Bruce Springsteen inducts Bob Dylan into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 1987 (via rockhall)
The first time I heard Bob Dylan, I was in the car with my mother listening to WMCA, and on came that snare shot that sounded like somebody’d kicked open the door to your mind. Like a Rolling Stone. My mother, she was no stiff with Rock ‘N’ Roll, she liked the music, sat there for a minute, then looked at me and said “That guy can’t sing”. But I knew she was wrong. I sat there and I didn’t say nothing but I knew that I was listening to the toughest voice that I had ever heard. It was lean and it sounded somehow simultaneously young and adult.
I ran out and bought the single and ran home and played it, but they must made a mistake in the factory because a Lenny Welch song came on. The label was wrong. So I ran back to the store, got the Dylan, and came back and played it. Then I went out and got “Highway 61”. That was all I played for weeks, looking at the cover with Bob in that satin blue jacket and Triumph motorcycle shirt.
When I was a kid, Bob’s voice somehow thrilled me and scared me, it made me feel kind of irresponsibly innocent - it still does - when it reached down and touched what little worldliness a fifteen- year-old high school kid in New Jersey had in him at the time. Dylan was a revolutionary. Bob freed the mind the way Elvis freed the body. He showed us that just because the music was innately physical did not mean that it was anti-intellectual. He had the vision and the talent to make a pop song that contained the whole world. He invented a new way a pop singer could sound, broke through the limitations of what a recording artist could achieve, and changed the face of Rock ‘N’ Roll forever.
Without Bob, the Beatles wouldn’t have made “Sgt. Pepper”, the Beach Boys wouldn’t have made “Pet Sounds”, The Sex Pistols wouldn’t have made “God Save The Queen”, U2 wouldn’t have done “Pride in the Name of Love”, Marvin Gaye wouldn’t have done “What’s Goin’ On”, the Count Five would not have done “Psychotic Reaction” and Grandmaster Flash might not have done “The Message” and there would have never been a group named the Electric Prunes. To this day, whenever great rock music is being made, there is the shadow of Bob Dylan. Bob’s own modern work has gone unjustly underappreciated because it’s had to stand in that shadow. If there was a young guy out there, writing the Empire Burlesque album, writing “Every Grain of Sand”, they’d be calling him the new Bob Dylan.
About three months ago, I was watching the Rolling Stone Special on TV. Bob came on and he was in a real cranky mood. He was kind of bitchin’ and moanin’ about how his fans come up to him on the street and treat him like a long lost brother or something, even though they don’t know him. Now speaking as a fan, when I was fifteen and I heard “Like a Rolling Stone”, I heard a guy who had the guts to take on the whole world and who made me feel like I had to too. Maybe some people misunderstood that voice as saying that somehow Bob was going to do the job for them, but as we grow older, we learn that there isn’t anybody out there who can do that job for anybody else. So I’m just here tonight to say thanks, to say that I wouldn’t be here without you, to say that there isn’t a soul in this room who does not owe you his thanks, and to steal a line from one of your songs - whether you like it or not - “You was the brother that I never had”.