of genius. It shall always be so.


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PostPosted: Mon June 18th, 2018, 01:02 GMT 
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trevgibb wrote:
What do people think?
Bob is my number 1, always will be. But Paul deserves to sit atop the mountain with Bob in his own way.


Bob sits on his own mountain.


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PostPosted: Mon June 18th, 2018, 03:01 GMT 
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Amen, brother.


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PostPosted: Mon June 18th, 2018, 03:42 GMT 

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Different, and not nearly as great.


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PostPosted: Mon June 18th, 2018, 04:28 GMT 

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Paul Simon, Van Morrison and Neil Young are the only people that I think come anywhere near Dylan, but he still towers way above any of them for me (especially the world's greatest short song writer, Paul Simon).

I do love Simon's music though and he always has a great band backing him.


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PostPosted: Mon June 18th, 2018, 05:56 GMT 
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TheBoiledGutsofBirds wrote:
Paul Simon, Van Morrison and Neil Young are the only people that I think come anywhere near Dylan, but he still towers way above any of them for me (especially the world's greatest short song writer, Paul Simon).

I do love Simon's music though and he always has a great band backing him.


The world's greatest short song writer is John Darnielle. :lol:

Paul Simon's genius differs from Dylan's partly because Simon is super cautious as a songwriter, record maker, and even to a certain degree as a performer. When Bob decides to write, record, and/or perform a song, he goes for it full throttle. Sometimes the result is not polished (often), but this method allows us to see more of his process and admire the staggering breadth of it all. Simon seems to mull things over, push and pull at his songs, then when he's absolutely certain they're ready, he'll begin the process of finding the right sound to record them, which also takes forever. When I saw him in 2015, the concert was delayed by about 40 minutes because he was still sound checking his band. We were standing in line outside the gates, listening to them play the same 30 second passage of "Cool Cool River" (admittedly a damned difficult song rhythmically) over and over again for at least 20 minutes.

I can't imagine Bob doing that at a soundcheck, or even in a studio nowadays. There's evidence that he did it for certain songs on certain records, but it's more of an organic process with Bob. He's a lot more likely to just say f**k it and record the thing as is, probably knowing he'll just change it up radically if he ever revisits it live. During the most recent Paul Simon concert I attended (part of his farewell tour), he commented that, "I guess this is the final version of each of these songs." He truly sounded worried about it, as if they weren't perfect yet, or they might not represent his idea of perfection.

Different kind of genius. Bob's is more relatable, more earthy, and in many ways more fun. Paul's is more picky, more stereotypically artistic, but the results are often worth it.

I'm glad I get to listen to both of them.


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PostPosted: Mon June 18th, 2018, 08:26 GMT 
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Different leagues.


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PostPosted: Mon June 18th, 2018, 11:16 GMT 
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I love Paul Simon, he has tremendous gifts and I wouldn't want the world to be without his music....

But.... he doesn't come close to Dylan, for me.

While Simon's gifts may outstrip Dylan's technically - quality of voice, musicality, in terms of ambition, - while he may be technically the better artist, he just doesn't hold my interest anything close to the way Dylan does...

There's just not the same connection of humanity that I get from Dylan's strongest work.

I see no reason to put down either of them, but for me, while Simon's music maybe has the greater breadth, it's Dylan's music that has the greater depth, for me, by a long way.

So while I find Simon's music pleasant and interesting, it's never been life-changing, as Dylan's has, at points.

That's my take on it anyway.


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PostPosted: Mon June 18th, 2018, 11:52 GMT 
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Dylan has been quite a bit more prolific as a songwriter than Simon.
Simon produced about 17 albums worth of original material if you include
the duo years, and with Dylan it’s in the high 20s: 27 or 28, depending.
That’s not a major argument but it has to be taken into consideration.
I think Dylan’s peaks are higher and his lows (quality lows) have been
lower. The two artists have vastly divergent temperaments, as has been
stated in this thread. Paul Simon has achieved amazing consistency
throughout his career; he hasn’t made a slipshot or routine album in his
life. To simplify, Paul Simon has the perfectionist gene, whereas Dylan
doesn’t to the same degree.

