Skip to main content
Select Source:

Dylan, Bob

Bob Dylan

Singer, songwriter

Singer and songwriter Bob Dylan is recognized worldwide for the impact he has had on rock music since his career began in the early 1960s, and he has maintained his popularity among fans and critics alike over the ensuing decades. Although known primarily for his caustic and candid lyrics that reveal a defiant stance on authority, politics, and social norms that was prevalent in America in the 1960s, Dylan's fans come from a variety of age groups, all of whom identify with the raw human emotion expressed in his lyrics. Dylan's own humanity was brought to the public's attention in May of 1997, when the legendary artist canceled a planned European tour and was hospitalized due to a serious health condition called pericarditis. Yet Dylan returned to the stage in August, and released Time Out of Mind to rave reviews. As further evidence of Dylan's broad appeal and the magnitude of his contributions to music, he performed in Bologna, Italy, in September of 1997, after receiving a special invitation from Pope John Paul II. The notoriously private artist revealed more of his personal life with a documentary film and autobiography published in 2005.

Dylan was born Robert Allen Zimmerman on May 24, 1941, in Duluth, Minnesota, to Abraham Zimmerman, a furniture and appliance salesman, and Beatty Stone Zimmerman. In 1947 the family moved to the small town of Hibbing, Minnesota, where Dylan spent an unremarkable childhood. He began writing poems at the age of ten, and as a teenager taught himself to play the piano, harmonica, and guitar. He appreciated a wide variety of music ranging from country to rock 'n' roll, and admired the works of Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, Little Richard, and Jerry Lee Lewis. Dylan played in many bands during his high school years, including the Golden Chords and Elston Gunn and His Rock Boppers, before enrolling at the University of Minnesota in 1959.

While he was a student at the University of Minnesota, the artist began performing as a folk singer and musician under the name Bob Dylan at such popular Minneapolis night clubs as the Ten O'Clock Scholar cafe and St. Paul's Purple Onion Pizza Parlor. Dylan soon became more involved with his musical career than with his studies, so he dropped out of school in 1960 and headed straight for New York City. The young performer's interest in New York City was based on his desire to become involved in the emerging folk music scene in the city's Greenwich Village neighborhood, as well as his wish to meet his idol, folk singer Woody Guthrie. Dylan soon became a popular performer in Greenwich Village coffee houses and night clubs, and also managed to become a regular performer for Guthrie. The young Dylan quickly gained the respect and admiration of his peers in the folk music scene with his ability to compose his own melodies and lyrics at an astonishing pace. In 1961 he attracted notice outside of New York City's folk music scene when New York Times critic Robert Shelton witnessed one of his performances at a club called Gerde's Folk City and declared that Dylan was "bursting at the seams with talent."

Dylan was 20 years old when he released his self-titled debut album in 1962. Although most of the songs were cover tunes, Dylan did include two original compositions—"Song to Woody," a tribute to Guthrie, and "Talkin' New York." The album achieved limited success, and Dylan followed it in 1963 with The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, which contained more original songs that shared a common theme of protest. Two of the songs from Dylan's second album, "Blowin' In the Wind" and "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall," became enduring anthems of the 1960s, helping to define the thoughts and feelings of the counterculture. As confirmation of Dylan's success, the renowned folk group Peter, Paul, and Mary recorded a cover version of "Blowin' In the Wind" that rose to the number two spot on the pop music charts.

The Tide Changed

By the time Dylan released 1964's The Times They Are A-Changin', he had been thrust into the role of media spokesperson for a counterculture protest movement that sought to radically alter current social and political norms. This third album also contained the protest song "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll." At the time the album was released, however, Dylan began to express his growing pessimism about the counterculture's ability to affect change, and declared that he was uncomfortable with his role as the movement's mouthpiece. His next album, Another Side of Bob Dylan, further evidenced his disillusionment with the counterculture movement, containing extremely personal folk ballads and love songs rather than his trademark protest songs. In 1965 Dylan enraged his folk music following by performing on an electric guitar at the Newport Folk Festival (fans booed Dylan and his band off the stage), and by releasing Bringing It All Back Home, an album on which Dylan returned to his earlier musical influences of rock 'n' roll and rhythm and blues. While the songs on this album remained critical of society, none contained any of the direct references to racism, war, or political activism that had marked his earlier works. The acoustic song "Mr. Tambourine Man" from Bringing It All Back Home was recorded in an electrified form by the popular 1960s band the Byrds, and reached the top of the pop music charts; by that time a new brand of music known as "folk rock" had become widely favored among young Americans.

For the Record …

Born Robert Allen Zimmerman on May 24, 1941, in Duluth, MN; name legally changed August 9, 1962; son of Abraham (a furniture and appliance salesman) and Beatty (Stone) Zimmerman; married Sara Lowndes, 1965 (divorced, 1977); children: Jesse, Maria, Jakob, Samuel, Anna. Education: Attended University of Minnesota, 1959–60.

Composed more than 500 songs since early 1960s; recorded with rock groups including The Band (1975), The Traveling Wilburys (with Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, George Harrison, and Roy Orbison, 1988 and 1990), and The Grateful Dead (1989); solo singer and musician in concerts since early 1960s, including appearances at Newport Folk Festival in 1962 and 1965, Woodstock Festivals in 1969 and 1994, and Live Aid benefit concert in 1985; issued new material on Time Out of Mind, 1997, and "Love and Theft," 2001; issued movie soundtrack, Masked and Anonymous, 2003; issued multiple entries in the "bootleg" series, from The Bootleg Series, Vol. 4: The "Royal Albert Hall" Concert in 1998 to The Bootleg Series, Vol. 7: No Direction Home—The Soundtrack, 2005.

Awards: Emergency Civil Liberties Committee, Tom Paine Award, 1963; Grammy Award, Best Rock Vocal Performance, for "Gotta Serve Somebody," 1979; Rolling Stone Music Award, Artist of the Year (tied with Bruce Springsteen) for The Basement Tapes, 1975; and Album of the Year for Blood on the Tracks, 1975; inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 1988; Commander Dans L'Ordre des Arts et Lettres from French Minister of Culture, 1990; Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, 1991; Grammy Award for World Gone Wrong, 1993; Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize Trust, Arts Award, 1997; Lifetime Achievement Award, John F. Kennedy Center honors, 1997; Grammy Awards, for Album of the Year, Best Male Rock Performance, and Best Contemporary Folk Album, 1998, all for Time Out of Mind.

Addresses: Record company—Columbia Records, 550 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10022-3211, website: http://www.columbiarecords.com, phone: (212) 833-8000. Website—Bob Dylan Official Website: http://www.bobdylan.com.

Dylan continued to record songs that fused his folk and rock influences, using mystical, ominous lyrics filled with imagery and allusion, and in 1965 he released Highway 61 Revisited. The album featured songs with themes of alienation, including the well-known "Like a Rolling Stone," which quickly rose to the number two spot on the Billboard singles chart. That same year Dylan married Sara Lowndes, a friend of his manager's wife. In 1966 Dylan released Blonde on Blonde, which polished the edgy, harsh rock sounds of Highway 61 Revisited and introduced music unlike any of its predecessors. Although he was wildly successful, Dylan was suffering from the strains of fame. In the 1971 biography Bob Dylan the artist described his feelings during that period of his life to author Anthony Scaduto: "The pressures were unbelievable. They were just something you can't imagine unless you go through them yourself. Man, they hurt so much." Similarly, in a 1997 interview with Newsweek's David Gates, Dylan asserted "I'm not the songs. It's like somebody expecting [William] Shakespeare to be Hamlet, or [Wolfgang von] Goethe to be Faust. If you're not prepared for fame, there's really no way you can imagine what a crippling thing it can be."

Knockin' on Death's Door

On July 29, 1966, at the peak of his popularity, Dylan's neck was broken in a near-fatal motorcycle crash. The accident left Dylan with time to recuperate and rest at his Woodstock, New York, home with his wife and their newborn son, Jesse. He began reflecting upon his religious beliefs and personal priorities, and wrote songs that reflected his newfound sense of inner peace and satisfaction. Many of these songs were recorded in 1967 with The Band and later released on the 1975 album The Basement Tapes, while others were released on Dylan's first album following the motorcycle accident, 1968's John Wesley Harding. This slowerpaced acoustical album was followed in 1969 by Nashville Skyline and in 1970 by Self Portrait and New Morning. These three albums were generally panned by the public, and Dylan was criticized harshly by his fans for what they perceived as his failure to comment on the harsh realities of the time, namely the Vietnam War and the struggle for racial equality and civil rights for African Americans.

Dylan's first album to reach the number one spot on music charts was his 1974 effort Planet Waves, which he recorded with The Band. Although it was not a critical success, the album led to a flood of interest in Dylan's 1974 tour of the United States, where audience demand for tickets far exceeded available seating. In 1974, following the tour, Dylan released Before the Flood, a two-album set of music recorded live during the tour; the album rose to number three on music charts.

While Dylan's musical career was on an upswing, his personal life was in a downslide, as he became involved in a bitter separation with Sara and a fierce custody battle over their children. Dylan's 1975 album Blood On the Tracks featured songs reflecting the sorrow and passion of his personal life at the time; "If You See Her, Say Hello" referred directly to the breakup of his marriage. Many critics hailed Blood On the Tracks as Dylan's best album since the 1960s, praising the artist's use of visual imagery to blur distinctions between reality and illusion. The album's searing songs about love and loss, including "Tangled up in Blue," "Shelter from the Storm," and "Idiot Wind," were well received by fans, and the album soon reached number one on the charts. Dylan's 1976 album Desire, which contained a mournful tune titled "Sara," also reached number one on the charts and achieved widespread success in both the United States and Europe.

