Bob Dylan: Nobility, Lyrics and Ghosts

Kane, David (2017) Bob Dylan: Nobility, Lyrics and Ghosts. Riffs - Experimental Writing on Popular Music, 1 (1). ISSN 2513-8537

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In October 2016, Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. In this article, I examine Bob Dylan’s unique status in the history of rock that often focuses on his songwriting, particularly his lyrics, and the manner in which he influenced other musicians. I also consider how responses to Dylan’s Nobel can be construed as illustrating the gap that continues to exist between the supposed high cultural value of literature and the low value of rock music. Further, I explore how continued acknowledgement of Dylan’s work can be viewed as affirming a rock ‘golden age’ that peaked in the 1960s and which, for some commentators, results in contemporary replication of the past that acts to hold back innovation. This is most noticeable in the concept of hauntology, which, in this context, promotes a desire to resurrect a time in which music really mattered. These musings are interspersed with my personal experience of Dylan’s music that while rendering me unqualified to hold an objective view, enable an understanding of the polar positions often taken in any discussion of Dylan’s oeuvre and his ability to delight, dismay, enthral and frustrate in equal measure.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number:
February 2017Published
Subjects: CAH25 - design, and creative and performing arts > CAH25-02 - performing arts > CAH25-02-02 - music
Divisions: Faculty of Business, Law and Social Sciences > College of Law, Social and Criminal Justice
Depositing User: David Kane
Date Deposited: 17 Mar 2017 14:31
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2024 12:50

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