A Cog in the Wheel of Popular Culture

Written By: Published In: ROOT Created Date: 2016-09-22 Hits: 200

Bob Dylan is not only memorable for his own contributions to the world of music, which considering the expansive scope of music he has released...

Bob Dylan is not only memorable for his own contributions to the world of music, which considering the expansive scope of music he has released and performed over the years, is veritable in its own right. Dylan is also important as a poet, singer and songwriter because all the influence his music has exerted, and because of everything that his own creations have led to the creation of. He was only a cog in the wheel of popular culture, and everything he did sprouted wings of its own and brought about its own consequences.

Perhaps the most widely known of all the different images that Bob Dylan has had over the years is that of a lone singer, pale and almost sickly-looking, with a guitar slung over his shoulders and a harmonica adroitly placed on a frame, singing songs of peace and acceptance and tolerance. He recorded and performed several songs that would, in a very concise and controlled way, create a different future,nd consequently leave behind a different history.

There were hits like “Blowin in the Wind”, “The Times They Are a-Changin”,  and “Masters of War”, all of which became the centre of several protests professing peace over war, which served to create Bob Dylan, image as an anti-establishment personality. Although he would grow tired of politics later in his life, it was at the very beginning of his career that he took great pains to express his political views, and that is how he will forever be remembered.

“The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” and “Oxford Town” were blatant attacks on the racist subculture that had been festered around the time Dylan was playing. His songs have inspired several artists to create their own protest songs, sentiment that Dylan himself echoed when he denied playing at a concert where he was asked to change the lyrics of a certain song because it might offend religious sentiments. Sam Cooke, among others, wrote a song called “A Change is Gonna Come” taking his cue from Dylan; and the beat poet Allen Ginsberg was reduced to tears after he heard “A Hard Rain, A-Gonna Fall”. Such was the power of Dylan, voice, and his words.

Dylan, contribution to music did not stop with his own output. In fact, it only began there. Dylan is probably one of the most covered artists still alive today, and it is no surprise that the artists that cover them become popular themselves, and in addition make Dylan just a bit more popular than he already is.

The most popular proponent of Bob Dylan, song coverers is probably Jimi Hendrix, who in one fell swoop changed the way that Dylan was remembered, with his cover of All Along the Watchtower. No longer was Dylan just a mellow-guitar strumming, soulful singer with a jagged voice and that seemingly Southern drawl in his voice. Hendrix had turned him into this unimaginable and untamable monster with his guitar chops and little trills and ferocious bends. Even Dylan himself acknowledged that Hendrix, version was by far the more definitive.

And it didn’t end there, obviously. The list of artists who  covered Dylan is longer than the number of albums he, released himself (a pretty substantial list in itself). Plus, it didn’t stop at a certain period of time. Dylan has been covered ever since his own day, by bands like The Byrds, Simon and Garfunkel, The Beach Boys, his once girlfriend Joan Baez, to bands in the next couple of decades or so, including Guns N” Roses, Phil Collins and Bruce Springsteen. In fact, contemporary artists today continue to cover Bob Dylan some of these artists include Coldplay, Beck, and the White Stripes.

Clearly, Bob Dylan, legacy is going to last a long, long time. Even if the times they are a-changin”.