Although Dylan's 1978 album Street Legal was unpopular with his fans, who feared that the performer's personal crises had interfered with his musical abilities, it did not prepare the fans for what was soon to follow. In 1978, while touring to support Street Legal, Dylan experienced a religious vision that he later asserted made him question his moral values and saved him from self-destructive behavior. Pronouncing his belief in fundamentalist Christianity, Dylan began to include in his music a concern with religious salvation and the end of the world. Many fans were unhappy with the artist's apparent attempts to persuade his listeners to adopt his religious philosophy, while others viewed the lyrics as similar to Dylan's earlier songs about social change and prophecy. Of the albums during his Christian period, only the 1979 album Slow Train Coming was a commercial success, largely due to the popularity of the Grammy Award-winning single "Gotta Serve Somebody."

Dylan Reinvented Himself

In 1983 Dylan released Infidels, an album in which he departed from his overtly religious themes and returned to more complex, emotionally subtle lyrics in songs such as "Jokerman" and "Don't Fall Apart on Me Tonight." The 1985 album Empire Burlesque displayed a wide range of musical sounds, from gospel to acoustic ballad. In the mid-1980s Dylan remained prominent in the public eye by performing with various other music stars, including superstar Michael Jackson, on the 1985 single "We Are the World," and at the Live Aid benefit concert, both of which were designed to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia. Also in 1985, Dylan released Biograph, a five-album set that contained previously released material and "bootleg" (unreleased) recordings, and which also included Dylan's brief commentaries; the set was highly popular and proved a top seller.

The year 1988 marked the beginning of Dylan's collaboration with the Traveling Wilburys, a group that included veteran music stars George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, and Tom Petty. The group released two albums, 1988's Traveling Wilburys and Traveling Wilburys Volume 3—no second volume was ever recorded—in 1990. In 1988 Dylan was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and was honored by noted rock star Bruce Springsteen, who commented during the induction ceremony that "Bob [Dylan] freed the mind the way Elvis [Presley] freed the body. He showed us that just because the music was innately physical did not mean that it was anti-intellectual…. He invented a new way a pop singer could sound, broke through the limitations of what a recording artist could achieve, and changed the face of rock and roll forever."

Another Close Call

In May of 1997 Dylan was stricken with a sometimes fatal fungal infection called histoplasmosis, which caused the sac surrounding his heart to swell, resulting in a condition known as pericarditis. He told Newsweek's David Gates, "Mostly I was in a lot of pain. Pain that was intolerable. That's the only way I can put it." Nevertheless, he began to recover, and performed again in August of that same year. In September he performed for Pope John Paul II—reportedly at the Pope's request—at a eucharistic conference in Bologna, Italy. And in December of 1997 he became the first rock star ever to receive Kennedy Center honors.

Dylan's album Time Out of Mind was released in September of 1997 and was greeted by rave reviews. The album brought Dylan three Grammy Awards—for Album of the Year, Male Rock Performance (for "Cold Irons Bound"), and Contemporary Folk Album. Critics declared that the artist had again managed to reinvent himself and provide his fans with a fresh sound. Time's Christopher John Farley praised the album, declaring that "Dylan has found purpose in his inner battle to reignite his imagination. Turning the quest for inspiration itself into relevant rock—that is alchemic magic." Newsweek contributor Karen Schoemer maintained that Time Out of Mind "is rewarding precisely because it's so outside the present. In an era defined by novelty hits and slick video edits, it's a reminder that music can mean something more: it can be personal, uncompromised and deeply felt."

Following Time Out of Mind, Dylan entered a new, expansive phase of his career, one that focused attention on his current musical output and broadened the understanding of his past achievements. In 1998 Columbia Records released The Bootleg Series Vol. 4: The "Royal Albert Hall" Concert. The two-disc recording, featuring an acoustic and electric set, was recorded at Manchester Free Trade Hall on May 17, 1966, and became one of the most renowned bootlegs in rock 'n' roll history. "By the mid-'70s," noted Bill Holland in Billboard, "the 'Albert Hall' bootlegs became a cultural touchstone for music fans of the hippie-era baby boomer generation."

Dylan waited until 2001 to release Love and Theft, his first album of new material since Time Out of Mind. The album received a warm reception from critics, and following on the heels of the Grammy-winning Time Out of Mind, represented a renaissance for Dylan. "With Love and Theft," wrote David Browne in Entertainment Weekly, "Bob Dylan's return to the land of the living is complete." Columbia also continued to release vault material, including The Bootleg Series, Vol. 5: Bob Dylan Live 1975—The Rolling Thunder Review in 2002 and The Bootleg Series, Vol. 6: Bob Dylan Live 1964—Concert at Philharmonic Hall in 2004.

In 2003 Dylan appeared in Masked and Anonymous, a film widely panned by critics. "Unfortunately," wrote Ethan Alter in Film Journal International, "I have to concede that the movie is largely a mess—a rambling, disjointed, semi-coherent hodgepodge that plays like a parody of a bad Dylan song."

Published Autobiography

In 2004 and 2005 Dylan, always protective of his personal privacy, wrote the first installment of his autobiography, Chronicles: Volume One. He also agreed to participate in extensive interviews for Martin Scorsese's two-hour biographical Dylan documentary for PBS, No Direction Home. Since he first become popular in the mid-1960s, Dylan had allowed biographers and journalists to tell his story: now, with a book and a documentary, he would have his turn. Columbia seized the opportunity to release two discs worth of scattered demos, out-takes, and live recordings to accompany the documentary project. In 2006 Twyla Tharp's play "The Times They Are A-Changin," drawn from Dylan's songs, was slated to open at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego, California.

While Dylan has always drawn concert audiences and maintained a loyal fan base, new recordings and vault releases following Time Out of Mind have energized longtime fans and introduced him to a new generation. "Forty-plus years into his never-ending career," wrote Browne, "Bob Dylan keeps throwing us curveballs."

Selected discography

Bob Dylan, Columbia, 1962.
The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, Columbia, 1963.
The Times They Are A-Changin', Columbia, 1964.
Another Side of Bob Dylan, Columbia, 1964.
Bringing It All Back Home, Columbia, 1965.
Highway 61 Revisited, Columbia, 1965.
Blonde on Blonde, Columbia, 1966.
Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits I, Columbia, 1967.
John Wesley Harding, Columbia, 1968.
Nashville Skyline, Columbia, 1969.
New Morning, Columbia, 1970.
Self Portrait, Columbia, 1970.
Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits, Volume II, Columbia, 1971.
Dylan, Columbia, 1973.
Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, Columbia, 1973.
Planet Waves, Asylum, 1974.
Before the Flood, Asylum, 1974.
(With The Band) The Basement Tapes, Columbia, 1975.
Blood on the Tracks, Columbia, 1975.
Desire, Columbia, 1976.
Hard Rain, Columbia, 1976.
Street Legal, Columbia, 1978.
Bob Dylan at Budokan, Columbia, 1978.
Bob Dylan: Masterpieces, Columbia, 1978.
Slow Train Coming, Columbia, 1979.
Saved, Columbia, 1980.
Shot of Love, Columbia, 1981.
Infidels, Columbia, 1983.
Real Live, Columbia, 1984.
Empire Burlesque, Columbia, 1985.
Biograph, 3 vols., Columbia, 1985.
Knocked Out Loaded, Columbia, 1986.
(With the Traveling Wilburys: Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, George Harrison, and Jeff Lynne) Traveling Wilburys, Warner Bros., 1988.
Down in the Groove, Columbia, 1988.
(With the Grateful Dead) Dylan and the Dead, Columbia, 1989.
Oh, Mercy, Columbia, 1989.
Traveling Wilburys, Volume 3, Warner Bros., 1990.
Under the Red Sky, Columbia, 1990.
Bootleg Series I-III, Columbia, 1991.
Good As I Been to You, Columbia, 1992.
World Gone Wrong, Columbia, 1993.
Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary Concert, Columbia, 1993.
MTV Unplugged, Columbia, 1995.
Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits, Volume III, Columbia, 1995.
Time Out of Mind, Columbia, 1997.
The Bootleg Series, Vol. 4: The "Royal Albert Hall" Concert, Columbia, 1998.
Love and Theft, Columbia, 2001.
The Bootleg Series, Vol. 5: Bob Dylan Live 1975—The Rolling Thunder Review, Columbia, 2002.
(With multiple guests) Masked and Anonymous, Sony, 2003.
The Bootleg Series, Vol. 6: Bob Dylan Live 1964—Concert at Philharmonic Hall, Columbia, 2004.
Live at the Gaslight 1962, Columbia, 2005.
The Bootleg Series, Vol. 7: No Direction Home—The Soundtrack, Columbia, 2005.
Modern Times, Columbia, 2006.

Selected writings

Tarantula (prose), Macmillan, 1971.
Poem to Joanie, Aloes Press, 1972.
Words (poem), J. Cape, 1973.
Writings and Drawings (songs, poems, drawings, and writings), Knopf, 1973; expanded edition published as Lyrics: 1962–1985, 1985.
Renaldo and Clara (screenplay), Circuit Films, 1978.
Chronicles: Volume One, Simon & Schuster, 2005.

