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Why Bob Dylan’s Rough and Rowdy Ways tour has so much to teach about writing great content

At some point in the mid-to-late-90s, I saw the video for ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ on MTV. The following weekend I got a lift into Cheltenham to buy the album, Bob Dylan’s Bringing it All Back Home.

On the drive back I peeled the MVC sticker off the CD and bored my Dad by “teensplaining” Dylan to him as we listened to ‘115th Dream’.

More than 20 years later (and just a few weeks ago), I went to see Bob Dylan live at Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena.

Here’s what that experience, and Dylan’s legendary career, have to teach about becoming a better blog writer.

Watching the River Flow

On 28 August 1963, Bob Dylan performed at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial as part of the Great March on Washington.

The final speaker that day was Dr Martin Luther King Jr., who delivered his historic ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.

At that time, Dylan was just two studio albums into his 60-year career (and counting). Decades during which he would watch the second half of the 20th century flow by.

He would “go electric” (prompting the infamous shouts of “Judas” at Manchester’s Free Trade Hall), find God (on albums like Saved), and win a Nobel prize in literature for creating “new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”.

Dylan’s greatest hits include ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’, ‘Like A Rolling Stone’, and ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’’. So-called “protest songs” sit alongside ‘Lay Lady Lay’, ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’, and ‘Make You Feel My Love’.

He remains one of the top five most-covered artists of all time.

The Times They Are A-Changin’

On the night that I see him live, there is no ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’ or ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’’.

He’s sticking to the new stuff.

He plays 9 out of the 10 tracks on his latest album, Rough and Rowdy Ways. The rest of the set is peppered with alternate takes and new arrangements of songs spanning decades. From 1966’s iconic Blonde on Blonde album to 1981’s (slightly less well-regarded) Shot of Love.

There’s room for the old and the new.

You too will have a back catalogue of “evergreen” hits to roll out: Inheritance Tax planning; the importance of a will; or how to weigh up your retirement options.

Fresh takes on these classics are an important part of your set. But be sure to try new things too.

Be topical where you can and mix things up regularly with “lifestyle” pieces.

Remember that even evergreen articles can (and should) be linked back to the most recent research, stats, or government papers.

I’ve Made Up My Mind to Give Myself to You

New arrangements of old songs can reinvigorate them or render them messily unrecognisable (‘Gotta Serve Somebody’ and ‘I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight’, respectively).

In the arena that evening, it is the new songs that stand out; among them, the beautiful ‘I’ve Made Up My Mind to Give Myself to You’.

Most simply read as an unapologetic love song, let’s assume for our purposes that the track’s lyrics and unnamed lover are analogous to your business relationships.

As your main source of income – and the audience for your writing – your clients and prospects deserve your time and devotion. That means knowing who they are, what makes them tick, and the language they understand.

Take the time to identify your target market and focus your writing on that demographic.

Avoid jargon they might be unfamiliar with and offer insight. You want a reader to know that the time they spend with your content is worthwhile.

A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall

One of your main tasks as a financial adviser is to offer reassurance.

In the current climate of unstable markets, soaring inflation, and a cost of living crisis affecting millions, offering ‘Shelter From the Storm’ is more important than ever.

A calming word from a trusted adviser might be sufficient to allay a client’s fears, helping them to stay calm during a period of uncertainty.

At the Yardstick Agency, we can provide this through regular (monthly or weekly) blogs, social media posts, and targeted campaigns. We can also use our tried and tested processes – and our team of experts – to offer timely ad hoc updates.

Whether covering a Budget, an Autumn Statement, a “fiscal event” or the death of a monarch, we can help you to add real value, providing important information as well as emotional reassurance.

Gotta Serve Somebody

A highlight of the evening, ‘Gotta Serve Somebody’ was originally the gospel-inspired opener to Dylan’s first “Christian” album, Slow Train Coming.

On the night, it’s born again as an uptight guitar-driven number that one reviewer will later (over-excitedly) label a “thundering rocker”.

“It might be the devil, or it might be the Lord, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody”.

Most likely, this will mean your clients. But, if you don’t have time to give yourself to the process of writing, can you be sure you’re serving them well?

At the Yardstick Agency, we can help you create the engaging and insightful content your clients deserve. So ‘Don’t Think Twice…’, just contact us at or call 0115 8965 300 to find out how.

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