It makes sense to kick off this series with one of the most notable Beatnik understudies: Bob Dylan. In the music scene, Bob Dylan is the poster child of the Beatnik Generation. Even at the age of 71, he has an indescribable presence that can only be explained as “Beatitude.” Dylan became very close to Allen Ginsberg and his music reflected foundational aspects of the Beat lifestyle and principles of social awareness and counter-culture.
More than any other artist, Dylan’s music successfully incorporates the sense of fluid consciousness. Dylan’s lyrics are undoubtedly crafted with a high degree of artistry and dexterity yet his fast delivery and continuously streaming phrases create a sense of seamless spontaneity. A stunning instance of this presentation of consciousness is Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues.” The mind-numbing amount of information presented in short bursts of time show an unrepressed mind at work. Couple this with a genius video with lyrics mixed with random banter and cue cards that clue into higher philosophical ideas really elucidates how the mind actually works with present yet fleeting or unfinished ideas. It’s no surprise Ginsberg makes a subtle appearance in this video that visually exemplifies the notions of the Beat generation…truly times were changing.
Outside the fundamental objective to spontaneously create art through an unrepressed process, Dylan’s songs historicize and chronicle the voiceless and downtrodden. In songs like “The Hurricane”, he brings awareness to social injustices suffered due to racially charged conflict. In stunningly simple yet emotionally affective means, Dylan gives a voice to invisible poverty-stricken people trying to make a little bit of coin. Dylan reminds people of humanity…anyone due to fate and unforeseen occurrence could be in the same position. His music removes class and ethnic barriers reminding us that everyone is human and we share oneness.
Watch Dylan do his thing as he breaks out some spontaneous street poetry.