Sunday, May 15, 2011

Countdown to Bob Dylan's Birthday: Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen

I found an interesting article, written many years ago, comparing and contrasting the works of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. The essay in reference is titled "Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan: Poetry and the Popular Song" by Frank Davey:

"Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen represent two highly contrasting directions from which the attempt to restore significance and integrity of vision to the popular song can be made. Bob Dylan is the child runaway who became a professional songwriter by deliberate hard work, and whose emergence as a poet of some talent seems to have been accidental, almost as if he had unconsciously realized that good songs have to contain reasonably good lyric poetry. Leonard Cohen is a university-educated formalistic poet who has moved in an opposite direction with his recent discovery that a good lyric poem could equally be a good song. Dylan brings to poetry a spontaneity of rhythm and a resourcefulness in imagery that had long been qualities of American folk music, as in that of Huddie Ledbetter or of Dylan's own idol, Woodie Guthrie. Cohen takes to the poem as popular song a scholarly precision of language and an obsession for extemal form." Read the entire article here.

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