Fifty years ago today, Bob Dylan released his debut album, Bob Dylan. Since then, endless artists, writers, musicians, and aspiring teenagers with acoustic guitars and heartache have been inspired by the musical legend.
Although a musician by trade, Dylan’s poetic lyrics - so good that former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion argued they should be studied in school - and creative outlook on life have seen him placed firmly within the cultural canon.
Whether you agree with biographer Howard Sounes, who placed him alongside the “artists” of Mozart, Picasso, Shakespeare and Dickens, or Literary critic Professor Christopher Ricks in his definition of Dylan as a poet as powerful as T. S. Eliot, Keats and Lord Tennyson, you can’t deny the guy’s had cultural influence. After all, academics have been lobbying for Dylan to be awarded with the Nobel Prize in Literature for over a decade.
So, in honour of a half-century of poetic prowess, here are our favourite Dylan lyrics:
“Behind every beautiful thing, there's some kind of pain.”
Not Dark Yet
“The future for me is already a thing of the past -
You were my first love and you will be my last”
Love and Theft: Piano/Vocal/Guitar
“Don't criticize what you can't understand.”
The Times They Are A-Changin’
“All I can be is me - whoever that is. ”
“Life is more or less a lie, but then again, that's exactly the way we want it to be.”
“I think women rule the world and that no man has ever done anything that a woman either hasn't allowed him to do or encouraged him to do.”
Chronicles, Vol. 1
“When you've got nothing, you've got nothing to loose.”
Like a Rolling Stone
“Mona Lisa must have had the highway blues; you can tell by the way she smiles.”
Visions of Johanna
“People disagreeing everywhere you look makes you wanna stop and read a book.”
Watching the River Flow
"You don't necessarily have to write to be a poet. Some people work in gas stations and they're poets. I don't call myself a poet, because I don't like the word. I'm a trapeze artist."
"Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free,
Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands"
Mr. Tambourine Man
“In this ocean of hours I'm all the time drinking...”
Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie