Wednesday, May 27, 2015
I think Bob Dylan is a lot like William Shakespeare. Here’s why:
They both get into different head-spaces and riff poetically within them with complete commitment and abandon.
They both create many memorable characters but no one in a Shakespeare play or a Dylan song is as interesting as Shakespeare or Dylan himself. It's like the author becomes the thing of interest, not the pieces of the puzzle. In fact the pieces of the puzzle, in total, seem to make up the multi-verse or parliament of the author's worldview.
Dylan and Shakespeare are also both innovative users of words. They change the way people use language by the way they use language. Plus there is an embodied poetic sensibility to almost everything they write.
They both borrow from existing forms and plots and use them as templates to express their art and as foundations to break new creative ground.
They also both transcend their medium. To call Shakespeare a “playwright” or Dylan a “songwriter” doesn’t do justice to what they do. The crazy and yet refined abandon with which Dylan occupies creative space is not like many other "songwriters". But to call him a poet is also inaccurate. My brother once told me about a review in which he was called one of the most important "users of words in the 20th century". I guess that's about right and would work for Shakespeare too, whose work goes far beyond “playwright”.