‘Shakespeare, he’s in the alley with his pointed shoes and his bells, Speaking to some French girl who says she knows me well’. -Bob Dylan (From ‘Stuck Inside of Mobile with Memphis Blues Again’, Blonde On Blonde)
Now, before you get all fuzzy about It, realise that there’s a question mark at the end. The point Is not to compare the Individuals.
Who do you think Is the Shakespeare of our time, or let’s just say who do you think Is the one man or women who has captured the vision of people and things happening around with his or her words, and has the literary magic. For me an answer to that question would be Dylan. And that’s Bob Dylan.
Dylan didn’t just write songs, he wrote poems, he wrote Literature. But guess what? That really doesn’t matter, he didn’t like a label to put on his name or his music as folk singer or a rock singer, his music as he defined It can be called ‘Vision Music’ or ‘Mathematical Music’.
There are people who can have a debate going on Dylan’s voice which some people like to say ‘not a traditionally beautiful voice’, but let’s just get this Illusion out of the way that music Isn’t just about the voice, It’s beyond that.
From 1961, the year In which his first album got released, called ‘Bob Dylan’ came out to the present day, he’s still creating new music and doing concerts, now that’s something within Itself. He’s 77 now. That’s a career that spans almost 6 decades, and It’s all filled with magical poetry and words. His recent work may not have been as monumental for some as his work In the 60’s or the mid 70’s, but It still Is a sensational piece of music and art. Infact, his 21st century work have more poetic element than his earlier works. It’s a sign and work of a mature artist.
He has a magic about him which unites him from the rest of the musical artists of his time or even overall, though they must be unique In their own sense but with Dylan It’s different, he’s a different type of storyteller, You, or at least I can visualise whatever he’s singing about. It’s so Impactful, It really Is. Art just feels so good after listening to a Dylan concert or even a single song.
‘The highest purpose of art Is to Inspire, What else can you do for anyone but Inspire them?’. -Bob Dylan
His poems are so complex that It covers diverse topics, yet they are so simple In language that anyone can grasp It. The best track to justify It would be ‘The Times They Are A Changin’.
I honestly believe, Dylan viewed his music as a piece of art, something like Picasso’s paintings, when you see It you don’t ask what was he thinking while making this, you just embrace for what It Is. Because that’s how you really can appreciate the artsy of the artist. That’s how I view Dylan’s music.
As far as live performances Is concerned, you can look at of his footage from the 1966 World Tour or perhaps the 1976 Rolling Thunder Revue and you can see him putting all via the microphone when singing the magnificent poetry that he must have written on his typewriter.
Most of all, Dylan’s writing Is as relevant today as It was back then, maybe even more so and that’s what I call Is True Art. It never ages, even as the time fades away. Another major thing about his music Is that It can mean something to me, but something else to another being. Dylan himself has said that the meaning of his songs depends upon the person who’s listening to It. The Universal aspect of his music has Its own toll.
The irony In his songs Is even more memorising. For example, In ‘Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright’, the whole track or poem as I like to put It Is as If It’s a purely love song, but In the last phrase he comes up with the line ‘You just kinda wasted my precious time… Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright’. Now that’s not your ordinary love song lines.
When he made his debut, he was labelled as a ‘protest singer’ and also a ‘traitor’ by his folk fans when he first started experimenting with other musical instruments (Rock music). People love to create a box, but that didn’t stop Dylan to experiment with his craft. He always did what he felt was the right step to take. He has constantly been expressing himself through his art, and that’s what artists do.
Like Steve Jobs, a big Dylan fan once said ‘Dylan could have made a lot of money making protest songs all his life, but he didn’t.’ And that’s all what It Is about, constantly changing rather than being comfortable with something specific. That’s In the DNA of a great artist, I believe.
One of the most epic moments was when somebody from the crowd yelled ‘Judas’ during one of his concert (He must have been on the side of Folk Dylan, as he was about to play ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ which was slightly more on the rock side). And Dylan turns to his band and says ‘Play It Fucking Loud’, and was half-way through to showing a middle finger, but the music drop intruded him to do so, and he had to sing. You can watch It by clicking here.
Even small details to his music like In the name of the song ‘Rainy Day Women #12 & 35’ from his magical album ‘Blonde on Blonde’ which has lines like ‘Everybody must get stoned’, People have speculated that If you multiply 12 with 35, you get 420. A number associated with .. you know what. I mean, the man introduced ‘The Beatles’ to pot. Yes, The Beatles.
