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Professor Richard F. Thomas – “Why Bob Dylan Matters”
Wednesday, August 5, 2020|3:30 pm - 5:15 pm UTC
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Please join us for a conversation with Professor Richard F. Thomas, the George Martin Lane Professor of the Classics at Harvard University and the author of “Why Bob Dylan Matters” (2017).
Professor Thomas has said that listening to Bob Dylan was a major part of hie life growing up. The interest did not wane. In 2004 Richard Thomas began teaching what is now one of the most popular freshmen seminars at Harvard on Bob Dylan and the classic poets.
In an interview with the Harvard Crimson, he said his 2017 book, which followed Dylan’s receipt of the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature, “is about the lyrics . . . . [H]ow [Dylan] comes into alignment with a lot of the poets that I work on from antiquity, but also in the English literary traditions, and the way in which in the past twenty years he’s adopted these texts and put them into his lyrics, bringing other contexts, other characters, into the songs so the singer has transformed in the process.”
Consider this: the August 28, 1963 March on Washington is best remembered as the day Martin Luther King delivered his “I have a Dream Speech.” But did you know that Dr. King’s opening act that day was a 21 year-old white man — Bob Dylan — who sang a song he had just written (“Only a Pawn in their Game”) about the murder of Medgar Evers two months earlier in Jackson, Mississippi? Dylan later told Martin Scorsese that listening to Dr. King that day had a “profound influence on me.” Flash forward 57 years: last month Bob Dylan released his 39th studio album (“Rough and Rowdy Ways”). The songs on this album, written and recorded of course before the events of the past several months, are filled with allusions to historical events and figures including Martin Luther King (“Mother of Muses”).
At age 79, Bob Dylan’s is still on a journey of observation and creation. Join us for a fascinating tour of the lyrics of Bob Dylan by Professor Richard Thomas.