Is Bob Dylan a Really Turkish Descent?

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When you see the title, it sounds unreal, unbelievable right? Yes, it is! It is even hard to believe for us, for the Turks. But, it is more than a rumor! Believe or not, the eminent “American” folk musician Bob Dylan is a Turkish descent.

Turkish people tend to believe that the whole nationalities, identities originally come from Turks. Native Americans, for example! Pawky speaking, the common joke says that the Native Americans are Turks! Well, of course, this is a joke and not every nation comes originally from Turks, no matter how long history Turks has. However, this traditional tendency of Turkish people shows that they are (we are) eager to believe that everyone is a Turk! But this time, this tendency has turned into reality!

Bob Dylan is a legendary name of American Folk Music. (Image Credit-T24)
Bob Dylan is a legendary name of American Folk Music. (Image Credit-T24)

Let’s see what’s going on!

To Begin with: Who is Bob Dylan?

The prestigious American singer Bob Dylan was born on May 24, 1941, in Minnesota America. His original name is, by the way, Robert Allen Zimmerman. So, he is an American singer-songwriter, author, and visual artist. The musician has been a major figure in popular culture for more than 50 years. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s when songs such as “Blowin’ in the Wind” (1963) and “The Times They Are a-Changin'” (1964) became anthems for the civil rights and anti-war movements. His lyrics during this period incorporated a range of political, social, philosophical, and literary influences. What’s more, his way of making music defied pop music conventions and appealed to the burgeoning counterculture.

The eminent singer is now 79 years old. (Image Credit-The San Diego Union-Tribune)
The eminent singer is now 79 years old. (Image Credit-The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Bob Dylan Winning Nobel Prize in Literature

The Nobel Prize committee announced on October 13, 2016, that it would be awarding Dylan the Nobel Prize in Literature. The reason why he won the Nobel was “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” The New York Times reported: “Mr. Dylan, 75, is the first musician to win the award. Further, his selection on Thursday is perhaps the most radical choice in a history stretching back to 1901.”

Joan Baez and Bob Dylan. (Image Credit-BBC)
Joan Baez and Bob Dylan. (Image Credit-BBC)

Dylan remained silent for two weeks after receiving the award. Later on, he told journalist Edna Gundersen that getting the award was “amazing, incredible. Whoever dreams about something like that?” There we are with the first musician in history who made to win Nobel Prize in Literature, which brings us to one single question: Could that man really be a Turkish descent?

Where do Those Rumors Come From?

As Bilge Ebiri from Vulture stated that “…Turks had secretly fantasized about finding an international celebrity who might have been at least part Turkish.” When Bob Dylan revealed that he was part of Turkish descent, a strange sense of relief came over Turks everywhere. So, the quote above explains why that is! Nevertheless, this fantasy to find an international celebrity who shares the same root with them is not only peculiar to Turks but Greeks, Arabs, Iranians, even Albanians, as well. For example, The Greeks had Telly Savalas and Elia Kazan. Arabs had Casey Kasem and Doug Flutie. The Iranians had Andre Agassi. Even the Albanians had the Belushi Brothers.

The musician's book "Chronicle" tells the story of the eminent singer. (Image Credit-AbeBooks)
The musician’s book “Chronicle” tells the story of the eminent singer. (Image Credit-AbeBooks)

The closest we’d ever come was a gal: Isabelle Adjani, whose Algerian father was rumored to have actually been Algerian-Turkish. (We thought we had Tchéky Karyo at one point, but he was merely born in Turkey, it turns out. Like Joe Strummer.)

Is Bob Dylan Really Turk Though? 

Needless to say, Dylan was a big “achievement” for Turkish people. The connection was almost impossibly tenuous, but it came from the man’s own mouth. As he wrote in Chronicles, Vol. 1:

Originally, [my grandmother had] come from Turkey, sailed from Trabzon, a port town, across the Black Sea — the sea that the ancient Greeks called the Euxine — the one that Lord Byron wrote about in Don Juan. Her family was from Kagizman, a town in Turkey near the Armenian border, and the family name had been Kirghiz. My grandfather’s parents had also come from that same area, where they had been mostly shoemakers and leatherworkers.

Bob Dylan's Turkish origins. (Image Credit-NSF)
Bob Dylan’s Turkish origins. (Image Credit-NSF)

He furthered;

My grandmother’s ancestors had been from Constantinople. As a teenager, I used to sing the Ritchie Valens song “In a Turkish Town” with the lines in it about the “mystery Turks and the stars above,” and it seemed to suit me more than “La Bamba,” the song of Ritchie’s that everybody else sang and I never knew why.

The route which Bob Dylan's ancestors followed. (Image Credit-NSF)
The route which Bob Dylan’s ancestors followed. (Image Credit-NSF)

As a Conclusion

Like we said and explained the reasons above, it is tenuous. However, who cares about it! We have a deep and strong tendency to believe that the first musician in history who ever made to win the Nobel Prize in Literature is actually a Turk! Can you believe that? Not easy to believe, but in the end, why not!

The musician is going to make a "Never Ending Tour" in America. (Image Credit-USA Today)
The musician is going to make a “Never Ending Tour” in America. (Image Credit-USA Today)

So now, there are statements from people who live in Kars. They have probably never heard of Bob Dylan’s name. However, once the news broke out, they say that “We are proud of Bob Dylan.” And so, this explains everything! We, as people live in Turkey, seek a reason to feel proud on a global level. That is why this news still bears a valuable importance. And it still has the potential to create an agenda in Turkey’s celebrity world.

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