Zen and the Songwriting of Bob Dylan

Graphic of Record Player


Thoughts on how I’ve been affected by the songwriting of Bob Dylan.


I remember the first time I bought an album recorded by Bob Dylan; it was John Wesley Harding and it had a distinct country sound that was present throughout the tracks.

It was definitely not what I’d expected and when I listened to it for the first time I felt as if I’d made a mistake in purchasing it. I was angry, disappointed and I did want to believe I’d spent my hard-earned cash on a record I didn’t like.

I was resistant to the songs because they weren’t what I wanted them to be; it was as if my mind was a seawall and the lyrics were the waves crashing against concrete.

I continued to listen and soon the lyrics began to settle into my subconscious and I began to appreciate the simplicity and the imagery that was invoked by the songs. I wore the record out and purchased another copy.

Recently I published a short story to the eBook platform and I suppose I had expectations of it selling thousands of copies the first week of release. Needless to say that was not the case and I was disappointed. I felt that the opportunity to be published would be all that was necessary.

My wife is taking a Religion class and she is writing a paper on Zen Buddhism; as part of her research she is reading a book named Ten Zen Seconds  by Eric Maisel, PhD.

The book has a section that refers to twelve incantations that help to reinforce the Zen way. The one that seemed to have the most impact on me was “Expect nothing” and since I read that I’ve managed to adapt this rationale. If I have no expectations I can’t be disappointed. The path to enlightenment begins with the destruction of the ego.


I just listened to Tempest the latest release by Bob Dylan for the second time. I have to admit that the first time I listened I was hoping for something similar to Desire or Blood on the Tracks; two of my all time favorites by Dylan.

The second time the walls were down and my mind was like the sand on the shore as it absorbed the tide of the words.

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