The Finest And Most Poetic Bob Dylan Lyrics Which Prove He Is Worthy Of His Nobel Prize

Bob Dylan is widely considered one of the most talented lyricists of our time. His command of language has made him an innovative and influential figure in the music industry, even 60 years after his debut. Dylan’s songs have stood the test of time, too, with over 6,000 re-recordings to date. Still, he is no bygone music icon, but remains active in his career. He is currently on tour for his 39th studio album and seems to be keeping up with the times—reportedly considering a collaboration with Post Malone.


In 2016, Dylan received the Nobel Prize in Literature for his lyrical prowess, breaking the confines of literature. The Nobel Prize website Said Dylan was awarded the Prize, “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” Below are eight Bob Dylan lyrics that prove he is worthy of his Nobel Prize.

10 The Poetic Use of Contrast In ‘To Ramona’

“The pangs of your sadness / Will pass as your senses will rise / For the flowers of the city though breathlike, get deathlike sometimes.”

In this song, Dylan depicts the contradicting beauty and pain of separation through his poetic use of contrast. The song is rumored to be about Dylan’s breakup with fellow folk-musician, Joan Baez. According to Baez’s book, And a Voice to Sing With: A Memoir, the couple split when Dylan decided to leave the political folk scene—taking the fatalistic stance that politics could not change the world.

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“But she just makes it all too concise and too clear / That Johanna’s not here / The ghost of ‘electricity howls in the bones of her face / Where these visions of Johanna have now taken my place.'”

“Vision of Johanna,” is one of Dylan’s more elusive pieces, with a convoluted narrative told largely through metaphor. There are various theories about the making and meaning of the highly interpretive song. According to Far Out, Dylan wrote it while living in the Chelsea Hotel with his girlfriend. Some suggest that the song was written on November 9, 1965 during the East Coast blackout. Some also believe that, like “To Ramona,” “Visions of Johanna” is written about his former girlfriend, Joan Baez.

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8 The Beatnik’s Anthem – ‘Song To Woody’


“Walkin’ a road other men have gone down / I’m seeing your world of people and things / Your paupers and peasants and princes and kings.”

One of the two original songs on his debut album, “Song to Woody” is a poetic evocation of the beatnik generation. The song is written as a tribute to Dylan’s folk hero, Woody Guthrie, and is reportedly influenced by Jack Kerouac. Some feel the lyrics could have been pulled from the very pages of Kerouac’s, “On The Road.”

6 Dylan Turned Electric In ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’

“Don’t steal, don’t lift / Twenty years of schoolin’ / And They put you on the day shift.”

In, Subterranean Homesick Blues, Dylan broke free of his original style, establishing what would be a long career of versatility. Prior to this album, Bringing It All Back Home, Dylan had belted his cultural and political commentary in the form of folk ballads set to acoustic guitar and harmonica. In this, his first “electric” songhe nearly rapped the lyrics in a “talking blues” style set to a rock ensemble.

5 The Widely Celebrated Classic – ‘Like A Rolling Stone’

“You say you never compromise / With the mystery tramp, but now you realize ‘ He’s not selling any alibis / As you stare into the vacuum of his eyes / And say “Do you want to make a deal?”

“Like a Rolling Stone” is considered one of Dylan’s most popular and influential hits to date. The song cemented Dylan’s new electric sound, which started in the previous album. Growing somewhat tired of his acoustic stylings, Dylan wrote the peppy hit to reinvigorate his own passion and create something that he could “dig,” according to the American Songwriter. While Dylan’s style evolved, his poetic lyricism remained steadfast and culminated in a piece of rock-poetry.

4 The Deep Meaning Of ‘All Along The Watchtower’


“There must be some kind of way outta here / Said the joker to the thief / There’s too much confusion ‘ I can’t get no relief”

According to Shmoop, the song “All Along the Watchtower” was written about the Vietnam War and the lyrics carry a spiritual and reflective tone. Dylan wrote the song while recovering from a motorcycle accident at his Woodstock home in 1966, according to American Songwriter. It is widely considered one of Dylan’s greatest hits and has been covered by many popular artists, including Jimi Hendrix.

2 ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’ Was An Anthem For Change

“Come writers and critics / Who prophesize with your pen / And keep your eyes wide / The chance won’t come again / And don’t speak too soon / For the wheel’s still in spin.”

The titular song of his 1964 album, The Times They Are A-Changinis ananthem of change,” written in poetic prose. Dylan used what he described as “short, concise verses that piled up on each other in a hypnotic way,” to express anti-establishment sentiments. To some, The politically-charged lyrics are just as poignant today as they were in the 1960s.

1 ‘Murder Most Foul’ Delivers A Career-Long Message

“Play, “Love Me Or Leave Me” by the great Bud Powell / Play, “The Blood-stained Banner” play, “Murder Most Foul.”

The final song on his latest album, Rough and Rowdy Ways, demonstrates both Dylan’s innate lyrical genius and the authorial voice he has developed over the past 60 years. The song chronicles the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on “a dark day in Dallas, November ’63,” and culminates in an ode to the power of music. Around the time of its release, Rough and Rowdy Ways made Dylan the oldest artist to top the UK charts with new music.

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