He’s a college dropout, but he’s been awarded two honorary doctorates. His writing has been ranked on par with Shakespeare. He achieved rock star status with only a guitar, harmonica and his nasally voice. While still in his twenties, he was hailed as the “spokesman for his generation.”
[dylan] Bob Dylan – the prophet, the icon, the “spokesman for his generation” – will perform with his band at the Breslin Center on Nov. 9. This will be his only stop in Michigan on his fall tour of college campuses. Tickets are $35 and a limited number are reserved for MSU students at $27.50.
Bob Dylan made his name as the voice of the folk protest movement in the 1960s. His songs spoke of the restlessness of the time with the reality and political consciousness of his lyrics. After conquering the folk music scene, he shocked and angered folk devotees by kicking away the image that brought him fame and turning to rock and roll. Never riding on his past successes or his glorified image, Dylan pushed himself to innovate, and continues to do so today.
Instead of relying on his signature songs – “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” and “Like A Rolling Stone”- he is always reinventing himself, singing new songs and changing old ones, exploiting the full force of his creativity. The version of “The Times They Are A-Changin’” one would hear at a Dylan concert today isn’t the same hootenanny-worthy song Dylan sang in the 1960s with his acoustic six-string. Dylan changes the arrangements and lyrics of his songs until they are at times unrecognizable, to both the delight and chagrin of his fans.
Elusive with the press and reluctant to give interviews, Dylan surprised those who thought they had him figured out by the Oct. 5 publication of his memoir “Chronicles, Volume One,” the first in a projected series of three books. In the long-awaited autobiography, Dylan reveals the burden of his celebrity and the titles forced upon him that elevated him to the point of iconography.
“…The big bugs in the press kept promoting me as the mouthpiece, spokesman, or even conscience of a generation. That was funny. All I’d ever done was sing songs that were dead straight and expressed powerful new realities. I had very little in common with and knew even less about a generation that I was supposed to be the voice of,” Dylan said in “Chronicles.”
[concert] Dr. Kay Rout, a writing, rhetorc and American culture professor who teaches a class on the 60s, mused that Dylan landed in his legendary status. “I think he denounces the title because he can’t escape it, Rout said. “I don’t think he knew his songs would resonate so much. He just wanted to be a singer. professor of a class devoted to the sixties.
Rout said that she believes part of Dylan’s popularity with the younger generation today is due to connections that can be found between Vietnam and Iraq. She also accredits students’ continued interest in Dylan to his attitude; his snideness, sense of humor and the sneering tone of songs such as “Like a Rolling Stone.”
After over forty years of performing, Bob Dylan still possesses the relevance to appeal to college audiences. “I think he has incredible lyrics,” freshman finance major Stephen Kidd said. “He’s singing about things that matter to him.”
Bob Dylan may not answer to the title of “spokesman for his generation,” but the generation he spoke to and the ones he continues to today are proof of his endurance.
Tickets for the November 9 concert are on sale now through Ticketmaster.