Asa Daniels, Campus Carrier online editor
It goes without saying that whether or not someone likes art is subjective. However, in some form or another, the works of songwriter Bob Dylan have the possibility of being liked by everyone.
First, consider Dylan raw and bare. His voice to his songs, his guitar playing, his accompanying bands and all of the other ways that he himself displays his lyrics.
His voice, at times nasally and at others soothing, is important to the performance of a song. This is especially true given his tendency to change arrangements or lyrics for songs he has performed through the years. Fans have gone in-depth trying to see if there’s any reason why a particular rendition of “Ballad of a Thin Man” sounds as it does.
His guitar playing in the early years was nothing masterful, but was beautiful in simplicity. Recently, he has others playing the bass or acoustic, but often times they are still rhythmic rather than intermissions to lyrics.
His lyrics themselves are also diverse and unique between songs; while the subject-matter or sound of songs can be grouped together into decades, these periods are so different among each other that there is likely some decade of Dylan’s that someone can like. Worst case, it’s just one song.
If Dylan’s singing or basic instrumentals are too bland for one’s taste, there are the dozens, if not hundreds, of covers by other artists. From being similar in tone, such as Jeff Tweedy’s “Simple Twist of Fate,” to being totally different from the original, such as My Chemical Romance’s “Desolation Row”, the large selection of artists means that anyone can find a version of a song they may enjoy.
If singing altogether is too much, it is relatively easy to read his lyrics as poems. Given that he won the Nobel Prize in Literature, the opinion that he is a poet is a fairly popular belief. Most of his lyrics can be found online or in one of his editions of “The Lyrics.”
With the ability to read Dylan’s words on one’s own, the pace, tone and meaning of the songs, or in this case, poems, can be shaped by the reader. This removes any impact of music or vocals on the narrative.
Dylan has also authored one work of fiction, “Tarantula,” a collection of prose and poetry that is sure to be confusing and engaging to a reader willing to put in some effort to understand what Dylan has encoded within his sentences.
If non-fiction is more to one’s taste, he has an autobiography, “Chronicles: Volume One,” that showcases his place in the greater historic world, from the sixties onward, while also describing his struggles as “the voice of his generation”.
If movies are more interesting, he did direct and star in a film, “Renaldo and Clara,” that explored his relationship with his first wife, Sara Dylan. He’s also made a few other appearances in film, such as “Pat Garret and Billy the Kid.”
Dylan has even done sketches and paintings, many of which can be found online or in exhibits. Some of the works are landscapes, others, interpretations of images from his own songs.
Given the range of media, everyone is likely to have something about Bob Dylan that sticks to them. And, if nothing else prevails, there is always this lyric from “Tombstone Blues” to remember him by: “The sun’s not yellow, it’s chicken!”