Sassy badger cake baker: A Dylan tribute. The cake says “What life, what joy without golden Dylan?” which references Mimnerus, a Greek poet, who wrote “What life, what joy without golden Aphrodite?”

Here are some resources that Prof. Palaima has posted on everything related to Dylan (which can be a lot of things!), from readings of Dylan’s song lyrics to playlists to talks to articles and books reviews.

Palaima’s research on Dylan has been recognized by the Society for Classical Studies “Musical Classicists” roster, for having shared his “expertise in both music and classical antiquity with individuals writing or performing musical works that are set in the ancient Greco-Roman world, draw[ing] on ancient Greek and Latin literary texts, or featur[ing] classical figures and themes.”

PEOPLE OF UT: Tom Palaima
by the Daily Texan

In this People of UT episode, Audio Producer Jake Gripp talks to Tom Palaima — a UT professor with a passion for Bob Dylan’s music. He teaches the signature course Bob Dylan and the Social-Historical Imagination, or as Palaima likes to put it, Dylanology.

Reported and produced by Jake Gripp. Cover shot by Manoo Sirivelu and designed by Carla Garcia Leija.


Link to Blog Post including background and commentary by Tom Palaima

Recorded by Shane Hendrickson at Studio 3024, Chicago, IL, on October 12, 2023 in one unedited take and performed from memory.

We hope our live version helps listeners to feel and understand the magnitude and emotional depth of this masterpiece by Bob Dylan.

Why record the song? During Covid (Spring 2020-Spring 2023) Joe Goodkin and Tom Palaima performed “Murder Most Foul” three different times via Zoom for annual iterations of Tom’s award-winning UGS 302 class at the University of Texas at Austin: Bob Dylan History Imagination. Tom then was using the printed text as a crutch.

They decided to take advantage of Tom’s going to Chicago for a MacArthur Fellows Forum in mid-October 2023 to record MMF in the studio. Tom decided the only way to ‘know and feel’ the song fully and understand its complexity was to learn it by heart. This he did over a period of about six weeks.

The version of MMF here was done in one take in Studio 3024. It has certain live-performance ‘flaws’: ‘live’ substitutions and small mistakes and two vocal pauses filled by Joe’s fine guitar.

Tom also chants “Look Out” instead of “Hold On” when JFK realizes the trap he is in. He was so deep inside the song that he was warning the president himself rather than reporting the president’s own realization.

But we also got to update the chronology: “For the last sixty years they’ve been searching for that.” The end result is what it is and it’s our “Murder Most Foul.”

      • CLASS DISCUSSION: Murder Most Foul (Recorded in April 2022)

This live Zoom performance of Bob Dylan’s “Murder Most Foul” took place on Thursday April 21 during a meeting of the Undergraduate Studies course UGS 302 60315 Bob Dylan: Socio-Political Imagination taught by Prof. Tom Palaima.

On that day UT undergraduate student Melissa Fae Bell led class discussion about Dylan’s nearly 17-minute epic centered on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963 and its immediate aftermath and its enduring consequences for our culture and our nation

      • Only A Pawn In Their Game (Recorded in 2021)

In commemoration of Martin Luther King Day, I here explain and read the lyrics of the song Bob Dylan wrote after the assassination of black civil rights leader and WW II veteran Medgar Evers on June 12, 1963 in Jackson, MS.

      • Forever Young, a reading by Tom Palaima (Recorded in 2021)

A reading of Bob Dylan’s Forever Young by Tom Palaima for the Geneva International Baccalaureate Elementary School’s “Stories Are Everywhere” Literacy Night

      • Dylan Songs as Poems 3 songs    (Recorded in 2010)

Personal Readings of Dylan Songs as Poems:

This is an mp3 audiophile that is a recording of Tom Palaima reading three songs of Bob Dylan: “Love Minus Zero/No Limit”; “Visions of Johanna”; “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go.”

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

Reading of Dylan Songs as Poems 1963 to 2009.


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 up to 2009. 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.

