here's how i think dylan got to be a god. his whole persona, all the scraggly clothes and the roughened-up voice and stuff, was a critique of bourgeois white culture by a bourgeois white person (conveying that is one reason for replacing 'zimmerman' with 'dylan'). it was an attack on the smooth, processed, false suburban white northern 50s or whatever. hence it was extremely compelling to northern white bourgeois kids at that moment: it was an expression of their own discontent with their world. that is sort of important. that's the experience people had when they heard it as so super-authentic, even though it was a self-conscious pose: it was authentic as a critique of the inauthenticity of the lives of the parents of its audience. that's why, despite the fact that dylan never delivered any sort of coherent political message (unlike woody guthrie, pete seeger, or to take actually great artists, john prine or bob marley), he was immediately heard as politically transformative.
but it took the excruciatingly problematic form of romanticizing the primitive, and romanticizing blues and country music as naive folk arts, and hence completely misunderstood and falsified the music it venerated. indeed, i say folk music of this variety is actually racist and classist, like orientalism or...colonialism: it just romanticizes these cultures on the very same grounds that the white power structures condemned them or regarded them as pathological and tried disastrously to remediate them (oh, housing projects, e.g.). it displays a complete incomprehension of its sources, which were actually the work of professional musicians and virtuosi. so, in its incomprehension, it tried to simulate what it took to be their direct, immediate, primitive, authentic expressions: it is simulated primitivism and incompetence as authenticity.
it's not surprising that as those kids grew up and assumed their racial destiny of power, the rhetoric of race and class changed completely, while the realities changed very little. also, it's not surprising in the midst of all that confusion that the music sucks: it's only being used as some sort of badge or device: bob dylan is an actor playing hank williams or blind willie mctell or something. but he sure as hell can't write a song like hank williams or blind willie mctell, can he? or sing one. guess what? you could be listening to the real shit.
the genius of dylan had nothing to do with dylan's abilities, if any. it had to do with this big swirl of cultural critique and abject confusion.