Langston Hughes and Bob Dylan are two poets from different eras in modern American poetry. Although Bob Dylan is more characterized as a songwriter, I see much of his work as poetry. In this essay, I will discuss Hughes’ poem “Harlem ” and Dylan’s “Times They Are A-Changin”’ as commentaries on are culture, but from different backgrounds.
Dylan’s most famous protest song is “Blown’ in the Wind”. It became the anthem for the civil rights movement in America during the 1960s, and as result Dylan was viewed as the spiritual leader of the civil rights movement. “Blown’ in the Wind” became very popular among the American people because the lyrics of the song could be applied to any situation as the lyrics were all about humanity learning from its mistakes and a call for freedom. “Only a Pawn in Their Game” was Dylan’s most offensive protest song that he wrote, and it was first performed at a civil rights rally in Greenwood, Mississippi. This song was about a civil rights activist who was murdered by “just a poor dumb
Dylan in re-recording this piece to reiterate the cause (The Rock and Roll Music Hall of Fame).
To understand the sixties counterculture, we must understand the important role of Bob Dylan. His lyrics fueled the rebellious youth in America. Songs such as “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Times are A-Changin” made him favorable to anti-war demonstrators and supporters of the Civil Rights movement. He was commonly hailed as the spokesman for his generation. Dylan used lyrics to allow the youth to find their own form of counter-culture. The youth generation began to see the effects racism, war, etc. effect the society in America. To combat this, the youth created their own form of counter-culture to promote a peaceful change within society. Some of their actions include forming anti-war protests that opposed America’s involvement in the Vietnam War, and supporting African Americans/women get the rights they deserve through the Civil Rights Movement. Bob Dylan’s music appealed to the young generation because he openly expresses his disapproval of the establishment in order to influenced his audience to move in a direction for change. Counterculture youth rejected cultural norms of the previous generation and their values and lifestyles opposed the mainstream culture present in the 1950’s. The folk music revival of the early 1960s, as well as the counter-culture movement played an important role in advocating change. Bob Dylan wrote songs that influenced the Civil Rights Movement, New Left Movement, and Anti-War Movement.
If you were alive in 1960s and a teenager, it would be impossible not to know Bob Dylan because he was a folk singer who was involved with the Civil Rights Movement. He impacted the music world by being one of the first musicians to take an active role on moral issues and he united people through his music. If Bob Dylan had not been around there are many movements that might not have been as successful, had he not been there as an advocate. The teens of the 1960’s were listening to Bob Dylan’s music because he was able to take in political events such as the mistreatment of black Americans, the Civil Rights campaigns, and the anti-war movement and set them to prose and poetry and then set that to music. The contents of his songs enabled teens
The 1960’s was an era of revolution and social change in the United States. Painters, dancers, actors, musicians and many more artists all wanted to portray societies immoral issues through their art. Musicians played a very prominent role in providing society with an outlet on the importance of this change. Within these musicians was a folk rock singer and songwriter by the name of Robert Allen Zimmerman, or as America knows him, Bob Dylan. He is known and honored around the world for his influence on popular music and culture, however, he is much more than that (Wood 313). The beginning of Bob Dylan’s career as a singer and songwriter was marked by his repetitive emphasis on social change throughout his protest songs which include “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall,” “Masters of War,” and “The Times They Are a-Changin’”; with each song, Dylan exposes many issues that affected, not one, but many lives as he aimed to spread social and political consciousness to society.
Arguably one of the most powerful of Dylan’s social issue charged song is The Death of Emmet Till, a young black man who was unrightfully killed by the Ku Klux Klan. By 1963, Dylan and his on and off lover Joan Baez were both very well known in the civil rights movement. Baez and Dylan would sing together at rallies including the famous March on Washington. Dylan was on stage with Martin Luther King Jr. when his gave his infamous I Have a Dream speech. Though Dylan sang of American injustices, he was never incredibly interested in politics and he was ultimately frustrated by people defining him solely as a protest singer. Dylan’s frustrations with the unsought political branding are expressed in It Ain’t Me Babe, which “appears to be a song about rejected love, [it] was actually his rejection of the role his reputation and fans had thrown on him” (Carlson).
