The way I think about the blues, comes from what I learned from Big Joe Williams. The blues is more than something to sit home and arrange. What made the real blues singers so great is that they were able to state all the problems they had; but at the same time, they were standing outside of them and could look at them. And in that way, they had them beat. What’s depressing today is that many young singers are trying to get inside the blues, forgetting that those older singers used them to get outside their troubles.
-Bob Dylan (The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan Liner Notes – 1963)
Joseph Lee “Big Joe” Williams (October 16, 1903 – December 17, 1982) was an American Delta blues guitarist, singer and songwriter, notable for the distinctive sound of his nine-string guitar. Performing over four decades, he recorded the songs “Baby Please Don’t Go”, “Crawlin’ King Snake” and “Peach Orchard Mama”, among many others.
KL: Do you see any bands of merit on the scene today? What about U2? They’re friends of yours, aren’t they?
Bob Dylan: Yeah, U2 will probably be around years from now. John Cougar Mellencamp, he’ll be around as long as anybody will be.….
-Bob Dylan to Kurt Loder (October 1987)
John J. Mellencamp (born October 7, 1951), previously known as Johnny Cougar, John Cougar, and John Cougar Mellencamp, is an American musician, singer-songwriter, painter, and actor. He is known for his catchy, populist brand of heartland rock, which emphasizes traditional instrumentation.
I started writing songs after I heard Hank Williams.
-Bob Dylan to Les Crane, February 1965
If it wasn’t for Elvis and Hank Williams, I couldn’t be doing what I do today.
-Bob Dylan to Robert Shelton, June 1978
To me, Hank Williams is still the best songwriter.
-Bob Dylan to Paul Zollo, April 1991
Hiram King “Hank” Williams (September 17, 1923 – January 1, 1953) was an American singer-songwriter and musician. Regarded as one of the most significant and influential American singers and songwriters of the 20th century, Williams recorded 35 singles (five released posthumously) that reached the Top 10 of the Billboard Country & Western Best Sellers chart, including 11 that ranked number one (three posthumously).
In the time of my confession, in the hour of my deepest need
When the pool of tears beneath my feet floods every newborn seed
There’s a dying voice within me reaching out somewhere
Toiling in the danger and the morals of despair
Of course nobody sings Dylan like Dylan.
Still, these cover versions are worth listening to.