Bob Dylan Essay, Research Paper
Today was my last official day at the University of Minnesota. I have decided to move to New York and where my idol, the legendary folk singer Woody Guthrie, is hospitalized with a rare hereditary disease of the nervous system. For the past 19 years I have been living with my parents in Dunluth, Minnesota. I was born Robert Allen Zimmerman on May 24, 1941. My father, Abe Zimmerman works for a standard oil company and my grandparents were Jewish Russian immigrants. In 1947 we moved to the small town of Hibbing. I started writing poems and songs when I was ten and mid way through my teens I taught myself rudimentary piano and guitar. Last year I graduated High School and decided to attend the University of Minnesota. My influences in the past years have been Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and other early rock stars. I played in bands all through my teens. I had so much fun playing in those bands. I often laugh when I think about those band names such as the Golden Chords and Elston Gunn and the Boppers. My goal at this time was to be just like Little Richard. He was my idol and I wanted to be just like him. I love all types of music, Country, Rock, Jazz, and of course Folk. I headed off to college in the fall of last year and it just wasn?t for me. So now with it being my last day I?m saying goodbye to my home state of Minnesota and moving to New York. It?s a big step but its something that I need to do.
Today is a very special day for me. I have just released my first album entitled Bob Dylan. It is an incredible feeling. A lot has happened since the last time I have wrote in this Journal. I officially changed my name. I have gone from Robert Allen Zimmerman to Bob Dylan as people know me as. I had two goals when I left Minnesota two years ago. To become a part of Greenwich Village’s burgeoning folk-music scene, and to meet Woody Guthrie, who was hospitalized in New Jersey with a rare, hereditary disease of the nervous system. I am proud to say I succeeded on both counts. I became a fixture in the Village’s folk clubs and coffeehouses and at Guthrie’s hospital bedside, where I would perform the folk legend’s own songs for an audience of one. Spending all of my spare time in the company of other musicians, I amazed them with my ability to learn songs perfectly after hearing them only once. I also began writing songs at a remarkable pace, including a tribute to my hero entitled Song to Woody. (http://www.discographynet.com/dylan/dylan.html)
Indeed, my interest in music have become so intense that I rarely find the time to go to class. I began to perform solo at local nightspots like the Ten o?clock Scholar cafe and St. Paul’s Purple Onion Pizza Parlor, honing my guitar and harmonica work and developing the expressive nasal voice that would become the nucleus of my soon to be trademark sound. It was around this time, too, that I adopted the stage name Bob Dylan, presumably in honor of the late Welsh poet Dylan Thomas.
In the fall of 1961, my music began to spread beyond folk circles and into the world at large after critic Robert Shelton saw me perform at Gerde’s Folk City and he raved in the New York Times that I was “bursting at the seams with talent.” A month later, Columbia Records executive John Hammond signed me to a recording contract, and I began selecting material for his eponymous debut album. Not yet fully confident in my own songwriting abilities, I cut only two original numbers, rounding out the collection with traditional folk tunes and songs by blues singers like Blind Lemon Jefferson and Bukka White. This time for me was incredible. I am finally becoming what I have had always wanted to be. It?s the most incredible feeling.
Its been a long time since I have written in this journal. Mainly because in the last five years I have been very busy. Today I decided to write because I had a very bad day. I was involved in a very bad motorcycle accident so I have finally had the time to discuss what has happened to me in the past couple of years.
I have been performing for many years but at a folk festival early last year I was booded for the first time off stage. I played at the Newport Folk festival and I played an acoustic guitar and the people didn?t like that very much. It was very disappointing. I worked very hard on this last album which I played half acoustic and half electric. This latest album was called Bringing it all back home.
