The Bob Dylan Torture Test

Four people born in the 1990s who'd never listened to Bob Dylan before listen to nothing but Bob Dylan—specifically, his career-spanning, three-disc Biograph—for 72 hours straight. Here’s what it was like for them.


I am disappointed that you went with a three disc biography set as opposed to four or five of his best albums... Blood on the tracks, the freewheelin bob dylan, blonde on blonde, etc. Listening to music as it was composed and designed especially in the era of the album I feel really helps appreciated and give context to much of the music.
Is there any three-disc best-of that wouldn't become maddening after 72 hours of straight listening?

Dylan's musical legacy is pretty secure. He'll get more play in 2110 than anybody else playing at Bumbershoot this year, you can be sure. Sorry, Courtney.
I love The Stranger and have been a devout reader since I myself was a child of 18. I didn't want to read the poorly written opinions of my peers then and I don't want to read the poorly written opinions of children now. Off to read Paul's article in the hopes it will rinse my brain of this ill conceived idea.
I consider myself a pretty obsessive dylan fan, love albums that span his career, the documentaries, his book... but I also own Biograph, just bought the vinyl for novelty sake and I can't really stand listening to it either! I agree w/ comment 1, should have just picked a few albums... nothing knocked me on my ass as much as listening to Bringing It All Back home the first time from start to finish.
Degree to which an 18-year-old's opinion has relevance to my life: 0.
Perhaps Mama Fratelli put it best: "Kids suck." The notion that somehow Janis Joplin has more substance (?!?!?) and is less self-indulgent- ever heard the worst imaginable version of the old standard "Summertime"?- illustrates an ignorance that surpasses even The Stranger's usual music critics.
I'm 29 and I hate that fucker.
This is how foie gras is made.
I have to agree with #1. I'm a big fan of dylan but can't stand the greatest hits comp I have (not biography) for one reason...everytime I hear "don't think twice" I have to dig out my freewheelin disc because I need to hear "bob dylans dream" right after. One thing possibly more difficult than writing 6 or 10 great songs is putting 6 or 10 together in the "right order". There's a whole bunch of great songwriters out there but not very many good "album writers". its a rare and all but lost art. All in all though I like the premise of your story.
I bet within five years they all love him.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha Barbra Streisand ha ha ha ha ha ha. Kid, you deserve the shallowness you inherited. May it serve you well.
FWIW, I couldn't listen to Bobby D for 72 hours either. One LP side at a time is my max. But a lot of those LP sides are really beautiful.
I'm fond of a story my dad told me of when he and my mom saw Dylan in concert.

My mom leans over to my dad and says, "I wish he'd play 'Lay Lady Lay.'"

My dad responds, "He played it three songs ago."
So a bunch of effete 18 year olds don’t get Dylan? What a’s a quick outline on the difference between men and what you see walking around in skinny jeans with moussed hair these days:

1. Dylan road a motorcycle and does ads for Cadillacs. He doesn’t ride a tricycle and drive a Prius.
2. Dylan eats meat.
3. Dylan loved to use the words 'chick' and ‘faggot’ and never apologized for it  Check out the Weberman tapes on youtube.
4. Dylan changed music and the world. The Decemberists have girlfriend issues.
5. Dylan wasn’t a pacifist and said so in numerous interviews. 
6. Dylan owns a gun and once had to threaten hippies with it in his home. 
Just to clarify, they didn't have to listen to the music 24/7 during that 72-hour stretch. They just weren't allowed to listen to anything else.
this is like pop relevance ethnography. love it. it really does show how important the listening environment can be to the reception of music, there is no objective standard, just a series of more or less appropriate mise en scenes.

personally i have no interest in dylan, i just love the idea of listening experiments.
The Stranger needs some writers who don't dabble in poop.
I'm 25 and I like Dylan. He's a poet.
"restless leg syndrome in your brain" - Hilarious!
I didn't REALLY get into Bob Dylan until my 20's, whenever DON'T LOOK BACK was rereleased. The BD in DON'T LOOK BACK is punk as shit.
Almost 60 and you can add me to the list of people who never got it. Poet? Don't think so. Singer? Uh,no. Poseur? If the shoe fits...
I'm 24 and I don't much care for him as well.
"half the people can be right all of the all of the time, some of the people can't be all right all the time. But all the people can't be alright all the time. I think Abraham Lincoln said that." Guess what: Bob Dylan sang that.