Sources

Books

Scaduto, Anthony, Bob Dylan, Grosset & Dunlap, 1971.

Shelton, Robert, No Direction Home: The Life and Music of Bob Dylan, Beech Tree Books/William Morrow, 1986.

Spitz, Marc, Bob Dylan: A Biography, McGraw-Hill, 1989.

Periodicals

Billboard, October 24, 1998, p. 52.

Entertainment Weekly, September 14, 2001; September 2, 2005.

Film Journal International, September 2003, p. 46.

New York Times, September 29, 1961.

Sing Out!, Summer 2004, p. 128.

Time, September 29, 1997, p. 87; April 12, 2004, p. 83.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Dylan, Bob." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Dylan, Bob." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/dylan-bob-1

"Dylan, Bob." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/dylan-bob-1

Dylan, Bob

Bob Dylan

Singer, songwriter

For the Record

The Tide Changes

Knockin on Deaths Door

Dylan Re-invents Himself

Another Close Call

Selected discography

Selected writings

Sources

Singer and songwriter Bob Dylan is recognized worldwide for the impact he has had on rock music since his career began in the early 1960s, and has managed to maintain his popularity among fans and critics alike over the ensuing decades. Although known primarily for his caustic and candid lyrics that reveal the defiant stance on authority, politics, and social norms prevalent among the 60s generation of Americans, Dylans fans are from a variety of age groups, all of whom identify with the raw human emotion expressed in his lyrics. Dylans own humanity was brought to the publics attention in May, 1997, when the legendary artist canceled a planned European tour and was hospitalized due to a serious health condition called pericarditis. Yet Dylan returned to the stage in August, and released Time Out of Mind to rave reviews in September. As further evidence of Dylans broad appeal and the magnitude of his contributions to music, he performed in Bologna, Italy, in September, 1997, after receiving a special invitation from Pope John Paul II.

Dylan was born Robert Allen Zimmerman on May 24, 1941, in Duluth, Minnesota, to Abraham Zimmerman, a furniture and appliance salesman, and Beatty Stone Zimmerman. In 1947 the family moved to the small town of Hibbing, Minnesota, where Dylan spent an unremarkable childhood. He began writing poems at the age of ten, and as a teenager taught himself to play the piano, harmonica, and guitar. He appreciated a wide variety of musicfrom country to rock n rolland admired the works of Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, Little Richard, and Jerry Lee Lewis. Dylan played in many bands during his high school years, including the Golden Chords and Elston Gunn and His Rock Boppers, before enrolling at the University of Minnesota in 1959.

While he was a student at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, the artist began performing as a folk singer and musician under the name Bob Dylan at such popular Minneapolis night clubs as Ten OClock Scholar cafe and St. Pauls Purple Onion Pizza Parlor. Dylan soon became more involved with his musical career than with his studies, so he dropped out of school in 1960 and headed straight for New York City. The young performers interest in New York City was based upon his desire to become involved in the folk music scene that was then emerging in the citys Greenwich Village and upon his wish to meet his idol, folk singer Woody Guthrie. Dylan promptly became a popular performer in Greenwich Village coffee houses and night clubs, and also managed to become a regular performer for Guthrie. The young Dylan quickly gained the respect and admiration of his peers in the folk music scene with his ability to compose his own melodies and lyrics at an astonishing pace. He also became well known outside

For the Record

Born Robert Allen Zimmerman, May 24, 1941, in Duluth, MN; name legally changed August 9, 1962; son of Abraham (a salesman) and Beatty (Stone) Zimmerman; married Sara Lowndes, November 22, 1965 (divorced, 1977); children: Jesse, Maria, Jakob, Samuel, Anna. Education: Attended University of Minnesota, 1959-60.

Composed more than five hundred songs since early 1960s; recorded with rock groups including The Band, The Traveling Wilburys (with Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, George Harrison, and Roy Orbison), The Grateful Dead, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers; solo singer and musician in concerts since early 1960s, including appearances at the Newport Folk Festival in 1962 and 1965, the Woodstock Festivals in 1969 and 1994, and the Live Aid benefit concert in 1985; special performance for Pope John Paul II at a Roman Catholic Youth rally in Bologna, Italy, on September 27, 1997

Awards: Tom Paine Award, Emergency Civil Liberties Committee, 1963; honorary Music Degree, Princeton University, 1970; Grammy Awards, Best Rock Vocal Performance, 1979, for Gotta Serve Somebody; Rolling Stone Music Award, Artist of the Year (tied with Bruce Springsteen), 1975, and Album of the Year, 1975, for The Basement Tapes and Blood on the Tracks; inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 1988; Commander Dans LOrdre des Arts et Lettres from the French Minister of Culture, 1990; Lifetime Achievement Award, National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, 1991; Grammy Award, 1993, for World Gone Wrong; Arts award, Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize Trust, 1997; Lifetime Achievement Award, John F. Kennedy Center honors, 1997; Three Grammy Awards, Album of the Year, Best Male Rock Performance, and Best Contemporary Folk Album, 1998, for Time Out of Mind.

Addresses: Office c/o 264 Cooper Station, New York, NY 10003.

of the folk music scene in New York City in 1961, when New York Times critic Robert Shelton witnessed one of his performances at a club called Gerdes Folk City and declared that Dylan was bursting at the seams with talent.

Dylan was 20 years old when he released his self-titled debut album in 1962. Although most of the songs were cover tunes, Dylan did include two original compositionsSong to Woody, which was a tribute to Guthrie, and Talkin New York. The album achieved limited success, and Dylan followed it in 1963 with The Free-wheelin Bob Dylan, which contained more original songs that shared a common theme of protest. Two of the songs from Dylans second album, Blowin in the Wind and A Hard Rains Gonna Fall, became enduring anthems of the 1960s, largely because they definitively illustrate the thoughts and feelings of the countercultures young members. As confirmation of Dylans success, the renowned folk group Peter, Paul, and Mary recorded a cover version of Blowin in the Wind that rose to the number two spot on the pop music charts.

The Tide Changes

By the time Dylan released 1964s The Times They Are A-Changin, he had been thrust into the role of media spokesperson for the counterculture protest movement which sought to abolish social and political norms. This third album contained the protest song The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll. But at the same time the album was released, Dylan began to express his growing pessimism about the countercultures ability to affect change, and declared that he was uncomfortable with his role as the movements mouthpiece. His next album, Another Side of Bob Dylan, further evidenced his disillusionment with the counterculture movement, as it contained extremely personal folk ballads and love songs, rather than his trademark protest songs. In 1965 Dylan enraged his folk music following by performing on an electric guitar at the Newport Folk Festival (fans there booed Dylan and his band off the stage) and by releasing Bringing It All Back Home, an album on which Dylan returned to his earlier musical influences of rock n roll and rhythm and blues. While the songs on this album remained critical of society, none contained any of the direct references to racism, war, or political activism that had marked his earlier works. The acoustic song Mr. Tambourine Man from Bringing It All Back Hornerías soon recorded in an electrified form by the popular 1960s band the Byrds and reached the top of the pop music charts; by that time a new brand of music known as folk rock had become widely favored among young Americans.

Dylan continued to record songs that fused his folk and rock influences, using mystical, ominous lyrics filled with imagery and allusions, and in 1965 he released Highway 61 Revisited. This album featured songs with themes of alienation, including the well-known Like a Rolling Stone, which quickly rose to the number two spot on the Billboard singles chart. That same year Dylan married Sara Lowndes, a friend of his managers wife. In 1966 Dylan released Blonde on Blonde, which most critics consider among his best albums because it polished the edgy, harsh rock sounds of Highway 61 Revisited and introduced music unlike any of its predecessors. Although he was wildly successful, Dylan was suffering from the strains of fame. In the 1971 biography Bob Dylan, the artist commented to Anthony Scaduto about his feelings during that period of his life: The pressures were unbelievable. They were just something you cant imagine unless you go through them yourself. Man, they hurt so much. Similarly, in a 1997 interview with Newsweeks David Gates, Dylan asserted Im not the songs. Its like somebody expecting [William] Shakespeare to be Hamlet, or [Wolfgang von] Goethe to be Faust. If youre not prepared for fame, theres really no way you can imagine what a crippling thing it can be.

Knockin on Deaths Door

On July 29, 1966, at the peak of his popularity, Dylans neck was broken in a near-fatal motorcycle crash. The accident left Dylan with time to recuperate and rest at his Woodstock, New York, home with Sara and their newborn son Jesse. He began reflecting upon his religious beliefs and personal priorities, and wrote songs that reflected his new-found sense of inner peace. Many of these songs were recorded in 1967 with The Band and later released on the 1975 album The Basement Tapes, while others were released on Dylans first album following the motorcycle accident, 1968s John Wesley Harding. A primarily slow-paced, acoustical album, John Wesley Harding was followed in 1969 by Nashville Skyline and in 1970 by Self Portrait and New Morning. These three albums were greeted with derision by the public and Dylan was criticized severely by his fans for what they perceived as his failure to comment on the harsh realities of the time, namely the Vietnam War and the struggle for racial equality and civil rights for African Americans.

Dylans first album to reach the number one spot on music charts was his 1974 effort, Planet Waves, which he recorded with The Band. Although it was not a critical success, the album led to a flood of interest in Dylans 1974 tour of the United States, where audience demand for tickets far exceeded available seating for his concerts. Following his 1994 tour, Dylan released Before the Flood, a two-album set of music recorded live during the tour; the album rose to number three on music charts.

