Bob Dylans Social Commentary Essay


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During an interview with the Los Angeles Free Press in 1965, Bob Dylan said, “All I can do is be me, whoever that is,” (Dylan) which perfectly describes the sentiment you get from his works. During his music career, he has changed many aspects of his image, music style and religion, going so far as to legally change his name from Robert Zimmerman to Bob Dylan. Living during a very fast changing society, his works reflect on the Civil Rights movement and other historically significant events. He is seen as a spokesperson for his generation through his deep and meaningful songs. Bob Dylan uses his pieces to comment on life and humanity, sparking social reforms. Bob Dylan was born named Robert Zimmerman in Duluth, Minnesota on May 24, 1941. . He grew up in a supportive, Jewish household, and began writing poems at the age of 10. When he was 14, he taught himself to play guitar, and played in a couple different bands in high school.


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In the song Watered down Love, he talks about how pure love will only hurt you so you need to look for a “watered down love”. The repetitious phrase, “You don’t want a love that’s pure, you want a drown love, you want a watered down love” (12). The song “Love is just a Four Letter Word” further continues the theme of true love being impossible. The song begins with him hearing others saying that love doesn’t mean anything, but in the end of the song he believes that himself. This is shown when it says “Though I never knew just what you meant when you were speaking to your man, I could only think in terms of me and now I understand,” (28). The songs are examples of how Bob Dylan uses his writing to comment on parts of life such as love and war. Bob Dylan’s writing does not go without criticism. His frequent changes in music style and image cause distaste from many critics. Jann Wenner in Rolling Stone Magazine said, “Dylan created so many images and expectations that he narrowed his room for maneuverability and finally became unsure of his own instincts,”(Wenner,”The Rolling Interview: Bob Dylan.”) There are also arguments of Bob Dylan’s role as an artist.


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“Is Bob Dylan an Artist?” Contemporary Review 1 June 2004: n. pag. Wenner, Jann S. “The Rolling Stone Interview: Bob Dylan.” Rolling Stone 29 Nov. 1969: 32-35. “Bob Dylan.” The Beats: Literary Bohemians in Postwar America. Gale Research, 1983. Dictionary of Litereary Biograhy Vol 16. Literature Resource Center. Bob Dylan: Like a Complete Unknown. New Haven [Conn.: Yale UP, 2011.


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