Ep. 118: Bob Dylan: Case study of the power of music to change the world; with Ed Newman

Bob Dylan

Photo by Weston MacKinnon on Unsplash

It has become cliché to talk about the power of music to change the world. Today’s episode is a case study of someone whose music really has changed the world, and that is Bob Dylan. How did Dylan’s music change the world? And what did his hometown have to do with it? Bob Dylan was born in 1941, so 2021 is his 80th year, so this seems a very appropriate topic for our closing episode of 2021.

Ed Newman
Ed Newman


Joining me today from Duluth, MN, the birth town of Bob Dylan, is Ed Newman. Ed is a writer and artist who has been an active promoter of the Duluth Dylan Fest for the past ten years. A portion of Ed’s blog posts about Dylan (Volumes 1 & 2) have been bound and archived in the Duluth Public Library. He is passionate about the act of creation in all its forms, especially art, literature, and music; and he considers Bob Dylan one of his most significant influencers.


We discuss:

  • How or why did Bob Dylan’s music change the world?
  • What did Duluth/Northland have to do with this? What role did it play in shaping Dylan and his music?
  • TS Eliot: “…The poet’s mind is in fact a receptacle for seizing and storing up numberless feelings, phrases, images, which remain there until all the particles which can unite to form a new compound are present together.”
  • Wallace Stegner: “Expose a child to a particular environment at his susceptible time and he will perceive in the shapes of that environment until he dies.”

Connect/Other Resources

In-Episode Promo

This is a quick break to tell you about the digital sheet music site I have used for probably a decade! Sheet Music Direct is powered by music publisher Hal Leonard. They have more than a million sheet music arrangements that you can view – and listen to – right from your device for convenient online shopping and immediate downloads of educational, classical, and pop scores representing any genre and holiday. Prices start at $0.99 and you can both print your purchases instantly and access them on any device, which really comes in handy for our family when we’re out of state visiting Grandma & Grandpa, and they want to hear my kids play the piano! Sheet Music Direct has saved me countless hours of driving to music stores and sifting through bins of sheet music and books to find the right song (and hoping the perfect song isn’t out of stock). Access the latest hits and yesterday’s classics at sheetmusicdirect.com.


Ed shares the significance of Dylan’s song, “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)” at a pivotal and traumatic time in his life. Ed says, “This Dylan song was an affirmation that I wasn’t alone with how I was seeing the world at that moment in time…  Vietnam war, death of a friend, meaningless of TV culture, riots in the streets, thoughts my mind was thinking were things I felt I had no one to talk with about.”

Closing Words

And that is the ending clip of the YouTube video of Dylan’s, “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding).” The full YouTube video is in the show notes. Thank you so much to Ed for today’s perspective on how music can change the world, and how the music of Bob Dylan changed his world. All links from today’s show – and a transcript of this episode – can be found in the show notes at mpetersonmusic.com/podcast; this is Ep. 118. All links are also in the episode details right in your podcast app. While you’re there, I’d love to hear from you! Tell me how music has changed your world. You can reach me on email (mindy@mpetersonmusic.com), Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Thanks so much for joining me today. Until next time, may your life be enhanced with music.

View Episode Transcript

Note: We occasionally use affiliate links for products and services we whole-heartedly believe in. We may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, for purchases made through these links. This helps support the free content we provide.