A pioneer of folk rock (in its electric sense), and most importantly that fusion, but who is only considered a pioneer by those who don't particularly want to look at what else was going on in the world of music. Awful, awful voice: could be viewed as a soulful voice by his defenders, but even many of his most well-meaning fans will admit that his gravelly, difficult voice isn't his strength.
They say his strength is his songwriting. But, as examples, they pull up stuff like "Like A Rolling Stone" and "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Subterranean Homesick Alien" BUT!
1) Repetitive, dull chord progression. Don't rhyme at all. It'd be OK if what he said made sense. It doesn't. Don't go whinging saying that "it makes sense to the responder, it talks to me, waa waa I was breastfed til I was 17". Most of what Dylan wrote was stream of consciousness or old-fashioned storytelling that, if S o C, is just his thoughts, and honestly, who cares? If old-fashioned storytelling, then he's failed because noone has any idea what the hell he's on about. Quite a story.
2) DOESN'T MAKE SENSE. Mr. Tambourine Man? "In the jingle-jangle morning"? This is not the lyrics of a genius. I'm sorry. What is then, you ask?
Well, maybe, hell, "Now I know how Joan of Arc felt, when the flames rose to her Roman Nose and her walkman started to melt". Funny, anachronistic. Jingle-jangle morning? It sounds like something written on a bad Hallmark card.
3) Subterranean Homesick Blues could, could have been brilliant, but instead it comes off as self-indulgent. What the hell? It's just stream-of-consciousness, beat poetry, except without the interest of Ginsberg or Kerouac. Nice ripoff, enjoy your millions.
He's not particularly good at guitar. A prodigy at harmonica, but then again, there are homeless men on the street who are pretty damn good at harmonica too, and they don't get celebrated as genius.
The myth of Bob Dylan has been propogated by ageing hippies who pass on this values system of "sticking it to the man!", and use stuff like "Hurricane" as examples of this. He is a figurehead for a movement of assertive peace and political awareness, which is why he has found a consistent fan base (i.e. because we're politically screwed, and have been for the last 40 years). The queen is a figurehead too. Let's celebrate her genius. Nevermind she can't sing, her lyrics are deliberately obscure and she can't play guitar.
You can find kids with four Bob Dylan songs on their iPods, scoffing at their friends who like Blink 182 or Good Charlotte, even though if questioned they wouldn't have a clue about Bob Dylan. Why? It's what Dylan represents. Fight the mainstream.
I respect his political opinions and how he has crystallised that youthful, almost naive optimism of the 60's, but Bob Dylan? I never trust a man with two first names.