Music   

The Worst Harmonica Player of All Time

Who is the worst harmonica player of all time? This question was posed to some harmonica playing expert on the Dick Cavett show in like 1977. Yes, that's a long time ago. Dick Cavett was a talk show host. Any other questions? Right, the answer was.. Bob Dylan.

Bob Dylan couldn't sing. He sounded terrible. This was, and is, obvious to even children (my daughter at age 5 wanted to know why the singer sounded so bad -- thought he was trying to be funny).  Bob Dylan was a mediocre guitar player. He certainly didn't dance. Wasn't good looking, although he had a bit of boyish charm when he started out 40 years ago. And now it was official; this harmonica expert on the Dick Cavett show had officially dubbed him the worst harmonica player of all time. The same harmonica expert who's name I can't remember. The same harmonica expert who had no influence on the world of music whatsoever. But he could play licks on the harmonica all right, and boy was he smug in his assertion that night.

But here's what he and so many others who can't figure out Bob Dylan are missing. Music isn't about playing an instrument well, or fast, or with precision. If that were the case, then Alvin Lee would still be a household name today. (Alvin Lee was a fabulous, fast-fingered guitarist with a group called Ten Years After in the late 60's. They made it big at Woodstock, then faded from view.) Instead, Jimmy Page, who was never the most precise musician, still incredibly stars on the cover of every major guitar magazine every other month even today -- why, because he created Great music. Great melodies.

And so it is with Bob Dylan. His voice sucked, and his guitar work was only acceptable, and the harmonica came in like he had just learned how to play it, but it all fit together perfectly. Sounded F'n great. Had that 'harmonica expert' played on the song, and hit every note perfectly -- probably would've ruined the song.