The Political World of Bob Dylan: Freedom and Justice, Power and Sin (Critical Political Theory and Radical Practice)
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This work illuminates, identifies, and characterizes the influences and expressions of Bob Dylan's Political World throughout his life and career. An approach nearly as unique as the singer himself, the authors attempt to remove Dylan from the typical Left/Right paradigm and place him into a broader and deeper context.
recounting of this immersion and reliance is a much-traveled road. Greil Marcus has referred to this aspect of Dylan’s music as his debt to the “old, weird America.” But such a country and its music are weird only to modern ears that have lost their connection to the past as they have bowed to the false gods of progress and fashion. Michael Gray has analyzed the influence of traditional songs— especially their lyrics—on Dylan. With vast knowledge of old-time music, Gray has connected
released The Times They Are A-Changin’, Dylan’s most overtly political album. If Dylan had grown weary of the folk/protest designation, this album did not reflect it. The title track, to listeners still dazed from the Kennedy assassination, must have seemed prophetic. Dylan’s timing proved fortuitous: “The Times They Are A-Changin’” coincided perfectly with political events that occurred in 1964, such as the Freedom Summer, the Berkeley Free Speech Movement, and the presidential election between
singles in large quantities. This is not to suggest that his cultural and musical importance is diminished, but rather that his core audience made up a smaller number of devoted listeners than often assumed. However, he successfully tapped into a sentiment, especially among the young, that the country was on the verge of a historical precipice. Dylan, whether he wanted it or not, achieved the status of New Left prophet. He reached this apex, but it was with one foot out the door. Stepping Out In
before “Trapped in a System,” and the message of both conveyed the sense of people being stuck. Dylan employs “rat race” in a pejorative manner similar to his use of “day shift” in “Subterranean Homesick Blues.” The rat race means a virtual enslavement of workers that keeps them focused on material things and engaged in a consumerist competition with their neighbors—keeping up, in other words, with Mrs. and Mr. Jones. Thus, these people hate their jobs and find themselves trapped. As a result,
way, just because somebody else doesn’t have as much, we treat them another way. But we’ve already judged that person whether we know it or not.” The inner sleeve of Shot of Love includes a spiritually egalitarian passage from the Christian Anarchism l 157 Gospels, in which Jesus prays, “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.”12 The eighth general argument for anarchism concerns