Here are some resources that Dr. Palaima has posted on everything related to Dylan (which can be a lot of things!), from readings to playlists to talks

T. Palaima, “Songs of the ‘Hard Traveler’ from Odysseus to the Never-Ending Tourist,” Modern Greek Studies Yearbook 26/27 (2010/11) 189-206.

This article studies themes connected with traveling and existing away from home from the Iliad and Odyssey of Homer through the modern folk song tradition as performed and transformed by Bob Dylan, including songs by the Stanley Brothers, Charley Patton, Skip James, Muddy Waters, Stephen F. Foster, Martin Carthy and Dionysis Savvopoulos.

Access article here:


Senior Fellows Honors Program School of Communications  BMC 5.208  TUESDAY NOVEMBER 13 12:30-1-45

“Second Last Thoughts on Bob Dylan’s ‘Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie'”

A talk by Tom Palaima, professor of Classics, University of Texas at Austin

On Jan. 29, 1961, Bob Dylan, 19 years old, took a bus to Morris Plains, New Jersey, where he met for the first time his idol and inspiration Woody Guthrie, 48 years of age, who, almost five years before, in May, 1956, had been ‘involuntarily checked into’ Greystone Park Hospital with advanced Huntington’s Chorea.

On Feb. 14, 1961, Dylan wrote “Song for Woody” (SFW). Two years later, on April 12, 1963, at New York’s Town Hall, before 900 people, Dylan recited a poem of five pages, “Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie” ((LTOWG). Guthrie would live four and a half more years after Dylan had his “last thoughts.”

In this talk, professor Palaima will examine these two tributes, considering the following questions: What would Woody Guthrie’s condition have been when Dylan met him?  What impact would Dylan’s finding out at this time about the range of Guthrie’s genius have had on Dylan? What would Guthrie’s end condition have taught Dylan about what is important in life with regard to fame, music, personal choices, creativity society and the human heart and soul? And how might this have affected, in large or small ways, where Dylan decided to go with his life and his music?

Tom Palaima is Robert M. Armstrong Centennial Professor of Classics and has written commentaries, reviews and articles about musical figures like Pinetop Perkins, Jimmy LaFave, Woody Guthrie, Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan. He teaches and writes about war song and music as social commentary.

See, for example:  http://www.texasobserver.org/archives/item/15265-2665-alive-and-singing-the-truth  and



Contact: Dave Junker, junker@austin.utexas.edu, 512-773-0673


TODO Austin is a free-distribution, full-color, monthly newspaper that focuses on Austin’s multicultural community. The August issue is in distribution today.

The articles in this issue, which features a beautiful full color photo of Dylan on its cover, are:

  • Gavin Lance Garcia (editor and publisher), “Living in the Age of Bob Dylan” p. 8
  • Richard Thomas (Harvard University Classics), “Into Exile With Bob Dylan: Rome to the Black Sea” p. 8
  • Kurt Heinzelman (UT Austin English), “Dylan’s Turkish Delights” p. 9
  • Tom Palaima (UT Austin Classics), “A Classical Bard Brings It All Back Home” pp. 9-10

For your convenience I attach a pdf that excerpts the pages of writing about Dylan and his music.

The entire issue and back issues can be easily found on the TODO web site.

Here you can access a collection of war songs at:


Lyrics for many of these songs with some comments are attached in pdf and .doc versions.

This mp3 has twenty songs of war that I use in my Myths of War and Violence Plan II seminar:

  1. Steve Earle “Rich Man’s War” (Iraq, Afghanistan);
  2. Richie Havens, “Handsome Johnny” (historical sweep from Revolutionary War to civil rights movement);
  3. Richie Havens, “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (Civil War);
  4. Bob Dylan, “John Brown” (unspecified);
  5. Blind Willie Johnson, “When the War Was On” (WW I);
  6. Woody Guthrie, “Sinking of the Reuben James” (WW II);
  7. Perry Como, “Dig You Later (A Hubba-Hubba-Hubba) (WW II);
  8. Townes van Zandt, “Ballad of Ira Hayes” (WW II);
  9. Sunnyland Slim, “Back to Korea Bluees” (Korean War);
  10. Bob Dylan & Mark Knopfler, “Clean Cut Kid” studio session (Vietnam War);
  11. Bob Dylan, “Masters of War” Gerdes Feb. 1963 (Cold War period, unspecified);
  12. Bob Dylan, “Masters of War” Berlin 2002 (unspecified);
  13. J.B. Lenoir, “Veitnam (sic) Blues) (Vietnam War);
  14. Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Fortunate Son” (Vietnam War period);
  15. Todd Snider, “Fortunate Son”;
  16. Johnny Cash, “Drive On” (Vietnam War veterans);
  17. Willie Nelson, “Jimmy’s Road” (Vietnam War);
  18. Bruce Springsteen, “Devils and Dust” (Iraq and Afghanistan);
  19. Emily Kaitz, “It’s Not Enough to Give Our Love” (general);
  20. Bruce Springsteen, “Born in the USA” (Vietnam veterans).