‘All I can do Is be me, whoever that Is’. –Bob Dylan
As far as the tittle goes which mentions Shakespeare, Dylan himself couldn’t have explained It any better as In the speech which he gave when he was awarded with Nobel Prize In Literature In 2016:
‘I began to think about William Shakespeare, the great literary figure. I would reckon he thought of himself as a dramatist. The thought that he was writing literature couldn’t have entered his head. His words were written for the stage. Meant to be spoken not read. When he was writing Hamlet, I’m sure he was thinking about a lot of different things: “Who’re the right actors for these roles?” “How should this be staged?” “Do I really want to set this in Denmark?” His creative vision and ambitions were no doubt at the forefront of his mind, but there were also more mundane matters to consider and deal with. “Is the financing in place?” “Are there enough good seats for my patrons?” “Where am I going to get a human skull?” I would bet that the farthest thing from Shakespeare’s mind was the question “Is this literature?’
Dylan Is right. Shakespeare really did write plays which later became literature, as Dylan wrote songs which later become poems or perhaps literature, as he was also the first ‘rock-star’ to publish all his lyrics as a book. He speculates that like him Shakespeare was more preoccupied with day to day challenges of putting on a performance than he was with the place In literary history. He may have had one eye on history but like Dylan he was embedded In the practical endeavours as well.
They both are literary painters and they do have certain stuff In common like they both were performers and became poets. They gave a new light of literature to forms which was regarded for entertainment purpose.
That’s all there Is to It. I mean who else, If not Dylan? I honestly think there’s William Shakespeare, there’s William Barnes and then there’s Bob Dylan. If not now, 100-200 years down the line he’ll be regarded among them, but I believe he already has.
You can go listen to Dylan’s albums like ‘Blonde on Blonde’, ‘Blood On The Tracks’, or you can even stick with his recent work like ‘Tempest’ or ‘Modern Times’. And hopefully you’ll know why.
‘I think of a hero as someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with his freedom.’ -Bob Dylan
Since, the time I’ve started listening to Dylan, I don’t know If I listen to any one else as much. He Is a genre within himself. With a career that spans 6 decades with total 36 studio albums, he can go for 12 minutes In tracks like ‘Sad-Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands’ and have his magical poetry distributed all the way. Weather old or new, he’s easily the greatest songwriter of all time.
No musician ever has talked to me the way Dylan has, he’s one of the seer reasons I listen to music. ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ Is the most relatable song I’ve ever heard. He’s really something more than your usual singer. He’s a World Changer. His impact still continues. He has pushed many limits and always have evolved weather as a poet or musician.
I believe Dylan stands for something, weather It’s in his work or himself as a person, which I can relate to very much, and I believe many others. He represents something which we all have In a way. I mean they had to cast 6 different people to play In his biopic film ‘I’m Not There’. He’s such a complex character.
There’s another point I’d like put light on, which Is how Dylan was really portrayed or viewed as by media and all versus how Dylan really was or how he viewed himself. In the start of his career, he was given a title of protest singer, when he tuned to slightly different music, he was given a title of a rockstar. As Dylan himself said they were portraying him as If he was some kind of threat to society. Dylan was not all that, he never was and he never will be. He’s a poet who talked about life as he saw It, and he shared this with the audience. It’s as simple as that. I don’t see him as just another folk singer or a rock singer, who came and went. He Is something out of the box, a true rebel or a misfit (In a good way).
I think It affected a lot on how he was portrayed not to Dylan himself, I’m sure he has lived his life as a poet, as he quoted. But to the public, they were or who knows are blind to the real Bob Dylan. Though I’m sure who ever has really went Into the depth of man’s lyrics or poems or words whatever you call It, must have tasted who Is the real artist behind It. As times have changed and we’re In 21st century people have started to realise and appreciate Dylan and his legacy.
If not a poet, he’s certainly a thousand miles more than a singer/songwriter. As he himself said his ‘Songs are alive in the land of the living. They’re meant to be sung not read. The Shakespeare’s plays were meant to be acted on stage. Just as lyrics in song are meant to be sung.’
‘He not busy being born, Is busy dying’. -Bob Dylan (From ‘It’s Alright Ma, I’m Only Bleeding’, Bringing It All Back Home)
Fact: Dylan once during his career decided to retire from his musical career back In 1965. Can you Imagine that? He was done with playing guitar and singing In front of audiences, because of the large number of shows he was doing, but then he wrote a 10 page ‘vomit’ as he called It about his state of being at that retirement stage, which later came to be the track ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ and which changed It all. Can you Imagine no ‘Highway 61 Revisited’, no ‘Blonde On Blonde’, no ‘Blood On The Tracks’, These albums wouldn’t have existed If he had decided to retire.
Thank you for reading. Hope you enjoyed It.
I speak for myself In the above article.