If I listen to Dylan, what else would I enjoy?
September 7, 2008 7:59 PM   Subscribe

I really enjoy listening to Bob Dylan's older music (pre 1970) and Im wondering are there any other artists (past or present) that would be of any interest to me? Im looking more towards folk than rock, more acoustical than electric but any recommendations would be great! Thanks!
posted by Groovytimes to Media & Arts (42 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Much darker than Dylan, but for pure folk awesomeness, Townes Van Zandt.
posted by notsnot at 8:11 PM on September 7, 2008

Richard Shindell.
posted by cccorlew at 8:11 PM on September 7, 2008

Tim Hardin
posted by rhizome at 8:17 PM on September 7, 2008

Dave van Ronk
posted by Rangeboy at 8:17 PM on September 7, 2008

Dan Bern. Download "Jerusalem" and you'll see what I mean.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:17 PM on September 7, 2008

A bit off-tangent but Springsteen's Nevada is awesome.
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:23 PM on September 7, 2008

John Prine is perhaps the obvious choice.
posted by megatherium at 8:24 PM on September 7, 2008

If acoustic sort of protest stuff rolls your socks up and down, Phil Ochs might shake your groove thing.
posted by timsteil at 8:27 PM on September 7, 2008

Leonard Cohen, Richard Thompson, Karla Bonoff
posted by richg at 8:29 PM on September 7, 2008

Springsteen's Nevada album is an all time fave of mine as well.

But seriously, check out the second Bill Fay album, Time of the Last Persecution.

I second the Tim Hardin recommendation.

Check out this Peter Laughner song. Something of an obvious Dylan swipe but I dig it.
posted by tremspeed at 8:38 PM on September 7, 2008

Seconding John Prine, it doesn't get much better. You might want to check out Elliot Smith, David Gray, and Damien Rice.
posted by Raichle at 8:39 PM on September 7, 2008

Nick Drake, Tim Hardin, Karen Dalton.
I'm pretty sure the Spingsteen album everyone's recommending is actually called Nebraska, and I'm absolutely sure that it's great.
posted by bunglin jones at 8:45 PM on September 7, 2008

David Blue had the mid-60s Dylan sound down cold. Derivative but cool.

Fred Neil and Karen Dalton were early influences on Dylan and perhaps too ahead of their time - they're both "folk," but darker and more real than what would have been cool before Dylan. Fred Neil wrote "Everybody's Talkin'" and "The Dolphins," and you've got to hear Karen Dalton's version of "Katie Cruel."
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 8:45 PM on September 7, 2008

posted by Joleta at 8:49 PM on September 7, 2008

Joni Mitchell?
posted by mattoxic at 8:54 PM on September 7, 2008

Richie Havens.
posted by rocket88 at 8:58 PM on September 7, 2008

Response by poster: Wow thanks everyone!
posted by Groovytimes at 9:07 PM on September 7, 2008

I think that Springsteen's Nebraska, but yeah good stuff. Townes van Zandt is one of the greatest songwriters who ever lived.

As far as wordiness and country/folkishness, check out Bright Eyes. Don't let the emo label scare you off, it's almost completely inaccurate at this point. Start with "I'm Wide Awake, it's Morning" or "Lifted..."

sample lyric to what may be the greatest breakup song ever written.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:23 PM on September 7, 2008

Van Morrison "Astral Weeks"
Van Morrison "St Dominic's Preview"

The songs and the albums.
posted by philip-random at 9:24 PM on September 7, 2008

The Felice Brothers
posted by thenuts at 9:37 PM on September 7, 2008

I think that Springsteen's Nebraska...

posted by turgid dahlia at 10:08 PM on September 7, 2008

Wow, I'm amazed that nobody's mentioned Woody Guthrie. Dylan spent the first decade of his career trying to BE Woody Guthrie. You might also want to check out Ramblin' Jack Elliott and Pete Seeger. These are all older artists, though - I don't know if that's a turn-off...
posted by btkuhn at 10:10 PM on September 7, 2008

philip-random: Van Morrison "Astral Weeks"

Al landmark Album. Requires a read of the amazing Lester Bangs review
posted by Neiltupper at 10:43 PM on September 7, 2008

Like btkhun said, go back to Dylan's influences, including Blind Willie McTell and Mississippi John Hurt. No Direction Home can give you some more ideas.
posted by dreamyshade at 11:15 PM on September 7, 2008

I second pretty much everything mentioned but also bring Will Oldham to the table. His I See a Darkness album is phenomenal. A lot of his other stuff is great too, but that album is the living bomb. Here are the title track and Knockturne from the album.
posted by Kattullus at 11:43 PM on September 7, 2008

Seconding Donovan. Should be completely up your alley.
posted by ilike at 1:24 AM on September 8, 2008

If you like early Dylan, you would probably like most of what he has put out since the early 90s. Good As I Been to You, World Gone Wrong, and Time Out of Mind, particularly.

And now, a list of more recent artists:

Lucinda Williams (the Live @ The Fillmore album is fantastic, preview Lost It)
Bill Bragg & Wilco - Mermaid Avenue Volume I & II (all songs based on Woody Guthrie lyrics)
Ben Harper (the Live from Mars album is fantastic, preview Pleasure and Pain)
Jack Johnson
posted by McGuillicuddy at 1:44 AM on September 8, 2008

Yet another vote for the incredible Townes van Zandt. You could also take a look at other "Outlaw Country" artists.