While Dylans musical career was on an upswing, his personal life was in a shambles as he became involved in a bitter separation with Sara that included a fierce custody battle over their children. Dylans 1975 album Blood on the Tracks features songs reflecting the sorrow and passion of his personal life at the time; If You See Her, Say Hello directly refers to the breakup of his marriage. Most critics hailed Blood on the Tracks as Dylans best album since the 1960s, praising the artists use of visual imagery to blur distinctions between reality and illusion to challenge everyday ideas about the world. The albums searing songs about love and loss, including Tangled up in Blue, Shelter from the Storm, and Idiot Wind, were well-received by Dylans fans and the album soon reached number one on the charts. Dylans 1976 album, Desire, which contained a mournful tune entitled Sara, also reached number one on the charts, and along with Blood on the Tracks, achieved widespread success in both the United States and Europe.

Although Dylans 1978 album Street Legal was unpopular with his fans, who feared that the performers personal crises had interfered with his musical abilities, it did not prepare the fans for what was soon to follow. In 1978, while touring to support Street Legal, Dylan experienced a religious vision that he later asserted made him question his moral values and saved him from self-destructive behavior. Pronouncing his belief in fundamentalist Christianity, Dylan began to communicate in his music a concern with religious salvation and the end of the world; many fans expressed displeasure with Dylans blatant attempts to persuade his listeners to adopt his religious philosophy, but others viewed the lyrics as similar to Dylans earlier songs about social change and prophecy. Among Dylans albums during his Christian period, only the 1979 album Slow Train Coming was a commercial success, largely due to the popularity of the Grammy Award-winning single Gotta Serve Somebody.

Dylan Re-invents Himself

In 1983 Dylan released Infidels, an album on which he departed from his overtly religious themes and returned to his more complex, emotionally subtle lyrics in songs such as Jokerman and Dont Fall Apart on Me Tonight. Dylan produced his 1985 album, Empire Burlesque, which displayed a wide range of musical sounds, from gospel to acoustic ballad. In the mid-1980s, Dylan remained prominent in the public eye by performing with various other music stars, including superstar Michael Jackson, on the 1985 single We Are the World and at the Live Aid benefit concert, both which were designed to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia. Also in 1985, Dylan released Biograph, a five-album set that contained previously released material and bootleg (unreleased) recordings and which also included Dylans brief commentaries; the set was highly popular and proved a top seller.

The year 1988 marked the beginning of Dylans collaboration with the Traveling Wilburys, which was a group made up of Dylan and veteran music stars George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, and Tom Petty. The group produced two albums, 1988s Traveling Wilburys and Traveling Wilburys Volume 3 no second volume was ever recordedwhich was released in 1990. In 1988 Dylan was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and was honored by noted rock star Bruce Springsteen, who commented during the induction ceremony that Bob [Dylan] freed the mind the way Elvis [Presley] freed the body. He showed us that just because the music was innately physical did not mean that it was anti-intellectual. He invented a new way a pop singer could sound, broke through the limitations of what a recording artist could achieve, and changed the face of rock and roll forever.

Another Close Call

In May 1997, Dylan was stricken with a sometimes fatal fungal infection called histoplasmosis, which caused the sac surrounding his heart to swell, resulting in a condition known as pericarditis. The news of his subsequent hospitalization concerned numerous music fans, but Dylan was too ill to reflect on the significance of his own mortality. He told Newsweek s David Gates, Mostly I was in a lot of pain. Pain that was intolerable. Thats the only way I can put it. Nevertheless, Dylan recovered, and although he needed to take a variety of medications, he began performing again in August 1997 of that same year. In September Dylan performed for Pope John Paul IIreportedly at the Popes requestat a eucharistic conference in Bologna, Italy. And in December, 1997, Dylan became the first rock star ever to receive Kennedy Center honors.

In addition to the struggle with illness and the professional accolades that marked Dylans experience during 1997, the artists album Time Out of Mind was released in September and was greeted with rave reviews. The album also garnered Dylan three Grammy AwardsAlbum of the Year, Male Rock Performance (for Cold Irons Bound), and Contemporary Folk Album. Critics declared that Dylan had again managed to reinvent himself and provide his fans with a fresh sound. Times Christopher John Farley applauded the album, pronouncing: Dylan has found purpose in his inner battle to reignite his imagination. Turning the quest for inspiration itself into relevant rockthat is alchemic magic. And Newsweek contributor Karen Schoemer maintained:Time Out of Mind is rewarding precisely because its so outside the present. In an era defined by novelty hits and slick video edits, its a reminder that music can mean something more: it can be personal, uncompromised and deeply felt.

Selected discography

Bob Dylan, Columbia, 1962.

The Freewheelin Bob Dylan, Columbia, 1963.

The Times They Are A-Changin, Columbia, 1964.

Another Side of Bob Dylan, Columbia, 1964.

Bringing It All Back Home, Columbia, 1965.

Highway 61 Revisited, Columbia, 1965.

Blonde on Blonde, Columbia, 1966.

Bob Dylans Greatest Hits I, Columbia, 1967.

John Wesley Harding, Columbia, 1968.

Nashville Skyline, Columbia, 1969.

New Morning, Columbia, 1970.

Self Portrait, Columbia, 1970.

Bob Dylans Greatest Hits, Volume II, Columbia, 1971.

Dylan, Columbia, 1973.

Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, Columbia, 1973.

(With The Band) Planet Waves, Asylum, 1974.

Before the Flood, Asylum, 1974.

(With The Band) The Basement Tapes, Columbia, 1975.

Blood on the Tracks, Columbia, 1975.

Desire, Columbia, 1976.

Hard Rain, Columbia, 1976.

Street Legal, Columbia, 1978.

Bob Dylan at Budokan, Columbia, 1978.

Bob Dylan: Masterpieces, Columbia, 1978.

Slow Train Coming, Columbia, 1979.

Saved, Columbia, 1980.

Shot of Love, Columbia, 1981.

Infidels, Columbia, 1983.

Real Live, Columbia, 1984.

Empire Burlesque, Columbia, 1985.

Biograph, 3 vols., Columbia, 1985.

Knocked Out Loaded, Columbia, 1986.

(With the Traveling Wilburys) Traveling Wilburys, Warner Bros., 1988.

Down in the Groove, Columbia, 1988.

(With the Grateful Dead) Dylan and the Dead, Columbia, 1989.

Oh, Mercy, Columbia, 1989.

(With the Traveling Wilburys) Traveling Wilburys, Volume 3, Warner Bros., 1990.

Under the Red Sky, Columbia, 1990.

Bootleg Series I-III, Columbia, 1991.

Good As I Been to You, Columbia, 1992.

World Gone Wrong, Columbia, 1993.

Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary Concert, Columbia, 1993.

MTV Unplugged, Columbia, 1995.

Bob Dylans Greatest Hits, Volume III, Columbia, 1995.

Time Out of Mind, Columbia, 1997.

Selected writings

Tarantula (prose), Macmillan, 1971.

Poem to Joanie, Aloes Press, 1972.

Words (poem), J. Cape, 1973.

Writings and Drawings (songs, poems, drawings, and writings), Knopf, 1973; expanded edition published as Lyrics: 1962-1985, 1985.

Renaldo and Clara (screenplay), Circuit Films, 1978.

Sources

Books

Scaduto, Anthony, Bob Dylan, Grosset & Dunlap, 1971.

Shelton, Robert, No Direction Home: The Life and Music of Bob Dylan, Beech Tree Books/William Morrow, 1986.

Spitz, Bob, Dylan: A Biography, McGraw-Hill, 1989.

Periodicals

Newsweek, October 6, 1997, pp. 62-71.

New York Times, September 29, 1961.

Time, September 29, 1997, p. 87.

Online

http://www.celebsite.com

http://www.usatoday.com/life/dcovmon.htm

http://www.usatoday.com/life/music/lmds040.htm

Lynn M. Spampinato

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Dylan, Bob." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Dylan, Bob." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/dylan-bob

"Dylan, Bob." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/dylan-bob

Dylan, Bob

BOB DYLAN

Born: Robert Allen Zimmerman; Duluth, Minnesota, 24 May 1941

Genre: Rock, Folk Rock

Best-selling album since 1990: Time Out of Mind (1997)



More than any other single figure of the 1960s and 1970s, Bob Dylan defined the direction of American popular music. Through his influence, the singer as composer became standard, and popular music began to deal with serious matterswar, social injustice, and similar topicsin lyrics that qualified as poetry. With a long and distinguished list of songs to his credit and a record of concertizing equaled by few of his generation, Dylan remains a potent force on the musical scene: respected, even revered, and still musically active.

Born Robert Allen Zimmerman in 1941, Dylan moved to New York in early 1961 after attending the University of Minnesota for three semesters. He took his new name from Welsh poet Dylan Thomas and his musical identity from folk music great Woody Guthrie. In New York, Dylan played the coffeehouse circuit, an important venue for folk artists, especially after the Beat movement of the 1950s. He adopted Guthrie's signature harmonica racka metal frame suspended at the neck so the performer can accompany himselfand covered many of his songs while beginning to create his own. In "a voice that came from you and me" (as late-sixties folk rock musician Don McLean would later describe in his cult song "American Pie"), Dylan soon attracted a following and the attention of John Hammond, a music scout from Columbia Records. Soon afterward, Hammond signed Dylan to his first contract. Hammond's colleagues at Columbia called the young singer "Hammond's Folly." Little did they realize that in a few years Dylan would become the voice of his generation. He expressed the inner feelings of the youth culture of the 1960s, putting them into the words and music of his songs. This was music to be listened to, the message of its lyrics as important as its melody or rhythm.

