Bob Dylan’s music has inspired me for years, but the music itself is just half the genius. What draws me to Dylan’s songs are his pure, simple, alluding stories. His words, which he crafts eloquently to tell the human story, illuminate what was, what is and what has yet to come.
Dylan’s curiosity extends beyond the capacity of observance. From his mind to the tips of his fingers, from his pencil to his guitar, he is always chasing after something; some place beyond the depth of our vision, where there has never been light before.
What does it take to move millions? Who can inspire people for generations? What can challenge a community, a nation, and the world?
Bob Dylan defamiliarizes his listeners with his lyrics, while at the same time creating a deep human connection that leads us to sense of understanding of one another. We’re forced to look at something we thought we knew in a completely different way, estranging us from our comfort zone and challenging us to see beyond our perception.
Music is a form of art, and art is simply creating a message. A message created artistically can give the viewer what they need to see something in a way they never thought they could before. As Dylan describes in his memoir, Chronicles, “Somebody holds the mirror up, unlocks the door–something jerks it open and you’re shoved in and your head has to go into a different place. Sometimes it takes a certain somebody to make you realize it” (62). I want to tell the kind of stories that make people realize it.
I think we, as storytellers and journalists, can draw inspiration in many different places. While I can only hope to tell half as many incredible stories as Bob Dylan has, something I can always take from him is the inspiration to look at everything with open eyes and a fresh perspective. To never take something simply as it is when telling a story, but to dig until we find multiple truths and realize that is the story that needs to be told.
I believe one of the most important responsibilities we have as journalists is to represent those voices that aren’t always heard and challenge institutions of pre-conceived societal and cultural values. Dylan narrates: “Opportunities may come along for you to convert something–something that exists into something that didn’t yet” (51). Why do we, as a culture, think what we do? My journalistic job isn’t to tell you that a culture thinks a certain way, my job is to tell you why it thinks that way and challenge you to ask yourself why you think the way you do.
This is bigger than every story I hope to write in the future, and every piece of art I hope to create. This is who I want to be; an ethical journalist and an honest person. And as a Dylan fan, I continue to find inspiration in his lyrics and simplicity of the messages he presents, while engaging on a deeper search for what it means to be a human and what meaning I can give my life and the world around me.