The Need for Canonical Evolution: The Lyrics of Bob Dylan and Paul Simon as Poetry
Professor Camille Roman
Department of English
Table of Contents
Why Bob Dylan?
Biography of Bob Dylan
Why Paul Simon?
Biography of Simon
Connections between Dylan and Simon
The Times They Are A-Changin´´
´The Sound of Silence´
Appendix A (Complete Lyrics: ´The Times They Are A-Changin´´)
Appendix B (Complete Lyrics: ´The Sound of Silence´)
Appendix C (Excerpts from Norton Anthology Indexes)
Appendix D (List of anthologies analyzed in English 332)
Modern American popular rock and folk song is a genre of American literature that has been almost completely ignored by poetry anthologies and collections. Academic editors and the professorates have continually downplayed the value of these lyrics, stating that the words are too trite to be considered poetry (Brinnin and Read x). Yet the sphere of influence that musicians have had is astonishing, and the poetry of some songwriters deserves to be recognized. Some progress is occurring in academic circles´songwriters such as Bob Dylan may receive a poem or two in select anthologies (Ferguson 215). However, this change in attitude is occurring too slowly and needs to be dramatically increased. A larger number of song lyrics and musical artists must be recognized in anthologies in order for the genre of modern American song to be adequately covered. If anthologies sufficiently address lyrics, these poets will finally have a chance of garnering respect within the canon of modern American poetry.
This thesis focuses on two such artists that deserve recognition: Bob Dylan and Paul Simon. Premier singer-songwriters of the 20th-century, Dylan and Simon have produced poetic and culturally significant lyrics for nearly 50 years. Despite their substantive lyrics and influence on other artists and poets, the academic community does not formally regard their writing as poetry. They are rarely mentioned in the same breath with other modern or contemporary American poets, nor do their lyrics generally find their way into anthologies. This thesis will argue for their inclusion, focusing on the following questions: 1) Why have anthology editors ignored the genre of American song? 2) Why do Bob Dylan and Paul Simon deserve to have their works included in American poetry anthologies?
I initially found the problem of excluding modern popular song lyrics from anthologies in my first poetry class at Washington State University, English 332: Topics in Poetry. Our class was asked to look at American poetry anthologies and analyze the decisions of the editor(s). I chose Twentieth Century Poetry: American and British (1900-1970) published in 1970. In the preface to this collection, editors John Malcolm Brinnin and Bill Read stated ´Poems as ephemera to be sung by the laureates of the electric guitar have their place, but that place is not in this anthology´ (x). This condescending comment was shocking and seemed extremely shortsighted´especially now in the 21st-century. Regrettably, the editors were unable to see the impact that current artists were having and would have on future generations of writers, musicians, and readers. Fortunately other writers did understand the importance of these lyricists at the time. Bruce Pollock for instance, winner of the ASCAP-Deems Taylor award for excellence in music journalism, did see their influence and stated in 1976: ´The Sixties was a time during which my generation regarded its songwriters as previous generations had viewed Pound and Eliot, Fitzgerald and Hemingway´ (121).
Ezra Pound has said that music: ´turns´¦words out of doors and strews them and distorts them to the tune, out of all recognition as poetry´ (Day 3). Pound, often considered the ´quintessential poet-critic,´ has had considerable power and influence within modern American poetry (Litz). His derisive view is obviously largely responsible for the exclusion of song lyrics due to the commanding presence he had on the American poetry scene for so long. It is therefore not surprising to see Brinnin and Read following his dictums. Unfortunately, however, Brinnin and Read are not unique. Many editors and publishers seem to have agreed with Pound´s statement.
One of the most progressive social and political anthologies recently published is the Anthology of Modern American Poetry, edited by Cary Nelson and published in 2000. Nelson admits the limitations of his anthology and on the first page of the preface acknowledges that if he had a hundred more pages, ´my first addition would be a full and fair representation of American song. Unable to do the tradition justice, I chose not to do it at all´ (xxix). Although mentioning the merit of songwriting is notable, Nelson still neglects the genre and reveals that not much progress has occurred since the 1970 anthology edited by Brinnin and Read.