The 1963 release of The Freewheelin? I marked my emergence as one of the most original and poetic voices in the history of American popular music. The album included two of the most memorable 1960s folk songs, ?Blowin? in the Wind? and ?A Hard Rain?s A-Gonna Fall.? My next album, The Times They Are A-Changin?, firmly established me as the definitive songwriter of the protest movement that is going on right now, a reputation that only increased after I became involved with one of the movement?s established icons, Joan Baez, in 1963. While my romantic relationship with Baez lasted only two years, it benefited both a lot in terms of our music careers, as I wrote some of Joan?s best-known material and she introduced me to thousands of fans in her concerts. By 1964, I was playing 200 concerts annually. I recorded Another Side of Bob Dylan, in 1964, was a much more personal, introspective collection of songs, far less politically charged than my previous efforts. Blowin’ in the Wind,” establishing me as a political figure, one of the most popular folk musicians and a songwriter in my own right. 1964’s The Times They Are A-Changin’ continued to build my reputation as a protest singer with lyrics such like this: (http://www.medialab.chalmers.se/guitar/LC3.html) (http://www.discographynet.com/dylan/dylan.html)
The Times They Are A-Changin’
Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.
Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’.
Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside
And it is ragin’.
It’ll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’.
Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.
The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’.
With my records selling briskly, numerous popular bands covering my songs and scores of articles in the press, it was no surprise when his autumn 1965 blues- and -rock-oriented Highway 61 Revisited became my biggest album yet, reaching the Top 10 based on the No. 2 hit single “Like a Rolling Stone,” further demonstrating my growing allegiance to the pop world. The next spring I released my famed breakthrough double album Blonde On Blonde, considered one of the classic records of the decade. With Top 10 hits like “Rainy Day Women No. 12 & 35″ and “Positively 4th Street,” the album was a commercial as well as an artistic success. Despite my often enigmatic lyrics and unusual, down-to-earth persona, I am now a bona fide rock star.
My lyrics reflect to my interest towards society, hatred of war, my personal need for independence from a materialistic things, and my feeling of the of the apocalypse. My writing tells of an evil world, which is soon to be both punished and replaced tomorrow, perhaps, when the ship comes in. (http://www.medialab.chalmers.se/guitar/LC3.html)
My world is a world where the unemployed Hollis Brown, my wife and my five children are allowed by their fellow countrymen to starve in a filthy cabin and “the dirty driven rain” (”The Ballad of Hollis Brown”). In this country the civil rights workers are murdered (”Oxford Town”), and prisoners are abused by sadistic guards (”The Walls of Red Wing”). It is a world of embittered immigrants (”I Pity the Poor Immigrant”), of frivolous and materialistic women (”Sad- Eyed Lady of the Lowlands”). It is a world where white Americans destroy entire tribes of Indians, where each warring nation imagines that God is on its side (”With God on Our Side”), where the “masters of war” hide in their mansions “as young people’s blood/flows out of their bodies /and is buried in the mud” (”Masters of War”). The United States, to me, is the country that enjoys watching boxer kill boxer (”Who Killed Davey Moore”), the country where a judge can coerce a young girl to intercourse on the false promise that he will save her father from hanging (”Seven Curses”), the country where poor whites are taught by the rich to hate negroes (”Only a Pawn in their Game”), and the country where mine and factory are opened and closed with little thought to the welfare of the worker (”North Country Blues”). To the young, in my eyes, the United States is an absurd, surrealistic place. I am able to discuss my feelings best through my poetry and music. I am against only the kind of possessiveness and dominance of human beings that the United States practices through its foreign policy, its racial discrimination, its boxing syndicates, and its abuse of workers. (http://www.medialab.chalmers.se/guitar/LC3.html)
Tonight was incredible. I was introduced into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. To begin playing during the fifties and then still be playing in 1989 is an incredible feeling and I will never forget this day. As I look back on my career I am very proud. The 1960?s, 70?s, and 80?s, have been very exciting times.
I continued to reinvent myself following a near-fatal motorcycle accident in July 1966. I spent almost a year recovering in seclusion. My next two albums, John Wesley Harding (1968)?including ?All Along the Watchtower,? (later recorded by guitar great Jimi Hendrix) and the unabashedly countryish Nashville Skyline (1969) were far more mellow than my earlier works. Critics blasted the two-record set Self-Portrait (1970), and Tarantula, a long-awaited collection of writings I had published in 1971, also met with a poor review. I was very dissapoited that they didn?t go over well. In 1973, I appeared in Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, a feature film directed by Sam Peckinpah. I also wrote the film?s soundtrack, which became a hit and included the now-classic song, ?Knockin on Heaven?s Door.?
