Bob Dylan seldom hands out praise anymore, and getting even a grain of positivity from the great man is worthy of making it onto your tombstone. Here, we revisit the moment that the freewheeling troubadour declared one singer as having the “last individualist sound”.
Dylan’s love for modern music is something that he keeps private, and it’s hard to picture what he whistles along to on a Sunday morning while sipping on a morning coffee. Everything about him is otherworldly, and it’s hard to imagine Dylan doing anything relatively normal. Even picturing Dylan listening to contemporary music feels alien.
While he has often spread love to luminaries from yesteryear throughout his career, whether it’s Woody Guthrie or peers like Warren Zevon and John Prine, Dylan has never been shy about discussing his admiration for others. However, Dylan has remained coy about acts from more recent generations. Perhaps because his records sell themselves without him having to do a single interview, and he’s keeping his cards close to his chest.
During his esteemed Theme Time Radio Hour programme, which aired on Sirius XM from 2006 until 2009, Dylan provided a fascinating insight peek behind the curtain of his personality. Every episode is a dosage of an eclectic, swirling blend of music that Dylan loves from the world of blues, folk, rockabilly, R&B, soul, bebop, rock and roll, country and any other 45s he fancied spinning. However, it wasn’t exactly the place to discover a hot new band.
In 2017, Dylan broke his silence and released an 8,000-word interview conducted by author Bill Flanagan on his website, which is where he named the singer with the “last individualist sound”. Commenting on what’s been on repeat on his stereo, Dylan said: “Iggy Pop’s Après, that’s a good record. Imelda May, I like her. Valerie June, The Stereophonics. I like Willie Nelson and Norah Jones’ album with Wynton Marsalis, the Ray Charles tribute record. I liked Amy Winehouse’s last record.”
When Flanagan presses him on his love of the late imperial Winehouse, asking he was was a fan of her work, Dylan added: “Yeah, absolutely. She was the last real individualist around.”
Like Dylan, Winehouse triumphed and pioneered a new approach to pop music. She bucked the trends of her era, expressed ethereal talent and became an iconoclast in the process.
Her authentic approach shone through like a beacon of light, yet, her 2003 debuts, Frank, went below the radar, and then it was her sophomore effort, Back To Black, which sent her talent into the stratosphere. It made America fall in love with the new princess of pop, who had an aura to her that made her the modern-day Janis Joplin.
Dylan referred in his statement to the posthumous, Lioness: Hidden Treasures, which came out in 2011 and brought together the recordings she was working on before losing her life that same year. Winehouse was a maverick like him. Although the pair had a different sound, aesthetic, and almost everything else, they undoubtedly shared a similar renegade spirit.