Some anthology editors, of course, have taken the initiative and have constructed anthologies that include lyrics, but these anthologies receive titles like The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry, edited by Alan Kaufman. Kaufman´s collection includes extreme poems from poets such as Walt Whitman and William Carlos Williams, but also includes lyrics from Jim Morrison, Bob Dylan, and others. Such collections are worthwhile, but only serve to place popular lyrics in the category of ´other.´ In order for American song to be regarded as poetry, it must be adequately included in an anthology produced by a canon-making mainstream publisher (like Norton or Oxford) that can reach a large academic audience. Songwriters will receive full validation only after this has occurred.
In 1994, The Norton Introduction to Poetry, Fourth Edition included a section entitled ´Words and Music.´ The section is nine pages long and contains selections from a few musicians, notably Dylan and John Lennon (Appendix C). However, even in this small section authors that are not truly songwriters are included, such as William Shakespeare, Thomas Campion, and Robert Hayden. Another example occurs two years later in The Norton Anthology of Poetry, Fourth Edition, which contains a small section, titled ´Popular Ballads of the Twentieth Century.´ This section includes entries from Dylan, Gordon Lightfoot, Dudley Randall, and Pete Seeger (Appendix C). It is obvious that fans of lyricists cannot become complacent or satisfied by this little step in the right direction from a small number of forward-thinking editors. These are positive developments but need to be improved and expanded upon.
Despite the limited inclusion of songwriters into these anthologies, there are still many new collections that neglect songwriters completely. The Norton Introduction to Poetry, Seventh Edition, published in 1998, does not include a poem from Dylan, Simon or any songwriter. This Norton anthology has actually taken a step in the wrong direction since the previous edition included poems from Dylan and Lennon. The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry, Third Edition, published in 2003, likewise contains no entries from Dylan or Simon despite its narrower focus on the latter half of the 20th-century.
Another interesting aspect of this debate is that certain anthologies include songwriting in large numbers, specifically The Norton Anthology of African American Literature. It was published in 1997 and edited by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Nellie McKay. The anthology not only recognizes the importance of songwriting and lyrics in the African American experience, but also places them at the forefront of the anthology and spends over one hundred pages covering lyrics. The section of the anthology is titled ´The Vernacular Tradition,´ which Gates and McKay define as ´the church songs, blues, ballads, sermons, stories, and, in our own era, rap songs that are part of the oral, not primarily the literate (or written-down) tradition of black expression´ (1). Why is the musical lyric medium viewed as one and the same with African American poetry, but ostracized from modern mainstream American poetry anthologies? Why does Norton anthologize songs performed by African American artists like Duke Ellington and Public Enemy, but does not feel that European American artists, like Dylan and Simon, have also had an influence on the nation´s culture?
The problem with virtually all anthologies currently produced by publishing companies is that American song is excluded. Despite being incredibly popular and critically praised, some singer-songwriters are not regarded as poets by the academic community. Their lyrics are seen as outside the literary canon and editors typically do not consider song lyrics to be ´poetic.´ However, this issue of exclusion is hardly surprising. Throughout the anthologies analyzed in English 332, we saw many non-dominant groups that were not adequately anthologized. After totaling all of the women poets in each anthology that our class looked at, women accounted for about 20% of all poets. Tokenism is easily recognized by the fact that men outnumber women four to one. Also, the female poets that are anthologized seem to consistently receive fewer pages dedicated to them than their male counterparts (all data compiled from the anthologies listed in Appendix D).
Non-European Americans were also not represented adequately. On average, there were only one or two Asian American poets in every anthology. The same can be said for Native Americans and Latinos. African Americans received a slightly larger proportion of representation but were still not covered sufficiently. Again, averaging all of the African American writers that were specified in the anthologies, they accounted for 8% of all poets. Furthermore, if the anthologies that did not identify the racial background of its poets were included in this percentage, the number would certainly be lower (all data compiled from the anthologies listed in Appendix D).
These statistics enable readers to better understand the cultural politics exhibited by editors and to realize that steps must be made to improve anthologies. I believe that one of these steps is to include sections that deal specifically with songwriters. If alongside the typical poets like Frost, Pound, and Eliot, minority groups (including songwriters) were adequately presented,
the literary canon will speed up its evolution and move away from stereotypes and fixed ways of thinking. Once this has occurred and the myriad of important American poets are included in anthologies, the canon will be much more inclusive and will accurately reflect the numerous writers that have contributed to the genre. As Rachel Campbell-Johnston stated in The Times: ´There is a new generation of poets coming up´writers as influenced by Elvis Costello as by daffodils.´ The sphere of influence that musicians have had on the public is astonishing and the poetry of these great artists must be recognized.
Given all of the cultural politics surrounding poetry, it is not surprising that both Dylan and Simon are ambivalent about being classified solely as poets. Simon and Dylan both seem to object to being called a poet. Simon has said:
´The lyrics of pop songs are so banal that if you show a spark of intelligence they call you a poet. And if you say you´re not a poet then people think you´re putting yourself down. But the people who call you a poet are people who never read poetry. Like poetry was something defined by Bob Dylan. They never read, say, Wallace Stevens. That´s poetry.´ (Greenfeld 22)
Dylan likewise objects to the notion of his lyrics as poetry. After being asked in an interview if he regarded himself mainly as a poet, Dylan said: ´No. We have our ideas about poets´¦I don´t call myself a poet because I don´t like the word. I´m a trapeze artist´ (Herdman 119). Dylan and Simon do not approve of being solely considered a ´poet.´ Despite their fear of being pigeonholed, I will attempt to address this concern in my solution.
WHY BOB DYLAN?
Dylan enjoys such strong support among influential critics, writers, and poets that his absence in the poetry canon suggests that academic poetry fails to respond adequately to cultural change.
Dylan has achieved the status of ´poet´ according to many prominent authors. Norman Mailer is a novelist and his book The Armies of The Night received the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize (Martinetti). Regarding authors that he admires, Mailer has called Bob Dylan: ´the greatest lyric poet of his generation´ (Nogowski 10). Wilfrid Mellers is a novelist, music critic, and Professor Emeritus at the University of York in England (´University of York´). In his book on the singer-songwriter, Mellers calls Dylan ´A singing poet-composer´¦he has become the mythic representation of a generation and a culture´ (13). Frank Kermode, the renowned literary critic, said the following regarding the songwriter: ´[Dylan] remains a poet, as he has remained a virtuoso of the voice - snarling, pushing words and tunes askew, endlessly inventive´¦What he offers is mystery, not just opacity´¦His poems have to be open´¦inviting collusion. To write thus is to practice a very modern art, though, as Dylan is well aware, it is an art with a complicated past´ (Day 4). Allen Ginsberg was very good friends with Dylan and even appears alongside him in the film Don´t Look Back. Recalling the first time Ginsberg listened to Dylan´s music, he said: "When I came back from India in 1963, somebody played me Bob Dylan's records for the first time, 'Masters Of War' and 'A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall.' I had never heard of Dylan, and I wept when I heard his songs. It seemed as if the torch had been passed to another generation" (´Biography of Allen Ginsberg´). Such praise and support is not surprising given Dylan´s long career and his intertwining of poetry and music.
BIOGRAPHY OF DYLAN
Born Robert Zimmerman on May 24, 1941 in Duluth, Minnesota, from the age of six, Dylan learned how to play guitar and harmonica and formed a band called the Golden Chords while he was in high school. After graduating in 1959, Dylan went to the University of Minnesota and studied art. He began playing folk songs at local coffeehouses under the name Bob Dylan, taking his last name from the famous Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. About a year after enrolling at the University of Minnesota, Dylan left to pursue a career as a professional musician. He went to New York City and made a name for himself by playing at small venues in Greenwich Village. Dylan´s folk sound was heavily influence by Woody Guthrie, and Dylan began visiting his idol in a New York hospital as Guthrie slowly died from Huntington´s chorea. Dylan´s popularity took off, and he eventually was opening for established musicians, such as John Lee Hooker. John Hammond, a music producer that worked for Columbia Records, signed Dylan to a recording contract in 1961.
Dylan released his first album (which only featured two songs he wrote) in March of 1962 at the age of 20. Dylan feverishly worked on his next album, which included all original compositions. This album, called The Freewheelin´ Bob Dylan, forever changed folk music and Dylan´s popularity. The album includes such classics as ´Blowin´ in the Wind,´ ´Masters of War,´ ´Don´t Think Twice It´s Alright,´ and ´A Hard Rain´s A-Gonna Fall.´
Dylan was surrounded in controversy during the mid-1960s when he began playing electric guitar at live performances and his folk fans were extremely upset with him. Despite being booed and heckled at many performances, Dylan forever changed folk music by ´plugging in.´ His new sound essentially invented the electric folk-rock genre. It was during this time that Dylan starred in the documentary Don´t Look Back (1967), which followed Dylan during his
1965 tour of England. He reinvented himself again in the late 1960s and early 1970s, introducing his legions of fans to another new sound, country-rock. Dylan´s influential music has inspired countless singers due to his unconventional, nasal voice that has been often imitated. Dylan´s critics call his voice sub par, but even they usually agree that his lyrics more than make up for his vocal shortcomings.
