Bob Dylan: Brecht of the Juke Box, Poet of the Electric Guitar by Jack Newfield (January 1967)

1960s: Days of Rage


“Norman Morrison burned himself to death to protest the Viet­nam war, and when reporters visited his spare room they saw quotes from Bob Dylan scrawled on the peeling walls. Students at the University of California have organized a non-credit seminar on Dylan’s poetry. Esquire Magazine quotes Stokely Carmich­ael singing to himself — not an Otis Redding blues — but Dylan. In a recent peace demonstration a teenybopper marched with a home-made placard that bore the crayoned motto, ‘The hypnotic splattered mist is slowly lifting,’ a line from Dylan’s ‘The Chimes or Freedom.’  W. H. Auden, Howard Nemerov, and Norman Podhoretz say they have never heard of Dylan. Critic and poet John Ciardi says Dylan knows nothing about poetry. Even Norman Mailer, existentialist fight manager and white hope of the over-30 generation, says, ‘If Dylan is a poet, so is Cassius Clay.’ But 25-year-old Dylan, the Brecht of the juke box…

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