As St. Gregory said, every time the sacred text describes a fact, it reveals a mystery. In this talk, I will turn to songs by Bob Dylan that offer glimpses of the end of time. Beginning with his notorious conversion to Christianity in the late 1970s, I will offer up Dylan’s musical catalog as an expression of his sacramental view of the universe.
One of his more successful artistic cross-overs— despite the wide-spread consternation occasioned by his seeming becoming born again—the gospel era in Dylan’s career is better understood within the context of his ongoing relationship with American folk music—within the context of his own desires to become a believer through music and of folk music. The vision of time that Dylan finds in his music, and certainly that he yearns for so deeply in his gospel records, is one that has him imagining what’s beneath, what remains and what will be.
Taylor Black is Assistant Professor of English at Duke University. He has published on twentieth century American literature, popular music, gender and sexuality studies, queer theory, ontology and theories of becoming and, above all, the subject and practices of style in Women’s Studies Quarterly, American Quarterly, Discourse and the Journal of Popular Music Studies. Black is the co-editor of the Spring 2016 issue of WSQ, "Survival," with Frances Bartkowski and Elena Glasberg. Black is currently at work on his book project, Time Out of Mind: Style and the Art of Becoming, which proposes style as a way to understand the ontology of identity and being.
“The Last Radio is Playing:
Dylan, Style, and the End of Time”