And here are readings of war poems from Aeschylus to the present (texts in attached pdf):


Readings of War Poems:
(1) passage from Aeschylus’ “Agamemnon” (5th c. BCE);
(2) Yehuda Amichai, “The Diameter of the Bomb” (Israel);
(3) Walt Whitman, “I Saw the Vision of Armies” (Civil War);
(4) Ernest Hemingway, “A Farewell to Arms” (WW I);
(5) Wilfred Owen, “Dulce Et Decorum Est” (WW I);
(6) e.e. cummings, “my sweet old etcetera” (WW I);
(7-8) Robert Graves, “I Hate the Moon” (WW I), “A Dead Boche” (WW I);
(9-12) Siegfried Sassoon, “The Kiss”‘ (WW I), “The Hero” (WW I), “Enemies” (WW I), “The Tombstone Maker” (WW I);
(13) Randall Jarrell, “The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner” (WW II);
(14) Denise Levertov, “What Were They Like?” (Vietnam War);
(15) Allen Ginsberg, “A Vow” (Vietnam War 1966);
(17) Yusef Komunyakaa,”Facing It” (Vietnam War veteran 1988)

Bob Dylan – Our Homer
Recording Date 2010-05-05


This is a studio version of the lecture and the music for the Poetry on the Plaza presentation that I gave on March 1, 2006 at the Humanities Research Center (HRC = Harry Ransom Center, too). It had the title “Bob Dylan: Our Homer”.

I discussed and illustrated in recordings, as I repeat here with clear audio, the art of Bob Dylan as an oral poet and songster.

This covers his career from the very early 1960’s until 2006.

Dylan and his music are parts of a rich tradition going back to Homer and in the modern period reaching back to the 17th century in folk ballads.

Here I selectively play and discuss mainly live concert recordings and the recordings of singers (Martin Carthy, Charlie Patton, the Stanley Brothers, all the way to Warren Zevon) who inspired Dylan’s own songs or were singled out by Dylan himself in his concerts as special.

I hope you enjoy these masterworks and my commentary on them.

On December 1, 2010, I will give a second Poetry on the Plaza on Bob Dylan.

The topic will be “Harmonica Bob: The Ineffable Poetry of Bob Dylan.”

In it, I will discuss Dylan’s use of harmonica (an instrument that is very important in folk and blues traditions) in order to express meanings and feelings that cannot be said or to emphasize or create a tone for what has been said in sung words.

Dylan Song Poems 1963 through 2009
Recording Date 2010-05-14


Bob Dylan has been ‘accused’ of abandoning concerns about the ills and problems of society when he made the shift around 1965 from the traditional folk music scene to writing and performing his own at times deeply personal music.

There is also a controversy over whether Dylan’s lyrics can stand alone on their own as poetry.

Here I read the lyrics of selected Dylan songs from 1963 right up to the present. I provide minimal commentary aimed a contextualizing more than advancing any arguments.

These song poems include: “Ballad of Hollis Brown,” “I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine,” “Señor,” “Blind Willie McTell,” “Foot of Pride,” “What Was It You Wanted,” “Love Henry,” “Not Dark Yet,” “Mississippi,” “Ain’t Talkin’,” and “Forgetful Heart.”

All of them reflect Dylan’s continuing and keen interest in the human condition, the human spirit and the human heart.

Tom Palaima’s piece on Willie Nelson:
Alive and singing the truth (January 11, 2008)

Look here for information regarding Bob Dylan & the Poetry of the Blues: An Evening With Writer Michael Gray (September 7, 2006 at 8:00 PM)
‘Dylan Encyclopedia’ author to give crash course on folk singer’s life (September 7, 2006)

Dylanological works by Tom Palaima:

Review of The Cambridge Companion to Bob Dylan (June 18, 2009)
Bob Dylan across the Borderline (TODO Austin July 2009)
Woody Guthrie’s songs can help you focus on the spirit of the season (December 16, 2008)
Times have changed, but Bob Dylan still reflects a restless America (September 15, 2007)
Get ready for Bob Dylan’s set at ACL Fest with our Dylan primer (September 2, 2007)

Review of Albuquerque July 22, 2007 show
Bob Dylan Our Homer (Poetry on the Plaza, Humanities Research Center March 1, 2006)

Understanding the language of violence (January 17, 2007)
Comments of Galen Brewer on Theme Time Radio
Bob Dylan Reminds Us of Our Common Dreams (July 15, 2006)
The times they are a-changin’ but Dylan’s still protesting through music (July 15, 2006)
Music’s soul, from Achilles to Dylan (Mar. 17, 2005)
Pinetop Perkins, finding joy in a life of the blues (Feb. 22, 2005)
Military recruiters know their targets well (Dec. 15, 2004)
Authentic songs guide us in turbulent times (Sept. 7, 2004)
Defending Dylan: Why I’m looking past the lingerie ad (Apr. 24, 2004)
Keep Austin full of good vibes, good people (June 13, 2003)
Smell of Money is Merely a Matter of Perspective (Dec. 2, 2002)
Review of A Nod to Bob (Dec. 4, 2001)
Listen to the Songs We Sing (Sept. 5, 2000)

Tom Palaima’s Chad Oliver Teaching Award (Plan II Honors Program) Acceptance Speech May 2005

READING Poetry on the Plaza: Lyric(s) Tom Palaima presenting the Lyrics of Bob Dylan.

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