The Mythology Of Bob Dylan


by Larry Fyffe

According to the mythological visions of Bob Dylan that are transported through his music and lyrics, we observe in the early history of ‘discovered’ America, the mill wheel of life grinding along quite simply, and rather smoothly.

According to the Puritan Calvinist point of view, those of the Elect are destined for Heaven; those not, doomed to Hell for all eternity, never to escape its fiery pits.

Well, perhaps not forever … maybe when Hell freezes over, or:

When Heaven is Hell, when ill is well
When virtue is vice
When wrong is right, when dark is light
When nought is of great price
(Michael Wigglesworth: A Short Discourse On Eternity)

As goes Dylanesque mythology,  nowadays things have changed, have gotten more complicated in the hustle and bustle, ups and downs of modern times. Appears that everything is broken.

Fredrich Nietzsche launches his ships, and looses Hell upon the New Babylon:

Now everything's a little upside down
As a matter of fact the wheels have stopped
What's good is bad, what's bad is good
You'll find out when you reach the top
You're on the bottom
(Bob Dylan: Idiot Wind)

The Romantics and Transcendentalist writers have fled into the hills. In the mythology proffered by the singer/songwriter/musician, childhood is the only chance left to enjoy life before happiness is trampled asunder by the walking dead. One has his/her choice of poison in regards to how this is to be achieved – whether overseen by overly strict, or by uncaring, or by corrupt officialdom:

Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle like a gypsy queen
Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle all dressed in green
Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle 'til the moon is blue
Wiggle 'til the moon sees you
(Bob Dylan: Wiggle Wiggle)

(Please note there is a 17 seconds introduction on the recording below)

The loss of hope, and the possibility of its regeneration be a motif in Dylan’s mythological outlook.

Where have all the heroes gone long time ago, those individuals who took a stand against corrupt authorities?  Below,  song lyrics that reference the movie ‘On The Waterfront’, starring Marlon Brando, and Karl Malden – “You lost the battle, but you have a chance to win the war”:

Your didn't know it, you didn't think it could be done
In the final end he won the war
After losing every battle
(Bob Dylan: Idiot Wind)

In these modern times, the oft sorrowful loss of love be another theme:

If you travelling in the north country fair
Where the winds hit heavy on the borderline
Remember me to the one who lives there
She once was a true love of mine
(Bob Dylan: Girl From The North Country)

In these modern times, self-sacrifice seems to have flown out the window; religious dogma like ‘original sin’ is scoffed at  ~ while the shortness of life reminds the wise to seize the day:

Shake the dust off of your feet, don't look back
Nothing now can hold you down, nothing that you lack
Temptation's not an easy thing, Adam given the Devil reign
Because he sinned, I got no choice, it run in my vein
(Bob Dylan: Pressing On)

Apparently, what the mythology declares most of all is that the walls of platitudes are full of holes:

Never could learn to drink that blood
And call it wine
Never could learn to hold you, love
And call you mine
(Bob Dylan: Tight Connection To My Heart)

There are details of some of our more recent articles listed on our home page.  You’ll also find, at the top of the page, and index to some of our series established over the years.

If you have an article or an idea for an article which could be published on Untold Dylan, please do write to with the details – or indeed the article itself.

We also have a very lively discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook with getting on for 10,000 members. Just type the phrase “Untold Dylan” in, on your Facebook page or follow this link    And because we don’t do political debates on our Facebook group there is a separate group for debating Bob Dylan’s politics – Icicles Hanging Down


  1. “High Wind In Jamaica” pirate movie:

    Anthony Quinn: “You must be guilty of something, Zac”

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