Although Dylan´s popularity suffered during the 1980s and early 1990s, he is currently on a comeback. In 1998, his album Time Out of Mind won the Grammy for Album of the Year (´Grammy.com´). Furthermore, he received an Academy Award in 2000 (Best Original Song written for a motion picture) for his song ´Things Have Changed´ from the movie Wonder Boys. Dylan has recently released his 43rd album, ´Love & Theft,´ which has received public and critical acclaim. Dylan is currently on the road in Australia and New Zealand promoting the album; and after 40 years of songwriting, at the age of 61, it does not appear that Dylan is slowing down.
One of Dylan´s greatest admirers is fellow singer-songwriter Paul Simon. His career has also spanned over 40 years and his lyrics likewise deserve serious consideration as poetry.
WHY PAUL SIMON?
Though having his share of detractors, Simon has received support from critics and fellow poets. In the early 1990s, Paul Simon collaborated with the poet Derek Walcott on his musical The Capeman. Walcott won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992 and the press release announcing his award stated, ´In him [Walcott] West Indian culture has found its great poet´ (´Nobel Prize for Literature´). Walcott has said this about Simon: ´In its literary context, his writing is very important. Most poetry is sedate, quiet, self-concerned. His imagination is much
bolder and more refreshing. He reminds me of Hart Crane´ (Cocks 200).
Simon originally garnered fame for being half of the duet known as Simon and Garfunkel.
The relationship between Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel was unique. Simon wrote all the songs and Garfunkel had a more melodious voice. This odd combination prompted Simon and Garfunkel to be called ´A Poet and A One-Man Band,´ which Simon references in the song ´Homeward Bound´: ´And every stop is neatly planned/ For a poet and a one man band´ (´paulsimon.com´). Bruce Pollock has also indicated his love of Simon´s music and lyrics: ´While Bob Dylan stands as the central figure, the one who woke this sleeping giant of a generation determined not to go silent, none of the other poet laureates of the era addressed himself to all of us middle-class cowboys as directly as Paul Simon´ (121). The praise that Simon has received as a songwriter is not shocking due to the profound influence he has had on American music for nearly 50 years.
BIOGRAPHY OF SIMON
Born in 1941 in Newark, New Jersey, Paul Simon began performing with Art Garfunkel while in high school. While they were struggling to land a recording contract, Simon attended Queens College in New York and studied English. The duo split up briefly in 1957, but began performing together again in college due to their love of folk-rock music. Simon and Garfunkel´s first album, Wednesday Morning 3 A.M., was released in 1964 and sales eventually soared when the song ´The Sounds of Silence´ became a number one hit. After Simon began his solo career, he changed the title to ´The Sound of Silence´ and this thesis will refer to the song according to Simon´s preference. The duo recorded five more albums and their final album together, Bridge Over Troubled Water, won a record five Grammys (´Grammy.com´). Due to artistic differences, the duo broke up in 1970.
Simon then embarked on a very successful career as a solo artist, releasing four albums during the 1970s, the most successful being Still Crazy After All These Years (1977). Simon was surrounded in controversy during the mid-1980s due to his album Graceland (1986). Simon recorded the album in South Africa and according to many critics, violated a 1980 UN treaty that called for an official boycott of South Africa. Despite the criticism, Graceland became Simon´s best-selling album and dominated the Grammys in 1987 and 1988 (´Grammy.com´).
Simon is significant not only for his impressive poetry, but also for his musical innovations. Among his many contributions to rock music, he was the first white rock and roll artist to utilize reggae. Furthermore, his desire to record music in South Africa and his subsequent tour with South African artists helped bring their unique sound to the rest of the world.