By the mid-1960s, on the albums Bringing It All Back Home (1965), Highway 61 Revisited (1965), and Blonde on Blonde (1966), Dylan had moved from the folk style that had made him famous to a rock style incorporating certain features of folk music; this style of music became known as folk rock. In the process of undertaking this change, Dylan changed his instrument to electric guitar and his subject matter to intensely personal experiences often rendered in surrealistic imagery and language. "From now on," Dylan told an interviewer during this period, "I want to write from inside me." From then until now, Dylan has always expected his audience to catch up with him. No performer of his stature and achievement has done less to woo fans, more at times to alienate them.

By the 1980s Dylan seemed to have run dry. Then in one of those musical surprises for which he is famous, Dylan ended the decade with the Daniel Lanois-produced Oh Mercy (1989), an album of distinctive new material. He had passed through a period of born-again Christianity and musical uncertainty. As if to prove, however, that once a major talent always a major talent, he went on in the 1990s to produce five new albums, two major reissues (one a double album and the other a triple), and a third volume of his greatest hits, reprising past work. Under any circumstances this is a major accomplishment, but all the more so for someone in the fourth decade of his musical career.


Tradition and Individual Talent

What is most notable about Dylan's work since 1990 is its variety. Under the Red Sky (1990) is a transitional work, somewhere between the folk rock style of Dylan's earlier work and the albums that follow it. Many tracks have folklike lyrics, but musically lack the folk music sound associated with Dylan. "TV Talkin' Song," for instance, recalls the talking blues style in its lyric, but is up-tempo folk rock in sound. Other lyrics recall nursery songs in their structure and rhythm. "Two by Two" is a retelling of the story of Noah's ark, and "Cat's in the Well" is a spin-off of the traditional "Pussy's in the Well." The final track on the album, "Wiggle Wiggle," qualifies as nonsense verse. "God Knows," on the other hand, a strong number left out of the Oh Mercy album by Dylan's choice, carries on the born-again theme found in Dylan's gospel music of the early 1980s. Uneven, somewhat quirky in effect, Red Sky points the way to Good as I Been to You (1992) and World Gone Wrong (1993), which have a common indebtedness to the folk traditions that informed Dylan's earliest music. In form, content, and instrumentation, they constitute a revisiting of a key part of Dylan's musical roots.

On Good as I Been to You, Dylan, accompanying himself Woody Guthrie style on acoustic guitar and harmonica, revises and updates traditional folk songs. They vary from tragic ballads like "Little Maggie," "a-drinkin' down her troubles / Over courtin' some other man," and "Frankie and Albert," about a woman who murders her "man" when he does her wrong, to lighthearted lyrics like "Froggie Went a Courtin'" and "Tomorrow Night." Other trackssuch as "You're Gonna Quit Me"derive from the blues tradition, in a collection as diverse in its way as the classic, recently reissued Harry Smith anthology of early folk music recordings (for Folkways Records) that inspired Dylan and others in the folk music revival of the early 1960s.

World Gone Wrong continues in the same vein. The songs are adapted from a variety of sources, their performers acknowledged carefully in Dylan's liner notes for the album. He pays tribute to the compositions and arrangements of great folk artists like Blind Willie McTell, Tom Paley (of the New Lost City Ramblers), Frank Hutchinson, the Mississippi Sheiks, and Doc Watson (plus one song by Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead). The result is another return to musical roots by an artist who has reached the point in his life where he feels the need to review his past. For a musician like Dylan, that means only one thingthe music he started with, which sustained him at a time in the early 1990s when he was considering giving up recording altogether.


Reprising the Past

Another sign of Dylan's musical life review is the major reissues of the nineties. From early in Dylan's career, pirates of concert, coffeehouse, and private performances circulated widely among his fans. The most famous of these were the so-called Basement Tapes, the product of sessions with Dylan and the Band at Woodstock, New York, in 1967, during the hiatus in Dylan's public career following his celebrated motorcycle accident of the preceding year. Ultimately issued commercially by Columbia in 1975 under the same title, these recordings have an important place in the history of American music because they marked a return to the roots of rock music at a time when psychedelic rock had moved it into outer space.

Dylan has always been more a performance artist than a recording artist. In general, his attitude toward recording sessions has been casual. As a result, many excellent performancesin the form of demos, outtakes, alternative takes, and unreleased concert performanceswere available for The Bootleg Series, vols. 13 (Rare & Unreleased), 19611991 (1991). Too varied to describe in detail, this collection gives an extraordinary overview of Dylan's long career and increases any listener's appreciation for the sheer diversity of his art.

The third of the Greatest Hits series (1994) repackages work already issued commercially in other forms. These range from songs made familiar by their popularity and the frequency with which they are performed in concert by Dylan"Forever Young," "Tangled Up in Blue," or "Knockin' on Heaven's Door"to the less familiar but still worthwhile, such as "Dignity" or "Series of Dreams."

Of equal significance to the first three volumes of the Bootleg Series is The Bootleg Series, vol. 4: Bob Dylan LIVE 1966: The "Royal Albert Hall" Concert (1998), which was recorded in Manchester, England, in the spring of 1966, not at the famous London venue. The previous summer Dylan debuted an electric set at the Newport Folk Festival, provoking a negative response from an audience used to Dylan only as a folk artist. To them, he had betrayed the cause, but their response was mild compared with the Manchester audience of the following spring. This recording, frequently pirated, captures an important moment in Dylan's evolution as an artist. With concerts like this, combined with the very popular recording of the previous year of "Like a Rolling Stone," from Highway 61 Revisited, folk rock was born.

Like a number of these reissues, Bob Dylan Unplugged (1995), recorded during his appearance on MTV's Unplugged, consists almost entirely of material for which Dylan is well known. What makes these interpretations of songs like "Desolation Row" and "Like a Rolling Stone" notable is the spontaneity of their performances on this disk. With so many of Dylan's television appearances uneven or disappointing, this set has a dynamic that sets it apart.


Time Out of Mind

Among the albums of the 1990s, Time Out of Mind (1997) occupies a special place. Dylan's second effort with Daniel Lanois as producer would net him several Grammy Awards, including Best Album of the Year. Conceptually, sonically, artistically, it is work on a very high level. In subject matter, the songs Dylan recorded here broke new ground, or at least dug much deeper in certain turf than anything that precedes them in his songbook. And the sessions that produced the album, which took place in Miami, Florida, occurred with a degree of concentration unusual in Dylan's recording history. In fact, the closest approach to what this project involved is probably the Dylan-Lanois combination on Oh Mercy, recorded nearly a decade earlier in New Orleans, Louisiana.

In a Rolling Stone interview several years after the album's release, Dylan was quick to deny that his own mortality is at the root of some of these tracks but, undeniably, the issues of death, lost love, and disillusionment are addressed here in almost every song. (A serious heart disease nearly took his life as the album was in the editing phase.) "Love Sick," the opening track, became a favorite at Dylan's concerts, with its lament, "I'm sick of love / I wish I'd never met you / I'm sick of love / I'm tryin' to forget you." In "Standin' in the Doorway" Dylan again is left alone: "You left me standin' in the doorway cryin'/ Blues wrapped around my head."

"Not Dark Yet" takes the sense of loneliness one step further, to the edge of the grave: "Sometimes my burden is more than I can bear / It's not dark yet but it's getting there." In "Trying to Get to Heaven," he dreams of reaching the heavenly kingdom before it is too late: "I've been walkin' through the middle of nowhere / Tryin' to get to heaven before they close the door." The same dark imagery enters virtually every song, as in the penultimate "Can't Wait": "I'm strollin' through the lonely graveyard of my mind / I left my life with you."

Only the rambling final track, "Highlands," the record of a conversation between the narrator and a waitress he encounters, seems to lift the mood of the album in closing: "Well, my heart's in the Highlands at the break of day / Over the hills and far away / There's a way to get there, and I'll figure it out somehow / Well, I'm already there in my mind and that's good enough for now." With a title perhaps borrowed from Irish poet William Butler Yeatshis poem of 1910"Upon a House Shaken by the Land Agitation" begins "How should the world be luckier if this house, / Where passion and precision have been one / Time out of mind . . ."this album marked a major revival of interest in Dylan, which carried him and his newly widened audience into the new millennium.

In 2001 Dylan released the outstanding Love and Theft, yet another revisiting of his musical past. Generically as varied as Time Out of Mind is consistent, this album takes Dylan back as far as the 1940s and 1950s, with songs that echo the eras of swing and early rock and roll. Aside from the anthologies, there is little in Dylan's discography with which to compare it.

For Dylan, as for the hobbits of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, the road has gone ever on. From his beginnings as the most influential artist of the folk revival of the sixties, to his creation of the genre of folk rock and his return to the roots of rock music, Dylan has always stayed one step ahead of his audience, urging them on with the certainty, and indifference, of his genius.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

Bringing It All Back Home (Columbia, 1965); Highway 61 Revisited (Columbia, 1965); Blonde on Blonde (Columbia, 1966); Nashville Skyline (Columbia, 1969); Planet Waves (Asylum, 1974); The Basement Tapes (Columbia, 1975); Blood on the Tracks (Columbia, 1975); Desire (Columbia, 1976); Infidels (Columbia, 1983); Oh Mercy (Columbia, 1989); Under the Red Sky (Columbia, 1990); The Bootleg Series, vols. 13 (Rare & Unreleased), 19611991 (1991); Good as I Been to You (Columbia, 1992); World Gone Wrong (Columbia, 1993); The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration (Columbia, 1993); Bob Dylan Unplugged (Columbia, 1995); Time Out of Mind (Columbia, 1997); The Bootleg Series, vol. 4: Bob Dylan LIVE 1966: The "Royal Albert Hall" Concert (Columbia, 1998); Love and Theft (Columbia, 2001).

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

A. Muir, The Razor's Edge: Bob Dylan and the Never Ending Tour (London, 2001); H. Sounes, Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan (New York, 2001); D. Hajdu, Positively 4th Street (New York, 2002).

archie loss

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Dylan, Bob." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Dylan, Bob." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/dylan-bob

"Dylan, Bob." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/dylan-bob

Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan

Throughout a career that has seen the better part of three decades, Bob Dylan (born 1941) has been pop music's master poet and an ever-changing performer.

In the early 1960s Bob Dylan was heralded as the spokesman for his generation, writing and singing folk songs that were as deep and moving as those of any artist since his idol, Woody Guthrie. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival Dylan shocked his following by going electric and venturing into rock and roll. He proved to be equally superior in that field also and by 1968 he was trying his hand at folk-rock, creating an impact that touched even the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. As the 1980s came around Dylan was undergoing a spiritual rebirth and his writing reflected a religious conviction that was truly heartfelt.

Began Exploring Folk Music

Born Robert Zimmerman in Duluth, Minnesota, Dylan was raised in the northern mining town of Hibbing from the age of six. His earliest musical influences, Hank Williams, Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, Howlin' Wolf and John Lee Hooker, were brought to him via the airwaves of a Shreveport, Louisiana, radio station. He played in a variety of bands during high school, including the Golden Chords, before enrolling at the University of Minnesota in 1959. It was at college that he changed his name to Dylan (probably after the poet Dylan Thomas) and began creating his own mythological background, which made him out to be everything from an Indian to a hobo to Bobby Vee. After hearing the Kingston Trio and Odetta he began to explore folk music, learning older tunes and sitting in at local coffee-houses around campus.

Just one year into college, Dylan dropped out and hitchhiked to New York to meet legendary singer Woody Guthrie, who was in an East Coast hospital suffering from Huntington's disease. "Guthrie was my last idol," Dylan said in Rock 100. "My future idols will be myself." Obviously in little need of self-confidence, by April 1961 he was gigging at Gerde's Folk City in New York's Greenwich Village. With the folk scene booming, Columbia executive and talent scout John Hammond had just signed Pete Seeger; Dylan followed soon after.

His debut LP, Bob Dylan, was released in March 1962. Recorded for a mere $402, the album featured acoustic reinterpretations of old folk songs, but also included two Dylan originals, "Song for Woody" and "Talking New York." Within a year his second LP, The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan—containing self-penned compositions only—was released. Protest tunes like "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall," "Masters of War," and "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" were making listeners more conscious and aware, both politically and personally. The trio of Peter, Paul & Mary recorded a version of "Blowin' in the Wind" from the LP that helped put the spotlight on Dylan. In July of that year at the Newport Folk Festival he was crowned leader of the folk movement with Joan Baez as the reigning queen. The new voice of youth, "Dylan's albums were listened to as if they were seismic readings from an impending apocalypse," reported Rock 100.

Unique Phrasing

The Times They Are a-Changin', with its title track and "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll," broke in the new year of 1964. Imitators of his guitar/harmonica rig and odd singing (talking?) voice were sprouting up everywhere. "It's phrasing," Dylan told Rolling Stone, "I think I've phrased everything in a way that it's never been phrased before." In addition to his unique voice, lyrics, and meter, Dylan's physical image was just as intriguing with his wild conk of hair, stovepipe legs, and facial scowl. As much as the public and critics adored him, they also were frustrated as attempts to gain insight were met with toying word games and sometimes downright humiliation. Dylan began to question his role as guru on his fourth LP, Another Side of Bob Dylan, moving away from political themes and towards personal love songs. "My Back Pages" and "It Ain't Me Babe" signalled that a different Dylan had now arrived.

Bringing It All Back Home (1965) was a half-acoustic, half-electric outing that featured Dylan classics "Subterranean Homesick Blues," "Maggie's Farm," "Mr. Tambourine Man," and "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)." Dylan's first step into rock was also his first million-seller. Even so, his die-hard fans were not prepared for Dylan's performance at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, when he appeared onstage backed by the electric Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Cries of "sell-out" and "gone commercial" filled the air as he was booed off the stage only to return for a final acoustic number, "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue." Anyone who doubted his commitment only needed to check out the next LP, Highway 61 Revisited, which was able to leap off the turntable courtesy of Michael Bloomfield's stinging guitar lines. The album featured the songs "Desolation Row," "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues," "Queen Jane Approximately," and perhaps Dylan's most popular tune yet, "Like a Rolling Stone" (which went all the way to number two).

1966's Masterpiece Blond on Blonde

His masterpiece, Blond on Blonde (1966), is considered by some to be the finest rock album in history. A double LP recorded with Nashville session men, it is filled with an amazing display of Dylan's songwriting abilities: "Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands," "Absolutely Sweet Marie," "Rainy Day Women No. 12 & 35," "Memphis Blues Again," "I Want You," and others that firmly established Dylan as the most prolific stylist of all time. Just when it seemed he was in full force, Dylan was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident on July 29, 1966. He would spend the next year and a half recuperating from a broken neck in upstate New York. He recorded tracks with his backup group, the Band, but they would not be released until 1975 as The Basement Tapes (an LP that was bootlegged endlessly during the nine-year delay).

After flirting with death, Dylan's comeback album, John Wesley Harding, relied more on religious themes and a mellower country flavor. "All Along the Watchtower" became a hit shortly after for Jimi Hendrix while the entire mood of JWH sent an influential wave out that touched other artists of the time. Dylan carried the country style even further on Nashville Skyline, recording a duet with Johnny Cash, and the easy-going "Lay Lady Lay." His next release, however, was a commercial and critical disappointment. Self-Portrait was a double album consisting mainly of non-originals that seemed to be almost intentionally bad. New Morning, also from 1970, did not fare much better; Dylan's talent seemed to have peaked.

In 1973 Dylan's Columbia contract expired and he signed with Asylum just after releasing his soundtrack to the movie Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, which included one of his biggest hits, "Knockin' on Heaven's Door." (Dylan also played the part of Alias in the film. Actor Sam Shepard told Rolling Stone that Dylan "knows how to play a part. He and Billy Graham are the two greatest actors in the world.") As if in retaliation for his leaving, Columbia released Dylan, a collection of studio outtakes and cover tunes that accomplished little more than embarrassing Dylan. His two Asylum LPs, Planet Waves and Before the Flood, were both recorded with the Band, the first being a studio album and the second featuring live recordings of the ensuing tour in early 1974.

Recordings Reflected Religious Beliefs

In 1975 Dylan resigned with Columbia and recorded one of his best records yet, Blood on the Tracks, which seemed to harken back to his earlier style. "Tangled up in Blue," "Idiot Wind," "Shelter From the Storm," "Meet Me in the Morning," and "Buckets of Rain" amongst others had critics gushing with joy over yet another Dylan comeback. He then hit the road with a musically varied ensemble called the Rolling Thunder Revue: Mick Ronson, Joan Baez, T-Bone Burnett, Roger McGuinn, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, and David Mansfield, all blasting off on Dylan classics and material from his newest LP, Desire. That album topped both the British and U.S. charts riding a crest of popularity created by "Hurricane," Dylan's thumping plea for the release of the imprisoned boxer Ruben "Hurricane" Carter. In 1976 the live Hard Rain album captured the revue on vinyl. Two years later he would release another fine studio effort, Street Legal, featuring "Where Are You Tonight," "Baby Stop Crying," and "Changing of the Guards."

Dylan's next phase can be summed up in three albums, Slow Train Coming, Saved, and Shot of Love, and one word: Christianity. In 1979 he became "born-again," as writers coined it, studying the Bible at the Vineyard Christian Fellowship school in California. Although raised a Jew, Dylan took his new-found belief to the point of righteousness. "Dylan hadn't simply found Jesus but seemed to imply that he had His home phone number as well," wrote Kurt Loder in his Rolling Stone review of Slow Train Coming. The LP revolved around Dylan's beliefs, but it also rocked with the aid of Dire Straits guitarist Mark Knopfler. Critics and the public were split over the newest Dylan. Jann Wenner explained his view of this period in Rolling Stone: "Dylan created so many images and expectations that he narrowed his room for maneuverability and finally became unsure of his own instincts."

Made MTV Unplugged Appearance

A rejuvenated Dylan appeared in 1983 on Infidels, produced by Knopfler with ex-Rolling Stone Mick Taylor on guitar. Dylan had joined an ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect, Lubavitcher Hasidim, and the songs reflected the move (although more subtly than during his Christian phase). In the mid-1980s Dylan continued to record and toured with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and the Grateful Dead as his backup bands. In 1988 he appeared as one of the Traveling Wilburys alongside Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, George Harrison, and the late Roy Orbison. More changes can probably be expected from this master of the unexpected; Dylan has stayed on top by keeping ahead of the pack, knowing where his audience wants to be next, and then delivering.

