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Richard F. Thomas gives motive behind new Dylan book


Though in the works for several years, Dr. Richard F. Thomas’ new book “Why Bob Dylan Matters” came to be after a publishing house approached him about writing about Bob Dylan, in light of Dylan after receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016. “Bob Dylan is a genius in his art: the art of song-writing and performance and so that’s what really motivated me to write the book,” said Thomas.

Thomas attended the Savannah Book Festival this past weekend, and gave a presentation as a Festival Saturday Author. He gave an exclusive interview with District, detailing the writing and thought process that went into “Why Bob Dylan Matters.”

A professor at Harvard, Thomas teaches Greek and Roman literature (“poetry mostly”), and an infrequent class on Bob Dylan. It is, as he explained, “a process that started 30 plus years ago of thinking that Dylan and they [the poets of Greece and Rome] were somewhat similar in their art and then Dylan, 2001, started actually drawing from the texts of some of these poets in the writing of his lyrics so that confirmed in my mind what I’d been thinking about for a while. Namely that…they belong in the same orbit in terms of their excellence in their poetic, song-writing art.”

When asked about any contemporary artists or songwriters that emulate the same songwriting techniques as Bob Dylan, Thomas stated that though he’s not well versed in modern music, “[his] sense is that a lot of what hip-hop is doing a lot channeling of other songs, and other art into its productions.”

As for any later projects coming up, Thomas said, “I’m working again, thinking about various approaches into both the ancient poets and someone like Bob Dylan.”

When asked about any advice for writers who are looking to get into non fiction writing, Thomas said “You should always aim to write about things that have real meaning to you and so that you have a relationship with the topic that is one of affection.”

By Patrick Guilford.

Patrick Guilford

Currently pursuing a B.F.A. in Writing as well as a minor in Music Production.


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