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cowley about over 5 years ago


The Poetics of Bob Dylan on WMNF HD3 Radio

Starting this Saturday, February 20, WMNF begins airing the 12-part series Shakespeare in the Alley: The Poetics of Bob Dylan. The show airs Saturdays from 4-5 p.m. on The Source. . . 88.5 HD3 on your digital radio, or online at

Produced by Bill King, the series has been getting rave reviews on public radio and listeners demanding rebroadcasts. The 12 hours are divided between commentary on the lyrics and Bob Dylan's own voice. It looks at Dylan as the contemporary American successor of Walt Whitman, Woody Guthrie and Allan Ginsberg.

Program details at

Review and Recommendation by Dr. J

The philosopher Hegel once said that the artist “comprehends his (or her) times in thought.” This is apparent with classical artists like Michelangelo, Beethoven, or Shakespeare. We can also see this in more contemporary music with artists who absorbed everything that went before them and who changed everything that followed - Robert Johnson in blues, Charlie Parker in jazz, Woody Guthrie in folk, and of course Bob Dylan in the Sixties who, like Chuck Berry in the Fifties, injected content into the musical forms of rock and roll. And what content it was! Despite Dylan’s own resistance to the term "spokesperson for a generation," that is precisely what he was. People make history but history also makes people.

Dylan has been described in many ways — rebel, iconoclast, genius, and poet, to name a few. Dylan, steeped in the Midwest tradition of Americana as well as the various musical forms of the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s appeared in Greenwich Village in 1961 and quickly captivated the folk scene. His evolution through the Sixties musically and consciously was our generation’s evolution. From tender acoustic folk ballads, to stinging rock and roll social commentary, to hallucinogenic visionary imagery, he indeed captured "his times in thought."

Bill King, a professor of poetry and follower of Dylan’s work since the Sixties, has produced a series on the poetry of Bob Dylan called "Shakespeare in the Alley: Bob Dylan’s Poetics." Dr. King sees Dylan as the "contemporary successor of Walt Whitman, Woody Guthrie, and Allen Ginsberg." And while any attempt to bring critical analysis to the work of Dylan could be seen (in Dylan’s words in "Gates of Eden") as "shoveling the glimpse into the ditch of what each one means," Dr. King does a fine job of mixing the music and commentary into a satisfying balance to bring additional insight to the Dylan "oeuvre." While a little thin on the political implications of Dylan’s work, King’s analyses are both penetrating and enlightening. For the Dylan aficionado, this series would bring a deeper appreciation to what one might already be familiar with and for the casual listener, it would be a powerful introduction both to the varied poetic textures of Dylan’s work as well as the profound revolutionary changes of the 1960s. Bob Dylan once said, "I consider myself a poet first and a musician second."

For both the richness of the music, the depth of the commentary, and the sheer listening pleasure of Dylan’s poetic art, I recommend that you give this series your full attention. - Dr. J

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Welcome gentle listeners

Glad to know the Tampa audience is tuning into 'Shakespeare in the Alley." My Dylan seminar is in session and would love to hear your reponses to the shows. As would I. I'm moving on to the next edition of the series, so would love to hear form you. Go to the web site, and let me hear from you. Bill King