Miss Willie Brown on Bob Dylan

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How did you first get into Bob Dylan?

Kasey Buckley: When I first started involving myself in music, I asked a friend to make me a list of every song I needed to hear to make me a better songwriter. He gave me a list and at the bottom of it said, “…and everything Bob Dylan has ever written.”

Amanda Watkins: I was actually 10 years old and had gone to a Melanie concert down on Clearwater Beach with my family. She sang the song “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” and I absolutely fell in love with it. I’d go around singing it and telling everyone about my favorite folk singer Melanie and my favorite song thinking for sure this was her song and her song only.  A couple years later my sister — instrumental in introducing me to all kinds of music –- said, ”You know “Hard Rain” is a Bob Dylan song, right?” to which I replied, “Who is Bob Dylan”? Needless to say my relationship with his songs grew exponentially from there.

How has he influenced your music?

Kasey: His melodies are very outside the lines. Even today his music, regardless of when his songs were written, pushes the envelope. He has a gift to say things with such simplicity and beauty. I strive for that in my songwriting.

Amanda: The biggest influence he has had on me is allowing my writing to have no boundaries. No walls. When my guitar teacher, Doug Travers, told me there are no rules in music, I immediately reflected on Bob Dylan to confirm that to be true. My comfort and confidence in playing and writing music that doesn’t necessarily fit the mold definitely stems from my admiration and appreciation for the art of Bob Dylan. I’ve never been afraid to break ground.

How many times have you seen him play live?

Amanda: Unfortunately, I have only seen him live once. Dylan was playing Nashville River Stages with The Black Crowes opening. It was surreal. He really is a walking legend, like someone I never thought would exist during my lifetime. All jaws were dropped to the floor witnessing pure art unchained and accepted.

Did it take you awhile to get into Bob Dylan, given his strange singing style?

Kasey: No. I always approached Dylan’s music as a higher learning. It’s hard sometimes to be completely open to something and let it hit you just because the world tells you it should. His songs just evoke such emotion in me, and the ones I really fall in love with just happen so naturally with no need for discipline.

Amanda: It did. I loved his songwriting immediately but I’m pretty much an Aretha Franklin-lovin’ kind of singer. While his voice can be odd at times, nothing has ever overshadowed the truth and passion that keeps people all over the world listening. I really feel he has ended up redefining what great singing really is, or can be.

Do you have a favorite Bob Dylan quote or lyric?

To this day, “I’ve Forgotten More Than You’ll Ever Know” from Self Portrait has to be, by far, the best way to let someone know they just might not be getting it. Even an insult is made poetic.

What are some of your favorite songs or albums?

Amanda: One of my favorite songs is “Meet Me In The Morning.”  I just love the way this song makes me feel. And it never fails to make me want to sing it.

What do you admire about Bob Dylan?

Kasey: In a time of great adversity in this country, he created a voice for himself and others, regardless of what was being said. I think that’s courageous.

Amanda: The simple fact that Bob Dylan can play any style of music he wants and still be true to himself is probably the greatest gift a musician/writer can have. The man can put out Christmas music and a Christian album and pull it off. Seriously… bad ass.

Visit Americansongwriter.com daily during our 30 Days Of Dylan countdown to read exclusive interviews with artists on Dylan, exclusive audio and video, and more.


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