Images and Distorted Facts: Politics, Poetry and Protest in the Songs of Bob Dylan

  • David Boucher


Robert Shelton, the folk music critic of The New York Times, described the young Dylan as ‘one of the musical-poetic geniuses of our time’ (Shelton n.d.). Elsewhere, he suggested that ‘Some of Mr Dylan’s lyrics are obviously “camp fantasies” while others are poetically profound’ (Shelton 1990: 79). Paul Williams describes Dylan’s work as ‘great art’, and Leonard Cohen suggested in 1985 that Dylan ‘is the Piccasso of song’ (Williams 1994: xii; Devlin 1998: 82). The literary critics Frank Kermode and Christopher Ricks were thought perverse when they compared Dylan with Keats and Wordsworth (Glaister 1997: 3). Kermode, in discussing the transition from folk through rock to country, argued: ‘And Dylan remains a poet, as he has remained a virtuoso of the voice — snarling, pushing words and tunes askew, endlessly inventive’ (Kermode and Spender 2001: 159).


Cuban Missile Crisis English Prose Poetic Image American Folk John Birch Society 
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© David Boucher 2004

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  • David Boucher

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