Related Texts – Textual Dynamics
Bob Dylan – Desolation Row
Desolation Row is a song about a congregation of various figures from reality and fiction, past and present to a place called “Desolation Row” which could have any number of meanings depending on the interpretation. Bob Dylan deliberately makes the lyrics vague and open for interpretation for his audience to make their own meaning from the song and to break away from the norms of the musical period he was writing in. The song was popularised by the radio, a mainstream medium, and Dylan helped in introducing the postmodernist and counter-culture to the 1960s. My interpretation is that Desolation Row is a society where outcasts and individuals are free and accepted – a key concern of the time. However it is clear that the lack of a single meaning and a single truth is questioning the meta-narrative and the perceived structure of texts prior to the postmodern period.
Dylan uses a distinct style new to the time and unique to his own songs, and it revolutionised the culture of the 1960s and onwards. His manipulation of the common folk music sound gives the feel of a postmodern take, as it was so vastly different to anything else from the time. On top of the feel and sound of the music the lyrics include many references to famous texts, people and stories such as Cinderella, Cain and Abel, Einstein and Casanova, which goes against the common songs about love or any such thing as we can see intellectual insight. His use of known characters and stories of the Western world helps to create the mood of his writing for example his input of Shakespeare's character Ophelia lets us see the difference in the times as “on her twenty-second birthday she is already an old maid” by today's standards, and Dylan seeks freedom from these social standards. Essentially the intertextuality he employs is a way to trigger psychological and emotional responses in the responders as he takes our images of people like “Ezra...