Growing up is difficult for everybody, no matter who your parents are. So imagine that you have to grow up with a father who is famous. Not only is he a celebrity, but he’s a huge rock star. And it goes beyond the fact that he’s a musician; in fact, he’s an American icon, a representative of a time and place that will be forever etched into the fabric of the history of the country. Such was the case for Jakob Dylan, whose father is the great Bob Dylan. One would assume that Jacob would become an accountant or something, simply to avoid comparisons between himself and his dad. And yet, Jacob made a bold move, assembled a band called the Wallflowers and, on this day in 1996, released the group’s breakout album Bringing Down the Horse.
Comparisons to his dad were inevitable, especially considering the tone and timbre of their voices was so similar (though Jakob’s diction remains far superior). But rather than traffic in political allegories or blues shuffles about dusty one-horse towns, Jacob’s brand of rock crossed country sensibilities, arena riffs and good old-fashioned pop hooks for a brew that was distinctly his own. The group became an instant player in the splintered modern rock scene of the middle part of the 1990s, scoring a big hit with the single “Sixth Avenue Heartache.” It didn’t hurt that Jakob was a natural video presence, and his piercing blue eyes made him an instant heartthrob.
The Wallflowers were never able to replicate the success of Bringing Down the Horse (though their follow-up, 2000’s (Breach), remains painfully underrated — just listen to “Some Flowers Bloom Dead” for proof), though they continue to release albums. Jakob has had even more success as a solo artist, having put out two well-received albums (including the recent Women and Country). However, Jakob’s definitive contribution to the music landscape remains the Wallflowers’ “One Headlight,” a punchy, organ-driven pop tune.