Bob Dylan Rips R&B Star for ‘Mangling’ National Anthem
Bob Dylan doesn’t give interviews or public speeches often, and maybe there’s a reason for that. While receiving MusiCares Person of the Year Award last night (Feb. 6), he used his platform to take shots at some of his fellow music industry legends, but his biggest target was a relatively new singer.
As USA Today reports, Dylan said, "Critics say I mangle my melodies, render my songs unrecognizable. Let me tell you something: I was at a boxing match a few years ago, seeing Floyd Mayweather fight a Puerto Rican guy (presumably, Manny Cotto on May 5, 2012). And the Puerto Rican national anthem, somebody sang it. And it was beautiful, it was heartfelt, it was moving. After that, it was time for our national anthem, and a very popular soul-singing sister was chosen to sing it. She sang every note that exists and some that don't exist. Talk about mangling a melody. Take a one-syllable word and make it last for 15 minutes. She was doing vocal gymnastics like she was a trapeze act. To me, it was not funny. Mangling lyrics, mangling a melody, mangling a treasured song. No, I get the blame.”
The “very popular soul-singing sister” wasn't named by Dylan, but was identified in the piece as Marsha Ambrosius, a Liverpool-born singer who has had considerable success on the Adult R&B chart since 2010 and co-writing credits on albums by such notables as Michael Jackson and Alicia Keys. She has also had guest appearances on many hip-hop songs over the past decade.
The rest of Dylan’s scorn was reserved for some sacred cows whom he says couldn’t understand his songs. He took broadsides at Brill Building writers Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller (“Novelty songs. They weren't saying anything serious”), Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertugun (“I would rather have Sam Phillips' blessing any day”) and country legend Merle Haggard (“Buck Owens…recorded some of my early songs...Buck Owens or Merle Haggard, if you had to have somebody's blessing, you can figure it out”).
Dylan and Haggard toured together in 2005.
Rock's Nastiest Feuds
See the Yearbook Photos of Bob Dylan and Other Rock Stars