The Dylan Review Trilogy: Poetry by Tom Palaima

I ‘Visions of Desolation: Cleveland 1965 Austin 2012’. Dylan Review Vol. 2.2, Winter 2020, Poems

II ‘Don’t Look Now: Reading Aloud to Ghosts’. Dylan Review Vol. 3.2, Fall/Winter 2021-2022, Poems

III ‘Strutting and Fretting’. Dylan Review Vol. 4.2, Fall/Winter 2022-2023, Poems


Remembering Denny Freeman, the last of Old Austin’s genuine musicians and guitarist for Bob Dylan (2005-2009). Written April 29, 2021.


Review of Richard Thomas, Why Bob Dylan Matters (NY: Harper Collins 2018) review in Bryn Mawr Classical Review aimed at Classicists and students of ancient Roman literature and culture.

Review of Richard Thomas, Why Dylan Matters (Dey Street Books 2017) feature review in the Times Higher November 30, 2017. Link to a pdf.

Review of The Cambridge Companion to Bob Dylan (June 18, 2009) review in the Times Higher Education


Bass Concert, University of Texas at Austin, March 16, 2022, in the company of Richard Thomas and group of students and friends.

New York Beacon Theatre December 6, 2019

New York Beacon Theatre December 5, 2019

Review October 14, 2018 Sugarland, TX show in the company of Gavin Garcia, Brian Doherty and Bernard Vasek. It links to the reviews of shows on Bob Links as do the reviews here following.

Review April 22, 2018 Nürnburg, Germany show in the company of Helena Tomas , professor at University of Zagreb.

Review October 25, 2016 Shreveport, LA Show  in the company of Gavin Garcia, editor of TODO Austin and Dylanophile/Dylanologist supreme.

Review of July 24, 2011 Canyon Lake, TX show in the company of Lesley and Danny Crooks.

Review August 4, 2010 Austin, TX show  in the company of Richard Thomas (Why Bob Dylan Matters) and Gavin Garcia (TODO Austin).

Review of Albuquerque July 22, 2007 show in the company of Mike Palaima and Lindsay Palaima.

Warner Park, Madison, Wisconsin, August 27, 2004

Dylanological commentaries, lectures and book chapter by Tom Palaima:


Here you can access a collection of war songs at:

Lyrics for many of these songs with some comments are available here.

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)



Temporary Like Achilles #2 and Kerouacts 1-6 by Tom Palaima. Classical Inquiries Poetry Project Recomposing Heroes. October 8, 2020. || PDF Download

Visions of Desolation: Cleveland 1965 Austin 2012. Dylan Review 2.2 (Winter 2020). || PDF Download



5×3 session March 28 2019 for UGS 302 Bob Dylan History Imagination. Waggener Hall 116 9:15-10:45.

Video file URL / Download (1 GB, 1:00:54 runtime)

Three singer songwriters perform five songs of Bob Dylan and discuss with UT undergraduate students and professors Tom Palaima and Brian Doherty what these songs require of and what they give to singers who sing them and how they fit into America culture and our own lives.

UGS 302 Bob Dylan History Imagination is taught by Professor Thomas Palaima at University of Texas at Austin with funding from the School of Undergraduate Studies and the Armstrong Centennial Professorship in Classics in the College of Liberal Arts.

The event had three singer songwriters, Guy Forsyth, Joe Goodkin and Giulia Millanta, performing and discussing Dylan songs with students in UGS 302: how they approached the songs, why they chose the songs, what the songs required of them and what the songs gave to them and in general what the songs mean to performers and audiences over time.

Inspiration for the event came from hearing younger musicians perform Dylan songs at the Dylan&Us concert on March 10 2019, organized by Giulia Millanta at the One-2-One Club in Austin, TX for the benefit of the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM).

Guy Forsyth sang “Masters of War” at the Dylan & Us event. Giulia Millanta sang “Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right.” Joe Goodkin was in town to speak about his Iliad song project in Tom Palaima’s TC 358 War and Violence Plan II honors seminar.

And also to play Dylan songs in UGS 302.


Joe Goodkin “Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right”

Guy Forsyth “Masters of War”

Joe Goodkin “Up to Me”

Giulia Millanta “Simple Twist of Fate”

Joe Goodkin “Not Dark Yet”

Thanks to Andrew K Smith (UGS 302 student) for editing the file.


