Kurt Vonnegut thought Bob Dylan was “the worst poet alive.” ‹ Literary Hub

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November 9, 2023, 1:54pm

Everyone knows that Kurt Vonnegut loved music. There’s that quote, you know the one. Vonnegut liked to repeat himself, but here’s how it appears in A Man Without a Country:

No matter how corrupt, greedy, and heartless our government, our corporations, our media, and our religious and charitable institutions may become, the music will still be wonderful.

If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph:

THE ONLY PROOF HE NEEDED

FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD

WAS MUSIC.

He goes on to say that he likes “Strauss and Mozart and all that” but what he really loves is “that specific remedy for the worldwide epidemic of depression” also known as the blues. Fair enough.

But here’s the real tea: in a 1991 interview with Hustler (yep), Vonnegut, who would have been 101 this week, was asked about his musical tastes. “Well start from the back and work forward,” Vonnegut said. “I hate rap. The Beatles have made a substantial contribution. Bob Dylan, however, is the worst poet alive. He can maybe get one good line in a song, and the rest is gibberish.”

And just like that, a thousand Dylan/Vonnegut megafans fell over in confusion.

Well, at least Vonnegut died before he had to see Dylan win the Nobel Prize in Literaturethough I can’t help wondering what he would have said about it. Something delightfully curmudgeonly, no doubt.

By the way, it’s at least possible that Dylan didn’t like Vonnegut much either (or perhaps he can just hold a grudge). After all, his lists of his favorite books seem like they should have Vonnegut on them (just based on vibes, really), but they never do. Curious.

Either way, I wonder what they talked about at dinner that one time…

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