Dylan Sheds Light on Songwriting in New Book

The latest creative endeavor by Bob Dylan is his new book called The Philosophy of Modern Song.

Although the famous folk singer won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016, this will be his first book release since 2004.

With 39 studio albums under his belt, what does this 80-year-old wordsmith want to share with us now?

Let’s find out!

Bob Dylan Has a New Book?

Yes! In early March of 2022, publishing company Simon & Schuster announced the upcoming release of a new book by Bob Dylan. The Philosophy of Modern Song is about the craft of songwriting. 

Dylan discusses what it takes to write a brilliant song by guiding us through an analysis of over 50 songs. His book is like a masterclass on the art of songwriting.

Philosophy includes examinations of work by musicians such as Hank Williams, Elvis Costello, and Nina Simone. His deep appreciation for music shines through with each carefully curated chapter. 

How can bluegrass relate to heavy metal? What role do syllables play in the strength of a song? These are some of the topics included in Dylan’s new book. 

The Philosophy of Modern Song by Bob Dylan is a celebration of song and the power that music has on all of us.

About Bob Dylan

Called the Shakespeare of the boomer generation, Bob Dylan is one of the most prolific songwriters of our time. He’s written over 500 songs and recorded with upwards of 2000 artists. His most well-known songs are his politically charged pieces from the 1960s.

Dylan was born in Duluth, Minnesota, in 1941. He lived a modest childhood with a close-knit family. Listening to the radio was his favorite pastime. Dylan formed several bands during his teenage years, playing a mix of blues and early rock & roll. By the time he started college, Dylan realized folk music had the intensity and deep thoughts Dylan craved.

Dylan’s move to New York in 1961 was challenging at first, but he eventually made his mark in the Greenwich Village folk scene. His mentors and colleagues included Woodie Guthrie, Ramblin Jack Elliot, and Joan Baez. 

The Vietnam War was ongoing, and the youth of the day grew tired of the racism and segregation in America. Dylan quickly became the voice of his generation. He was exceptionally gifted at talking about the changing times and how we needed to get with it!

Debate on which albums are the most essential is the subject of endless debate. That said, you’ll probably find Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, and Blood On The Tracks on most lists. 

Bob Dylan is probably one of the most discussed musicians of all time. Famous poets like Andrew Motion say schools should include studies of his lyrics. Rock stars like Joe Strummer say he laid down the template for songwriting. 

Others trash his vocal abilities and wonder why he’s won so many awards. These awards include 11 Grammys, The National Medal of Arts, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

What Are Some of Bob Dylan’s Most Well-Known Songs?

If you’re a Dylan fan, you might hotly debate some of our picks. But we had to start somewhere!

Like A Rolling Stone

Dylan released this song about alienation, lost love, and bitterness on July 20, 1965. It was groundbreaking for the times. Dylan’s venomous delivery of the lyrics is the very thing listeners love about the song. It’s Dylan at his gnarliest and finest hour.

Like A Rolling Stone is a cynical song about a woman’s crash after being highly desired. Dylan may have based the words on a real woman or women, or potentially himself. It has also been heard as a colorful remark about fame.

At six minutes long, Columbia Records first thought it would flop. Wrong! Like A Rolling Stone reached number two on the charts. It’s Dylan’s most successful release and many consider it one of the greatest rock songs of all time. 

All Along the Watchtower

Jimi Hendrix’s remake of All Along the Watchtower was a top charting hit in 1968. Luckily for Hendrix, Dylan’s managers had no problem sharing his recordings before he even had the chance to release them. But Dylan didn’t mind. In fact, Dylan loved the version by Hendrix. We wonder if Dylan will share his feelings around this song in his new book.

Lyrically, All Along the Watchtower is a song about cooked business and crooked people. It’s a story told from the perspective of someone feeling used and looking for a way out. Dylan’s version heavily features Harmonica and acoustic guitar. The Hendrix version turns up the juice and electrifies both the music and lyrics.

All Along the Watchtower is certified platinum and won a Grammy in 2001.

Blowin’ in the Wind

Easily one of the most essential songs of American history, Dylan released Blowin’ in the Wind in 1963. It’s an anti-war song, an anthem, and a great cultural marker of 1960s America. 

He wrote it in 1962 after hearing a traditional African-American spiritual called No More Auction Block. This may explain why this tune is so powerful. It’s a work of art that’s greater than the sum of its parts. 

Dylan’s lyrics are a series of questions about freedom, peace, and man’s injustice to one another. Paired with the influence of a gospel song about overcoming adversity, you’ve got something special. Hundreds of artists have covered Blowin’ in the Wind. Folk group Peter, Paul, and Mary released a top-charting version shortly after Dylan’s in 1963.

Does Bob Dylan Have an Autobiography?

Of course he does! Bob Dylan released his first autobiographical book, Chronicles: Volume One, in 2004. Although Volume Two does not exist yet, it’s allegedly in the works. Released in 2004, Chronicles: Volume One spent nineteen weeks on The New York Times Best Seller list.

Dylan’s first autobiography is a nonlinear recounting of his life between 1961 and 1989. His focus is on the moments most pivotal to him as an artist. He takes readers to New York in the early 60s, to Woodstock in 1969, and into creating his 1989 album Oh Mercy.

Interestingly, Dylan leaves out the height of his career in the mid-sixties. Maybe he is saving that for Chronicles Volume Two or Three.

Getting to Know Dylan Through His Book

We can’t wait to get our hands on Dylan’s new book, The Philosophy of Modern Song. We have a feeling it’ll be sitting pretty on the New York Times Best Seller list upon release. In the meantime, if you don’t know much about Bob Dylan, there are plenty of avenues to explore! 

The Philosophy of Modern Song’s release date is November 8, 2022. Pre-orders are available now through Dylan’s official website.

What’s your favorite Dylan song? Tell us in the comments!

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