I go for a walk every morning. My goal is to walk the better part of an hour. I usually walk a little over two miles, starting out with a podcast. Some of my favorites are The Daily, Ted Talks, and Fresh Air. If you haven’t discovered podcasts, check them out. There’s a wealth of information and entertainment at your finger tips.
Some of my podcasts run a half hour or less and that isn’t enough walk time. That’s when I go to my music and more often than not listen to Bob Dylan. I have a wide range of musical tastes. In fact, I like almost all music. Why, then, do I choose Dylan so often? The first of several reasons is a practical one. Many of his songs are verrrry long. Two or three songs and my walk time is over. The notion of only a few songs tricks me into thinking I haven’t walked very long.
Pragmatism aside, I have many reasons to listen to Dylan. I like what he expresses in his songs and I enjoy the way he delivers his work. I know most of the words to most of his songs; thus, I can stroll along singing with him; speeding up for an upbeat song and slowing down a bit for a more sedate number. I consider him not merely a song writer, but a poet.
I’ve never been a fan of poetry. (I imagine that makes me less educated in the eyes of some folks. So be it.) However, when it comes to the poetry of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, I’m all over it. Some have called these two gentlemen the best of 20th century North American poets. I agree. Someone described Dylan’s work as “poetry for the ear.” I declare the same for Cohen’s immense body of work. I suppose this means I want my poetry set to music. That’s not surprising considering how much of my day is spent listening to my favorite, and some new, artists.
In 2016, Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. There was a little controversy over their choice. He is the first songwriter to receive the this award. The committee said he was so honored “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” Indeed he has done that, in my opinion.
If you like this great artist as much as I do, I’m “preachin’ to the choir.” If you don’t like Dylan, but you do like poetry, check out his lyrics on the web. Go to bobdylan.com (this is his official site) and you will find a list of his songs. Touch the title of a song and the lyrics will magically appear on the screen. Listed below are a few of his best poems/songs:
Masters of War; A Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall, Blowin’ in the Wind; Like a Rolling Stone; Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright; It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)
Count me among the lovers of Bob Dylan. I love his music when he sings it and also when others sing his songs. That said, the most disappointing live concert I ever attended was in 1999. It was a joint concert with Bob Dylan and Paul Simon. Dylan was up first and he seemed totally disconnected with his fans. I don’t know if he was high, but he was most unenthusiastic and seemed to think his very presence was sufficient for the price we paid. He moved like a robot and slurred the lyrics and tunes so much that most songs were half over before I recognized them. Then Paul Simon came out excited, enthusiastic and clearly loving his fans. He gave a marvelous performance, fully engaging the audience, We came to think of the concert as a Paul Simon concert with some guy named Dylan as the warm-up act.
I’ve seen Dylan twice – in the old Charlotte coliseum and then years later in the auditorium in Asheville. Both were terrible. I saw Paul Simon in the outdoor stadium in Charlotte. It was a fabulous concert.
Oh yes! I do love Dylan and Cohen and listen frequently. After many years of ignoring my vinyl albums I have in the last couple of years pulled out my “old originals” and I listen to them on vinyl and somehow that is bridging my current appreciation for their words and also fulfilling some level of nostalgia for the days when I could sing all the words and likely had no real feeling for the depth of the poetry. I think at this stage of my life I hear the words so differently. I also have a book of Paul Simon’s lyrics which I also read like poetry. I do love podcasts, too. There are more to enjoy than I have time! LOL!
Hi Debra. I, too, am a Paul Simon fan. I still know almost all the words to “Call Me Al.” I think his “Graceland” is my favorite album of all time.
In ancient times, people didn’t distinguish between poems and songs – it seems all poems were sung. Maybe the melody helped with memorising the words. I agree with you about Dylan and Cohen – both great poets.
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I didn’t know that, Cat, but it makes perfect sense to me.
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