Dylan Says Go Straight On
Dylan Cloud Can’t Honestly Be Like That…Can He?
This is the story of a song.
Wrote some lyrics—didn’t take very long.
And they sound so good in paragraphs. And then we absolutely dug’ em.
When they try.
Dylan Cloud dropped a single. “Straight On” is a genre-bridging track. It inherited some fuzz from funk. Some of its edges got sharpened, then scraped jagged, from stripped-back punk. He threw some wit into it that he stole from the garages of rock duos with cheap cleverness. Then he glued it together with some get-up-and-groove from reggae. Over the top he poured some noise from his metal side. Then, because I don’t think that a rock and roll musician can escape Robert Johnson (and Dylan leaned into it on purpose), “Straight On” has more’n a little mud and dust from the delta blues mussing it around the edges.
Taken altogether, “Straight On” is the kind of track that, if you wanted to, you could use it as a history lesson, and learn something about what rock and roll is, if you can figure out what rock and roll is, which I haven’t yet.
At the same time, like all the best tracks like that, you can forget about the analysis and just bop along to it without thinking about anything at all.
Garage Rock Could Not Have Been Invented in Spain
Rock and roll needs a swift kick in the pants every now and then. The most dramatic example of same is U2: a punk band who got too much money and turned into…well, into U2. Nothing else like them, and some of us aren’t sorry.
A zeitgeist evolves when artistic types get the resources to “realize their vision.” That zeitgeist can be discouraging to talented musicians starting their careers without much in the way of, like, cash. That production-value sound can suggest a bar of entry too high for your just-trying-to-get-by starting out musician.
In that zeitgeist, Dylan did what young musicians have been doing since the beginning of music: inventing garage rock.
Garage rock may have a specific sound. It MAY. I think that the “garage rock” sound is an illusion. It’s a lame box to put a sound in. It’s a far less lame box, though, to store an ethos. That ethos being one invented by literally any band who, at the beginning of their careers, needs cheap rehearsing and recording space.
A garage is a symbol, in this case. It’s a symbol for figuring out how to make good with the tools you’ve got. The reality is that Dylan couldn’t actually invent garage rock. There aren’t a lot of garages in Barcelona, he says.
The idea is the same, though. Limited resources, when used with cleverness, create cool stuff.
An Evolved Couch Jam
In this way, you can’t quite call “Straight On” the bastard love child of the work of Robert Johnson, The Black Keys, and the Queens of the Stone Age…but you almost can. Dylan heard that, since he was playing by himself, Robert Johnson figured out how to play his guitar so it sounded like two guitars—so Dylan did too.