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Is Cohen More “Jewish” Than Dylan – or vice versa? Why or Why Not?

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  1. Introduction
  2. Bob Dylan: Invoking his Jewish roots in his music
  3. Bob Dylan's many religious reversals
  4. Bob Dylan's attempt to efface his Jewish origins
  5. Conclusion

During the sixties, which came along with the Civil Rights movement, the diverse ethnic whites in the United States displayed an increase willingness to emphasize their distinct identity. Leonard Cohen and Robert Allen Zimmerman, alias Bob Dylan, were two major musical figures of this era. Both were Jews. Therefore, we can expect to find in their respective songs an assertion of their Jewish identity. However, Leonard Cohen seems to have been much more at ease and constant with his religion than Bob Dylan. Why can we say that and how may this be explained?

[...] This piece is an explicit reference to the historical theme of the Jews' exclusion, even if Dylan does not use the words or ?Israel?. These changes from one religion to another seem to imply that Dylan has never fully identified himself with Judaism. According to Michael Billig[4], Bob Dylan has always been an outsider, trying to convince himself he was an insider: ?Dylan's music was that of an outsider posing as a dispossessed insider.? Leonard Cohen has also experienced religions other than Judaism. [...]


[...] Is Cohen More Than Dylan or vice versa? Why or Why Not? During the sixties, which came along with the Civil Rights movement, the diverse ethnic whites in the United States displayed an increase willingness to emphasize their distinct identity. Leonard Cohen and Robert Allen Zimmerman, alias Bob Dylan, were two major musical figures of this era. Both were Jews. Therefore, we can expect to find in their respective songs an assertion of their Jewish identity. However, Leonard Cohen seems to have been much more at ease and constant with his religion than Bob Dylan. [...]

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