CONNECTIONS BETWEEN DYLAN AND SIMON
While researching each artist, numerous similarities and connections became evident. Dylan influenced Simon and helped pave the way for folk music to be accepted by an audience. Simon´s first album (Wednesday Morning 3 A.M. in 1964) included a cover of Dylan´s song ´The Times They Are A-Changin´.´ Simon has likewise influenced Dylan and Dylan has also recorded songs written by Simon. On Dylan´s album, Self-Portrait (released in 1970), he recorded a version of Simon´s ´The Boxer.´
Simon has been continually compared to Dylan and has resented the comparisons. Many critics have compared the two artists, calling Simon ´a bland imitation of the real thing. Paul was stung by the criticism. He respected Dylan´s lyric genius, but in later years he thought
critics unfairly ignored his own superior musicianship in the comparison´ (Morella and Barey 13). Over the years, however, the two have become friends and toured together during the summer of 1999. Both artists address political concerns in their writing, but both claim to not write about politics. Simon has stated often in interviews that he is ´no good at writing politics. I´m a relationship writer, relationships and introspection´ (Zollo 186). Dylan has likewise rejected the notion that his lyrics are politically influenced, ´Politics is bullshit. It´s all unreal. The only thing that´s real is inside you´ (Orman 87). Both Dylan and Simon vary their styles throughout their writing. Both have written songs in free verse, although they usually employ a rhyme scheme in their lyrics. Dylan often adheres to an ABCB rhyme scheme in his verse, while Simon uses various rhyme schemes.
In order for modern popular musical lyrics to be more readily accepted as part of the American poetry canon, we need to pay more attention to explicating the lyrics as poetry. Different versions of Dylan and Simon´s songs exist in the studio and in live performances, thus the prosody is difficult to analyze. The lyrics of Dylan and Simon, however, are a constant. I offer one example each from Dylan and Simon that will help close the current gap between musical lyrics and poetry.
´THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN´´
´The Times They Are A-Changin´´ by Dylan is a poem that illustrates the speaker´s realization of change and speaks for an entire generation that saw the world alter around them. The song was also widely accepted by African Americans and became an anthem of the Civil Rights movement.
´The Times They Are A-Changin´´ is one of the artist´s most popular and well-written songs. The song was so popular when it was released in 1964 that it was ´widely recorded and translated into Serbian, French, Hebrew, and other languages´ (Shelton 212). Dylan structures the song within a fairly complicated rhyme scheme. All five stanzas contain 11 lines, but the rhyme scheme changes in the final stanza. The first four stanzas all have a rhyme scheme that is ABCBDBEFGBF, while the final stanza has an ABCBCBDECBF rhyme scheme.
The first four stanzas not only have an identical rhyme scheme, but also have a parallel structure. The beginning line of the first four stanzas calls a specific group: ´people´¦writers and critics´¦senators, congressman´¦mothers and fathers´ (1, 12, 23, 34). As the lyrics begin, the speaker makes a plea to his audience to listen to his declaration. There is a sense of great fragility to the world and time is running out on the old way of doing things, ´Then you better start swimmin´/ or you´ll sink like a stone´ (9-10). The first verse introduces the theme of the song to all people: The times are changing and only those that exhibit proactive behavior and forward thinking will be able to have a hand in the progressive movement.
The second stanza alters the speaker´s focus to ´writer and critics´ (12). There is an aura of unpredictability to the new environment that the speaker discusses. Those that do not join the speaker and his ideas will be forgotten and left behind: ´And keep your eyes wide/ the chance won´t come again´ (14-5). Even prophets cannot truly see what lies ahead: ´don´t speak too soon/ For the wheel´s still in spin´ (16-7). It is fitting that since the speaker is predicting that a new world will erase the current landscape, Biblical references (such as addressing prophets) occur throughout the verse.
The third stanza specifically addresses the political realm and once again denounces static behavior: ´Don´t stand in the doorway/ Don´t block up the hall/ For he that gets hurt/ Will be he
who has stalled´ (25-8). Inactive politicians will soon feel the effect of the rising tide. The speaker shows that violence is linked with the changing times: ´There´s a battle outside and it´s ragin´´ (29-30). This could be an oblique reference to the Vietnam War, which was in full swing at the time that Dylan penned the lyrics.
The final audience of Dylan´s poem is a domestic one. The focus changes from the public lives of politicians to domestic family life. They will also be altered: ´don´t criticize/ What you can´t understand/ Your sons and your daughters/ Are beyond your command´ (36-9). There was a riff growing between the generations, which America was realizing in the 1960s. There is a new way of doing things and the speaker wants only those that understand this new ideology to help: ´Please get out of the new one/ If you can´t lend your hand´ (42-3). This statement encapsulates the rebellious nature of the 1960s.
