Why is Bob Dylan important
Bob Dylan is not just another famous musician. His works over the past few decades have become the anthems of various movements, political views and public opinion. Bob Dylan’s work was at the forefront of the civil rights movement, with many songs directly influenced by current events. Over the years, his music has incorporated several styles including pop music, folk music, gospel, rock and even jazz. His musical topics included political, social, philosophical and literary works and influences — he became a reluctant figurehead of “social unrest” in the 1960’s.
Bob Dylan’s songs often took on real life experiences of current events, such as the murder of Medgar Evers, a civil rights worker (“Only a Pawn in Their Game”) and the death of a black hotel barmaid called Hattie Carroll (“The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll”). He also expressed the despair of the farming and mining communities with “Ballad of Hollis Brown” and “North Country Blues”. Many people associated themselves and their current situation with Bob Dylan’s songs. His musical genres changed to fit each situation and current theme. Many civil rights musical pieces were significantly folk songs, as this genre was intertwined with this movement.
In his song “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” he factually describes the event of her murder at the hands of a wealth young white tobacco farmer named William Zantzinger (or Zanzinger as pronounced in his song). Despite Zantzinger being found guilty for her murder, he was sentenced to a mere 6 months in county jail for the appalling crime. In the song “Only a Pawn in Their Game” Bob Dylan highlights the deep seeded racism in the Mississippi judicial system which resulted in various deadlocks on the perpetrators guilt and allowed him to walk free for many years after the murder.
Bob Dylan has been seen as a hero of the people particularly in the 1960’s as his music highlights intense political concerns and social needs. While he has completed many musical works for various issues throughout his life, Bob Dylan is most noted for his works on the civil rights movement. This has meant that many people, particularly the African-American culture, regard Bob Dylan as a highly important individual and a pioneer of human rights. What made his work so much more powerful was that he was a white man delivering a message about black people’s rights. At that time, white people paid much closer attention to the words of a white man than that of a black man, and Bob Dylan saw the opportunity for delivering the message in its most powerful form: music. Bob Dylan was an avid supporter of the civil rights movement and he used his position as famous musician to support this and become the voice of many black people within society.
Many of the famous freedom riders who rode on interstate buses alongside both black people and white people to challenge segregated areas (particularly in the south), did so listening to Bob Dylan’s music to bolster spirits and morale.