Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Temporary like Achilles

I can't remember where it was that I read it, but the English poet Simon Armitage was making a comment about Bob Dylan - saying that he was a late convert (as was I) to the great man, but if you take the music away it is A-Level poetry (which if you are reading this outside of the UK, refers to exams taken by 17/18 year-olds prior to university).

Hmm. This seems a bit of a re-run of the 'Is Dylan as good as Keats' argument. And what a pointless debate it is. No - Dylan isn't Keats. Even Shelley wasn't Keats. But then Simon Armitage isn't Keats either. And you don't get the music with him either.

The thing with song lyrics is that they are sung. They are not trying to be poems, A-Level or otherwise. They are not poems set to music. You can't make a judgement about them without the music. They are part of the music. But they can still be great. They can still speak to the heart and be amazingly evocative.

And most importantly they have to stand repetitive listening. I can't think how many times I've heard Sad-Eyed Ladies of the Lowlands or Positively 4th Street, or Tangled Up in Blue or Don't Think Twice It's Alright or Temporary Like Achilles but I know I'm a long way from being bored with any of them.

In fact I'm a long way from even being bored by those titles.

1 comment:

  1. Hmm, yes—Dylan was a taste I had to acquire. Now I'm glad I took the time.