Bob Dylan’s Roots and Traditional World

  • Jeff Taylor
  • Chad Israelson
Part of the Critical Political Theory and Radical Practice book series (CPTRP)


From a purely statistical standpoint, Bob Dylan—Jewish and hail ing from Minnesota’s Iron Range—should reliably vote Democratic. Loath to have labels put upon him, his political outlook cannot be reduced to statistics. Dylan’s political world has proved too broad and independent to be classified simply as left or right, conservative or liberal, though he has often been assumed to be decidedly leftist. His political outlook is partly derived from the atmosphere of his home state and partly from his religious upbringing. Placed into those two cultures by birth, Dylan melded what he learned from them with traditional American ideals and roots music. His appreciation for the ideals of an America rooted in the past, a powerful sense of the sacred, and identification with the underdog coalesced into a belief system that transcended contemporary politics. This combination intermingled in the fertile and artistic mind of a sensitive young man and reappeared consistently over the years.


Political Culture Political World Twin City Folk Song Folk Music 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Colin Woodward, American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America (New York: Penguin Books, 2011), 60.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Daniel Elazar, Cities of the Prairie: The Metropolitan Frontier and American Politics (New York: Basic Books, 1970), 262–64.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Daniel Elazar, Minnesota Politics and Government (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999), xxv–xxvi.Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    Johsn Sirjamaki, “The People of the Mesabi Range,” in Rhoda R. Gilman and June Drennmg Holmquist, eds., Selections from “Minnesota History”: A Fiftieth Anniversary Anthology (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1965), 262.Google Scholar
  5. 8.
    Hyman Berman and Linda Mack Schloff, Jews in Minnesota: The People of Minnesota (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, Press, 2002), 2.Google Scholar
  6. 9.
    Bruce M. White et al., Minnesota Votes: Election Returns by County for Presidents, Senators, Congressmen, and Governors, 1857‘1977 (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 1977), 15Google Scholar
  7. 11.
    Aaron Brown, Overburden: Modern Life on the Iron Range (Duluth, MN: Red Step Press, 2008), 124.Google Scholar
  8. 16.
    “Mayfair Hotel Press Conference,” May 3, 1966. Contained in: Carl Benson, ed., The Bob Dylan Companion: Four Decades of Commentary (New York: Schirmer Books, 1998), 81.Google Scholar
  9. 17.
    Brown, Overburden, 5–18. Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Volume One (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004), 271.Google Scholar
  10. 19.
    Toby Thompson, Positively Main Street: Bob Dylan’s Minnesota, rev. ed. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1971, 2008), 136.Google Scholar
  11. 22.
    Joan Baez, And a Voice to Sing With (New York: Summit Books, 1987), 85.Google Scholar
  12. 24.
    Dave Engel, Just Like Bob Zimmerman’s Blues: Dylan in Minnesota (Rudolph, WI: River City Memoirs, 1997), 122.Google Scholar
  13. 25.
    Marvin G. Lamppa, Minnesota’s Iron Country: Rich Ore, Rich Lives (Duluth, MN: Lake Superior Port Cities Inc., 2004), 217.Google Scholar
  14. 26.
    Anthony Scaduto, Bob Dylan: An Intimate Biography (New York: Signet, c1971, 1979), 11.Google Scholar
  15. 36.
    Bob Dylan, Lyrics: 1962–1985 (New York: Knopf, 2004), 70–72Google Scholar
  16. 48.
    G. Theodore Mitau, “The Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Schism of 1948,” in Anne J. Aby, ed., The North Star State: A Minnesota History Reader (St. Paul: Minnesota History, 2002), 272–73.Google Scholar
  17. 55.
    Lawrence W Levine, Defender of the Faith: William Jennings Bryan: The last Decade, 1915–1925 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987), 322.Google Scholar
  18. 58.
    Clinton Heylin, Bob Dylan Behind the Shades Revisited (New York: William Morrow, 2001), 553.Google Scholar
  19. 64.