The final stanza has a different form and rhyme scheme, slightly setting it apart from the rest of the poem:
The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin´. (45-55)
This is specifically done by Dylan to stress the connection between the word ´now´ and ´past.´ The idea of the present becoming the past is emphasized by Dylan through his varied rhyme scheme: ´The contrast between present and past is focused by the ending of three lines with the word ´now,´ each time preceded or followed, or both, by rhymes ending in ´-ast´´ (Herdman 88).
The speaker is done addressing individual groups and is now able to further discuss exactly what is going to happen in the future. There are many Biblical references in the final stanza as the speaker´s words become very similar to the words of Christ: ´And the first one now/ Will later be last´ (53-4). In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus Christ says to the Apostles: ´But many that are first shall be last; and the last first´ (Mark 10:31). By referencing the New Testament, the speaker is reinforcing his status as a prophet. Furthermore, the speaker also makes a subtle allusion to the Book of Revelations and John´s vision of a new heaven and a new earth: ´for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away´ (Revelation 21:1). This vision is echoed by the speaker of the poem: ´As the present now/ Will later be past´ (49-50). Because of the seemingly simplistic lyrics, which contain a rebellious undercurrent, the song became the seminal protest tune of the 1960s.
´THE SOUND OF SILENCE´
Simon´s tune ´The Sound of Silence´ is not only notable for being his first #1 hit, but also because the lyrics represent some of the finest he has penned. The theme of alienation is paramount to Simon´s writing and perhaps the most famous example occurred in 1964 with ´The Sound of Silence.´
Similarly to the majority of Simon´s poems, the rhyme scheme is the traditional AABBCCD. There are five stanzas containing seven lines each. The form is similar to Dylan in that the final lines of each stanza are linked through a repeated phrase. Dylan repeated ´the times they are a-changin´´ while Simon repeats ´of silence´ (7, 14, 21, 28, 35). The speaker in Simon´s poem begins by addressing ´the darkness´ and stating that he has just had a vision in his sleep. The remaining four stanzas relate to the audience the details of the vision.
The discontent and alienation experienced by the speaker is apparent in the second stanza: ´In restless dreams I walked alone´ (8). There is little comforting imagery in his dream description. He is walking alone on a cold and wet evening (8-11). However, his loneliness is disturbed by ´the flash of a neon light,´ which disturbs the darkened setting (12).
The third stanza describes the light and the speaker relates that in the neon light he sees thousands of people ´talking without speaking/ People hearing without listening´ (17-8). The speaker cannot relate to these silent masses and tries to break the silence in the fourth stanza, ´Hear my words that I might teach you/ Take my arms that I might reach you´ (24-5). The speaker is acting as an outsider´a prophet or leader to a crowd that does not understand him. In the last stanza, we learn that the flash of light the speaker witnesses is divine:
And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said ´The words of the prophets are written on subway walls
And tenement halls´
And whisper´d in the sounds of silence. (29-35)
The neon flash of light provides the people with a message that tells them to ignore the words of the speaker. He is not a real prophet because in the speaker´s vision true prophets scribe their messages on the ´subway walls/ and tenement halls´ (33-4).
Simon´s theme in the poem seems clear: Power is shifted to the poor in the denouement of the poem. The destitute provide the most important lessons and wisdom, if only one would listen to them. The true prophets are the poor. However, the observer in the poem is an outsider that will never truly understand the ´prophets.´ His desire to teach the less intelligent indicates his inability to see the ´words of the prophets´ (33). Patrick Humphries, in his biography of Paul Simon calls the song ´a classic hymn of alienation: an outsider forced to exist in a city from which he draws no comfort´ (24-5).
Due to their effect on audiences, impressive songwriting, and critical acclaim, Dylan and Simon deserve to be categorized as ´poets.´ Both songwriters, however, are skeptical of the title and are leery of listeners concentrating on their lyrics and forgetting the music. An important aspect to remember when reading the lyrics of Dylan and Simon is that both artists do not want their audience to solely read their words. In order to fully understand and experience what Dylan and Simon are trying to communicate, the audience must listen to the music as well. Only then will he/she fully realize what these two poets are trying to relate to an audience. This idea is no different than realizing the importance of hearing a beat poet like Ginsberg read his own material or hearing different inflections by T. S. Eliot while listening to him read ´The Wasteland.´ I foresee that anthologies will continue to change in the upcoming years to accommodate the
reader´s desire to hear poets read their respective poetry. When anthologies become better integrated with the World Wide Web and multimedia software, users will reap the reward.
