Bob Dylan plays tribute to his namesake.

Bob Dylan is most definitely not an English musician. He was, however, named after a British poet, and, in fact, he may play a gig in Wales to celebrate the centenary of the birth of Dylan Thomas.

Apparently, Geraint Davies, MP for West Swansea has been in touch, badgering Dylan to perform a concert to mark the 100th birthday of Dylan Thomas, and it seems that Dylan is actually considering it.

There are theories that Dylan took his name from poet Dylan Thomas, and, while he is a self-confessed fan of the poet, he has never confirmed this, and there are theories that he may have taken the name from a character named Matt Dillon from the US western Gunsmoke. In any case, he decided that the world wasn’t ready for a rock star named Robert Allen Zimmerman, and, thus, changed his name to Bob Dylan.

In any case, Davies,hopes that the link between Dylan the poet and Dylan the Welsh poet will convince him to visit Swansea as part of a series of commemorative events next year.

Quoth Davies: “Bob Dylan named himself after Dylan Thomas, I have asked Bob Dylan whether he would be prepared to give a centenary concert in Swansea, in order that he could blend his music with Dylan Thomas’s poetry. Sony Music has come back and said that Mr. Dylan is thinking very positively about the idea.”

Of course, nobody can prove anything, as usual, but it seems likely that Dylan will play at Swansea sometime in the coming year.

And, now for the question: Is an article about an American rock star and a Welsh Poet out of place on an Anglophile blog? In any case, there isn’t a Cymrutopia for those fans of Welsh culture, wherever those may be, so there may be a place for it.

Read More at Anglotopia


  1. avatarSugar Nick says

    “…The common mythology holds that Dylan took his name from poet Dylan Thomas, however this absolutely false. Bob was a Dylan long before he picked up any of Thomas’s poetry. In a 1978 Playboy interview, Ron Rosenbaum asked Dylan, “By the time you arrived in New York, you’d changed your name from Robert Zimmerman to Bob Dylan. Was it because of Dylan Thomas?”

    Dylan’s response: “No, I haven’t read that much of Dylan Thomas… It wasn’t that I was inspired by reading some of his poetry and going “Aha!” and changing my name to Dylan. If I thought he was that great, I would have sung his poems and could just have easily changed my name to Thomas… I just chose that name and it stuck.”

    Zimmerman Becomes Dylan

    According to Daniel Mark Epstein in his biography, The Ballad of Bob Dylan, the switch from Zimmerman to Dylan began back when Dylan was 17 or 18. As the front man for of his rockabilly-blues garage band, The Golden Chords, Bobby Zimmerman was the typical James Dean-posing rocker, playing high school talent shows and trying to impress the chicks. Even at that young age, Dylan had an amazing natural sense about the importance of image for entertainers, and he groomed himself accordingly. It was all about the look. The appeal. And paramount to all, the name.

    At the time, wrote Epstein, “He was a great fan of Matt Dillon, the sheriff of the television series Gunsmoke. In 1958, he confided to his high school sweetheart [Echo Helstrom] that he planned to devote his life to music, adding that ‘I know what I’m going to call myself. I’ve got this great name—Bob Dillon.’ That was how he told new friends to spell his (assumed) last name. He also told them that Dillon was his mother’s maiden name (it wasn’t), and that Dillon was a town in Oklahoma (it isn’t).”

    With the name Dillon fully intact, Epstein goes on to assert that the spelling shifted to Dylan in Dinkytown, when Bob began plumbing the depths of world literature, “reading the poetry of Pound and Eliot, Ferlinghetti and Ginsberg; the novels of Kerouac and William Burroughs and Dylan Thomas, rebaptizing himself Bob Dylan.”

    So rather then check to see if something is true,news articles just repeat what other news articles have said mistakenly. HAHA!

    • avatarDerek says

      Of course, always remember that Dylan has a tendency to enjoy messing with people, especially in interviews, and the subject on how he got his name is one of those subjects; in his autobiography, he just said he liked the name. Moral of the story: never expect a straight answer from Dylan, and if he does give you one, be ready for another one that flat-out contradicts the previous one somewhere down the line.