10 Examples of Bob Dylan Before Bob Dylan: #1. Son House

It is difficult to find any new words of praise on Bob Dylan. He remains one of the true icons of popular music. However, he is not a trailblazer. His roots and inspirations are easily found. No discredit against Dylan meant. He is every bit the icon as everyone says But here is the 1st of ten people who did what Dylan does just way before him. Introducing;

Son House: Rebellious Outsider Outlaw

Like many of his blues brethren, James House Jr, born 1902 in Lyon Mississippi, was torn between his faith and his music.   It would take years of hard living and drinking before he would rediscover his sanity, via, of course, finding God. The results would be three albums of a Dylan in transition from aging rock star into eventual icon.

Son House did it a little different. According to Wikipedia:

“After years of hostility to secular music, as a preacher and for a few years also as a church pastor, he turned to blues performance at the age of 25. He quickly developed a unique style by applying the rhythmic drive, vocal power and emotional intensity of his preaching to the newly learned idiom.”

Like Dylan, Son House’s songs tended to hold the “Good, piety” with suspicion.  The “Bad,” aka the devil, definitely had more than his share of flaws but at least he was honest about. Consider Son House’s song “Death Letter Blues”

You know I went in my room, I bowed down to pray
The blues came along and drove my spirit away
I went in my room, I said I bowed down to pray
I said the blues came along and drove my spirit away

You know I didn’t feel so bad, ’til the good ol’ sun went down
I didn’t have a soul to throw my arms around
I didn’t feel so bad, ’til the good ol’ sun went down
You know, I didn’t have nobody to throw my arms around

The “Good” man loved this woman. Death robbed him of her. He is bereft, despite the fact she really didn’t love him. Who does he blame?

As with Son House, Dylan’s “Good” guys aren’t too interested in the good. In “High Water (For Charley Patton) “Good’s” (ie God’s) domain is a rather bleak place:

High water risin’, the shacks are slidin’ down
Folks lose their possessions and folks are leaving town
Bertha Mason shook, it broke it
Then she hung it on a wall
Says, “You’re dancin’ with whom they tell you to
Or you don’t dance at all”
It’s tough out there
High water everywhere