Bob Dylan Essay, Research Paper
Born on the 24th May 1941 in Duluth, Minnesota, USA as Robert Allen
Zimmerman. His father Abraham, worked for the Standard Oil Company. When
Robert was 6 years old, they moved to a small town called Hibbing were he
went to school. After graduation from High School in 1959, he left for
Minneapolis to follow his studies at the
University of Minnesota. Here his love for
contemporary rock and roll came up and he
listened to endless music by Hank Williams,
Robert Johnson and Woody Guthrie. His
passion for music was so huge that he
began skipping classes and also began to play
his music at small local nightspots. Here he
preformed with his guitar, harmonica and even
worked on his ‘notorious’ nasal voice. Eventually, Robert changed his name to
Bob Dylan. The name Dylan was assumed to be taken from the late Welsh
poet, Dylan Thomas, although Bob Dylan continues to deny this as fact to this
In 1961, the 20 year old Bob Dylan dropped out of college and moved to New
York to further his profession as a song writer and poet. This was where he was
discovered as a young singer-songwriter while performing at Gerde’s
Folk City. Columbia Records got Dylan to sign a contract
and in early 1962. His debut album, simply called ‘Bob
Dylan’ came in the same year. This album however,
was not a big success as he had wished.
1962 was also the year that Bob Dylan met his childhood
idol Woody Guthrie. Woody remarked: “He might not make it in songwriting, but
he surely can sing!”.
In 1963, Bob Dylan released ‘The Freewheelin’ album. One of its song was
‘Blowin’ In The Wind’, which became the hymn of the american civil rights movement.
Another song was ‘Masters of war’ which is directly addressed against people
supporting war. Critics praised his uncomproising and courageous lyrics.
This album, marked the
beginning of a “Music legend” that Bob Dylan has become. On the
cover of the album was a photograph of Dylan and his girlfriend,
The following album, ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’ continued in
the same way as ‘The Freewheelin’. It was his fourth album,
‘Another Side Of Bob Dylan’ that pointed Dylan in the opposite
direction to the ‘Folk Movement’ that he had helped to conceive.
The next period of Dylan’s life was to transform him in many ways.
Firstly he broke up with longtime girlfriend Suze Rotolo and
eventually got involved with the world famous folk singer-songwriter
Joan Baez. Both fed off of each other with Baez using Dylan’s music for her own
albums while he got the publicity at her concerts.
His first album that introduced electrical instruments in, was his ‘Bringing It All
Back Home’. Here he experimented with acoustic and electric songs that
included his famous ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’ track. But, it was the group,
‘The Byrds’ who took it to the top of the charts.
His relationship with Joan Baez was beginning to dwindle and he began dating
Sara Lowndes and by the end of 1965 they were married. He released his sixth
album ‘Highway 61 Revisited’. The single ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ rose on the charts to
number two. ‘Blonde On Blonde’ was his next album and more rock and roll
orientated. He then went on a tour of England with the group ‘The Hawks’ who
later changed their name to ‘The Band’. On this tour his first film,
called ‘Don’t look back’.
On 29th July 1966, he had a near-fatal motorcycle accident. At the same time,
Dylan and Sara had their son Jesse.
His next albums weren’t a big succes.
Until in 1971 he composed the music score for the film ‘Pat
Garrett and Billy the Kid’, in which Bob himself played a small bit part.
The film was a flop, but the album was a
success with the single ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’ breaking into the top 20.
In the same year he published his first book ‘Tarantula’.
In 1974 Bob Dylan and The Band recorded the album ‘Planet Waves’ which
became Dylan’s first number one album ever. ‘Before the Flood’ a live recorded
album was released in June of 1974 and made it’s way to number 3 on the
While all this was going on, Bob Dylan’s personal life was in turmoil and he and
Sara separated. This period of his life inspired him to write ‘Blood on the
Tracks’ which became his second straight number one album.
In June of 1975, ‘The Basement Tapes’ was released. This album was originally
written when Dylan was recovering from his motorcycle accident in 1966 (Eight
years earlier). It was an instant success. Soon many tours
were planned. During this time, Dylan released ‘Desire’ in
early 1976 which became his third number one
album. ‘Desire’ featured the single ‘Hurricane’, which was
based on the true story of boxer Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter.
An other track on this album
was ‘Sara’, an ode to his wife, but the song obviously didn’t work because
Dylan and Sara were divorced the year later.
In 1976 he performed in The Band’s “The Last Waltz” that turned into a musical
of the same name. He released ‘Hard Rain’ and then two years later in 1978, he
released ‘Street Legal’, which was not so popular as his songs
before. It seemed as if the divorce from Sara had taken
out the best of Dylan’s writing. He seemed to be aimlessly trying
What happened next, was the last thing his fans ever could
immagine. Bob Dylan became Christian and
released three Gospel albums. With one of them, he won his first Grammy
award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance.
In 1983 he released ‘Infidels’ the most acclaimed album. Dire Straits leader Mark
Knopfler, added to the sounds with his splendid guitar work. He followed this up
with several other albums.
Dylan then joined forces with superstars like George Harrison, Tom Petty, Jeff
Lynne and Roy Orbison to form a group called the ‘Traveling
Wilburys’, where they recorded two albums. The second without Roy Orbison
because of his untimely death.
In 1988, he was introduced into the R&R Hall of Fame by singer-songwriter
Bruce Springsteen. In the next time he followed up with
different works. One of them was in 1995 ‘MTV unplugged’.
Before, in 1991, he received the Grammy
Award for “Lifetime Achievement”, which was
introduced by actor, Jack Nicholson. After that, he had
a two year break, before he released in 1997 ‘Time Out Of Mind’
which was his first Gold record.
Then in 1997 Dylan’s life really in danger, because of a bad infection.
Thankfully, he recovered fast and received then the
Kennedy Center Honors for achievements in the arts.
In 2000, Dylan was awarded ‘The Polar Music Prize’ by the Royal Swedish
Academy of Music for his ‘Indisputable influence on the development of 20th
century popular music as a singer-songwriter’