Bob Dylan Essay, Research Paper
Bob Dylan, born Robert Zimmerman on May 24th, 1941, has perhaps been one of the most influential singer songwriters of all time. Young Dylan lived the first five or six years of his life in Duluth, Minnesota, until his father became ill with polio and lost his job. The family then moved to Hibbing, Minnesota, where they slept in the living room of his fathers parents house for about two years.
As a boy he started listening to late night rhythm and blues stations from Chicago. He pestered the local record store for the newest singles from Hank Williams, Chuck Barry, Howlin’ Wolf , and John Lee Hooker, just to name a few. These early influences played, and still play, a big role in Dylan s unique musical style. Somewhere around the age of ten, Dylan realized that he wanted to be a guitarist and a singer. Soon he formed his own bands, The Golden Chords, The Shadow Blasters, and Elston Gunn & The Rock Boppers. His fellow students were shocked to hear such a voice come from the small kid, when he sang at a high school talent show.
After high school graduation in 1959, Dylan enrolled in the University of Minnesota, but never graduated. Instead, he started playing in nearby coffeehouses, and was quickly taken in by the artistic community. There he was introduced to rural folk music of artist like Big Bill Broonzy, Leadbelly, Roscoe Holocomb, and the great Woody Guthrie. Throughout his life, Dylan will blend these three (blues, rock ‘n’ roll, and folk) musical styles together. Dylan soon realized that if he wanted to make something of himself, he needed to get to New York City. This was something that he had been thinking about for a long time. So one morning with nothing but his guitar and suitcase in hand, he just left. Several months later he arrived in New York with a guy that knew the city. The two immediately took a subway to Greenwich Village, where Dylan once again fell in with the artistic community. Dylan soon began taking every thing in and started to blend it with his own musical background. Back then musicians stuck to singing one type of music. In other words, if you sang folk music you didn’t sing rock ‘n’ roll and vice-versa, Dylan helped to change all of that. “If I liked a song, I would just learn it and sing it the only way I could play it.”
Dylan released his first album in 1962 (just before his 21st birthday), and it sold over 5,000 copies. Very little of the music on his fist album was actually his, mainly because very few people did there own songs back then. Around the same time though, Dylan was starting to find his song writing voice, and his second album, THE FREEWHELIN’ BOB DYLAN, (my favorite Dylan C.D.) consisted of all but two songs that weren’t written by him. The song BLOWIN IN THE WIND became, and still remains the fastest selling single in Warner Brothers history. This type of protest song, as they would come to be called, were single handedly started by Dylan.
He had made such a big impact upon the folk stages of America in the early sixties, that when he started moving back to his original rock ‘n’ roll roots (by incorporating the electric guitar into his music), there was almost an immediate uproar. All this controversy inspired Dylan so much, that these were by far his most fruitful years. Sometimes he’d write whole songs on the way to the recording studio or to a concert. By this time, Dylan was a household name. He had changed people s way of thinking in so much of a way, that singers were now expected to write their own music.
Throughout his life, Dylan continues to influence many musicians, poets, writers, and just people in general. Such great artists like Joan Baez (Blowin in the Wind), Jimi Hendrix (All Along the WatchTower), and even modern artists like Sheryl Crow (Mississippi) have all borrowed songs from him. Dylan has won a number of Grammy Awards, ranging from best traditional folk album (World Gone Wrong, 1993), to album of the year (Time Out of Mind, 1997). He was just the right thing, at just the right time in America. I feel though, that he would have been accepted, maybe not quite as much, whenever he happened to have come along.