Ian O’Neil Of Deer Tick On Bob Dylan

Written by January 25th, 2012 at 7:00 am

(Ian O'Neil, far left, with Deer Tick)

How did you first get into Bob Dylan?

I bought The Times They Are A Changing in high school. It just seemed like a good place to start because I was more interested in starting to write my own songs and I wanted some kind of platform that made sense. I plowed through everything he made in about a year because it was so enthralling. I didn’t feel 40 years old.

How has he influenced your music?

Although I don’t believe many people can do it well, his lyrical imagery and seeming theory to find emotional content merely in the sounds of words blew me away. I clung to that, and not always with success, put it into practice.

How many times have you seen him play live?

Four times. Dating from 2006 to 2010.

What were those shows like?

Spectacular and unexpected. The first one was great. I was already enjoying his later period albums as much as his early ones. It made perfect sense to me that he would sound the way he did with this band, but I didn’t suspect his song choices.

Does it bother you that he borrows so much in his music?

Hell no.

What’s your stance on that?

This is kind of a tired argument, but the linear evolution of country, blues, folk, rock, pop can’t be discredited. You’ll have a website like Pitchfork who will blast our band and our friends’ bands for being derivative, and yet they’ll champion older acts such as Bob Dylan or The Replacements because of their benefit of hindsight. Not only do I believe Bob Dylan has the right to continue the rich tradition of songwriting how he has, I believe everybody has that right. Without it, you’d just have a bunch of losers try to play music like they’ve never listened to it before. And that is exactly what they have, unfortunately.

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

No, by 2011, strange singers are more common than refined ones.

What’s the closest you’ve ever gotten to him?

I’ve never had the opportunity to meet him. Though, I’ve heard wonderful stories from those who have.

Do you have a favorite Bob Dylan quote or lyric?

I don’t think so. The one liners aren’t as good without context. They can become slogans without his voice and the surrounding lyrics.

What are some of your favorite songs or albums, and why?

My favorite albums are John Wesley Harding and Time Out of Mind. They are both stark in their delivery and I like when Bob Dylan has an intimidating, almost frightening seriousness. Lyrically, they span both interesting ideas and emotions. I think the Basement Tapes also have a very similar feeling to them.

Is there a period of Dylan’s music you think is underrated or overrated?

I’d say his mid-nineties acoustic albums are more exciting than people will admit.

What do you admire about Bob Dylan?

Songwriting.

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