bob dylan and the art of songwriting

as a musician, i’m always gathering inspiration from other’s art. even more so than when i write. within the diversity of my music library, both digital and physical, you almost always have two different kinds of artists. those who are good musicians, and those who are good songwriters. and yes, you can be both a good musician and a good songwriter, but it’s rare to see them executed perfectly together. almost as if they are not two separate skills but one. i have a small collection of artists that i believe break out of this, and one of them is bob dylan: an artist i’ve been listening to more than usual recently. now, what makes bob so different from these other artists that break out of the box? well, bob is recognized more than just a musician. he holds the nobel peace prize in literature, just from his songwriting. so yeah, he isn’t like these other artists. i also believe that his songwriting isn’t completely based on melody like other musicians. while songwriting and poetry are the same in a lot of ways, songwriting has one prominent component that poetry does not, (in the same capacity): melody. i think in a lot of songs, people sacrifice the quality of the writing for more prominent and catchy melodies. and sometimes, you just can’t force your words into the song. so in short, i think a lot of artists base their songs around the music itself, not the writing. if there’s an issue, its the writing that is most likely going to change rather than the composition of the song. but with bob dylan, i feel like his songs are more writing-focused. it’s almost as if he writes the music for the story, not the other way around. and even if that is not the case, i believe he doesn’t try to manipulate his story and writing for the sake of melody. stories are going to be told no matter what. if the pacing of the words don’t work perfectly with the song, then that’s fine. a story is still going to be told. but don’t worry, the writing and the song itself always compliment each other perfectly. i almost feel wrong saying the word “compliment” here, because while yes, his music is beautiful, i feel like it is too rigid for words like those. these songs are so deeply meaningful and so much emotional is packed into every line. in the song “forever young”, bob sings the line “forever young” over and over in the chorus. for some reason, it’s the most emotional thing i’ve ever heard. if anyone else sang those lines, i don’t think i would feel like this. here, there is so many undertones and they all build up to that one line: forever young. so this is not just about his songwriting, but also how he presents these lines. this is not just some empty soul singing some empty lines. this is not just some heartless man singing heartfelt lines. this is a man who is singing what he’s written from his absolute core. every line he belts is full of emotion, so much so that it completely transforms the line. stories flow effortlessly from his mouth with such vivid detail that you can see the cinematic scenes in your head so clearly. all of these little things makes bob dylan’s songwriting so strong and so influential, and i strongly encourage you to look into his writing if you haven’t already. thank you for listening<3


Author: Erin Erter

erin (they/them) is a published writer who creates in their darkest moments.

4 thoughts on “bob dylan and the art of songwriting”

  1. I love the uniqueness of Bob Dylan compared to other artist, and I loved knowing all the different ways that his songwriting stood out. This was a very enjoyable post.

  2. I love that you dive deep into the writing behind the songs and not just the beats or music, it tells a lot about your personality.

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