The first time that I heard Bob Dylan I was in the car with my mother, and we were listening to, I think, maybe WMCA, and on came that snare shot that sounded like somebody kicked open the door to your mind, from 'Like a Rolling Stone.' And my mother, who was - she was no stiff with rock and roll, she liked the music, she listened - she sat there for a minute, she looked at me, and she said, 'That guy can't sing.' But I knew she was wrong. I sat there, I didn't say nothin', but I knew that I was listening to the toughest voice that I had ever heard. It was lean, and it sounded somehow simultaneously young and adult, and I ran out and I bought the single. And I came home, I ran home, and I put it on my 45, and they must have made a mistake at the factory, because a Lenny Welch song came on. And the label was wrong, so I ran back, and I got it, and I played it, then I went out and I got Highway 61, and it was all I played for weeks. I looked at the cover, with Bob, with that satin blue jacket and the Triumph Motorcycle shirt. And when I was a kid, Bob's voice somehow - it thrilled and scared me. It made me feel kind of irresponsibly innocent. And it still does. But it reached down and touched what little worldliness I think a 15-year-old kid, in high school, in New Jersey had in him at the time. Dylan was - he was a revolutionary, man, the way that Elvis freed your body, Bob freed your mind. And he showed us that just because the music was innately physical, it did not mean that it was anti-intellect.
He had the vision and the talent to expand a
pop song until it contained the whole world. He invented a new way a pop singer
could sound. He broke through the limitations of what a recording artist could
achieve, and he changed the face of rock and roll forever and ever. Without
Bob, the Beatles wouldn't have made Sergeant Pepper, maybe the Beach Boys
wouldn't have made Pet Sounds, the Sex Pistols wouldn't have made 'God Save the
Queen,' U2 wouldn't have done 'Pride in the Name of Love,' Marvin Gaye wouldn't
have done 'What's Goin'On,' Grandmaster Flash might not have done 'The
Message,' and the Count Five could not have done 'Psychotic Reaction.' And
there never would have been a group named the Electric Prunes, that's for sure.
But the fact is that, to this day, where great rock music is being made, there
is the shadow of Bob Dylan over and over and over again.
And to steal a line from
one of your songs, whether you like it or not, 'you was the brother that I
never had.' Congratulations."