Why Bob Dylan Matters  November 16th, 2017, 7:00 pm-8:00 pm                        Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities Case Western Reserve University            The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame event link

video Why Bob Dylan Matters 11162017

Harvard Classics Professor, teacher since 2004 of the freshman seminar, “Bob Dylan”, and celebrated ‘Dylanologist’ Richard F. Thomas makes a compelling case for why the music and lyrics of Bob Dylan endure and inspire us.  Thomas discusses his new book Why Bob Dylan Matters with MacArthur Fellow and fellow Dylanologist and classicist Thomas Palaima, who likewise teaches courses on Bob Dylan and on music as social criticism, and Professor Daniel Goldmark, Director of CWRU’s Center for Popular Music Studies.

This event was co-sponsored by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Library and Archives and the CWRU Center for Popular Music Studies.

Poetry on the Plaza Celebrates Poetry Month April 12, 2017

video Palaima recites from Alice Oswald, Memorial with Dylan’s “Across the Green Mountain” closing

Enjoy readings from narrative poems in the Center’s collections, inspired by the exhibition “Stories to Tell: Selections from the Harry Ransom Center,” including:

Professor Tom Palaima reading Homeric passages from Alice Oswald’s Memorial;
Professor Michael Starbird reading selections from Lewis Carroll;
Novelist Elizabeth Crook reading “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes, and Robert Browning’s “Porphyria’s Lover;”
and Novelist Elizabeth McCracken reading selections from her work.


Bob Dylan: The Next Generation University Lecture Series March 21, 2017 with Michael Chaiken, Thomas Staley, Caroline Frick and Tom Palaima

video file

Press Release



As the 2016 winner of the Nobel Prize in literature, Bob Dylan became the first song writer to win the world’s most prestigious literary award, breaking another barrier in a long and protean career and assuring his legacy in our cultural history. But for an artist so prolific, evasive and expansive, how can such a legacy be usefully represented? What is important and what is not? To whom and to what ends?

Such questions strike at the heart of what it means to be a historian, an archivist and even a citizen. On March 20 and 21, 2017 The University of Texas at Austin will host “Bob Dylan: The Next Generation” for two special events that examine the grand questions of historiography as well as those that will continue to make Bob Dylan worth listening to, studying and debating for generations to come.

On March 20, Michael Chaiken, curator of the new Bob Dylan Archive, will host a 50th anniversary viewing of “Don’t Look Back,” the classic D.A. Pennebaker film documenting Dylan’s April- May 1965 concert tour in the UK. The film is significant for capturing Dylan on the verge of his contentious break from the folk scene (his famous electric set at the Newport Folk festival July 25, 1965) and already performing deeply personal and poetically visionary non-traditional songs that expanded the expressive possibilities of rock music. Ironically, the film is also significant for framing, and “freezing,” that moment in time, inviting questions of how film itself shapes our understanding of history in modern times.

On March 21, Chaiken will be joined by professors Thomas Palaima and Thomas Staley, two prominent UT scholars who have made their mark by working with archives, for a panel on the challenges of archiving called “Looking Forward by Looking Back.” Caroline Frick, founder and executive director of the Texas Archive of the Moving Image, will join in subsequent Q&A.  Archives are paradoxical in the same way that Thucydides, the first scientific western historian, conceived of history. We preserve the past to help us make sense of the present and guide us into the future. Bob Dylan is the best documented poet-songster in the history of humankind. In an age when data seem to overwhelm us, how will the Bob Dylan archives meet the challenges of enabling his words and songs and their many meanings to sing out to future generations?

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

Bob Dylan: Our Homer Humanities Research Center Lecture 2006 audio


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.”

Notice in NY Times regional

photo of students at Humanities Research Center

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.


Senior Fellows Honors Program School of Communications  BMC 5.208  TUESDAY NOVEMBER 13, 2012 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


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

The articles in the May 2015 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 of TODO Austin November 2017

that excerpts the pages of writing about Dylan and his music.

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

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