Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg

at Kerouac’s grave, and beyond


  • Daniel Karlin University of Bristol



American popular music, Bob Dylan, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, poetry and song


This article takes as its starting point the conversation between Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan at the grave of Jack Kerouac in 1975 during the Rolling Thunder Revue tour, an encounter which was filmed, photographed and narrated, both by the two artists and by others. It considers the ways in which Kerouac’s work focused and mediated the friendship of Ginsberg and Dylan, their sense of each other’s art, and of their own. Ginsberg’s influence on Dylan was more than matched by Dylan’s influence on Ginsberg, but what binds them together is an idea of American speech (whether spoken or sung) for which Kerouac is the disembodied and occluded source.

Author Biography

Daniel Karlin, University of Bristol

Daniel Karlin is Winterstoke Professor of English Literature and Head of the Department of English at the University of Bristol. His primary field of research is Victorian poetry, especially the work of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning with further strong interests in nineteenth-century American literature, and the work of Rudyard Kipling, Marcel Proust and Bob Dylan. His most recent book, The Figure of the Singer, was published by Oxford University Press in 2013.


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Ginsberg, A. 1975. First Blues: Rags, Ballads and Harmonium Songs. New York: Full Court Press.

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Kerouac, J. 1963. Visions of Gerard. New York: Farrar, Straus and Co.

—1996. ‘After Me, the Deluge’. In The Portable Jack Kerouac, ed. Ann Charters, 573–80. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. (First published as a syndicated newspaper article in 1969.)

Lawrence, D. H. 1923. Studies in Classic American Literature. New York: Thomas Selzer.

Miles, B. 1990. Ginsberg: A Biography. New York: HarperCollins.

Shepard, S. 1987 (1977). Rolling Thunder Logbook. New York: Limelight Editions.



How to Cite

Karlin, D. (2014). Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg: at Kerouac’s grave, and beyond. Popular Music History, 8(2), 155–168.