Dylan and postmodernism Part II

Dylan And Post-Post Modernism (Part II)

By Larry Fyffe

Though vaguely defined and overlapping other categories that seek to classify art, we’ll consider Post-Post Modernism to be literature and song lyrics that revive the hopes for a better society envisioned by the Romantic Transcendentalist writers. In the poems of innovative artists like Walt Whitman who hails the progress made by American technology to the less optimistic middle-of-the road approach taken by Robert Frost, the “American Dream” lives on.

According to Post-Post Modernist writers, the “American Dream” is not dead, nor shattered beyond repair, as many Post Modernist writers consider it to be – there’s still a light shining notwithstanding that it’s diminished in these modern times.

The persona in the song lyrics below strives to stay forever young; tries to keep on the
Post-Post Modern side of the road:

Hey, come on try a little
Nothing is forever
There's got to be something better
Than in the middle
But me and Cinderella
We put it all together
We can drive it home
With one headlight
(The Wallflowers: One Headlight ~ Jakob Dylan)

Compare the following lyrics that can be considered Post Modernist:

Cinderella, she seems so easy: 
    "It takes one to know one", she smiles
And puts her hands in her back pockets, Bette Davis style
And in comes Romeo, he moans: 'You belong to me, I believe"
And someone says: 
    "You're in the wrong place, my friend, you'd better leave"
And the only sound that's left after the ambulances go
Is Cinderella sweeping up on Desolation Row
(Bob Dylan: Desolation Row)

In the song lyrics below, Walt Whitman’s dream is all but shattered:

I have no apologies to make
Everything's flowing at the same time
I live on a boulevard of crime
I drive fast cars, and I eat fast foods
I contain multitudes
(Bob Dylan: I Contain Multitudes)

In the following lyrics, the dream is dead as a door nail:

Stack up the bricks, pour the cement
Don't say Dallas don't love you, Mr. President
Put your foot in the tank, and step on the gas
Try to make it to the triple underpass
(Bob Dylan: Murder Most Foul)

In the poem below, ideals apparently never die:

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse or will
The ship's anchored safe and sound, 
    it's voyage closed and done
From fearful trip, the victor ship comes in with object won
(Walt Whitman: O Captain, My Captain)

The forces of good outshine the forces of darkness in the lyrics below; complacency be the order of the day:

I got my window open wide
Got a good woman by my side ...
Yeah, this kind of day has no night
And I ain't got much on my mind
I ain't got much on my mind
'Cause I know something good this way comes
(Jakob Dylan: Something Good This Way Comes)

For sure, Shakespeare is not in the alley with his pointed shoes and his bells:

By the pricking of my thumbs
Something wicked this way comes
Open locks
Whoever knocks!
(William Shakespeare: Macbeth, Act IV, sc i)

The apple, however, never falls far from the tree:

Well, you're on your own, you always were
In a land of wolves and thieves
Don't put your hope in an ungodly man
Or be a slave to what somebody else believes
(Bob Dylan: Trust Yourself)

You may also enjoy

Untold Dylan: who we are what we do

Untold Dylan is written by people who want to write for Untold Dylan.  It is simply a forum for those interested in the work of the most famous, influential and recognised popular musician and poet of our era, to read about, listen to and express their thoughts on, his lyrics and music.

We welcome articles, contributions and ideas from all our readers.  Sadly no one gets paid, but if you are published here, your work will be read by a fairly large number of people across the world, ranging from fans to academics who teach English literature.  If you have an idea, or a finished piece send it as a Word file to Tony@schools.co.uk with a note saying that it is for publication on Untold Dylan.

We also have a very lively discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook with approaching 5000 active members. Just type the phrase “Untold Dylan” in, on your Facebook page or follow this link 

You’ll find some notes about our latest posts arranged by themes and subjects on the home page of this site.  You can also see details of our main sections on this site at the top of this page under the picture.  Not every index is complete but I do my best.

But what is complete is our index to all the 604 Dylan compositions and co-compositions that we have found, on the A to Z page.  I’m proud of that; no one else has found that many songs with that much information.  Elsewhere the songs are indexed by theme and by the date of composition. See for example Bob Dylan year by year.


  1. * Post Postmoderism (Part I) the title should be; Post Postmodernism
    (Part II) will follow shortly.

  2. Jakob also is one who knows his song well before he starts singing ,indeed. Such young Talent.

  3. Jakob had a lot of time growing up to consider ones own Voice. Blind Wille McTell was quoted saying, “Ide jump em from other writers,But ide arrange em my way”. Jakob has a Multitude of Voices!

  4. Final comment on Jakob Dylan. He has been tutored well. Play ” Down on our own shield” and as in Tai Chi,” where the facial expression goes the Voice will surely follow”.

  5. Yes, Bob Dylan can surely snatch some claim to fame by pointing out that he’s Jakob’s father (lol)

  6. Larry, im with you on this. Jakob wrote and performed,”Down on our own Shield” a decade a go and its all come to pass. Jakob has given us a very present message.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *