It is pretty easy to write about stuff that is immediate and less so the stuff that runs deep. The first thing about the man is that he is a poet who found a method to deliver that poetry.
If you think that art is hard, try poetry. If you sell ten chapbooks you are in the top two percent of commercial successes as a poet. But poetry is powerful and the species constantly invents ways to refine and deliver it.
And so in delivering with music he pierced the brain and heart. Almost any musician, any popular album, there will be that one or two lines that elevate your relationship with the world. With Dylan it is almost every line. In conversation with a friend and noted Dylanologist Bryan Styble, it came up that some people might be looking too hard for greatness at every turn. Bob had to turn a phrase here and there just to rhyme and get on with the song.
I have learned that over time, some Dylan verses grow in magnitude as others recede, some songs or albums become the soundtrack to my days. One day an old song might yield a line that makes up your mind as you know it should have gone and other days it is some chorus to a song that defines exactly what you are going through. It is not therapy, it is revelation.
The words recited would be bland and Bob's music as instrumental would be wan, but the two together change the way you think, feel and live. Art gains permanence when it has meaning to the audience, and when that meaning changes over time the audience lasts for generations.
I’ve noticed that I listen most to Bob in the midst of transitions in life. Good ones, bad ones, tense and lonely or orgiastic with a flurry of activity, his moderate beat defines change as he himself changed a step ahead of us all. The power of poetry to transform any one of us at any given time is the naked potency of art and the creative process. That one man could deliver time and time again simple descriptions of what you might be going through, had felt or would know one day, all in 4/4 time and usually in the key of D... it is what we call art ...because there really is not a word for it.
Through art I understood it all as I understand it today ...and this emotional comprehension was most accelerated and cultivated by the poet Bob Dylan born Robert Allan Zimmerman this day in 1941.