ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Dichotomy of Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan, the iconic singer–songwriter who has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2016, turned popular music into a potent tool that dovetailed intellectual aspirations and social commentary.

Perhaps no figure in popular culture has been a victim of the dichotomy of his own image as much as Bob Dylan. Hailed as the quintessential American troubadour, taking off from the likes of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, Dylan was one of those major creative figures who played a significant role in the birth of a new consciousness among the youth in America in the 1960s. But in the winter of 1960, when a young Robert Allen Zimmerman, a college dropout from Minneapolis, undertook a journey through the American heartland to the city of New York to immerse himself in its budding folk rock scene, little did the 19-year-old know then that in less than three months he was going to give birth to a new breed of social activism. Armed with an acoustic guitar, a harmonica and a recently-adopted stage name, Zimmerman took the backstage while Bob Dylan stepped into the spotlight. In the half century since, this musician has released 37 albums, 11 live albums, 58 compilation albums and six collaborative efforts in a musical career that has come to define the mood of a generation, and, looking by the buzz in the news recently, a few more to come...

When Bob Dylan was announced as the winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature, the internet was immediately split into two—one, a major chunk of his fans who celebrated the award while revisiting their favourite classics, and two, those who argued that there were other, more proficient poets, lyricists and musical figures who deserved this honour before he did, and dismissed the award as a sort of political patronising of what Dylan and his peers stood for.

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