Who was more important to American folk music: Woody Guthrie or Bob Dylan?

Woody Guthrie

Woody Guthrie was a direct influence to many musicans, including Dylan who stayed at his house and befriended his son Arlo. Without Guthrie there would have been no Dylan. Great as Dylan is, we cannot put him before Guthrie.

Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan made two distinct contributions to folk music: he fused poetry with music to create a new style within the artform; and he also pioneered folk rock. Guthrie is credited as Dylan’s inspiration but Dylan’s contributions and achievements are his own.

Woody Guthrie wrote over 100 songs, mostly political ones dealing with social injustice and poverty. “This Land is Your Land” became the unofficial anthem of the civil rights movement. Towards the end of his life he had already reached legendary status, directly influencing musicians such as Joan Baez, Phil Ochs, Bruce Springsteen, and, of course, Bob Dylan himself. Dylan, known by some as his generation’s Shakespeare, is a Nobel Prize winning musical genius. On top of selling millions of albums, Dylan has written over 500 songs that have been performed by 2000 artists worldwide. Dylan’s Nobel prize, awarded in 2016, was for literature. One of his special contributions to music was the fusion of poetry with song; the second was the creation of folk rock.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x