The Information Environment During the Making of a Bob Dylan Album

The Information Environment During the Making of a Bob Dylan Album

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The Information Environment During the Making of a Bob Dylan Album

In analyzing any of Bob Dylan's albums and lyrics, one might receive very powerful, timely, political and social messages from the artist. Perhaps it is the way in which he influences or responds to his fans which allows him to always seem a step ahead of the public. Take, for instance, his addition of electric instruments to his music in 1964 (Bob Dylan: Desire - Ink Blot Magazine). Dylan's use of these instruments, which are indicative of the growing information environment of the time, outraged folk fans. Nevertheless, "Dylan had merely created the most influential folk-rock ever recorded" (Bob Dylan: Desire). In essence, he moved forward from the mentality, in which a large part of the public during the 1960's still remained, in order to be better able to speak to his fans. He simply tried a new invention for the purpose of making his music sound better and holding on to his listeners. At the same time, though, when bands such as the Beatles had followed Bob's lead by creating blues and "psychadelic-influenced" music, Dylan retreated to his country forms (Bob Dylan: Desire). In other words, he spoke to the modern world, by progressing with the new, electric instruments, while still reaching his older, perhaps more traditional fans, with his alternated use of country forms. He composes music about betrayal, paranoia, fear and desire, and influentially ties in larger issues of the time, such as racial consciousness. Dylan's album entitled Desire is indicative of the artist's sense of and connection to the world around him.

Perhaps the most influential song on the album, and indeed one of Bob's most politically and socially meaningful compositions, is "Hurricane." The interesting chain of events which lead to the making of this song indicate the information society of the time, as well as Dylan's contribution to his information culture and influence in the public. Rubin Carter, the former champion African-American boxer, would simply never have known to contact Dylan had he not first listened to his lyrics of oppression and class differences. Thus, Dylan's music is a powerful form of communication, a kind which would give a man such as Carter a glimpse of hope and justice. Without Carter's book, The Sixteenth Round (Social Conscience Rubin Hurricane Carter), the song would never have been made, and a greater public knowledge of the Ruben Carter case would never have been reached.

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Just as Ruben reached out to the artist, Dylan touched the African-American community; "Hurricane" is more or less about an issue which has occurred since the beginning of time, in that it tells the story of a member of the lower class being put down by a member of the higher, more elite class. Dylan's music symbolizes the artist's interest in and opinions concerning class differences. He feels compelled to write "Hurricane," a song that would communicate to all members of his society the story of Ruben Carter, while also portray his own emotions on the topic. Dramatic words and imagery of the account between an African-American boxer and a white man convey to the reader Dylan's own passions toward subjects such as the grave errors which can occur within the American justice system.

Very similarly, yet in a more personal tone, Dylan communicates ardent feelings while speaking of heartbreak and hopelessness in coping without a love. The song, which is entitled "Sarah" and also appears on the album Desire, portrays Dylan communicating with his ex-wife. In many ways the song is a proposal to Sarah and an attempt to rekindle their lost relationship. He is speaking to her.

Dylan's communication, like many other artists' music, is so unique because it combines emotions with political and social commentary. It may be compared to other types of communication, such as newspapers, in that is covers the mainstream of what is occurring in a particular culture and society. However, music, particularly Dylan's lyrics, communicates to the listener on perhaps a whole new level, one which relates facts and historical significance, but also conjures emotions, both in the artist's and the public's mind.
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