Take what you need: musical, cultural, and literary influences on Bob Dylan.

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Long, Tim
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Middle Tennessee State University
Musical Americana has a varied history that ranges from the traditional singers in the cotton fields of the deep South to the star-studded extravaganzas in Nashville or New York City. In that history one finds roots of gospel, country, blues, folk, and old-time rock and roll. All of these influences came together in the early sixties in the work of Bob Dylan. His music is a conglomeration of the singers Dylan listened to as a child and those he met in his early years as a performer. As Dylan became the voice of his generation, he carried with him the influences of those voices of America's musical past. In his work one finds echoes of Woody Guthrie, Hank Williams, and a myriad of others who paved the road before him. Dylan surpassed his predecessors, evidence of his skill in assimilation and of his strength as a poet of original verse. These abilities have at their roots the men and women to whom Dylan looked for his own inspiration. His poetry reveals the guiding forces in his development as a social and musical icon. Dylan has made use of his extensive knowledge of folk history, literature, and the Bible to create his art. Scriptural references abound in his poetry, indicative of his knowledge of the scriptures and the lessons learned from them. Through his work Dylan brings all these influences into play and in so doing keeps his own artistry and the work of his predecessors forever young.
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