Bob Dylan Essay Research Paper Regarding significant

Bob Dylan Essay, Research Paper Regarding significant musical movements in history, more specifically the twenty first century, few were more important than the

Bob Dylan Essay, Research Paper

Regarding significant musical movements in history,

more specifically

the twenty first century, few were more important than the

folk revolution that

took shape in the mid-nineteen hundreds. One of the

leaders of this

revolution was Robert Allen Zimmerman, known by his popular


name, Bob Dylan. Born in 1941 in Minnesota, Dylan grew up

the grandchild

of Jewish-Russian immigrants and had a surprisingly


childhood. His interest in music became evident in his

high school years

when he taught himself basic piano and guitar. From these

rudimentary skills

Dylan would build his knowledge and experience in music to

his present

status as a forefather of folk music in the rock era.

Accordingly, a song from

the pinnacle of his career embodies his style and poetic

capabilities, acting as

a reference point of the music it followed and the music

that was to come.

Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowland is an unmistakably remarkable

example of the

work of Bob Dylan in his finest hour.

To fully understand the influence of Bob Dylan on

the American folk

revolution and his importance in the pop culture of today s

youth, one must

first understand his background and development musically.

First of all Bob

Dylan was born in Minnesota, not a particular hub of

musical activity.

Author Bob Spitz makes a good point concerning Dylan s


History has taught us that no matter how we change the

environment it is impossible to change the man…After all,

anybody is as their land and air is….If that is so, it is


wonder that Bob Dylan became such a luminous amalgam

of showmanship and aloofness, spirituality and desolation,

eloquence and exaggeration, individuality and

schizophrenia. These seesawing extremes, among others,

are indigenous to the historical landscape of northern

Minnesota. (Spitz 9)

For others this might have been a setback but for Dylan it

was the perfect

environment to nurture his interests, in music

specifically. At the age of ten

he was writing poems and by thirteen was setting them to

music with

self-taught piano and guitar skills. Dylan s interest in

music continued to

climb as he entered Hibbing High School. During his high

school years

Dylan would become involved in musical productions and

attempt forming

many bands with such names as the Golden Chords and Elston

Gunn and His

Rock Boppers. He began to idolize such new rock stars as

Elvis Presley and

Jerry Lee Lewis to the point that his high school yearbook

listed his goal in

life as joining Little Richard . An eighteen year old

Dylan left his hometown

of Hibbing in the fall of 1959 for college at the

University of Minnesota,

Minneapolis. This would be his first taste of the big city

and the life that

awaited him.

The sight and sounds of the big city opened many

new vistas for the

young Dylan and he took advantage of his situation by

studying the roots of

contemporary rock. He began to listen to the works of folk

pioneers like

Hank Williams, Robert Johnson, and Woody Guthrie. At the

same time

Dylan was beginning to perform solo at local Minneapolis

night spots such as

the Ten O Clock Scholar cafe and the St. Paul s Purple

Onion Pizza Parlor.

During this time Dylan was honing his guitar skills and

harmonica work and

developing his famous nasal voice which would become his


Halfway through his college career Dylan decided it

was time for a

move. He packed up and moved to New York City with two main

motivations. His primary motivation was to become part of

the Greenwich

Village folk-music scene which was burgeoning in the city.

His second

reason for moving was to meet his idle, Woodie Guthrie, who

was in a

hospital in New Jersey with a rare hereditary disease.

Dylan would succeed

on both counts. Not only did he meet Guthrie but he became

a fixture at his

bedside. As well, Bob Dylan was now a recognizable name

among the folk

clubs and coffee houses of New York. Dylan had a

proficiency at learning

songs perfectly the first time he heard them which was

admired by his peers

that, along with tireless song writing, brought him much

acclaim. In the fall

of 1961 Dylan s life would change. A famous music critique

saw him

perform at Gerde s Folk City and raved the following day in

the New York


The result proved to be the break that Bob Dylan

had been looking for.

No more than a month after Shelton s review Dylan was

signed to a contract

with Columbia Records by John Hammond. Immediately Bob

began to select

material for his album debut. Unfortunately his debut

album only contained

two original pieces but obvious talent in the covers of

traditional folk songs

by Blind Lemon Jefferson and Bukka White. The reviews for

Dylan s first

album were not what he had hoped but set his fans up for

the surprise that his

second would have in store. The Freewheelin Bob Dylan,

his second

release, contained some of his best work, including

Blowin in the Wind .

This album marked strongly the emergence of one of the most


voices and poetic masters of American popular music.

The next Bob Dylan albums would provide more of the

same. Each

one had a different perspective and topic matter. It was

on his seventh album,

though, that Bob Dylan wrote an entrancing song that

embodied his emotional

state at the time, both in lyrics and music alike. This

song is the Sad Eyed

Lady of the Lowlands.

Of the two elements of the song, lyrical and

musical, the lyrical is

definitely the most striking symbolically and poetically.

This song was the

first cut to fill an entire album side and makes clear the

importance he places

on relationships. The song is undoubtedly about his future

bride, Sara

Lowndess, and is revealing to the point that he disallowed

song verses to be

quoted in a book. The first line of the song begins the

deep symbolism when

saying the women s mouth is mercury. An alternate meaning

for mercury is

messenger. Furthermore, Dylan makes reference to the lady

as having eyes

like smoke and prayers like rhymes. This could be

interpreted as the women

giving prayers a new light as real poetry, a revelation

that may not have been

seen through her unclear eyes. As well, the lady s voice

is like chimes that

speak out for freedom for the lonesome hearted lover with

too personal a

tale (Dylan 1). Dylan then recalls streetcar visions, a

direct reference to

Tennessee Williams play A Street Car Called Desire. The


continues throughout the song and is accompanied with music

that, while not

the best of his career, still defined the American folk


The music is acoustic once again after he made a

brief stint recording

with bands and electric guitars. The melody is simple and

flows throughout

the piece s seven minute length. There is minimal


accompaniment but what does exist advances the rhythm of

the song. Truly it

is Dylan s voice that is the essence of the song. His

raspy, nasal sound gives

the song character that it definitely would not have minus

his vocals.

The best information I can provide someone who is

interested in the

work of Dylan is to get any of his early albums and listen

to what today s

music started as. The folk movement of the late nineteen

fifties and early

sixties was led by a man who overcame a humble upbringing

and, through

hard work, created for himself the life he desired to

live. His music is revered

as classic and at the same time historical. His song, Sad

Eyed Lady of the

Lowlands , is a testament to that.