Bob Dylan Lectures

Dylan reaches back to his grammar school reading to find the deepest roots in his lyrics. This "hardest working man" in music hints at literature and his small role in it. Simultaneously modest and pretentious, it is uniquely Dylan, a free man. post


When I first received this Nobel Prize for Literature, I got to wondering exactly how my songs related to literature. I wanted to reflect on it and see where the connection was.

YOUTUBE 6TlcPRlau2Q Published on Jun 5, 2017.

By listening to all the early folk artists and singing the songs yourself, you pick up the vernacular. You internalize it. You sing it in the ragtime blues, work songs, Georgia sea shanties, Appalachian ballads and cowboy songs. You hear all the finer points, and you learn the details.

But I had something else as well. I had principals and sensibilities and an informed view of the world. And I had had that for a while. Learned it all in grammar school.

Specific books that have stuck with me ever since I read them way back in grammar school – I want to tell you about three of them: Moby Dick, All Quiet on the Western Front and The Odyssey.

But songs are unlike literature. They're meant to be sung, not read. The words in Shakespeare's plays were meant to be acted on the stage. Just as lyrics in songs are meant to be sung, not read on a page.


You crave meaning? There it is — a very bold, very Jewish, very life-affirming rejection of the afterlife, the underworld, and the pie-in-the-sky promise of a putative heaven. It’s life and life only! Live it now. Alex Beam’s column appears regularly in the Globe. post