Until that day when we see modern American song lyrics treated equally with poetic verse, interested readers can go to my website in order to hear some of the songs by Dylan and Simon performed by the songwriters: http://www.wsu.edu/~drewzus/index2.html. The site contains a copy of this thesis along with links to hear Dylan and Simon sing their own poetry. Along with hearing the two songwriters, there are also other artists covered on the site, such as John Lennon and Joni Mitchell. Song lyrics as poetry is an emerging field and the website attempts to illustrate this by covering multiple singer-songwriters.
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Kaufman, Alan. The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry. New York: Thunder´s Mouth Press,
Litz, A. Walton. ´Pound, Ezra.´ American National Biography Online. Feb. 2000. Oxford
University Press. 28 Jan. 2003 <http://www.anb.org/articles/16/16-01319-article.
Nelson, Cary, ed. Anthology of Modern American Poetry. New York: Oxford University Press,
Ramazani, Jahan, Richard Ellmann, and Robert O´Clair, eds. The Norton Anthology of Modern
and Contemporary American Poetry, Edition. New York: W.W. Norton &
Company, Inc., 2003.
The Holy Bible: The King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1984.
Appendix A & B
Table of Contents from The Norton Introduction to Poetry, Fourth Edition
Under ´Section 5, The Sounds of Poetry´ (xi).
Words and Music 208
Thomas Randolph, A Song 209
Thomas Campion, When to Her Lute Corinna Sings 210
William Shakespeare, Spring 210
John Newton, Faith´s Review and Expectation 211
Augustus Montague Toplady, A Prayer, Living and Dying 211
Robert Hayden, Homage to the Empress of the Blues 212
Billy Collins, The Blues 213
Michael Harper, Dear John, Dear Coltrane 213
James A. Emanuel, Jazzanatomy 215
Bob Dylan, Mr. Tambourine Man 215
John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds 216
Willie Perdomo, 123rd Street Rap 217
Table of Contents section from The Norton Anthology of Poetry, Fourth Edition. (xlix)
´Popular Ballads of the Twentieth Century´ 1746
Pete Seeger (1919-) - Where Have All the Flowers Gone? 1746
Bob Dylan (1941-) - Boots of Spanish Leather 1746
Dudley Randall (1914-) - Ballad of Birmingham 1747
Gordon Lightfoot (1930-) - The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald 1748
List of anthologies analyzed to compile data stated in ´Problem´ section:
Allen, Donald, ed. The New American Poetry, 1945-1960. Berkeley: University of California
Baym, Nina, ed. The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Fourth Edition. New York:
W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1994.
Brinnin, John Malcolm and Bill Read, eds. Twentieth Century Poetry: American and British
(1900-1970). New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1970.
Carruth, Hayden, ed. The Voice That Is Great Within Us: American Poetry of the Twentieth
Century. New York: Bantam Books, 1970.
Danziger, Marlies K. and Wendell Stacy Johnson, eds. A Poetry Anthology. New York: Hunter
College of the City University of New York, 1968.
Elliott, Emory, et al. American Literature: A Prentice Hall Anthology. Prentice Hall College
Ellmann, Richard. The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry. New York: W.W. Norton &
Company, Inc., 1973.
Ellmann, Richard and Robert O´Clair, eds. Modern Poems: An Introduction to Poetry. New
York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1973.
Ellmann, Richard and Robert O´Clair, eds. The Norton Anthology of Modern Poems. New
York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1988.
Feinstein, Sascha and Yusef Komunyakaa, eds. The Jazz Poetry Anthology. Bloomington:
Indiana University Press, 1991.
Fifty Years of American Poetry: Anniversary Volume for the Academy of American Poets. New
York: Harry N. Abrams, 1984.
Franklin, Wayne, et al. The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Shorter Fourth Edition.
New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1995.
McClatchy, J.D., ed. The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry. New York: Vintage
Stokes, Anne, ed. The Open Door to Poetry: An Anthology. New York: Books for Libraries
The Editorial Board. Survey of American Poetry (Volumes 7, 8, and 9). New York: Poetry
Anthology Press, 1986.
The Hopwood Anthology. 1981. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1981.
Untermeyer, Louis, ed. Modern American Poetry. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1962.
Weinberger, Eliot, ed. American Poetry since 1950 (Innovators and Outsiders). New York:
Marsilio Publishers, 1993.