Dylan: A poet not a prophet
I wrote this over on Public Reading Rooms
Bob Dylan was recently awarded the Nobel prize for literature. Of course the award owes more to the truth in his lyrics, than the tune in his head. Nevertheless it is a richly deserved award. Though it may be fashionable to say I was, I’d be lying if I claimed I was a big fan of Dylan’s music. I did however always believe his words to be profoundly poetic, sometimes hauntingly so. But were they prophetic?
Much like the world we live in today, Dylan bore witness to an age of great technological and creative advances, juxtaposed with rising intolerance, inequality and war. Just as many do now, young people all across the world came onto the streets and fought hard for a better world, free from suffering and injustice. Inspired by these movements for peace and equality he wrote The Times They Are a-Changin’, a classic that perfectly trapped the zeitgeist in lyrical form.
Perhaps Bruce Springsteen put it better and far more succinctly than I. “This song was written in a period in my country’s history when a people’s yearning for a more just and open society exploded. Bob had the courage to stand in that fire and he caught the sound of that explosion.”
What a time to be alive that must have been, in which you could actually feel the old order’s grasp slipping.