Another important year for Dylan was 1995, as he reemerged as "the bard who matters most," according to the Boston Globe. The rock legend embarked on a U.S. tour, released an MTV Unplugged album, and a new CD-ROM entitled Bob Dylan: Highway 61 Interactive, all to favorable reviews.

Further Reading

Christgau, Robert, Christgau's Record Guide, Ticknor & Fields, 1981.

Dalton, David, and Lenny Kaye, Rock 100, Grosset & Dunlap, 1977.

Dylan, Bob, Tarantula, Macmillan, 1970.

Bob Dylan: The Illustrated Record, Harmony, 1978.

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock, compiled by Nick Logan and Bob Woffinden, Harmony, 1977.

The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll, edited by Jim Miller, Random House/Rolling Stone Press, 1976.

The Rolling Stone Record Guide, edited by Dave Marsh with John Swenson, Random House/Rolling Stone Press, 1979.

Shepard, Sam, Rolling Thunder Logbook, Viking Press, 1977.

Spitz, Bob, Dylan, A Biography, McGraw, 1989.

What's That Sound?, edited by Ben Fong-Torres, Anchor, 1976.

Boston Globe, December 8, 1995; February 9, 1995.

Detroit News, July 9, 1989.

Musician, September 1986.

New York Times, April 30, 1995.

Oakland Press, July 2, 1989.

Rolling Stone, March 11, 1976; September 21, 1978; November 16, 1978; July 12, 1979; September 20, 1979; September 18, 1980; June 21, 1984; Summer 1986; College Papers, Number 3.

USA Today, May 5, 1995.

Washington Post, May 17, 1995; February 8, 1995. □

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Bob Dylan." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Bob Dylan." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bob-dylan

"Bob Dylan." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bob-dylan

Dylan, Bob

Bob Dylan (dĬl´ən), 1941–, American singer and composer, b. Duluth, Minn., as Robert Zimmerman. Dylan learned guitar at the age of 10 and autoharp and harmonica at 15. After a rebellious youth, he moved to New York City in 1960 and in the early years of the decade began playing in a folk style in Greenwich Village clubs. He turned to performing with an electric rock-and-roll band in 1965. Influenced by such figures as Leadbelly, Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters, Hank Williams, and Woody Guthrie as well as by such early rockers as Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, and Little Richard, Dylan, in turn, has had a profound effect on folk and rock music. As a lyricist he captured the cynicism, anger, and alienation of American youth, which reverberated in his harsh vocal delivery and insistent guitar-harmonica accompaniment.

Among Dylan's many social protest songs are "Blowin' in the Wind" and "The Times They Are A-Changin'." Dylan's style evolved from acoustic folk (e.g., "Don't Think Twice" ) to folk rock (e.g., "Highway 61 Revisited" ), country blues (e.g., "Country Pie" ), and hard-driving rock. Enigmatic and reclusive, he became a cult figure; he has continued to tour and record new albums. Although many of his later recordings were not well received, his Time out of Mind (1997), Love and Theft (2001), and Modern Times (2006, Grammy) albums won nearly universal praise. He also wrote an early autobiography, Bob Dylan, Self-Portrait (1970); a late one, Chronicles: Volume One (2004); and a novel, Tarantula (1971, repr. 2004).

See his Lyrics: 1962–2001 (2004); J. W. Ellison, ed., Younger than That Now: The Collected Interviews with Bob Dylan (2004) and J. Cott, ed., Bob Dylan: The Essential Interviews (2006); biographies by R. Shelton (1986), B. Spitz (1988), C. Heylin (rev. ed. 2001), and H. Sounes (2001); studies by P. Cable (1980), B. Bowden (1982), T. Riley (1992), P. Williams (3 vol., 1994–2004), G. Marcus (1997 and 2005), D. Hajdu (2001), C. Ricks (2004), and S. Wilentz (2010); discographies by M. Krogsgaard (1991), J. Nogowski (1994), B. Hedin, ed. (2004), and D. Dalton (2012); O. Trager, Keys to the Rain: The Definitive Bob Dylan Encyclopedia (2004); M. Scorsese, dir., No Direction Home (documentary film, 2005).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Dylan, Bob." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Dylan, Bob." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/dylan-bob

"Dylan, Bob." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/dylan-bob

Dylan, Bob

Dylan, Bob [ Zimmerman, Robert Allen] (b Duluth, Minn., 1941). Amer. singer and songwriter. Self-taught in pf., gui., and harmonica. Formed rock and roll band 1955. When at Univ. of Minnesota, 1959–60, played in coffee houses. His ‘talking blues’, in nasal speech-song style, attracted attention and he was among leaders of 1960s folk-song revival. His songs and lyrics were popular with Amer. youth as part of protest and rights movements in 1960s, most famous being Blowin' in the wind (1962) and The times they are a-changin' (1964). Appeared in London 1965 with Joan Baez. Started folk-rock style with elec. gui. and rock-band accompaniment at Newport Fest., 1965. Other songs incl. Mr Tambourine Man (1965) and Lay, Lady, Lay (1969).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Dylan, Bob." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Dylan, Bob." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/dylan-bob

"Dylan, Bob." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/dylan-bob

Dylan, Bob

Dylan, Bob (1941– ) US popular singer and composer, b. Robert Allen Zimmerman. During the 1960s, Dylan successfully combined social protest poetry and folk music on albums such as The Times They Are A-Changin' (1963). His switch to rock music and electric instrumentation, initially alienated many fans. Classic albums from this period include Highway 61 Revisited (1965) and Blood on the Tracks (1975). Dylan's tunes include “All Along the Watchtower”.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Dylan, Bob." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Dylan, Bob." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/dylan-bob

"Dylan, Bob." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/dylan-bob

Dylan, Bob

Bob Dylan

Singer, songwriter, guitarist

For the Record

Compositions

Selected discography

Sources

In the early 1960s Bob Dylan was heralded as the spokesman for his generation, writing and singing folk songs that were as deep and moving as those of any artist since his idol, Woody Guthrie. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival Dylan shocked his following by going electric and venturing into rock and roll. He proved to be equally superior in that field also and by 1968 he was trying his hand at folk-rock, creating an impact that touched even the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. As the 1980s came around Dylan was undergoing a spiritual rebirth and his writing reflected a religious conviction that was truly heartfelt. Throughout a career that has seen the better part of three decades, Dylan has been pop musics master poet and an ever-changing performer.

Born Robert Zimmerman in Duluth, Minnesota, Dylan was raised in the northern mining town of Hibbing from the age of six. His earliest musical influences, Hank Williams, Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, Howlin Wolf and John Lee Hooker, were brought to him via the airwaves of a Shreveport, Louisiana, radio station. He played in a variety of bands during high school, including the Golden Chords, before enrolling at the University of Minnesota in 1959. It was at college that he changed his name to Dylan (probably after the poet Dylan Thomas) and began creating his own mythological background, which made him out to be everything from an Indian to a hobo to Bobby Vee! After hearing the Kingston Trio and Odetta he began to explore folk music, learning older tunes and sitting in at local coffeehouses around campus.

Just one year into college, Dylan dropped out after hearing Woody Guthrie and hitchhiked to New York to meet the legendary singer who was in an East Coast hospital suffering from Huntingtons disease. Guthrie was my last idol, Dylan said in Rock 100. My future idols will be myself. Obviously in little need of self-confidence, by April 1961 he was gigging at Gerdes Folk City in New Yorks Greenwich Village. With the folk scene booming, Columbia executive and talent scout John Hammond had just signed Pete Seeger; Dylan followed soon after.

His debut LP, Bob Dylan, was released in March 1962. Recorded for a mere $402, the album featured acoustic reinterpretations of old folk songs, but also included two Dylan originals, Song for Woody and Talking New York. Within a year his second LP, The Freewheelin Bob Dylan containing self-penned compositions onlywas released. Protest tunes like A Hard Rains a-Gonna Fall, Masters of War, and Dont Think Twice, Its Alright were making listeners more conscious and aware; both politically and personally. The trio of Peter, Paul & Mary recorded a version of Blowin

For the Record

Name originally Robert Allen Zimmerman; born May 24, 1941, in Duluth, Minn.; son of Abraham (a hardware store owner) and Betty Zimmerman; married Sara Lowndes, November 22, 1965; children: five. Education: Attended the University of Minnesota for one year.

Played rock and roll in bands in high school; changed name to Bob Dylan and began playing folk music in college c 1960; moved to New York City and began playing the coffeehouse circuit, 1961; recording artist, 1962; backing bands have included the Band, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and the Grateful Dead; sang on the We Are the World single for Live Aid (African famine relief); recorded with Petty, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, and Roy Orbison on the Traveling Wilburys LP, 1988.

Awards: Grammy Awards, for album of the year (with others) for Concert for Sangla Desk, 1972, and for best rock vocal performance by a male for single Gotta Serve Somebody, 1979; Rolling Stone Music Award, 1975, for artist of the year (tie with Bruce Springsteen), and for albums of the year for The Basement Tapes and Blood on the Tracks; awarded Commander Dans LOrdre des Arts et Lettres by French Minister of Culture, 1990.

Addresses: Home 7156 Birdview Ave., Malibu, CA 90265. OfficePO Box 870, Cooper Station, New York, NY 10046.

in the Wind from the LP that helped put the spotlight on Dylan. In July of that year at the Newport Folk Festival he was crowned leader of the folk movement with Joan Baez as the reigning queen. The new voice of youth, Dylans albums were listened to as if they were seismic readings from an impending apocalypse, reported Rock 100.

