I remembered a friend in college gave me a CD that had some Bob Dylan on it and I didn't really like his singing at first. A short time later I was consuming a very high volume of music in general, exploring every genre and really diving into the greats and there was no escaping Dylan. I think it was watching D.A. Pennebaker's documentary "Don't Look Back," considered one of the greatest rock documentaries of all time, that got me hooked like I was a kid when my dad showed me comic books. Bob Dylan has released over 40 albums and I have most of them. Why? He's the greatest rapper of all time.
Before Bob Dylan, most mainstream music contained simple lyrics with simple themes. After Bob Dylan, mainstream music changed dramatically. He influenced the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and most musicians since. When he hit the world stage no one had heard music so complex and significant. His words painted pictures that did not match up to reality or matched up too frighteningly close to home. Up until this time most mainstream music was Frank Sinatra type love ballads or "How Much Is That Doggy In The Window?" or early rock n roll music. What Bob Dylan did was make it okay to make lyrics that did not have to be easy to understand or simple or apologetic or any of the other safe ways songwriters approached writing. His words were puzzles, left scattered across our paths for our minds to play with.
Listen to "Subterranean Homesick Blues" and tell me Bob Dylan isn't a rapper. And if he's a rapper, name one greater. His lyrics and music transcended popular music and created an entirely new kind of popular music, one where the lyrics mattered and the songs meant something more than just background music you calmly and politely listened to while having dinner. No, his music and all that came after carries with it the idea that you must push some boundaries somewhere, you must work out a way to describe things better so in some way you can find a way through the ever evolving landscapes of living on our planet.
What is hip hop? It is the idea that despite the dangers of our environment we can find some good in it and overcome all obstacles through the power of art and self-determinism. Bob Dylan was a musical prophet, spitting unmatched verses about our world so resonant they remain just as valid now than they ever did. How do you determine a man's impact? Look at his products, his art, his works, his creations. If you haven't had the pleasure of partaking in the genius of Bob Dylan's music, do yourself a favor and run to his canon of music history as well as the current hits he still churns out (they're just as good). He's over 70 years old and tours constantly, catch him if you can, he's a real OG.
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8/26/2013 11:22:46 am
That is a new viewpoint on Dylan. I too loved his lyrics enough to buy and explore multiple albums.
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I'm David Carus. From overcoming one of the most dangerous cities in the country and graduating from one of the most prestigious colleges in America to leading an educational movement as a teacher and running for Congress at the age of 25, I decided the best hope our world has is through art.