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The Poetics of American Song Lyrics$
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Charlotte Pence

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781617031564

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781617031564.001.0001

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Don Khan and Truck‐Driving Wives: Dylan’s Fluctuating Lyrics

Don Khan and Truck‐Driving Wives: Dylan’s Fluctuating Lyrics

(p.186) Don Khan and Truck‐Driving Wives: Dylan’s Fluctuating Lyrics
The Poetics of American Song Lyrics

Ben Yagoda

University Press of Mississippi

During his live performances, Bob Dylan is expected to sometimes change the lyrics of his songs. Surprisingly, he has not changed them more often, in part because unlike many forms of music like the blues, jazz, and rock traditions, rhymed lyrics are not conducive to improvisation and variation. In addition, Dylan values his lyrics more than melody and harmony. This chapter examines the arguments that he almost obsessively offers new versions of his lyrics because he has forgotten the old ones, or that the practice is part of his project as an artist. This chapter examines both interpretations and discusses the tendency of an artist to continuously and methodically change his works.

Keywords:   performances, Bob Dylan, lyrics, rhymed lyrics, improvisation, melody, harmony, songs

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