Who cares what the current apathetic, non-thinking, without musical knowledge, narcissistic, without intellect, indulgently superficial, non-musical, non-poetic, non-artistic, generation has to say.
I think you need to be more involved in your world to understand Dylan. The context of his songs is when the world was changing really fast and there was a war going on. The same is true now, but people have become so isolated from it that most people nearly forget that there is a war, and there are large scale social changes happening.

These kids (who make me feel old at 22 by the way) aren't engaged in their world, other than the pakistani kid. Dylan's music is largely about suffering and none of them have experienced anything actually close to it.

My favorite Dylan Songs: Gates of Eden and Only a pawn in their game

@Rollinstone : I think you're shaking your walker too hard. The boomer generation ruined the environment, destroyed our economy and spent themselves into the highest personal debt levels ever. And then has the gall to call younger people narcissistic?! Clearly you have a distorted picture of your own generation.
"there was a war going on."

Please, Dylan stopped singing protest songs years before the war peaked. By '68 and Tet, Dylan was married with kids and playing 'square' country music in Nashville while hippies were rolling in mud and spreading STDs. Dylan clearly sustained hippies, refused to play Woodstock even while living their. He knew stupid white people when he saw them.
Harumph! Go back to your Rhiannas and your Gagas and your Wu-Tang Clans, whippersnappers!

Seriously, I only have about a decade on each of these kids, but I loved Dylan from age fifteen on. Must be a Minnesota thing.
"Dylan clearly sustained hippies"

Typo: Dylan clearly disdained hippies....
"The boomer generation ruined the environment,"

Yes dear. How's your coltan habit these days, dear?
I just saw Dylan in Portland. He is a 69 year old rock genius. But he doesn't care what I think. He doesn't care what these kids think. He only cares about the music. Anyone who listens to Biograph for 72 hours and doesn't feel at least one shiver of pure recognition, one moment of new crazy knowledge about the world, has barely begun to live, or has already started to die.
The reviews were written poorly? Seemed ok to me. Damn, we have some serious "writers/ Masters of the Written Word" commenting on these articles.
I used to HATE Dylan...his songs, his voice, and I thought he was the UGLIEST TROLL on the planet.

A friend took me to see him in concert at the end of 2004 when I was 32. I LOVED HIM.

Now I love his voice, his songs, and I think he is the sexiest beast to walk this planet. lol Weird how stuff happens....
Congratulations, wonderful journalism(i sooo respect you as a part of our wonderful society). What a great new exposition of dust in the eyes! I bet we're all aware of the statistical significance the opinion of four 18-20 year-olds really carries and how much this can be accounted for to be the general opinion of an entire generation. In fact, this piece was so effective, i think i'm gonna go listen to lady gaga. and throw up.
kate13: sorry, didn't mean to insult an entire generation. i don't know who is responsible for the troubles you claim are my fault. I really think we're all in this thing together. I blame the power elite, not any one generation for the problems you mention.

Dylan wrote things no one was saying, that everybody was thinking back was quite a revelation that Dylan was even possible...when society was so restrictive.

I know parents who banned their children from listening to Dylan, that seems funny now, but it wasn't so funny back in the 60's,,,

Listen to: "Circle Game" by Joni Mitchell
News flash: 18 year olds don't "get" Dylan
This is an interesting concept but I'm leery about compilations for an artist like Dylan, who was never really about hit singles. He's an album-oriented dude--I'd give the kids Blonde on Blonde, Highway 61 Revisited and Blood on the Tracks.

My favorite Dylan songs have varied over the years, but lately I've been into "Simple Twist of Fate" and "Shelter from the Storm."

The fact that Dylan's important doesn't make him listenable.
never cared much for him
this was hilarious
There is always a large number of people who don't get Dylan, or just don't like his voice enough to want to try. Fair enough. The amazing thing about Dylan, however, is that in 45 years...they'll still be having this conversation...just as they were 45 years ago. Anyone want to bet Justin Beiber or Miley Cyrpus will have that kind of impact?
I am 27 and have seen Dylan in concert 30 times. He is the poet laureate or Rock and Roll, the voice of a generation, he forced folk into bed with rock.

