Monday April 7 Bob Dylan once again made history and proved the vastness of his influence on the current culture when he became the first rock star to win a Pulitzer Prize, one the highest honors of written art. He won the prize for his “profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power.”
This recognition of Dylan’s seemingly endless and consistent impact on American since the early ‘60s can only hint at his total and true impact. As reported in a NewYork Times article “Pete Townshend once said of trying to assess it, ‘That’s like asking how I was influenced by being born.’”
It has also been long argued that Dylan’s mid-‘60s trilogy consisting of Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde could be the greatest American cultural achievement of recent generations. They are not without valid points. With Bringing It All Back Home Dylan helped create the folk/rock genre and the ‘60s sound that would forever change rock. In Bringing It All Back Home Dylan also made the first music videowith ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues.’ With Highway 61 he broke free from the two-and-a-half minute love song, opening with the epic six minute, antagonizing ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ declared by Rolling Stone Magazinethe greatest rock song of all time.
With his songs and poetry Dylan has touched the hearts, beliefs and emotions of several generations of people and when you affect the people you affect the human culture reaching far beyond the realm of music.
I feel that what makes Dylan so great besides the beauty and imagery of his poetry is the real emotion he instills into his songs. He explores every human emotion writing them into the songs then using his voice to sing them onto the records. His singing voice is always emotion filled. Listening to ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ it is hard to resist shouting out “How does it feel!!!” yourself. Also, what I like about Dylan is the variety of emotions in his songs. Anyone can shout anger or voice distress but Dylan voices desire, lust, regret, shame, joviality and many more just listen to Blonde on Blonde.
And he continues to expand his influence touring worldwide and releasing new records exploring the many forms of American music. Read my earlier post “Dylan: Far from Retired.” He has always created and explored refusing to fall into a rut staying in one place too long. His 40+ records include very successful ventures into folk, rock, the gypsy sound of Desire, blues, jazz, country, gospel and countless melding of them all. His greatest achievements are just beginning to surface.