St. Vincent’s DeJamz: Bob Dylan classics

(Graphic by Max Kleiner / The DePaulia)
(Graphic by Max Kleiner / The DePaulia)

This past week, acclaimed musician Bob Dylan joined the ranks of T. S. Eliot, Gabriel García Márquez, Toni Morrison and Samuel Beckett in being awarded with the Nobel Prize in Literature. 

Being the first musician to earn the award, the 75-year-old artist has redefined the way music and lyrics can be champions of literary feats.

While the uniqueness of the reward was met with some backlash, many music artists and literature greats of our time celebrated Dylan’s undeniably grand achievement.  To join in on the celebration, The DePaulia has gone through and chosen just a few of Dylan’s songs from his extensive and iconic discography of music.

Sit back and enjoy the sound of a man who has undoubtedly influenced the world with his music and lyrics.

1. “Desolation Row”

The closing track of “Highway 61” is one of the longest in Bob Dylan’s discography and also showcases his profound storytelling abilities that probably lead to the Nobel Prize for Literature last week. “Desolation Row” is a series of well-woven vignettes about characters from history like Cain and Abel, the Hunchback of Notre Dame and Einstein. Though long, it tells the story of a town and its inhabitants jumping from person to person and giving enough details to make them feel fully realized in an 11:21 narrative.

2. “Mr. Tambourine Man”

A classic. “Mr. Tambourine Man” is one of the brighter songs in Dylan’s repertoire. The song contrasts the more electric songs on “Bringing It All Back Home,” with a somber pace and lyrics. Dylan’s usual loudness is absent, but the lyrics remain strong. The song on its face is about weariness and fatigue — or drugs, depending on whom you ask — displays another side of Dylan’s storytelling.

3. “The Times They Are a-Changin”

Easily one of Dylan’s most recognizable songs and for good reason, “The Times They Are a-Changin’” marked an important time in not only Dylan’s career but in United States history.  Influenced by Irish and Scottish ballads, Dylan stated that the song was a deliberate attempt to mark a change in history that he had felt was occurring.  Released in 1964, a year after the United States had seen its president be assassinated, along with a glooming intervention in Vietnam and the civil rights war going on at home.

The song has been covered by hundreds of different artists over the years, and has become an influence for many both those who are in the industry and those who are not.  The song served as a heavy influence in the 60s for protesters and anti-war rallies, though whether that was Dylan’s intention we don’t know.

4. “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”

Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” was originally written for the 1973 film, “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid,” though no one would come to remember the film itself.  When the song was released as a single, it reached to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in days.  Over the years, the song has been covered extensively, some of the most recognizable ones being played by Guns N’ Roses and Eric Clapton.