Honors Program


Document Type


Date of this Version

Spring 4-16-2018


Williams A and Anderson S. (2018). From rain’s a-gonna fall to bricks in the wall: A comparative analysis of humanity’s core themes in the music of Bob Dylan and Pink Floyd. Undergraduate Thesis at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. pp. 2-41.


Copyright Alec Williams 2018


The 1960s were turbulent times of musical creation and revolution. From Motown to Dinkytown, the world suddenly became filled with blooms of creativity that stemmed from the freshly planted roots rock ‘n’ roll. Artists that garnered infamy in this flourishing era, including household names like Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, and Janis Joplin, would become immortalized in music and pop culture. However, few stand out as pinnacle lyrical and musical influences, devout to the art of perpetual creation and development of the global music scene. Of those artists, Bob Dylan and Pink Floyd have contributed immensely to the synthesis of genres upon subgenres of music through their creativity and propensity to push the musical status quo. Though, perhaps the most valuable contribution from these artists has come through their lyrical composition. Both took the unique approach of exploring and capturing fundamental, central themes of humanity in music. Dylan and Pink Floyd were able to tackle a spectrum of issues through the application of topical songwriting. In doing so, they articulated the feelings, emotions, and sentiments of a changing human population. This paper will explore their adherence to, and description of such themes and how despite drastic differences in their musical styles, Bob Dylan and Pink Floyd captured very universal ideas. This paper will further explore how Bob Dylan and Pink Floyd’s expression of these themes created an impermeable distinction between their music and that of today’s contemporary pop scene. Their initiative to pursue a breadth of universal themes contributed to their distinguished position in music as distinct drivers of creativity who created timeless music reflecting central ideals of humanity. Their role in contemporary music is unparalleled, and their devotion to continual creation serves as an artistic accelerator that continues to propel music and art forward through the foreseeable future.