The one musician Bob Dylan called “deceiving”

Whilst Bob Dylan is rightly considered an oracle on many topics, he is best versed in the realm of songwriting. One of the most consequential musicians of all time, the Minnesotan has been on a sonic journey of mythic proportions since he broke out and has continued to fascinate.

As is well-known, Dylan started life as a protest songwriter in the vein of his hero, Woody Guthrie, examining the most significant issues of the 1960s with his infectious music and incisive poetry that blends hard-hitting realism and comedic surrealism. From ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ to ‘Tangled Up in Blue’, the amount of classics the curly-haired troubadour has to his name is nothing short of remarkable.

Given that his status in music is indisputable, Dylan has often been asked about the sounds he himself is a fan of, and unsurprisingly, given the extensive number of areas he has tried his hand at in his time, his record collection is a varied one, ranging from classic artists loved by the mainstream to niche works out of the limelight.

When speaking to rock critic and MTV producer Bill Flanagan in 2009 for the Huffington Post, Dylan discussed some of his favourite songwriters of all time. During the interview, he mentioned the likes of Gordon Lightfoot and John Prine as those he thinks are the finest.

It was an enlightening conversation in many ways, but the most interesting account Dylan provided in it was his of Randy Newman, another he listed as one of his favourites. Notably, the songwriter is most famous for his Toy Story theme tune, ‘You’ve Got a Friend in Me’. However, as the astute Dylan pointed out, Newman’s “style is deceiving”, as although his music is apparently laid back, he often discusses vital topics. His style is so subtle that he once even earned a death threat due to one of his songs being misinterpreted.

Dylan said of Newman: “Yeah, Randy. What can you say? I like his early songs, ‘Sail Away’, ‘Burn Down the Cornfield’, ‘Louisiana’, where he kept it simple. Bordello songs. I think of him as the Crown Prince, the heir apparent to Jelly Roll Morton. His style is deceiving. He’s so laid back that you kind of forget he’s saying important things. Randy’s sort of tied to a different era like I am”.

Listen to ‘Sail Away’ by Randy Newman below

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