The Times They Are a-Changirì, with its title track and The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll, broke in the new year of 1964. Imitators of his guitar/harmonica rig and odd singing (talking?) voice were sprouting up everywhere. Its phrasing, Dylan told Rolling Stone, I think Ive phrased everything in a way that its never been phrased before. In addition to his unique voice, lyrics, and meter, Dylans physical image was just as intriguing with his wild conk of hair, stovepipe legs, and facial scowl. As much as the public and critics adored him, they also were frustrated as attempts to gain insight were met with toying word games and sometimes downright humiliation. Dylan began to question his role as guru on his fourth LP, Another Side of Bob Dylan, moving away from political themes and towards personal love songs. My Back Pages and It Aint Me Babe signalled that a different Dylan had now arrived.

Bringing It All Back Home (1965) was a half-acoustic, half-electric outing that featured Dylan classics Subterranean Homesick Blues, Maggies Farm, Mr. Tambourine Man, and Its Alright Ma (Im Only Bleeding). Dylans first step into rock was also his first million-seller. Even so, his die-hard fans were not prepared for Dylans performance at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, when he appeared onstage backed by the electric Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Cries of sellout and gone commercial filled the air as he was booed off the stage only to return for a final acoustic number, Its All Over Now, Baby Blue. Anyone who doubted his commitment only needed to check out the next LP, Highway 61 Revisited, which was able to leap off the turntable courtesy of Michael Bloomf ields stinging guitar lines. The album featured the songs Desolation Row, Just Like Tom Thumbs Blues, Queen Jane Approximately, and perhaps Dylans most popular tune yet, Like a Rolling Stone (which went all the way to number 2).

His masterpiece, Blond on Blonde (1966), is considered by some to be the finest rock album in history. A double LP recorded with Nashville session men, it is filled with an amazing display of Dylans songwriting abilities: Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands, Absolutely Sweet Marie, Rainy Day Women No. 12 & 35, Memphis Blues Again, I Want You, and others that firmly established Dylan as the most prolific stylist of all time. Just when it seemed he was in full force, Dylan was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident on July 29, 1966. He would spend the next year and a half recupperating from a broken neck in upstate New York. He recorded tracks with his backup group, the Band, but they would not be released until 1975 as The Basement Tapes (an LP that was bootlegged endlessly during the nine-year delay).

After flirting with death, Dylans comeback album, John Wesley Harding, relied more on religious themes and a mellower country flavor. All Along the Watchtower became a hit shortly after for Jimi Hendrix while the entire mood of JWH sent an influential wave out that touched other artists of the time. Dylan carried the country style even further on Nashville Skyline, recording a duet with Johnny Cash, and the easy-going Lay Lady Lay. His next release, however, was a commercial and critical disappointment. Self-Portrait was a double album consisting mainly of non-originals that seemed to be almost intentionally bad. New Morning, also from 1970, did not fare much better; Dylans talent seemed to have peaked.

In 1973 Dylans Columbia contract expired and he signed with Asylum just after releasing his soundtrack to the movie Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, which included one of his biggest hits, Knockin on Heavens Door. (Dylan also played the part of Alias in the film. Actor Sam Shepard told Rolling Stone that Dylan knows how to play a part. He and Billy Graham are the two greatest actors in the world.) As if in retaliation for his leaving, Columbia released Dylan, a collection of studio outtakes and cover tunes that accomplished little more than embarrassing Dylan. His two Asylum LPs, Planet Waves and Before the Flood, were both recorded with the Band; the first being a studio album and the second featuring live recordings of the ensuing tour in early 1974.

In 1975 Dylan re-signed with Columbia and recorded one of his best records yet, Blood on the Tracks, which seemed to harken back to his earlier style. Tangled up in Blue, Idiot Wind, Shelter From the Storm, Meet Me in the Morning, and Buckets of Rain amongst others had critics gushing with joy over yet another Dylan comeback. He then hit the road with a musically varied ensemble called the Rolling Thunder Revue: Mick Ronson, Joan Baez, T-Bone Burnett, Roger McGuinn, Ramblin Jack Elliott, and David Mansfield, all blasting off on Dylan classics and material from his newest LP, Desire. That album topped both the British and U.S. charts riding a crest of popularity created by Hurricane, Dylans thumping plea for the release of the imprisoned boxer Ruben Hurricane Carter. In 1976 the live Hard Rain captured the revue on vinyl. Two years later he would release another fine studio effort, Street Legal, featuring Where Are You Tonight, Baby Stop Crying, and Changing of the Guards.

Dylans next phase can be summed up in three albums, Slow Train Coming, Saved, and Shot of Love, and one word: Christianity. In 1979 he became born-again, as writers coined it, studying the Bible at the Vineyard Christian Fellowship school in California. Although raised a Jew, Dylan took his new-found belief to the point of righteousness. Dylan hadnt simply found Jesus but seemed to imply that he had His home phone number as well, wrote Kurt Loder in his Rolling Stone review of Slow Train Coming. The LP revolved around Dylans beliefs, but it also rocked with the aid of Dire Straits guitarist Mark Knopf 1er. Critics and the public were split over the newest Dylan. Jann Wenner explained his view of this period in Rolling Stone: Dylan created so many images and expectations that he narrowed his room for maneuverability and finally became unsure of his own instincts.

A rejuvinated Dylan appeared in 1983 on Infidels, produced by Knopfler with ex-Rolling Stone Mick Taylor on guitar. Dylan had joined an ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect, Lubavitcher Hasidim, and the songs reflected the move (although more subtly than during his Christian phase). In the mid-1980s Dylan continued to record and toured with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and the Grateful Dead as his backup bands. In 1988 he appeared as one of the Traveling Wilburys alongside Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, George Harrison, and the late Roy Orbison. More changes can probably be expected from this master of the unexpected; Dylan has stayed on top by keeping ahead of the pack, knowing where his audience wants to be next, and then delivering.

Compositions

Composer of numerous songs, including All Along the Watch-tower, All I Really Want to Do, Blowin in the Wind, Chimes of Freedom, Desolation Row, Dont Think Twice, Its All Right, Highway 61 Revisited, I Shall Be Released, If Not for You, It Aint Me, Babe, Just Like a Woman, Knockin on Heavens Door, Lay, Lady, Lay, Like a Rolling Stone, The Mighty Quinn, Mr. Tambourine Man, My Back Pages, Positively 4th Street, Rainy Day Women No. 12 & 35, Subterranean Homesick Blues, Tangled Up in Blue, The Times They Are a-Changin, When I Paint My Masterpiece, When the Ship Comes In, With God on Our Side, and You Aint Goin Nowhere.

Selected discography

All titles on Columbia, unless noted

Bob Dylan, 1962.

The Freewheeliri Bob Dylan, 1963.

The Times They Are a-Changin, 1964.

Another Side of Bob Dylan, 1964.

Bringing It All Back Home, 1965.

Highway 61 Revisited, 1965.

Blonde on Blonde, 1966.

Bob Dylans Greatest Hits, 1967.

John Wesley Harding, 1968.

Nashville Skyline, 1969.

Self-Portrait, 1970.

New Morning, 1970.

Bob Dylans Greatest Hits, Vol. 2, 1971.

Dylan, 1973.

Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, 1973.

Planet Waves, Asylum, 1974.

Before the Flood, Asylum, 1974.

The Basement Tapes, 1975.

Blood on the Tracks, 1975.

Desire, 1976.

Hard Rain, 1976.

Street Legal, 1978.

Bob Dylan at Budokan, 1979.

Slow Train Coming, 1979.

Saved, 1980.

Shot of Love, 1981.

Infidels, 1983.

Real Live, 1984.

Empire Burlesque, 1985.

Knocked Out Loaded, 1986.

(With Tom Petty, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne and Roy Orbison) The Traveling Wilburys, Volume One, Warner Bros., 1988.

Down in the Groove, 1988.

Dylan and the Dead, 1989.

Oh, Mercy, 1990.

(Dylan has also appeared on numerous albums by other artists; for a more complete listing check Bob Spitzs Dylan, A Biography, McGraw-Hill, 1989.)

Sources

Books

Christgau, Robert, Christgaus Record Guide, Ticknor & Fields, 1981.

Dalton, David, and Lenny Kaye, Rock 100, Grosset & Dunlap, 1977.

Dylan, Bob, Tarantula, Macmillan, 1970.

Bob Dylan: The Illustrated Record, Harmony, 1978.

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock, compiled by Nick Logan and Bob Woffinden, Harmony, 1977.

The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll, edited by Jim Miller, Random House/Rolling Stone Press, 1976.

The Rolling Stone Record Guide, edited by Dave Marsh with John Swenson, Random House/Rolling Stone Press, 1979.

Shepard, Sam, Rolling Thunder Logbook, Viking Press, 1977.

Spitz, Bob, Dylan, A Biography, McGraw, 1989.

Whats That Sound?, edited by Ben Fong-Torres, Anchor, 1976.

Periodicals

Detroit News, July 9, 1989.

Musician, September, 1986.

Oakland Press, July 2, 1989.

Rolling Stone, March 11, 1976; September 21, 1978; November 16, 1978; July 12, 1979; September 20, 1979; September 18, 1980; June 21, 1984; Summer 1986; College Papers, Number 3.

Calen D. Stone

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Dylan, Bob." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Dylan, Bob." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/dylan-bob-0

"Dylan, Bob." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/dylan-bob-0