I wasn't as excited about listening to Hwy 61 as NWA because I've unfairly relegated Dylan to the group of artists that every hipster ever claims to love. Not fair, I know, and I like him more upon listening, though I still prefer Straight Outta Compton.
I second Rachel's idea that Bob Dylan's somewhat "ugly" reedy voice reflects beauty in ugliness, and I wanted to expand on it a little.
Bob Dylan conveys beauty and sadness and love and all of that in a decidedly ugly vessel - his voice.
Humbert Humbert/Nabokov communicates horror and shock and ugly, unspeakable things in a really, really beautiful vessel - his words and his prose.
NWA delivers truth and rawness (both good and bad) in a shocking, vulgar, abrasive yet innovative way - their lyrics and beats.
David Simon delivers that same truth and rawness in a packaged-for-HBO-but-not-overly-glossy, realistic TV container - the dialogue and visual effects and cinematography.
So. It's all sort of circular. Each of these artists, or groups of artists, is innovative in that they present emotions in a different way, or vessel, than is expected. What is more surprising is that they all do it beautifully, eloquently, perfectly. No one here matches up subject matter with a corresponding, expected style, and I think that's part of what makes them all so important, and maybe why we're studying them all in tandem.
I had this phase in eighth grade when I was still really into the Sex Pistols and Gang of Four, but I was also starting to get into fashion and wearing skirts and stealing my mom's jewelry. My art teacher kind of raised his eyebrow at me one day, and was like, "Heels and pearls with a Ramones shirt? really, Elizabeth?" I mean, he was kind of a dick, and I was pretty embarrassed initially - how do you defend that? But the more I thought about it, the more okay it seemed. If I was going to be a cliché by liking outdated punk music that wasn't very relevant to me as an upper-middle-class white girl, I might as well do it in a different way than every other grimy, well-to-do suburban kid in a Clash tshirt.
Reading/listening/watching these things reminds me of that this overly sentimental anecdote, a little, because the work of these artists is unexpected, but not just for the sake of being unexpected. Not for shock value. They do it to highlight the importance of their message, of communicating these things to the general public, Maybe even to garner a bigger audience? Because you are getting both people that are attracted to the aesthetic value and then people that are attracted to the feeling or meaning behind the work - the lyrics of the song, or the emotions portrayed, or the events written? I just thought of that last question. I'm not even really sure about it. What do you think?