Kids today just don't listen to good music why do you think the music business is in such sad affairs, their are no good musical acts.
As Charlie Brown once said, "I weep for this generation."
You don't have to be 18 to hate Dylan's music (if you can call it that). Some of us have always hated it since it came out!
Great article! I was not a fan until aged 21. I bought Greatest Hits Vol 2 on vinyl,second hand. I kinda liked some of it......Lay Lady Lay was my favourite......because of his voice. All I Really Want To Do, I perversely liked, because I thought his yodel was.....indescribable.

I then bought Clinton Heylin's Behind The Shades book, and it inspired me to buy his albums chronologically, starting with Bootlegs Vols 1-3. I was sold. I would struggle to listen to Biograph straight. I agree compilations are not the way to listen to him.

Anyway, one thing that must be agreed is that he is polarising. And that is a great thing, because viva la difference!
This was a really interesting read...comment section as well. I kind of felt put off by these kids too at first, but then I realized, "Wait a minute, that was me when I was a teenager."

I was born in the late '70s so Dylan was more my parents' generation's thing...and in high school I remember a friend of mine and I trying to listen to a Dylan greatest hits record and just laughing our way through it!! Why was this guy the voice of a whole generation? The guy couldn't even sing!!!

But then into my '20s, I started to get it. I don't remember why, I don't remember how, but something just clicked. "Love and Theft" was the first non-greatest-hits album I bought of his and I played that thing out!!! Since I've become a bit of a Dylan nerd...visiting the "Expecting Rain" site daily.

I don't fault these kids for not getting it. When I was listening to hair metal in the '80s, I didn't (don't judge me, please!). Maybe they never will get it. That's fine. But for many people, when Dylan's music clicks, it CLICKS!!! His legacy is pretty firmly intact.
I just turned 20 and cannot get enough of Bob Dylan. Almost every song, save for Wiggle Wiggle, has some degree of relevance. I don't understand how these people can't relate to him. He truly is the best singer songwriter ever and will continue to be as his current material is just as good (to me) as his 60's stuff.
It bothers me that this wonderful artist's music is referred to as a "torture" test. I've followed Bob since 1962 and been to more of his shows than I can count. How about a Bob Dylan "appreciation" test? After all, he's won Grammys, and Oscar, the Polar Music Prize and other awards. Not bad for someone who "tortures" people's ears, eh?? If I have my pick of music for the day, it's Dylan I'd put on first, and over and over again.
The reviewers don't admit it, but all but one were personally very offended by Ballad of a Thin Man, and Emma felt that Leopardskin Pillbox Hat spoke directly to her soul.
I'm not sure why people are so pissed off to hear the opinions of young, first-time Dylan listeners. I'm 34, not a Dylan fan, but also not a huge music fan in general, and I'm not at all surprised by their reactions.

My only suggestion would be to keep listening. If I like something the first time I listen to it, it's an excellent sign I'll be sick of it in a month. If I keep listening to it and I hear new things and find new meanings each time, the music stays with me. People (not just kids) who are fans of pop music may not realize that, and they'll think that if something doesn't grab them on the first listen - never mind the tenth or twentieth because they never make it that far - it's no good.

I do wonder what their reactions would be to listening to good covers of each song on Biograph. It might be a better "gateway" to appreciating Dylan's originals. His voice is a hard obstacle for some people to overcome.

And now I'm wondering if I should check to see what Dylan my public library has so I should give him more of a shot. Maybe some of the albums some people here have suggested. (Can't afford to buy CDs, or even much on iTunes.)
I don't know why everyone is assuming that all kids listen to is Disney shit. Whether you agree or loath the opinions (I personally get bothered by the big D's "tunes") young people today - especially in Seattle - are as much/if not more involved with and knowledgeable about music then we were. Besides the fact that they take the time to know and love our generation too - I challenge you to find one teen who hates the Beatles or Joplin etc. Don't get your feathers ruffled.
I don't know why everyone is assuming that all kids listen to is Disney shit. Whether you agree or loath the opinions (I personally get bothered by the big D's "tunes") young people today - especially in Seattle - are as much/if not more involved with and knowledgeable about music then we were. Besides the fact that they take the time to know and love our generation too - I challenge you to find one teen who hates the Beatles or Joplin etc. Don't get your feathers ruffled.
More breaking news: People over 50 don't find Lil Wayne terribly relevant to their lives.
Eh, I'm young and grew up in an East Coast city where 60s folk music was as popular with hipsters as garage and soul is to Seattle hipsters. There were hipster bars with only 60 folk in their jukeboxes. I pretty much only listened to the stuff, and yet Dylan never did anything for me.

