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Music Talks > 2021 Winter and Spring

Music Club: Monday 1 February 2021

Meeting open for joining at 6:45 pm Beirut Time

Talk starts at 7:00 and for around 90 minutes

How Did Bob Dylan Revolutionize Song Writing

Speaker: Akram Najjar
Language: English (supported by some Arabic)
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The Talk
In this talk, Akram will run through the song writing periods before Dylan and then present 6-7 songs with their lyrics, showing how each contributed to a change or a revolution in song writing.

Bob Dylan has always been a musician that people were divided about. Some dislike his songs while others swear by his greatness. Most people would like or dislike specific periods of his work given that he changed styles so many times.

One question remains: what did Bob Dylan do to deserve such fame? In the views of Akram, Bob Dylan revolutionized song writing, in both their content and their form. Though he regularly changed style, and very often voice, his greatness comes from the way he upturned song writing in the early 60s, influencing a large number of song writers who came after him.

Effectively, Akram considers there are 4 periods in Dylan’s career (and who knows, he is still very active after 60 years of song writing, we might get a fourth period soon). Period 1 was in the first two years (62-63) when Dylan was mostly singing folk songs written by others with some songs that were folk like. In this period, we can see the germination of protest songs.

Period 2 grew out of Period 1 (with a definite overlap) and saw Bob Dylan singing other people’s protest songs and write quite a few himself. These were strong songs that protested issues related to civil rights, anti-nuclear, peace, women’s liberation and other problems of the 60s.

Period 3 was the most revolutionary. It consisted of songs whose form and content Dylan completely innovated. Many groups and song writers took off from where Dylan left . . . . even the Beatles admit that they were influenced by Dylan.

A rough motorcycle accident put an end to Period 3. Dylan disappeared for a while and came back to start the endlress Period 4 with a very prolific set of LPs . . . . it continues till today. Dylan produced one LP after the other, often highly popular with great iconic songs. He played with various groups and even acted in some films and documentaries.

But this remains: the seeds of his innovations came mostly in Period 3 and continued until today.

Akram Najjar
Akram is a graduate of AUB in Physics and Mathematics (1966). By 1969, he completed a degree in Electronic Engineering in University of Hertfordshire, UK. His professional life was spent in Information Technology. When he was 11 years old he was sick for 6 months. His mother Souad introduced him to Classical Music, which became a life long love. (Later on joined by Rock and Jazz). Unfortunately, after an initial tuition of 18 months, he did not continue his piano studies.

Through his love for music, he became an informed and dedicated amateur. At AUB, he took many courses in philosophy and literature. He used the analytic and critical approached he learnt in these fields to arrive at a critical understanding of music.
Akram has published several technical books (www.marginalbooks.com), a few literary works (www.marginalstories.com) and 4 puzzle books (www.thehiddenpaw.com).

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