Van Morrison On Why He Refuses To Be Compared To Bob Dylan

In an interview with Ultimate Classic Rock, Van Morrison insisted that he and Bob Dylan were fundamentally different. While acknowledging that comparisons are often made between them, Morrison pointed out that he was primarily a singer who wrote songs, distinguishing himself from Dylan, whom he described as ‘a songwriter who sings songs.’ He said:

“Well, I’m just nothing like Bob Dylan, so I guess what I was trying to say was, like, I’m coming from the place that I’m a singer first. I’m a singer. Right? And I write songs. So Bob Dylan and I are, like, worlds apart. What he does and what I do, you know, it’s nowhere near. I am a singer who writes songs, so I was comparing myself more to the singer who writes songs, rather than a songwriter who sings.”

Van Morrison On Hearing Bob Dylan For The First Time

The Irish singer moved to Woodstock in 1967 after the breakup of ‘Them,’ because Dylan lived there. He found himself looking for something new and the British scene was something he wanted to escape. He thought Woodstock would be full of similar maverick characters, so he switched continents to follow his dream.

Morrison was confident in his own abilities and initially didn’t think anyone else was on his level. Nevertheless, his ex-wife Janet Rigsbee remembered Morrison’s interest in Dylan. She said:

“Van fully intended to become Dylan’s best friend, Every time we’d drive past Dylan’s house… Van would just stare wistfully out the window at the gravel road leading to Dylan’s place. He thought Dylan was the only contemporary worthy of his attention.”

Morrison talked about the first time he heard Dylan in an interview in 2000. He said:

“I think I heard [The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan] in a record shop in Smith Street. And I just thought it was just incredible that this guy’s not singing about ‘moon in June’ and he’s getting away with it… The subject matter wasn’t pop songs, ya know, and I thought this kind of opens the whole thing up.”

Later, the duo would go on a world tour together and cover each other’s songs dozens of times.

Morrison Slammed ‘Top 200 Singers Of All Time’ List

Van Morrison expressed his dissatisfaction with Rolling Stone’s ‘Top 200 Singers of All Time’ list, where he was ranked 37th. He was particularly critical of the low rankings of Joan Baez, Solomon Burke, and Bobby Bland, who he believes should be in the top 20. Morrison. He responded to the fact that he was above these singers on the list by saying, ‘Let’s face it, this is not reality.’ Rolling Stone noted Morrison on the list. They stated:

“To experience the height of Van Morrison’s vocal genius, you have to get beyond the words.”

Morrison heavily criticized his position on the list in an interview with the Independent earlier this year. He said:

“People keep calling me to say, ‘Congratulations, you are No 37 in Rolling Stone’s 200 singers. Oh great, thanks very much. Who else is there? Joan Baez, one of the greatest folk singers of all time, is at 189? Solomon Burke and Bobby Bland are in the high hundreds? What the fuck? These people should be in the top 20 at the very least. It’s nice they mention me, but let’s face it, that’s not reality.”

The list published by Rolling Stone earlier this year was widely criticized by a wide range of people from many different musical communities.