It doesn't surprise me that these teens don't like him. He's like Joanna Newsome in that some people can't get past the strange voice. Beyond that, while he might have been a great songwriter for his time, since then there have been so many equally great, poetic songwriters who are more relevant to my generation.

He's like Shakespeare. While you can admire his skill, you might not neccessarily ever want to read him again. His themes have all been done many times over since his day and done in ways that are arguably more appealing.

Plus, sorry, but he was a sexist prick. Ask Joan Baez.
@13 hahahahahahhahhaah! an occasion that has probably happened for many i'm sure!

@31 Spot on, spot on. case closed.
I used to hate Dylan, and much like one of the writers I preferred covers of his songs to the original. But in my mid-20s something changed, and I really started to like him. Maybe these kids will grow to appreciate him more someday. Either way, I dug the article.
Too funny!!

I commend you young author-listeners for not only being willing to undergo this experiment, but also for the quality of your writing.

I've got a few years on you guys, but even for me, Dylan was an acquired taste. To really appreciate him you need a good grasp of the times when he arose - what he did at the Newport Folk Festival and the repercussions of that event - some understanding of the beats (i.e. beatniks) and folk music and how that whole scene gave rise to the hippies and their anti-war stance... etc etc...

And yeah, once you come to terms with his unique vocals, and you begin to cue into those outstanding lyrics, you just may 'get it'.. and once you do, it's a whole new world for you..
God bless you, the Stranger. I wasn't born in the 90's (I'm 41) but I've never understood the boomers obsession with this Bob Dylan character. Sure, he's written one or two decent songs - but the rest are absolute crap. I'm fairly certain a monkey with a guitar, an unlimited supply of weed and lsd could, over the course of 40 years, do the same.
haha - I knew when I saw the title to this article everyone would have an opinion to state...
The Dylan of today has very, VERY little relevance to the lives of those caught up in the throes of Rihanna and Jay-Z. He is not for everybody--he never was.

'He's not golden. He's just another singer-songwriter.' That says it all--the depth of their analysis can be gauged accordingly. The perfect Dylan song (I think) is 'Chimes of Freedom' and his ultimate performance of it at the newport festival in 64 or 65. Chilling.

A century from now, Dylan will be discussed as a poet, artist, and prophet. Cypress Hill who??
I like Dylan and will see the show this weekend, but I loved this article. The 20-year old Dylan would have given a similar review to most musicians of a previous era, no matter how popular. I'm 47 and was 6 in 1969, so I never cared for the "relevance" of Dylan's music to what was going on historically. I don't care why people older than me love his music so much, and the lyrics...most of them are just wacky bits of words that sometimes rhyme but often don't, and usually don't make sense. Which is why I like him.
Wow. That was some seriously bad writing. Good enough for the UW Daily, though.
Not all boomers revere the guy, either. I agree with a couple of the points others have made - most of the covers of his songs are miles better than the originals (listen to Warren Zevon doing Knocking on Heaven's Door, made when he was dying of terminal cancer - if you don't get teary, you're not human), and Dylan works best in the context of an album (but only some of his albums work, either). I love Blood on the Tracks, but you can keep most of the others.

