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like a Ruritanian Bob Dylan

Careful, folk/rock singer/songwriters of the world: there is a spectre haunting you. If you're:

  • eminent back home;

  • or just the first big rock guy in your language;

  • vaguely political;

  • or lyrically pretentious;

  • or mischievous;

  • possessed of bad voice;

  • or accused of capturing a moment in your people's cultural history

then look out, my foreign friend - for you are sooner or later gonna catch a comparison to Dylan. In recent times the simile has become so wild and virulent that non-musicians must be careful also:

Steve Jobs is right up there. He is, in many ways, the Bob Dylan of machines, he's the Elvis of the kind of hardware-software dialectic."
- Bono

1. "the English Bob Dylan"

Richard Thompson

Dylanesque Score: 6/10

Roy Harper

Dylanesque Score: 7/10

or even
Billy Bragg

Dylanesque Score: 5/10

1'. "British Bob" (the Scottish English Bob Dylan)


Dylanesque Score: 8/10

1''. "The Welsh Dylan" - says the BBC
(though there's plenty of Dylans there already if you ask me)

Meic Stevens

Dylanesque Score: 6/10

2. "Like a Dutch Bob Dylan or somethin"

Boudewijn de Groot

Dylanesque Score: 7/10

Lucky Fonz III (says me)

Dylanesque Score: 7.5/10

3. "The Spirited Bob Dylan of Brazil" - says New York Times

Caetano Veloso

Dylanesque Score: 8/10
(in a Latin way, obv)

4. "Bob Dylan of South Africa" - says Dave Matthews

Vusi Mahlasela

Dylanesque Score: 5/10

4'. "Like a White South African Bob Dylan"

Gert Vlok Nel

Dylanesque Score: 6/10

5. "the Greek equivalent of Bob Dylan"

Dionysis Savvopoulos

Dylanesque Score: 8/10

or George Dalaras (blech)

Dylanesque Score: 3/10

6. "Like a Chinese Bob Dylan"

Cui Jian
(sounds more like the Zhongguoren David Byrne/Colin Hay, but never mind)

Dylanesque Score: 6/10

Yang Yi

7. "Iran's Bob Dylan" - says New York Times again

Mohsen Namjoo

Dylanesque Score: 6/10

8. "The Bob Dylan of Argentina" - says Alejandro Lerner

León Gieco

Dylanesque Score: 7/10

9. "Cuba's Bob Dylan" - New York Times again

Carlos Varela
(a sentimental shill, but so is Dylan)

Dylanesque Score: 6/10

10. "The Czech Bob Dylan" - says Boulder Weekly

Robert Křesťan


Dylanesque Score: 8/10

Jaromír Nohavica

Dylanesque Score: 7/10

11. "Like the black Bob Dylan of Australia"

Kev Carmody

Archie Roach

5'. "The Bob Dylan of Australia"

Paul Kelly

Dylanesque Score: 7/10

(or there's always Nick Cave.)

12. "The Jamaican Bob Dylan"

Barry Brown

Dylanesque score: 5/10
(tho Jamaica was spilling over with this calibre of talent for a decade and a half; BB's equality among kings.)

13. "The Bob Dylan of Japan"

Yosui Inoue

Dylanesque score: 6/10

13'. "Okinawa's Bob Dylan or David Byrne"

Shoukichi Kina

Dylanesque score: 4/10
Win score: 9/10

15. Like a Chilean Bob Dylan

Victor Jara

Dylanesque score: (Got shot by government: more Dylan than Dylan.)

less epochally,

Dylanesque score: (a remarkably feminine) 8/10

16. "The Bob Dylan of East Germany"

Wolf Biermann

Dylanesque score: 7/10

17. Like an Inuit Bob Dylan

Willie Thrasher

Dylanesque score: 6/10

18. "The Russian Bob Dylan"

Boris Grebenshchikov

Dylanesque score: 7/10

18'. "Like the Bob Dylan of the Soviet Union"

Vladimir Visotsky

Dylanesque score: 5/10

19. "the Bob Dylan of Vietnam" - attrd. Joan Baez

Trịnh Công Sơn

Dylanesque score: 5/10

20. "The Bob Dylan of Rap" / "The Jay-Z of his day"


Dylanesque score: ?

21. "like Bob Dylan if Bob Dylan could sing"

Dire Straits(!)

Dylanesque score: No.


Most of the above are too earnest by half - they'd be unable to do, say, this:

But a more glaring revisionist point is that the above are mostly loads more political than he.

Bobby was not really a political person; he was thought of as being a political person, a man of the Left. And in a general way, he was, but not interested in the true nature of the Soviet Union or any of that crap. We thought he was hopelessly politically naïve. In retrospect, I think he may have been more politically sophisticated than we were.
— Dave Van Ronk

Thirty-some years, whenever I go to a march, a sit-in, or a lie-in, or a be-in, or a jail-in, people say, “Is Bob coming?” I say, “He never comes, you moron. You know? When you gonna get it? Never did, probably never will."
— Joan Baez


  1. Caetano Veloso is in a class by himself, not much like Dylan and musically much more interesting.

    The music world recently lost a great singer:


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