Not exactly the same as Dylan, but you may also want to check out Bert Jansch, Davey Graham, John Renbourn and Martin Carthy.
posted by fire&wings at 3:18 AM on September 8, 2008

Wow, so few females recommended. Check out the early Joan Baez. She did a lot of Dylan covers, but also quite a bit of folk.
posted by dinger at 4:00 AM on September 8, 2008

M. Ward
posted by ginagina at 4:10 AM on September 8, 2008

Billy Bragg comes to mind; he also worked with Wilco recently to record a lot of old Guthrie-penned songs (the Mermaid Avenue albums). Those or Bragg's solo stuff are both worth a listen.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:07 AM on September 8, 2008

Check out The Band (the band that's called The Band). They are awesomely awesome. They used to be Dylan's backup band, then went out on their own, toured, made a great movie called The Last Waltz, and then broke up, mostly to be obscure for ever and ever. Just amazing musicianship in every way. The drummer, Levon Helm, has one of the greatest voices I've ever heard. Actually they all have amazing voices.
posted by sully75 at 6:57 AM on September 8, 2008

Philip-Random said: Van Morrison "Astral Weeks"

EmpressCallipygos said: TESTIFY!

Not EXACTLY like Dylan's work, but definitely acoustic and folk-influenced -- but also jazz and blues influenced. It has been like nothing else before or since.

Another good option is Nick Drake -- his is actually a sad story; he made only three albums and then died in what people suspect was an intentional overdose of antidepressants. But his music was ethereally lovely. You may have actually heard his song "Pink Moon" already -- it was used in a Volkswagen ad some years ago.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:07 AM on September 8, 2008

Oh, another thought: The Mountain Goats. His early stuff is almost entirely acoustic. John Darnielle has a slightly nasally voice. Lyrically, he's amazing.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:47 AM on September 8, 2008

My 2 cents. Buffy Sainte-Marie.
posted by bjgeiger at 7:54 AM on September 8, 2008

Seconding Leonard Cohen, Will Oldham (aka Bonnie "Prince" Billy aka Palace Music), and Mountain Goats. I think Nick Drake is quite different, but he is excellent.
posted by ludwig_van at 8:23 AM on September 8, 2008

I too love early Dylan and went through a period of trying to find artists that reminded me of him. Here are a few suggestions.

If you can get a copy of Billy Bragg's The Peel Sessions album, try this. It's mostly acoustic, the lyrics are clever, and the vocals are heartfelt and I think very much in style with early Dylan though of course more modern. (Here's a youtube of Greetings to the New Brunette, a song on that album, though the album version is live and not from a studio session like this one and obv doesn't have the old-fashioned sounding background vocals.) The Bragg/Wilco albums are great, too, but I really do highly recommend the Peel Sessions album.

This may sound weird but early Paul Simon has, I think, quite a bit in common with early Dylan -- a man and his guitar, great lyrics, and an expressive voice. I'd suggest Negotiations and Lovesongs for a good compilation of the best of his early stuff. I especially love Still Crazy After All These Years, Hearts and Bones, and Rene and Georgette Magritte with Their Dog After the War.

Folks above have mentioned Dan Bern and David Gray, and I'll second these recommendations. (And although someone above offered another contender, imho David Gray's Shine is the best breakup song of all time.) Here's a youtube of Dan Bern's Jerusalem -- Bern is a singer/songwriter who is mostly acoustic and has great lyrics and a similar quirky sense of humor as early Dylan, especially his talking blues songs (from this song: "When I tell you that I love you don't test my love, accept my love, don't test my love, 'cause maybe I don't love you all that much.").

In case you are also interested in a woman's voice, I highly recommend Shawn Colvin and Martha Wainwright. Here's a link to Wainwright's BMFA, which is nsfw, supposedly written about her father Loudoun Wainwright. And here's Colvin doing a non-acoustic version of Diamond in the Rough, though the acoustic version is also lovely.

Good luck!
posted by onlyconnect at 8:24 AM on September 8, 2008

Seconding M. Ward. I'd also say Tom Waits, but he can be an acquired taste. Start with his album Rain Dogs. For something newer, check out The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter, one of my favorite recent folkies.
posted by mattholomew at 8:40 AM on September 8, 2008

Wasn't it Joni Mitchell who made the crack about not really thinking dylan would take off because he was just doing a woody guthrie impression? Listen to Guthrie if you like those albums.
I'd second Joan Baez, Phil Ochs (more political), and John Prine (his best of is just mandatory listening), and throw in Nina Simone because, frankly, everyone should listen to more Nina Simone.
posted by history is a weapon at 1:07 PM on September 8, 2008

I would definitely recommend Phil Ochs. He was a contemporary of Dylan, his some time friend, some time enemy. He was much more of a traditional protest singer than Dylan but he still wrote plenty of poetic folk of the sort Dylan is famous for. I think the A&M greatest hits The War Is Over: The Best of Phil Ochs is probably the best introduction.

And yes, Nebraska is made of awesome.
posted by ninebelow at 5:43 AM on September 9, 2008

James McMurtry
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:24 PM on December 7, 2008

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