I do, however, love Things Have Changed from The Wonder Boys soundtrack.
People find their way to Dylan-fandom (if they do at all) by strange routes. (I became a fan when I was 9 years old, reading the liner notes to Highway 61.) But he's definitely a rare and acquired taste. His son's band's first CD sold more copies than all of Dylan's work had over his entire career by then (mid-90s).
The Beatles and every other important artist of the last 50 years were and are in AWE of Bob Dylan. What is the point of asking four kids who grew up on a limited palate of music expression what they think? Other than to have them embarrass themselves? Unless that was the point, then well done The Stranger.
It is not hard for me to understand the parents and young people's reaction to Dylan's music. It would be unfair to assume they are idiots, but more likely are habituated to a particular sound and way of listening to music. Most music made in the last 20-30 years has been heavily manipulated and digitally cleaned-up so that very little of the organic subtleties remain. Vocals are pitch enhanced to remove the subtle veering in pitch that occurs naturally in the human voice. To hear something so utterly real has got to be alarming when one has only known sterile, corporate manufactured sound and image. There should be a Bob Dylan, and music-that-inspired Bob, immersion course to rescue these poor victims of consumer culture. They also need to be read aloud to--from Wordsworth to Verlaine--so they may recover that wonderful human capacity to be profoundly moved and creatively and spiritually inspired by poetic imagery.
I hated Dylan when I first listened to him, also around 18. Similar to T. Waits, there are a few prerequisites to appreciating the music: A bad break-up, a little poverty, a touch of crime, many bad decisions, some retching drunks, waking in jail doesn't hurt.

At 18, most people probably don't have the life experience to get into music like this.
This is an interesting gimmick, but no more than that. Try listening to nothing but the 170 CDs of the complete works of Mozart and you will pull your hair out at some point, too; I write from experience. But that's not how musicians, artists, or cooks for that matter expect anyone to approach their work. As for the inter-generational backstabbing -- boomers polluted the earth; naughts don' know nuttin', have no soul, spirituality blather blather blather -- give it a rest. Likewise, predicting who will be listened to, read or imitated a century from now is a fool's errand. The comments by Galen Weber, Emma Kelley, Ashraf Hasham and Cage McKinsey were actually pretty good. As one old enough to be their parent, I can say their apparent intelligence is cause for optimism.
Issac Brock was into Dylan. Obviously.
Some of the comments here are so condescending and judgmental. You'd be surprised by what young people actually listen to. I live on Capitol Hill, and you go into any vintage store, bar, or record store in the neighborhood and hear bands like Can, Love, Os Mutantes, 60s French pop, as well as old motown, soul & R&B being played by people in their 20s.

I'm not "young" (in my early 30s), but when I was in junior high I was listening to Melanie. In college, it was all Grateful Dead, Pete Seeger, both the Guthries, Pentangle, Ritchie Havens, etc...and I never liked Dylan. Neither did my parents, who are of his generation.

Assuming people don't like an artist because they have bad taste or can't appreciate what real, untreated voices sound like is ridiculous. I record music and hear untreated voices daily that are beautiful and moving without any treatment. Dylan's is not one.
@70: Wow, Capitol Hill is such a thriving oasis of music. You can hear everything from pop to rock to R&B to soul to rock to jam rock to soul to rock to pop...whew! My head is spinning! What variety!
This was wonderful to read, though I agree that three days straight of almost any artist would be torture. People like Dylan are really best enjoyed in far smaller doses.

What's really funny to me is that, as a 46 year old who really digs Dylan's music, I could totally agree with everything said here about him, no matter how harsh. The guy can't sing, can't play the guitar and can't write a song...and he blows me away time after time.

It's nice to see that at least one person looks set to be a lifelong fan. It wouldn't surprise me at all if the others found themselves with some unexpected enjoyment the next time they hear a Dylan tune.

Great concept for a story, everyone--thanks!
I was using Cap Hill as one example of people in their 20s obviously listening to 60s music since I live there. I'm from Providence and could have just as easily used that city.

Besides, we're talking about Bob Dylan, one of the best known folk singers, not some obscure musician only music snobs like yourself know about. But continue to be a grumpy, jaded fuck. Everyone loves that shit.
In a snide-sound-byte-sorta-way #5 sums it up. #7 underscores a case of arrested development. Too bad, at about that age, three decades into life, I was coming around past all the cultural baggage (can one?) to truly appreciate old Bobby. He had a great grasp on the social history of poetics and a sharp enough mind to play with it all gloriously. May it be the dominion of the young mind to be dismissive of what they don't "get". Perhaps later, when they're older, they'll come back around to Dr. Suess: "I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells."

As Rich Jensen suggests, do it again, but give them "Don't Look Back" instead of "Biograph"
It's not only the age. I loved Bob Dylan just as much when I was 18 as I do now. It isn't hard to understand why Dylan is great and stands next to Satchmo as one of American music's most important musical figures. If these new adults don't love him yet, they might when their frontal lobe fully develops in a few years.
"Bob isn't a musician to be a fan of; He's a planet to be explored." . . . or something like that. ~~~paraphrased from George Harrison. This has been true for me. Hey, you either get Bob or you don't. Forget about trying to figure out why.
I'm 40, and think these kids are being too kind..... I never liked Dylan, and will hopefully never be so old that I do.
Biograph was a bad choice, as any compilation would be for an album guy like Dylan. He wrote complete musical works, not singles. Should have given them Blood on the Tracks, or Highway 61 Revisited, or even Love and Theft. A masochistic exercise to be sure. Now lock a couple 55 year olds up for 72 hours and let them listen to the complete recordings of Lady Gaga which means they'd repeat one hour of music 72 times.
I don't get. How does the perspective of a 19-year-old differ that much from the late 20ers/early 30ers that comprise most of this newspaper's staff and readership? "hmmm...I have so much cosmic insight...hmmm....time to update my Twitter."
What a surprise, seventeen, eighteen and nineteen year olds think they know everything and everyone who came before them is irrelevant and passe.

Dylan is a love him or hate him kind of guy. I happen to love him, but I know he's not to everyone's taste. My guess is, when these kiddos actually have some life experience, they'll start to like music with a message a little more (whether Bob Dylan, in particular, ever becomes their taste or not).

Similar to the fact that when I was in high school in the 90s, I got mocked and ostracized for liking The Beatles, Bob Dylan, The Who, etc, and now, 15 years later, all the former grungeheads are friending me on social networking sites and going "hey, man, have you heard that Hey Jude song? It's awesome. And there's this rock opera thing? Tommy, I think it's called? You should totally see it."

.... yes, yes, believe it or not, I have. They're not *quite* new, see. But welcome to the party.
I'm 28, and I love Dylan. Dylan is not just a Baby Boomer artist. He is still very popular among young people who curious, intelligent and have good taste. And yes--people still care about him. He had a number one hit on the Billboard charts a couple of years ago for God's sake. His albums still sell consistently well. This is just the opinion of a handful of kids. They don't speak for their generation.

These kids are admittedly articulate, but most of them are not nearly as intelligent as they think they are. Dylan's lyrics actually make a whole lot of sense, and you don't have to be stoned or living in the Sixties to understand them. They make more sense than the majority of songs being written today-- or in the Sixties for that matter. Like a previous poster wrote, a lot of kids think Shakespeare is nonsense too! (Honest, I taught them!) He doesn't traffic in light entertainment. You have to bring a little bit more to his music.

Bob Dylan has never been as accessible as The Beatles, but to call him "just another singer-songwriter" is absurd. And ignorant. Our modern conception of singer-songwriters wouldn't exist without Dylan!
@20 I got into Dylan in my 20's via Don't Look Back, as well.

In my 30's I got a Dylan box set and listened to the same album daily for a month until I made my way through the box. That shit grows on you.

Listening to one compilation once is not a sufficient introduction/indoctrination to his genius.

That said, since my Dylan box set binge, I have not deliberately put on Dylan once.
I LOVE Lady GAGA and I LOVE Bob Dylan too! SO FUCK OFF!!!
This has to be the funniest discussion I have ever read. You may like Dylan or you may not (both is completely fine), but that is about all you can do about it. Questioning his skills as a lyricist or songwriter is absurd. You may not like Rembrandt, so you woud say he couldn't paint? The article is interesting, the discussion just sad.
I am 30, and love Dylan. Dad introduced me with Mr. Tamborine man when I was 19, and at first his voice was something I tolerated to listen to the words. Then one day, as I listened more and more, I loved his voice, and I have never looked back. I did a musical journey from his first album till the latest, reading the wikipedia page for each as went along... it was so nice to not have to wait as long for the next album, as people did when they were made.

Considering the fact that he is an amazing song writer, few have successfully sang his songs. There are a few covers worth listening to, but more often than not I end up missing the feeling that he always sings with and the sense of humor he brings to so many songs. I love his voice.

I was surprised to read the participants saying there was little relevance, as for me, especially during the Bush years, it was painfully clear that not much had changed. It also pained me to see how most of us have given up on trying to change anything, and instead are resigned to the rat race.

Anyways, I am lucky enough to be with the girl of my dreams. She is 24, beautiful, random, intelligent, funny, and loves Dylan too!

