by Erika Cox
Bob Dylan is one of the most prolific songwriters in history. He has been credited as a poet and deservedly so. His songs are not only poetic but he displays a unique insightfulness into the many social ills in the world, in particular, those of the 1960’s.
His songs became a stable in the civil rights and war protest movements of the 1960’s. His song “Blowin’ in the Wind” became the theme song for the war protest movement. His song “Like a Rolling Stone” went to number two on the pop charts.
Listening to Dylan’s music is more of an educational experience in societal problems. You listen to his music to learn and think instead of dancing or relaxing, or even to feel happy depending on the subject.
His lyrics comprised of politics, social commentary, philosophy and literature. However, Dylan refuses to think of himself as a poet stating, “I don't call myself a poet because I don't like the word.”
Dylan was born Robert Zimmerman in Duluth, Minnesota on May 24, 1941. He spent much of his childhood listening to blues and country music, which he would later combine into his folk music style. As a child, he taught himself how to play the guitar and the harmonica, and like most teens at that time, he started to listen to rock and roll music and playing the guitar.
While attending the University of Minnesota, Dylan’s musical interest turned to the sounds of Woody Guthrie, Irving Berlin and Hank Williams, all were idols of Dylan. He exchanged his electric guitar for an acoustic one. However, later on in his career he would revert back to the electric guitar.
Dylan started becoming heavily involved with folk music and would follow his mentor, Woody Guthrie’s career step, as a traveling folksinger. He eventually moved to New York and performed all over Greenwich Village, which was a popular haven for musicians at the time. Dylan flourished as one of the prominent folk singers in the 1960’s, until 1965.
Sometime in 1964, Dylan became heavily influenced with rock and roll and the Beatles and decided to go back to his electric guitar.
Being the versatile artist he is, Dylan decided to make a radical change (according to folk music fans) when he appeared at a folk festival in July 1965 brandishing his electric guitar and playing his folk songs with a rock and roll tempo and pace.
Dylan was promptly booed by upset and bewildered folk music fans but he didn’t let that bother him he continued performing and recording his unique blend of rock and folk music.
Establishing himself as very talented and versatile musician doing what he loved best, not what was popular or forced because of fan or media pressure.
Dylan had his first major hit with “Like A Rolling Stone” from his groundbreaking album Highway 61 Revisited that showcased his raw talent and versatility in rock music. Dylan would continue to produce albums and eventually incorporated folk music back into his repertoire.
Although his nasal voice turns off many, his lyrics and the meanings of his songs surpass any singing defects and propels him as a brilliant songwriter and poetic genius in the world of rock and folk music.
He is a true musical genius and inspiration, an artist that definitely made a difference in rock music. His creativity and musical talent makes him one of the most important musicians ever. Dylan is a musician that thinks outside of the box, doesn’t always conform to the mainstream, and doesn’t seek the limelight.
He has worked with countless of other musicians and has influenced countless musicians, including Jimi Hendrix, who remade Dylan’s “All along the Watchtower.
He has received countless awards, recognitions, and has recorded even more songs. Bob Dylan was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.
Go to Rewind the Fifties Home
Rewind the Fifties and all related pages copyright 1997 - 2006