What Bob Dylan Said To John Lennon That Changed His Career

Flickr / Heinrich Klaffs
Flickr / Heinrich Klaffs

Here’s a story.

A true story. For you.

The advice Bob Dylan gave John Lennon — in the early years of The Beatles…

At the time, Lennon was singing those charismatic hits, with hooks like, “Yeah Yeah Yeah,” “Whoa Whoa Whoa,” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand”.


And then in 1964,

Lennon met Dylan for the first time at the Delmonico Hotel in New York City. (This next part is my retelling of the story). So, basically, Dylan walks up to Lennon and is all like,

“Yo John… Enough of this teenybopper crap! “Help!” is a real cry for help! Show me you have a pure heart, show me you have something to say.”

Whoa! That’s some real shit.

Lennon admired Dylan. And now, when they finally meet, Dylan pours some tough love on Lennon. Harsh bro.

But Lennon took it to heart. And became…

Fucking John Lennon.

Years later Lennon gave a shout out to Dylan,

“[Back in the day] I wrote songs for the meat market, and I didn’t consider them, the lyrics or anything, to have any depth at all. It was Dylan who helped me realize that.”

Great story, eh?

After I heard this about Dylan, I was left wondering, Where is Bob Dylan? Where is the person who will walk up to me and tell me to cut the shit? Where is the Bob Dylan in me who isn’t afraid to tell you to “stop writing songs for the meat market”.

Where is Bob Dylan?

Bob Dylan is not coming.

He’s not going to comment on this post.

This is not a post.

This is Bob Dylan dancing all over your corpse. And mine.

So with that said, I’d like to finish this post by questioning my own life’s work: to point out the moments when I fail to show my pure heart. The moments when I slip, and all that comes out of my mouth hole is “yeah, yeah, yeah.”

Here’s what Bob Dylan would say to me,

A Letter from Bob Dylan to Christopher Castiglione:

Dear Christopher,

Are you writing these posts for Tweets? Facebook likes? SEO?

Stop! Stop writing these posts. Any idiot can write them. Find whatever it is that makes you twitch with passion. Go into hibernation and meet no one for hours. Come out a wild bear.

Yours Truly,

Uncle Robert

We all want to change the world. And we’re all lying to ourselves about what we are doing in order to make that contribution.

But that’s ok. In some way, lying is the only way to cope with craziness of the world — to fashion these illusions, and to believe they will lead somewhere.

Even if you’re not Bob Dylan (likely you’re not), ask yourself how you can be more like Dylan. Be an artist. Bite off more than you can chew. And spit it back out to the world as a gift. Unapologetically.

To sing, you don’t need an accordion or a guitar. If you have a mouth and you’re breathing, you are already singing.

Stop writing songs. Start singing. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

  1. Bob Dylan’s Influence on The Beatles, Aaron Krerowicz
  2. John Lennon on Bob Dylan
  3. Bob Dylan: The Song Talk Interview, by Paul Zollo, 1991.
  4. Inspiration from Henry Miller

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