Monday 20th February
Adrian used to rave on and on about Dylan; it was Dylan this and Dylan that all the time. I could never see what all the fuss was about; a lot of nasty songs with a whiny tinny voice. I never bought any of his records and had mostly forgotten about him, his name popping up in the news here and there. But I saw this album ‘Judy Collins sings Dylan’, on sale actually and I bought it, not for the Dylan but for Judy Collins. I remember her from the sixties, and as this is a fairly recent record I cannot imagine how old she must be now. By the way, can you imagine any ‘Artist’ nowadays calling themselves ‘Judy’, those sort of names seem to have disappeared completely. Judy had a beautiful clear voice, almost bell like as the notes rang out, she was one of those artists along with Joan Baez and Buffy Sainte Marie who were in the vanguard of the modern folk revival in the early sixties; the very same movement that Dylan was part of too.
And what a lovely voice Judy has now, much calmer, more rounded and smooth, less range but mellower and I think better. And the songs were good too, sung by Ms Collins you can actually hear all the words without struggling to work out what on earth Dylan was singing about. And there is no doubting now what a good songwriter he was, I just wish he had let better singers interpret his words, rather than snarl them out himself. One line particularly hit me, “Steal a little and they throw you in jail, steal a lot and they make you king.” But the best is a gorgeous love-song titled ‘Love Minus Zero, No Limit.’ A meaningless title which does no service to the beautiful lyrics, ‘My love she shines like diamonds, with no ideals of violence, doesn’t have to say she’s faithful, she’s true like ice like fire’ and ends almost sadly with the refrain ‘like a raven with a broken wing’
So maybe Adrian was right all along and that here was one of the great songwriters of the twentieth century, he just needed someone like Judy to sing his songs for him.