A couple of years ago Rolling Stone magazine published their list of the 100 greatest singers of all time. There is much to quibble about with their list, not the least of which is the exclusion of Linda Ronstadt, who clearly should be in the top 10—if not the top 3—but my opinion on that has nothing to do with preaching…clearly.
Their top 10 (remember, this is Rolling Stone) includes some amazing voices:
#10 James Brown
#9 Stevie Wonder
#8 Otis Redding
#7 (I’ll get to that one in a minute)
#6 Marvin Gaye
#5 John Lennon
#4 Sam Cooke
#3 Elvis Presley
#2 Ray Charles
#1 Aretha Franklin
Those are all great singers; they have fine voices and it is a pleasure to listen to them.
So what about #7? It’s Bob Dylan. Bob Dylan, according to Rolling Stone, is the seventh greatest singer of all time. The problem with that, of course, is that Bob Dylan can’t sing and he never could, by which I mean that he does not have a technically sound or physically powerful voice.
I was struck, though, by what Bono (singer for the band U2) said about Dylan’s singing:
When Sam Cooke played Dylan for the young Bobby Womack, Womack said he didn't understand it. Cooke explained that from now on, it's not going to be about how pretty the voice is. It's going to be about believing that the voice is telling the truth.
A preacher’s voice might or might not be pretty.
A preacher’s voice might or might not be powerful.
But people have to believe that the preacher’s voice is telling the truth because the preacher is trying with all she is and has to tell the truth.
So preach like Dylan….