Arnold Friend's physical description is deliberately presented by Oates as being similar to that of Bob Dylan. This is not surprising given that the book is actually dedicated to Bob Dylan and that the title consists of lyrics from one of his songs, "It’s All Over Now Baby Blue." Just as Bob Dylan caused a sensation when he first arrived on the music scene, Arnold does likewise when he enters into Connie's life. Strange as it may seem today, but rock 'n' roll was regarded in some quarters as almost Satanic when it first began. And there's certainly something devilish about Arnold as well as something indisputably rock 'n' roll.
That explains why he talks the way he does, with that "simple, lilting voice, exactly as if he were reciting the words to a song." In his vocal mannerisms, Arnold resembles a radio DJ by the name of Bobby King. Again, the reference to Bob Dylan is hard to overlook; to his legion of adoring fans he was the king of rock 'n' roll. In his voice, in his manner, and his whole appearance, Arnold symbolizes the dawn of an exciting, yet at the same time, potentially dangerous, era in American history.