Turns Out Kurt Vonnegut Was Not a Bob Dylan Fan

Not all beloved artists get along

Bob Dylan, 1991
Bob Dylan performs on stage at Guitar Legends, Seville, Spain, 1991.
Michael Putland/Getty Images

Bob Dylan and Kurt Vonnegut can both be described as American writers with a distinctive sensibility, a penchant for grand themes and an unexpected sense of humor. Their appearances outside of their usual medium also have the ability to surprise: the former was in a Victoria’s Secret commercial, while the latter was in the film Back to School. But while there are plenty of people who are fans of both Vonnegut and Dylan, it cannot be said that Vonnegut was a Dylan fan. Quite the reverse, in fact.

In a new article for Literary Hub, Emily Temple revisited a 1991 Hustler interview with Vonnegut in which the author of Slaughterhouse-Five weighed in on the author of Tarantula. “Bob Dylan, however, is the worst poet alive,” Vonnegut said in the interview. “He can maybe get one good line in a song, and the rest is gibberish.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Temple reports, Vonnegut had positive things to say about the Beatles and less-than-glowing things to say about rap. It’s worth pointing out that Vonnegut is not the only high-profile Dylan detractor out there; as Far Out noted, the likes of Joni Mitchell and Liam Gallagher have also offered critiques of Dylan’s work.

This does have the makings of an intriguing party game: pick a year at random and debate the relative merits of Dylan and Vonnegut’s respective works from that year. 1985, which saw the release of Dylan’s Empire Burlesque and Vonnegut’s Galapagos, should make for an especially entertaining discussion.

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