1. Better Voice
The quirkiness of Dylan’s voice has been a long running joke. On some of his earlier works, his voice is fine. But lets face it, Dylan isn’t known for his voice as much as his known for his genius lyrical style and incredible songwriting. Neil, some say, has a horrible voice as well. I will not only disagree with that, but go as far as saying Neil has one of the most unique voices in music. From the falsetto of “After the Gold Rush” to the punkish chants of “Sedan Delivery”, Neil’s voice tops Bob’s on every level.
2. Better Guitar Player
Do I even have to explain this one? Again, Dylan is the greatest songwriter ever, but Neil is one of the best garage style guitarist’s ever. How many modern rockers emulate Neil’s feedback, mistake-laden style compared to Dylan’s standard folk strums?
3. Better Good-to-Bad Song Ratio
Besides Captain Beefhart has anyone written more songs than Dylan? Percentages tell us that most if not all can’t be that good. Taken that Dylan does indeed have some incredible songs that will be engraved in our souls forever, you cant help but wondering about the other 60% of songs he cut that have absolutely no place in his discography. Neil did have some horrible albums there in the 80’s, but most of the music he puts out is quality and very few fillers make it on Neil’s albums.
4. Neil Never Sold His Music To a Commercial
The day has come: Bob Dylan’s music not only appears in commercials, but Bob Dylan himself appears as well. I’ve always maintained that it would be a sad day in music when we start hearing Dylan, Hendrix, and Marley songs in commercials. Hendrix and Marley can’t really control it at this point, but Dylan really has no excuse. You can’t tell me he needs the exposure or money. Neil even went as far to write “This Note’s For You” declaring “I ain’t singing for no one, who makes me feel like a joke”. (note: as of launch time, rumour has it that Dylan will be a guest host on next year’s American Idol—enough said. )
5. Neil Embraces the Younger Generation of Musicians
Sonic Youth, Social Distortion, Ministry, Dinosaur Jr., Blind Melon, Pearl Jam, and Dave Matthews, are just a few modern acts that have played with or opened for Neil Young. Neil has always been a believer in the younger generation of bands around him. From his proclamation of “This is the story of Johnny Rotten” in 1978 to recording an entire album with Pearl Jam in 1995 (Mirror Ball) to writing an entire album about Kurt Cobain (Sleeps With Angels), Neil has always embraced and encouraged younger musicians. I haven’t checked recently, but last I heard Dylan was proclaiming his hatred for rap music. Which is kind of ironic considering “Subterranean Homesick Blues” is basically a folk/rap song. You would at least think Dylan could appreciate the lyrical content of rap.
6. No One Plays Neil Songs Better Than Neil
Jimi doing “Watchtower”, Richie Havens doing “Just Like a Woman”, the Byrds “Mr. Tambourine Man”, are just a few examples of Dylan covers that are better than Dylan’s versions. Everyone knows you can cover Dylan and will probably end up with a better version than his. The few bands I’ve heard cover Neil do it ok (The Bridge: Tribute to Neil Young album has some great covers by Sonic Youth and the Pixies), but by no means do they re-establish the song like Hendrix did with “Watchtower”.
7. Farm Aid & The Bridge School Benefit Concerts
Don’t quote my stats on this but Neil founded both of these events (Farm Aid in the 80’s Bridge Benefits in the 90’s). I would imagine that at this point, Neil has raised millions of dollars for both of these causes and more importantly raised awareness of these problems. The annual Bridge School Benefit concerts draw such eclectic performers as Willie Nelson to Wilco. Neil has been heavily involved in the promotion of these causes and seems to genuinely have a personal interest in them. Dylan has performed numerous times at these shows. I’m no Dylan hater and I don’t know much about his charity work, I’m sure he has done plenty. But Neil’s work goes beyond the call of duty and has created some memorable concerts and has helped to build numerous schools and centers to help deal with children’s health issues.
8. Neil Is More Diverse
Sure Dylan went from folkie to rock folkie to Christian folkie to incoherent folkie to country folkie back to rock folkie back to folkie and is now some sort of mysterious Salvador Dali inspired spaghetti western style folk singer. But he was always folk. Neil started out in Buffalo Springfield singing trippy 60’s songs, and then went on to the esoteric harmonies of CSN, next moving onto Crazy Horse, which was basically a pre-cursor to grunge music. The bottom line is, Neil did all of those things well. No one questions the legitimacy of the rock of Crazy Horse, and no one questions the legitimacy of Neil’s solo acoustic work. What he does he does full out. For a little while there he did dabble in country and electronic music with mixed results. But even today, Neil puts albums out that still garner interest from even the most casual fan. There was about a 20-year lull between good Dylan records.
9. Neil Never Played With The Dead
I’m not talking about opening for the Dead or even just sitting in to jam with them. Dylan toured, played, and recorded an entire album with them that most people would agree was not a career highlight for either of these greats. Did Dylan really need to Dead to revive his career? Aren’t the Dead basically a Dylan cover band anyhow? I’m all for musicians getting together and combining their skills to create music. But there was no real legitimate reason for Dylan to make this career move unless he was motivated by money. I’ve seen Neil sit in with the Dead, Led Zeppelin, and tour with Booker T. & the MG’s. But he never recorded and released albums with these guys. The Dylan/Dead fiasco was nothing more than a marketing gimmick and the Dead getting to play with their idol.
10. Because I Like to Piss People Off
The final reason why Neil Young is better than Bob Dylan is because I like to piss people off when it comes to musical ideas. I like to hear people bash me for having an opinion that differs from theirs. I like to make people back up their reasons for stating things (I came up with ten!). I like to have people read this list and murmur to themselves what a fucking idiot I am for “dissing” Dylan (as if this was about dissing him or something). I like to go against the grain and touch on people’s innermost ideals. Bob Dylan is the greatest songwriter ever! Neil Young is one of the greatest artists ever. It’s comparing apples with apples. It’s a matter of opinion. However, Neil is better than Dylan cause I said so.