Singing the Truth – Bob Dylan’s Words of Wisdom

– from Bev

In one of the non-televised ceremonies of Grammy Weekend, Bob Dylan was honored s Person of the Year by MusicCares – the arm of NARAS (the Grammy organization) that provides financial assistance to working musicians with healthcare needs.

The full transcript of Bob’s speech is here, full of anecdotes, acknowledgements of acts that propelled his career forward and words of wisdom about songwriting


Sometimes the Truth Just Isn’t Pretty

truthDylan lamented a bit about the critics who have fixated on his raspy voice, talking his way through songs. He related a story about when Sam Cooke was told he had a beautiful voice. He said: “Well that’s very kind of you, but voices ought not to be measured by how pretty they are. Instead they matter only if they convince you that they are telling the truth.”

Be still my heart. That truth – that’s what I long to hear in a performance. Its what I hope I’m remembered for. The truth doesn’t mean it really happened. It just means you believe it.

All the vocal calisthenics heard on American Idol, and in virtually every pre-game performance of the national anthem, just leave me cold. Greg says “there’s no there there.”

I can close my eyes and remember a handful of magical musical performances – I can hear them in my mind. One, is songwriter Allen Shamblin singing I Can’t Make You Love Me – the hit he co-wrote with Mike Reid, made popular by Bonnie Raitt. Allen isn’t a great singer. But everyone in that small coffeehouse in San Jose ten years ago knew we were hearing the truth.

And don’t get me wrong, beautiful voices can sing the truth – beautifully. At the Folk Alliance International Conference several years ago, Greg and I were walking through the crowded, noisy hall way between myriad rooms of ‘official showcase’ performances. We walked into one room and heard Canadian songwriter John Wort Hannam sing this song and it just melted us both.


Striving for Truth

Our friend and fabulous songwriter Cosy Sheridan said this of Greg and I several years ago, when we asked her for a quote:

“In a world of fast food and empty calories, Bev and Greg speak their truth and do it well.”

Words we strive to live up to.

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