Bob Dylan is still alive ?
Bob Dylan music is like the movie Pulp Fiction. Either you love it or you hate it. I am 39 and my father incessantly played Dylan throughout my childhood. I thought it was torture until my early 20s when I got past his voice. Now, I really love his voice...and I absolutely adore his lyrics.

People who don't get him, well, they just don't get him. I don't get the appeal of most rap music, but it doesn't invalidate its importance in the world of music. Bob Dylan's music is not all geared toward protest of the Vietnam War. But even many of those songs could be applied to these times. I particularly enjoyed "Masters of War" while Bush was president and starting the Iraq War. Then there are songs like "Mr. Tambourine Man" which was about addiction and "Girl From the North Country" about sorrow and lost love.

People who box him into a certain time period have only heard a few hits. I am with many of the commenters. The best way to experience Dylan for the first time is not 72 hours of a "best of" compilation. It is by listening to albums like "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan" (my personal favorite) or "Highway 61 Revisited." It also helps to have a little life experience and empathy to relate to the characters in his songs. Oh, and 20 years to get used to his voice doesn't hurt.
Biograph is a terrible introduction to Dylan.
@66: Thank you!!!
And yes, "Biograph" was a stupid choice.
Bob Dylan is living History.
58 "he's written one or two good songs but the rest are absolute crap"

Am just curious what some songs are (by others, obviously) that you think are great.
I wonder how different these reviews would have been if they had listened to a 3-disc made up by a panel of dylan fans? Because it would not have included ANY of the sheer, mind-numbing awfulness of his career post-blood on the tracks.
If I had to listen to any of his three 'jesus albums' (slow train coming, anyone?), I would hate Dylan, too.

18yo's opinions ARE bunk.
These people are dumb.

-- Bob Dylan has tons of songs that are super-rockin' and literal; surely you can understand "Hurrican" and "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carrol" without being reminded of a rambling lunatic.

-- Attn "Emmy": ***It's supposed to be funny!*** If a song is driving you to "convulsions of laughter," that's a good thing... music is supposed to express a personality and create emotions, that's not really a downside.
If I had to keep looking at that scary mug, I'd go bonkers. I know its Dylan, but really...

Couldn't the cameraman get him to stop glowering?

My first thought was, Huh?
What is Vincent Price doing with John Waters' pencil mustache?
When I moved into my dorm room beginning in college, my roommate proved to be the most boring person on the face of the earth. No personality whatsoever. What clued me in to what was going to be this ongoing pattern was that she elaborately apologized/boasted that she loved Bob Dylan. A lot. Really. All I could think was, "This is your identity? Everyone in the universe loves Bob Dylan. That's like saying 'I like air' or 'cookies are great.'" But I'm a couple years older than these kids. And I was raised right. By which I mean, raised by a freak poet who never traded in the 60's for a white collar.
93: Word. "Biograph" wasn't the best choice, but these kids just don't like music. They're not alone among their contemporaries--music is just "content" to this generation. They'll never get it.
96: you're too invested in Dylan to be objective. He's all you have to hang your hat on when you're out of little blue pills.

And ferchrissakes, when you revert to a "these kids" argument, know it as your cue to book a Carnival Cruise and STFU.
@66 anyone busking on a street corner can "save" the unwashed far better than a digitally-remastered-to-capture-the-shittiness Dylan CD.
@96 I'm 19 and I love the Bob. "Kids these days" are too fucking dull and uninspired to understand what Dylan's all about. It may sound cliche, but it's true. There's no place for intelligent music that requires an attention span in today's dumbass culture. Old people are damn lucky that they have peers to enjoy Dylan with, because I'm surrounded by these half-witted fuckheads who'd rather pump Bieber and GaGa. But do I really give a shit? Bah!
Witch on steroids-- ahahaahahhaaa!! I love many BD songs but that's the best description of his voice I've ever read.
I've been a Dylan listener for more than 40 years. I found this article (and the ensuing comments) profoundly interesting.

First, I thought the young reviewers wrote thoughtful and even insightful pieces, even though I disagreed with most of their observations.

Second, I was surprised that (as far as I could tell) not one comment mentioned that Bob Dylan is still writing new and highly relevant music. The music on Biograph is 30 years old. Perhaps music written during the lifetimes of the reviewers would have more relevance.