The 1960’s in America was often referred to as an age of protest because of not only the social protests that have taken place, but also for the upbringing of protest music, which became very popular during that era. The roots of protest music were largely from folk music of American musicians during 1950’. Folk musicians, such as Joe Hill, composed labor union protest songs and distributed song booklets, hoping to “fan the flames of discontent.” (Rodnitzky pg. 6) Symbolically, this meant that the songs, the fan, would reduce the uncontrollable social protests that the United States government caused with the misleading information that they did not keep their word on, or the flames of discontent. Other folk musicians, such as Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, traveled around the United States spreading their “message music” and becoming involved in political movements. Guthrie and Seeger were the pioneers of protest music, bringing their folk music to New York City and merging it with urban music. Woody’s songs were about the masses, often identifying problems and offering solutions. While Seeger was cautious about referring to his music as folk music, preferring the term “people’s music,” meaning that not everyone may had the same thoughts, but they all expressed it in their own unique musical sense. For both Woody and Seeger, folk music was a necessity in these protests, when the needs
“ The title track of Dylan's 1964 album The Times they are a-Changin' has become one of the most famous protest songs ever written. Though articulating the hopes of the Sixties folk generation, Dylan's creation has proved to possess an enduring cross-generational appeal.”(Thompson, Jennifer). Not only did Bob Dylan influence the listener, he also influenced many other writers throughout his music. Some people did not feel that they should share their personal opinion with the public, but Bob Dylan thought differently. An example of this is shown in his song “The Times They Are Changing”, Mr. Dylan explains in the song that race is unimportant and humans should not be seen by the color of your skin, we should just see other people. Bob Dylan explains that he wrote this song because "I wanted to write a big song, with short concise verses that piled up on each other in a hypnotic way. The civil rights movement and the folk music movement were pretty close for a while and allied together at that time." (Barnes,
In a 1979 interview for Frets magazine Pete Seeger expressed the driving force of his music in one word--responsibility (Hood 30). In his view there are no causeless songs; each one has a message. Seeger dedicated his life to challenging the status quo and combating the establishment with his favorite weapon, the banjo. Inscribed on his banjo were the words “This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender”. Pete Seeger became one of the leaders of the folk revival, rousing his audience with his mastery of the banjo (Rosenberg 75). However, his influence extended past the musical scene. He gave a voice to the overlooked, working class and he created a model of musical activism that other groups could emulate.
But in 1959, Dylan’s main focus towards Rock and Roll music permutated to American Folk Music, in 1985 he explained that Rock and roll was never enough for him, and it didn’t reflect life in a realistic way.
Some people are born to become legends, Bruce Springsteen is one of them. From the second he was born and through his younger years everyone knew he was destined for something bigger than a regular nine to five life, they just didn’t realize the magnitude of what was to come. Born into a all around food middle-class family, no on in that house hold even Bruce, didn’t realize that within fifty years he would reach living legend status. Also have a title of one of the best musicians to every live. After working hard at what he loves, Bruce has become known as a musical hero and inspiration to his fans and fellow musicians. With his deep lyrics, amazing stage presence, incredible guitar skills, and his passion, he is an untouchable force in
During the Cuban Missile Crisis, when cold war tensions were at an all time high in the United States, Bob Dylan wrote a song that would become known as A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall, which depicted the world after a nuclear cataclysm. He song provided imagery such as “a newborn baby with wild wolves around it” and “a young woman whose body was burning” (Dylan). Compared to Sinatra, Dylan’s music was extremely politically motivated and used to push a message, it was also composed by Dylan himself. This difference is most likely due to Sinatra’s origin in the Big Band era of Swing Music, where a singer would exist as part of a large ensemble if one existed at all, and the band director would be primarily in charge of songs that the orchestra performed. Whereas Dylan was a child of the Folk Music revival, which valued music less for setting a mood but rather as a means for creative expression for a given artist. Even if a difference in era is the root in Dylan’s music being far more politically motivated, it did lead to him being able to have a large amount of influence of the political views of his listeners. Dylan was also notoriously racially tolerant, with the singer Victoria Spivey saying that to him “Everybody was people, not color” (Sounes, Chapter 3). One of Bob Dylan’s biggest hits was Blowin’ In The Wind,
Bob Dylan was a pioneer of the antiwar movement. He opened a new section of music and inspired millions. Although he wasn’t the best singer in the traditional sense, his lyrics were what moved people. For example in “Man on the Street”, Bob Dylan tells of the human suffering that is caused by human cruelty. “Dylan's lyrics were not so much a form of entertainment, but created to get the public aware of what was going on in the world. Bob Dylan's imagination and energy with words is what made him famous” (Jake Rae).
Duluth Minnesota, May 24th 1941 Robert Allen Zimmerman (Bob Dylan) was born. 69 Years and over 45 albums later Bob Dylan has completely altered the face of popular music since his debut as a fresh faced folk singer in 1962. His early career forged him into an informal chronicler and then he later developed into an apparently reluctant figurehead of social unrest [Gray, 2006] and became a voice for a generation. His songs have been covered by many artists in a wide span of genres and he has remained a prominent and highly influential figure in the history of popular music over the past five decades. [Gates, David, 1997]