Question Of The Week: Who's The New Dylan?

Jul 29, 2013
Originally published on August 1, 2013 10:26 am

We hope you caught some of our live coverage of the Newport Folk Festival over the weekend. If not, you can still hear a bunch of the shows we recorded in our archives, from Phosphorescent and The Mountain Goats to Amanda Palmer, Frank Turner, The Lumineers and many more.

This year marked the 50th anniversary of Bob Dylan's first performance at Newport. He appeared as a guest onstage with Joan Baez, before an audience that had no idea how important the wiry little guy with the nasally voice would become to the music they loved.

Dylan holds a place in history few artists have ever or could ever occupy. He wasn't just a gifted poet and musician — he was a visionary. And while he didn't seek or embrace the role, he was a spokesman for an entire movement of music and for new ideas. He united people behind his music, but also challenged generations to rethink all they once held true in music, life, culture, politics, religion.

It's possible Dylan assumed his monumental role simply because the times called for it. It's hard to imagine anyone today who's that inspiring or who commands as much respect. Or is it?

Tell us: Who's this generation's Dylan? And by "this generation" I mean the 20-somethings. Who today has the vision, the reach, the imagination and voice to inspire or even unite the current generation of young people?

We've tossed interesting suggestions around the NPR Music team, from Kanye to Fiona Apple, Jeff Tweedy, The Tallest Man On Earth, Cat Power, Sufjan Stevens and Jay Z. (I think Jay Z is a pretty compelling one.)

What do you think? Name an artist, a band, even an album or song in the comments section.

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