Lifestyle, Music

Why pay for a therapist when you have Bob Dylan?

Robert Zimmerman, better known as Bob Dylan, is a poetic genius with a voice that sounds like a dying cat, or so my friends say. I do understand that he may be an acquired taste, but I implore you to give him a chance.

Lila Baltaxe | Senior Graphic Artist

Bob Dylan is a revered artist, loved by so many. He sang his protest songs at the 1963 March on Washington, opening for Martin Luther King, Jr. The Beatles spoke in reverence of Dylan’s talent, noting him as their hero. His folk music can be both spine-chilling and heartwarming. Dylan is not only the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature, but the source of my sanity. 

Now, it wasn’t always like this. At an earlier time in my life, I could listen to one of Dylan’s songs for the first time and not be affected. Then a year later, I listen to that same song again and feel as though my thoughts are being sung to me before I can even understand them. 

Different milestones in my life could be told through Bob Dylan songs. Moments that are so intensely personal that when his words hit me, I feel like someone stole my own thoughts. He has the stunning ability to describe a feeling that I’m not able to articulate into words.

Those moments, when an intimate feeling turns universal, are when you realize that he isn’t talking to you directly. Another person could be listening to the same verse from the same song, hearing his familiar twang and feeling seen in the same peculiar manner as you. 

To me, this is the power of Dylan. 

His fairly ambiguous, metaphorical style creates an opportunity to connect and process past experiences as you listen. Dylan doesn’t often explain his puzzling lyrics, nor his intentions in the messaging of his songs. However, I’d like to offer my own guide for which of his songs may grab you at certain distinctive moments in your life. 


It’s been said that break ups and heartaches can only be remedied with time. Even if time does heal all, I think we need some supplemental medicine in the form of Bob Dylan. I’d recommend the entire “Blood on the Tracks” album for problems in your love life, but the track “Simple Twist of Fate” is simply perfect. It tells the story of a pair who are victims of fate. Dylan’s simple but effective storytelling helps you see an entire relationship in just a few words.

He opens, “They sat together in the park / As the evening sky grew dark / She looked at him and he felt a spark / Tingle to his bones.”

After they spend the evening together, he continues, “He woke up, the room was bare / He didn’t see her anywhere / He told himself he didn’t care / Pushed the window open wide / Felt an emptiness inside / To which he just could not relate.”

I found this song to be a perfect metaphor for a failed romance. Dylan captures both the giddy feeling in the beginning and the profound disappointment after realizing his lover left. The song’s verses continue to describe his longing for fate to bring her back to him. He never shows anger toward his beloved runaway, instead an acceptance of fate’s will. 

“Simple Twist of Fate” is multifaceted and could be applied to any form of heartbreak or sense of loss. Trust me on this one — if you’re experiencing this feeling, add this to your playlist. 

Bad friends

Sometimes, people are just lousy friends. You may try to make these friendships work, and some might listen to your grievances and improve. However, other people are simply irredeemable. 

The song, “Positively 4th Street,” is a passionate letter to the fake people in your life. It is incredibly therapeutic to sing — or scream — these lyrics in particularly frustrating situations. 

He sings, “You see me on the street, you always act surprised / You say, ‘How are you? Good luck!’ But you don’t mean it / When you know as well as me, you’d rather see me paralyzed / Why don’t you just come out once and scream it.

He ends with possibly my favorite line, “I wish that for just one time / You could stand inside my shoes / You’d know what a drag it is / To see you.” 

All of his verses in this song pack an incredibly strong punch, essentially giving the finger to all of the disingenuous people around him. Use this song as your anthem if you ever recognize that some people in your life might actually suck. 

A shoulder to cry on

There are times when schoolwork, politics, friendships and every other possible stressful thing converge, and eventually — you break down. You may also have an incredibly bad day and need to cry about it when you get home. Whatever the reason for your tears may be, with Dylan they can be soothed. 

“To Ramona,” is, in my opinion, his most touching. He comforts a crying woman named Ramona, but is essentially comforting you, as the listener. He gently expresses his love for her, assuring her that pain is temporary.

He says, “Ramona, come closer / Shut softly your watery eyes / The pangs of your sadness will pass as your senses will rise.”

Offering her life advice, he continues, “I’ve heard you say many times that you’re better than no one / And no one is better than you / If you really believe that you know you have nothing to win / And nothing to lose.”

This song is a tender reminder that you’re not alone and you won’t always feel this way. Let these poetic words wash over you in your tearful moments. I promise — it will soothe you. 

If you haven’t caught on already, Bob Dylan’s repertoire is packed with songs applicable to any emotion, situation or scenario. The next time you’re in need of music to play as a background for your circumstance, but aren’t sure where to start, try a song by Bob Dylan — you might just find the soundtrack for the next chapter of your life.

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  1. Well put, Laura!!

  2. So true. Been enhancing my life for almost fifty years.

  3. Dear Laura Tickey,
    thanks for your article from Germany. I find – to cite you – the soundtrack for all the chapters of my life in Dylan songs since the seventies. Let’s hope he’ll be around for some more years.
    All the best for you and the Daily Free Press
    Gisbert Horn