Voice Without Restraint
By John Herdman
Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in June 2016, and seldom in recent years has it been more richly deserved.
That a song writer’s lyrics should be regarded as literature was an idea at which many were surprised.
Others have felt that to isolate the lyrics of a song from its musical context is unreal. Ultimately that is true: a song is an indefeasible whole, an inseparable marriage of words and music which achieves its overall emotional effect by that symbiosis and not otherwise.
Yet it can also be said that the two elements can be separately considered as two elements in the artist’s creative utterance, and discussed as such.
The evidence of Dylan’s manuscripts supports the view that in writing his lyrics his way of going about things is not always widely different from that of a poet.
Bob Dylan commented on the Nobel Prize in Literature which was awarded to him "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition": "When I first received this Nobel Prize for Literature, I got to wondering exactly how my songs related to literature. I wanted to reflect on it and see where the connection was."
Voice Without Restraint, refers to and is from the song “I dreamed I saw St Augustine” on John Wesley Harding, and is a phrase chosen to evoke the full-blooded commitment to his artistic utterance which is the hallmark of Bob Dylan’s voice – in all senses.