Month: May 2017

10 Examples of Bob Dylan Before Bob Dylan #4 & #5. Big Bill Broonzy & Lightnin’ Hopkins: Lifelong Blues

.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:

#4. & #5

Big Bill Broonzy & Lighnin Hopkins


Big Bill Broonzy


Lightnin’ Hopkins

The hardest thing  for a musician to do is to survive and still thrive. There have been many musicians who survived strife of some sort but their popularity was a shell of what it once was. Even more difficult to do is to maintain an artistic success both creatively and financially. Where many would crumble in later years dealing with past successes, Bob Dylan stood tall and fought expectations of what he was as an artist and what his creations mieant. He survived himself and his legacy just like two of the legendary bluesmen of all time, Big Bill Broonzy and Lightnin Hopkins.

This entry focuses not only on longevity but productivity as well. While Dylan has had more than his share of clunkers, notably the album Down in the Groove (Do all the reforming you like. It won’t make it a good album), his consistently being able to make a great album marks him truly farther and greater than any other in pop music history. His ability to remain relevant while crafting his own material further confirms his genius.

Like Dylan, both Hopkins and Broonzy wrote a lot of their own material. Broonzy’s career would stretch from 1927–1958. Of note, Wikipedia informs us:

“Broonzy copyrighted more than 300 songs during his lifetime, including both adaptations of traditional folk songs  and original blues songs.”

Born Lee Conley Bradley anywhere from 1893 to 1902 in either Lake Dick, Ar or Scott Ms., Broonzy was one of seventeen children.  From a young age, Broonzy developed a passion for music and began performing anywhere he and friend Louis Carter could. After returning from military service in World War I, Broonzy would pack up his bags and leave his home in Arkansas for the more accommodating climbs of Chicago.

Lightnin’ Hopkins  career spanned from 1946 to 1982 and, according to, released 78 albums. Hopkins remains one of the most prolific recording artist in any genre. His laid back, smooth delivery was both cool and meaningful. Like Broonzy, Lightnin’ Hopkins’ music contained elements that would set the structure for rock. Both blues men would have long recording careers.

They never reached the dizzying heights or adoration Dylan would. However in a business where people come and go by night or reach the top briefly, Big Bill Broonzy and Lightnin’ Hopkins had a durability matched by very few.


LeBron James: King of the First Round

With his teammates help, LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers recently wrapped another first round win of the NBA playoffs. Though their first round sweep of the NBA seemed like a regular season match up, business as usual so to speak, James is building quite a legacy for the utter dominance that teams he has played on have had in the first rounds throughout his career. If nothing else, James reigns supreme as the King of the NBA playoffs first round.

The  106-102 Cavalier victory over the Pacers saw James contributed 33 points and 10 rebounds. James’ teams have won the past 21 games. Of course, with James being at the center of all of them. ESPN notes that when James’ teams have their opponent down, they do not let up:

“In each of the seven times James has gone up 3-0 in a playoff series, his team won in a sweep.”

Overall, in his fourteen NBA seasons,James’ teams have made the playoffs twelve times. During the twelve appearances, James’ teams have accrued a 48-7 record. According to ESPN:

“His .873 win percentage in first-round games is the best among the more than 300 players to play at least 25 playoff games since the current 16-team playoff format.” began in 1984.



Put simply, every time King James’ teams have gotten into the playoffs they have made it out of the first round and usually none the worse for wear. For his part, James shakes off the numbers and their meaning. From Bleacher Report, LeBron noted:

“As far as the streak, I don’t get caught up into it,” James said after his most recent victory.

“I’ve been fortunate to play with two great organizations obviously here and in Miami. We’ve prepared the best way we can going into a playoff series no matter the opponent. I’ve been fortunate to get to the second round [or further] every time I’ve been in the postseason.”

Again this year, a championship remains LeBron and the Cleveland Cavaliers only option. Anything else for the King of Cleveland just won’t do.


10 Examples of Bob Dylan Before Bob Dylan #3. Skip James

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:


Skip James: A Different Voice

Skip James

As a live performer, you have an ultimate sense of control that can rarely be found anywhere else. A willing audience waits, crouched at your feet, waiting in the darkness wanting to be won.  No record company, agent, or manager can take can aid the artist here. It is the only place where the artist truly decides his fate. As Bob Dylan and Skip James prove, you don’t have to be a great singer to be a great performer. Both Dylan and James employed unconventional singing styles. Their styles polarized listeners. Either you liked them or you hated them. There was no in between. What set James and Dylan apart was their styles. Though unconventional, they won more than their fair share of supporters.

Nehemiah Curtis James, better known as Skip, was born June 9,  1902 in Bentonia Ms. As  with Mississippi John Hurt, James did one recording session in 1928 and disappeared from public view. With the Great Depression looming, James’ records did not sell, thus there was no great want to keep him around. Like many of James’ contemporaries, he would go through a renaissance in  popularity in the sixties.

Whereas Dylan’s singing voice could be describe as nasal, Skip James employed a somewhat high pitched that was both compelling and haunting. When combined with his equally stark and dark style of guitar playing, James, with only an acoustic guitar and his voice, could tie you in knots. You did not forget Skip James.


About his guitar playing, the Wikipedia entry for James states:

James often played guitar with an open D-minor tuning (D-A-D-F-A-D), resulting in the “deep” sound of the 1931 recordings. He purportedly learned this tuning from his musical mentor, the unrecorded bluesman Henry Stuckey, who in turn was said to have acquired it from Bahamian soldiers during the First World War, despite the fact that his service card shows he did not serve overseas. Robert Johnson also recorded in this tuning, his “Hell Hound on My Trail” being based on James’s “Devil Got My Woman. James’s classically informed fingerpicking style was fast and clean, using the entire register of the guitar, with heavy, hypnotic bass lines. His style of playing had more in common with the Piedmont blues of the East Coast than with the Delta blues of his native Mississippi.;

As for Bob Dylan, he began into a more abstract delivery for the Blonde on Blonde tour. He jumped more and more into the surreal.