    Sergei Petrov and Rene Fontaine, Masked and Anonymous, directed by Larry Charles (Culver City, CA: Sony Pictures Classics, 2003)Google Scholar
  20. 78.
    Hasia R. Diner, The Jews of the United States (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004), 238.Google Scholar
  21. 79.
    Jonathan Sarna, American Judaism: A History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004), 274.Google Scholar
  22. 86.
    Ron Rosenbaum, “The Playboy Interview, March 1978.” Contained in: Younger Than That Now: The Collected Interviews with Bob Dylan (New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 2004), 156.Google Scholar
  23. 92.
    Fred Bernstein, The Jewish Mother’s Hall of Fame (New York: Knopf Doubleday, 1986), 169.Google Scholar
  24. 98.
    Kathleen Mackay, Bob Dylan: Intimate Insights from Friends and Fellow Musicians (New York: Omnibus Press, 2007), 13–14.Google Scholar
  25. 101.
    Stephen H. Webb, Dylan Redeemed: From Highway 61 to Saved (New York: Continuum, 2006), 35.Google Scholar
  26. 110.
    Abraham J. Heschel, The Prophets (New York: Harper & Row, 1962), xiv.Google Scholar
  27. 121.
    Jeff Taylor, Politics on a Human Scale: The American Tradition of Decentralism (Lanham, MD: Lexington Press, 2013), 273.Google Scholar
  28. 124.
    Greil Marcus, Invisible Republic: Bob Dylan’s Basement Tapes (New York: Henry Holt, 1997)Google Scholar
  29. Michael Gray, Song and Dance Man III: The Art of Bob Dylan (London: Cassell, 2000).Google Scholar
  30. 129.
    Howard Sounes, Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan (New York: Grove Press, 2001), 370–76.Google Scholar
  31. 131.
    Clinton Heylin, Bob Dylan: A Life in Stolen Moments, Day by Day: 1941–1995 (New York: Schirmer Books, 1996), 339Google Scholar
  32. 140.
    Joseph Tirella, Tomorrow-Land: The 1964–65 World’s Fair and the Transformation of America (New York: Lyons Press, 2014), 280.Google Scholar
  33. 145.
    Eric Foner, The Story of American Freedom (New York: WW Norton, 1998), 20.Google Scholar
  34. 148.
    Joel Porte, “Introduction: Representing America-the Emerson Legacy,” and David Robinson, “Transcendentalism and Its Times,” in Joel Porte and Sandra Morris, eds., The Cambridge Companion to Ralph Waldo Emerson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 9Google Scholar
  35. 153.
    Christopher Lasch, The Agony of the American Left (New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1969), 6.Google Scholar
  36. 154.
    Gene Clanton, Congressional Populism and the Crisis of the 1890s (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1998), 5.Google Scholar
  37. 157.
    Bill Kauffman, Look Homeward, America: Ln Search of Reactionary Radicals and Front-Porch Anarchists (Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, 2006), 167.Google Scholar
  38. 159.
    Ian Bell, Once Upon a Time: The Lives of Bob Dylan (New York: Pegasus Books, 2012), 117–18.Google Scholar
  39. 163.
    Paul Williams, Watching the River Flow: Observations on Bob Dylan’s Art in Progress, 1966–1995 (New York: Omnibus Press, 1996), 102.Google Scholar
  40. 167.
    Russell Kirk, The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot (Chicago: Regnery, 1953)Google Scholar
  41. William F. Buckley Jr., God and Man at Yale: The Superstitions of Academic Freedom (Chicago: Regnery, 1951).Google Scholar
  42. 168.
    Ronald Radosh, Prophets on the Right: Profiles of Conservative Critics of American Globalism (New York: Free Life Editions, cl975, 1978), 128Google Scholar
  43. 175.
    John A. Andrewill, The Other Side of the Sixties: Young Americans for Freedom and the Rise of Conservative Politics (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1997), 61.Google Scholar
  44. 176.
    This was precisely the critique of organized labor by C. Wright Mills, a father of the New Left. Rick Tilman, C. Wright Mills: A Native Radical and His American Intellectual Roots (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1984), 21–23.Google Scholar
  45. 182.
    David Yaffe, Bob Dylan: Like a Complete Unknown (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011), 90.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Jeff Taylor and Chad Israelson 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeff Taylor
  • Chad Israelson

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations