Music

Contrastography: Prince vs. Bob Dylan

STREET ART: Prince photo by DJ Johnson on Unsplash / Bob Dylan photo by Richard Mcall from Pixabay

Contrastography compares the histories of two famous entities to display some unusual coincidences. First up is Prince vs. Bob Dylan.

Bob Dylan: The private and prolific Minnesota songwriter uniquely fused folk and rock to become the dominant counterculture musical voice of the 1960s.

Prince: The private and prolific Minnesota songwriter fused funk and rock to become the dominant counterculture musical voice of the 1980s.

* * *

Dylan: Released 39 studio albums during his 58-year recording career.

Prince: Released 39 studio albums during his career, but if you include the albums he released under a different name, it's… 58. (Spooky!)

* * *

Dylan: His unconventional voice and lyrical innovations attracted Black people into the white world of folk music and helped dissolve racial barriers.

Prince: His unconventional take on gender and sonic innovations attracted white people into the Black world of funk music and helped dissolve racial barriers.

* * *

Dylan: Was a big fan of motorcycles, songs about tambourines, and changing religions.

Prince: So was he. In the 1980s 15 acts had hit songs written by Prince, which was waaaay less than Prince had himself.

* * *

Dylan: Gave a wooden acting performance in the lousy film Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973), yet wrote a classic song for its soundtrack, "Knockin' on Heavens Door".

Prince: Gave a wooden acting performance in the lousy film Under The Cherry Moon (1986), yet wrote a classic song for its soundtrack, "Kiss".


* * *

Dylan: Was indirectly responsible for the most widely bootlegged album of the 1960s, Great White Wonder (1969), featuring unreleased tracks from The Band.

Prince: Was indirectly responsible for the most widely bootlegged album of the 1980s, The Black Album (1987), featuring unreleased tracks from his band.

* * *

Dylan: Wrote multiple love letters to music legend Mavis Staples, whom he briefly dated and appeared with him in the film The Last Waltz (1978).

Prince: Wrote multiple albums for music legend Mavis Staples, whom he briefly signed to his label Paisley Park and appeared with him in the film Graffiti Bridge (1990).

* * *

Dylan: Years after his proto-rap vocals on "Subterranean Homesick Blues" (1965), he became an early supporter of hip-hop and dropped bars on Kurtis Blow's "Street Rock" (1986).

Prince: Years after his proto-rap vocals on "Irresistible Bitch" (1983), he became an early hater of hip-hop and dropped the diss track "Dead On It" (1987). (His next single "Alphabet St." (1988) featured an extended rap, so maybe he was kidding?)

* * *

Dylan: Played guitar with Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, and George Harrison as The Traveling Wilburys.

Prince: Played guitar with Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne on a George Harrison song at The 2004 Rock Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, essentially assuming Dylan's role in The Traveling Wilburys.

* * *

Dylan: Awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016. He missed the ceremony due to pre-existing commitments.

Prince: Awarded Doctorate of Humane Letters by the University of Minnesota in 2018. He missed the ceremony due to his post-existence.

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