Doc Watson died yesterday. That news in the entertainment field was overshadowed by Bob Dylan receiving the Medal of Freedom at the White House from President Obama. I understand that, because Bob Dylan is so well-known, but I’m not sure that the Dylan story was more important. I am a Dylan fan, but I own more music by Doc Watson because over the years I found that he was uniformly good, while there were quite a few albums by Dylan upon which I could take a pass. I suppose it is a point of view thing.
I’m nt sure which Doc Watson album in my collection was the first that I bought. I know I had heard about him long before I listened to him. I suppose I thought he was just a hillbilly country and western singer, and I used to be too much of a snob to listen to C&W. Then I listened to Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys, Hank Williams, and Patsy Cline. I decided to try other artists as well and picked up a Doc Watson album that I found on sale. That first album was enough to make me a fan. I have always loved to hear good guitar playing and both Doc and his son Merle were outstanding guitar players. The fact that Doc could also sing was a bonus. He not only performed country songs, but also folk music, show tunes and pop songs. He recorded with Chet Atkins, David Holt, and David Grisman. I’ll be listening to Doc Watson’s music for as long as I can.
Lest you think I was giving Bob Dylan short shrift, I am a fan of his as well. I especially like his first seven or eight albums. I started listening to Dylan when I was a senior in high school. I had heard Peter, Paul & Mary and The Chad Mitchell Trio among others perform his songs, but I didn’t hear his voice until Like A Rolling Stone hit the radio. It became my theme song for my freshman year in college. That song seemed to say so much to me. I quickly bought that album, Highway 61 Revisited, and his earlier releases because I liked the songs so much. Dylan wasn’t consistently good by my standards, but he deserved the recognition he received yesterday.