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Visual & Performing Arts
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The Significance Of An American Songwriter Bob Dylan In Politics (Term Paper Sample)


Pick one of the following social/political issues and explain how Bob Dylan addresses it
in his music – civil rights/racism, anti-authoritarianism, capitalism, gender.
(I chose civil rights/ racism)
The final paper should be approximately 1,000 words. You must cite at least two of the
course readings and at least two songs from the required listening. Make sure your
paper has a thesis and that you give specific examples to support your argument. If you
would like to come up with your own paper topic, you may arrange this with your TA.


The significance of Bob Dylan in Politics
Born in 1941 as Robert Allen Zimmerman, Bob Dylan is an American songwriter and author who is recognized for his influence in popular music and culture for over five decades. His artistic work in the 1960's was much celebrated with songs such as Blowing in the Wind and The Times They Are a-Changin' becoming anthems for civil rights and anti-war movements. Most of his songs were based on the American traditional folk music but later adopted a wider scope of popular music genres. Dylan's songs present a wide range of political, philosophical, and social aspects of society. However, most of his popular songs have themes of peace and justice which had Dylan being considered as a political artist. This paper analyses the significance of Dylan's artistic work in the political arena, especially in fighting for civil and other human rights.
Most of Dylan's songs were deeply rooted in the tradition of folk music. His song The Times They Are-A Change was recorded in late 1963, but its first live performance was after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The song was applauded by many, a gesture that caught Dylan by surprise because he could not understand why the crowd was clapping or why he wrote the song in the first place. The song established Dylan as not only a traditional folk artist but now an activism singer.
“Come mothers and fathers throughout the land
And don't criticize what you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin'
Please get out of the new one if you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'”
The lyrics in this song had strong observations on society. According to Dylan, the lyrics in this song are morally driven between what is right or wrong and do not lean on any of the political side. The Times They Are-A Change and other protest songs made Dylan famous were believed to have been influenced by American radical traditions and promoted civil right and anti-war movements. The songs of Bob Dylan had sediments related to poverty, racism, and war (Spargo et al. 92). His first performance in Newport Folk Festival was in 1963 and it is considered his premier major performance. He was the only artist at the festival singing original songs which included God on Our Side and Only a Pawn in Their Game. Dylan was present during the march on Washington in 1963 and performed several songs that directly preceded Dr. Martin Luther King's famous “I Have a Dream” speech in front of 250,000 people outside of the Lincoln Memorial (Lemieux, 193). Such events significantly raised his profile regarding counterculture, while others suggest that it was Dylan who brought about the beginning of the counterculture movement.
Most of Dylan's lyrics became more poetic

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