One thing where I disagree with some of the posts here is the notion that
Simon as a songwriter doesn’t have the same depth. Just pleasant and
interesting. I’d encourage anyone to just spend an hour or two listening
to Paul Simon’s more monumental songs. Stuff like ‘Hearts & Bones’,
‘The Sound of Silence’, ‘Still Crazy’, ‘Slip Sliding’, ‘Bridge over Trouble Waters’
‘Diamonds On The Soles’, ‘Graceland’, ‘The Obvious Child’, ‘American Tune’ (!!)
‘Something So Right’, ‘Can I Forgive Him’, ‘Homeward Bound’ and you can go
on & on. Is Paul Simon a genius? He’s a guy that wrote a lot of genius songs,
and maybe that should be a factor.


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PostPosted: Mon June 18th, 2018, 12:52 GMT 

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Dylan had a greater impact, and influence in the sixties, but you could argue Simon has been more consistent and shown more artistic growth over the following decades. Really the only common thread is they are both singer song writers, who both started out in the folk field. I like them both.


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PostPosted: Mon June 18th, 2018, 13:39 GMT 
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Rimshottbob wrote:
I love Paul Simon, he has tremendous gifts and I wouldn't want the world to be without his music....

But.... he doesn't come close to Dylan, for me.

While Simon's gifts may outstrip Dylan's technically - quality of voice, musicality, in terms of ambition, - while he may be technically the better artist, he just doesn't hold my interest anything close to the way Dylan does...

There's just not the same connection of humanity that I get from Dylan's strongest work.

I see no reason to put down either of them, but for me, while Simon's music maybe has the greater breadth, it's Dylan's music that has the greater depth, for me, by a long way.

So while I find Simon's music pleasant and interesting, it's never been life-changing, as Dylan's has, at points.

That's my take on it anyway.


Seconded.


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PostPosted: Mon June 18th, 2018, 15:28 GMT 
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movin_after_midnight wrote:

The world's greatest short song writer is John Darnielle. :lol:



John Darnielle is great (and nearly as prolific as Bob)!


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PostPosted: Mon June 18th, 2018, 15:56 GMT 
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Both midgets


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PostPosted: Mon June 18th, 2018, 16:34 GMT 
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McG wrote:
Both midgets


:lol:


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PostPosted: Mon June 18th, 2018, 16:49 GMT 

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Simon might be no. 1, 2, 3 or whatever. Dylan is no. 0... ;-)


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PostPosted: Mon June 18th, 2018, 17:39 GMT 

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trevgibb wrote:
I think Simon is also a genius. He's just musically more developed in a formalised way than Dylan.
Bridge Over Troubled Water, Still Crazy After All Those Years, American Tune... These are reaching for Gershwin.

American Tune is no Paul Simon composition. Obviously the tune is from Johann Sebastian Bach !!


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PostPosted: Mon June 18th, 2018, 18:40 GMT 
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HopE wrote:
American Tune is no Paul Simon composition. Obviously the tune is from Johann Sebastian Bach !!

I guess you’re supposing there’s anyone here that doesn’t know that.


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PostPosted: Mon June 18th, 2018, 19:11 GMT 
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Both great lyricists, but I'd say Dylan is #1 there.

I'm not as familiar with all of Simon's work, but how far has he strayed from folk rock? I know he did some work with African musicians.

But Dylan has mastered, folk, rock, country, gospel and now even easy listening. Who else has done that?


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PostPosted: Mon June 18th, 2018, 20:33 GMT 

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Different for certain, but an argument can probably be made for Dylan opening the "doors of possibilities" for all modern songwriters, and that he has had a greater influence on Simon than vice-versa.

If I needed a song craftsman, I would call Paul, but if I needed an artist, I would call Bob.


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PostPosted: Mon June 18th, 2018, 21:08 GMT 

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gerardv wrote:
HopE wrote:
American Tune is no Paul Simon composition. Obviously the tune is from Johann Sebastian Bach !!

I guess you’re supposing there’s anyone here that doesn’t know that.

I'm sure that early everybody knows this. But that makes it the more surprising, that American Tune is mentioned to give a reference that Paul Simon can be compared with Gershwin.
Perhaps everybody knows. but obviously some tend to forget it.


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