Ex-Genesis Singer Peter Gabriel Explains Bob Dylan’s Impact On His Songwriting

Bob Dylan has undoubtedly guided many fellow rockers as they’ve tried to find direction in songwriting. Genesis icon Peter Gabriel also recently discussed how Dylan influenced his lyrics as he invited us along to take a peek into the makings of his upcoming album, ‘i/o,’ via a video shared on his official YouTube channel.

Gabriel’s longtime project and now monthly YouTube series, the Full Moon Club, presents its audience with the chance to get into studio sessions with the former Genesis singer and learn all about his thoughts while composing and writing his songs. So, in his latest episode, Peter detailed the creation of his new track, ‘The Court.’

After a few peeks into the studio and a few soundbites from the song, the rocker took a seat and discussed his approach to songwriting and how he couldn’t help but use rhymes while creating lyrics. However, using rhymery was sometimes regarded as a weakness, as his former collaborator, Laurie Anderson, had once pointed out to the singer.

Still, some of the masters of songwriting, such as Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, loved using rhymes while taking a shot at their iconic tracks. So, the two legends’ usage of rhyme influenced and encouraged Gabriel to use and build the structures of his lyrics upon rhymes.

Peter Gabriel discussed Dylan’s impact on his lyrics:

“I was just throwing these images fairly randomly and coming at it faster than the ‘to rhyme or not to rhyme’ question come out, and I tend to fall back into rhyming. I know when I was working with Laurie Anderson, she was trying very hard to train me out of rhyming because it’s sometimes a weakness.

But, then, you see, Dylan or Leonard Cohen, some of the great lyric writers, use rhyme in a powerful way. It is something that presses buttons and, I think, lines up our mind and emotions in a way that you don’t get.

Obviously, the whole hip-hop genre of this tongue of rhyme there, which is at the heart of it. And so, that repetition of sound, even though the meanings change, is a key tool, you know? And if we can learn again how to play with that and use it effectively, then I think it can strengthen what we do.”

So, though over-using rhymes might sometimes signal lyrical weakness, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, the two masters of songwriting, loved using rhymes, which influenced Peter Gabriel to continue using rhymes while writing his songs. For him, rhymes also had a mysterious influence on our emotions, as they could change the course of any song.