Bob Dylan is more popular than Woody Guthrie due to a variety of factors, including the evolution of the music industry and the broader cultural context in which they performed. While both artists sang folk music, Dylan's career began in the 1960s, during a time when popular music was rapidly changing and becoming more diverse. Dylan's music reflected this change, incorporating a wider range of influences and styles than Guthrie's more traditional folk sound.
One important factor contributing to Dylan's popularity is his songwriting ability. Dylan's lyrics are often considered to be more poetic and evocative than Guthrie's, with a wider range of themes and a greater sense of personal introspection. This is exemplified by songs like "Blowin' in the Wind" and "The Times They Are A-Changin'," which became anthems of the civil rights and anti-war movements of the 1960s.
Another factor is the role of mass media in shaping popular culture. Dylan's music was widely promoted through radio and television, as well as in film soundtracks and advertising campaigns. This exposure helped to build a wider audience for Dylan's music, including listeners who might not otherwise have been drawn to folk music.
In addition, Dylan's charismatic persona and unconventional image helped to build his appeal among younger listeners. Dylan's shaggy hair, sunglasses, and distinctive voice became iconic symbols of the counterculture of the 1960s. This image, combined with his songwriting ability and the backing of the music industry, helped to create a powerful cultural force that made Dylan one of the most celebrated and influential musicians of his time.
Finally, it is important to note that the popularity of Dylan and Guthrie reflects broader social and cultural trends. The 1960s were a time of immense change and upheaval in American society, and music played an important role in expressing and shaping those changes. Dylan's success was a product of this larger cultural moment, as well as of his own talent and creativity.
Linder, Mark. “The History of Folk Music.” American Music Teacher, vol. 66, no. 3, Feb. 2017, pp. 34–38. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1177/0003131316689351.