In 1974, I began his first full-scale tour since his accident, embarking on a sold-out nationwide tour with my longtime backup band, the Band. An album I recorded with The Band, Planet Waves, became his first No. 1 album ever. I followed these successes with the celebrated 1975 album Blood on the Tracks and Desire (1976), each of which hit No. 1 as well. Desire included the song ?Hurricane,? written about the boxer Rubin ?Hurricane? Carter, then serving life in prison after being wrongly convicted of a triple murder in 1967. I was one of many prominent public figures, who helped popularize Carter?s cause, leading to a retrial in 1976, when he was again convicted. We all knew that his trial was unfair so I had to write about what was on my mind. I was never afraid of what people think. The lyrics went like this:
Pistol shots ring out in the bar room night Enter Patti Valentine from the upper hallShe sees a bartender in a pool of blood Cries out “My god they’ve killed em all”Here comes the story of the Hurricane The man the authorities came to blameFor something that he never done Put in a prison cellBut one time he coulda been the champion of the world Three bodies lyin there does Patti see And another man named Bellow movin around mysteriously “I did’nt do it” he says and he throws up his hands I was only robbin the register, I hope ya’ll understand I started leavin he says, then he stopsOne of us had better call up the cops And so Patti calls the copsAnd they arrive on the scene With there red lights flashin in the hot New Jersey night Meanwhile, far away, in another part of town Rubin Carter and a couple of friends are drivin around Number 1 contender for the middleweight crown Had no idea what kinda shit was about to go down Well a cop pulled him over to the side of the road Just like the time before and the time before that In Patterson thats just the way things go If your black, you might as well not show up on the street Unless ya wanna draw the heat Alfred Bellow had a partner and he had a rap for the cops Him and Arther Dexter Bradley were just out prawlin around He said “I saw two men runnin out, they looked like middleweights” “They jumped into a white car with out of state plates” And miss Patti Valentine just knodded her head Cops said “Wait a minute boys, this ones not dead” So they took him to the infirmery And though this man could hardly see, they told him he could identify the guilty manFour in the mornin and they haul Rubin in They took him to the hospital and they brought him upstairs The wounded man looks up through this one dyin eye Says “Why’d ya bring him in here boys, he aint the guy” Here comes the story of the HurricaneThe man the authorities came to blame For something that he never donePut in a prison cell But one time he coulda been the champion of the world Four months later, the ghettos are in flames Rubins in South America, fightin for his name While Arthur Dexter Bradleys still in the robbery game And the cops are puttin the screws to him, lookin for somebody to blame Remember that murder that happened in a bar? Remember you said you saw the get away car? Think ya’d like to play ball with the law? We think it mighta been that fighter that ya saw, runnin that night Don’t forget that you are whiteArthur Dexter Bradley said “I’m really not sure” The cops said a poor boy like you could use a break We’ve got ya for the motel job and we’re talkin to your friend Bellow If you don’t wanna go back to jail be a nice fellow You’ll be doin society a favorThat son of a bitch is brave and gettin braver We wanna put his ass in stirWe wanna pin this triple murder on him He aint no gentleman jimRubin could take a man out with just one punch But he never did like to talk about it all that much “It’s my work,” He’d say, “And I do it for pay” “And when its all over, I’d just as soon go on my way”Up to some paradise Where the trout streams flow and the air is niceAnd ride a horse along the trail But then they took him to a jail house, Where they try to turn a man into amouse All of Rubin’s cards were marked in advance The trial was a pig circus, he never had a chance The judge made Rubin’s witnesses drunkens from the slums To the white folk who watched, he was just a revolutionary bum And to the black folks he was just a crazy nigger No one doubted that he pulled the trigger And though they could not produce the gun The DA said he was the one who did the deed, and the all white jury agreed Rubin Carter was falsely triedThe crime was murder oneGuess who testified Bellow and Bradley and they both baldly lied And the newspapers, they all went along for the ride How can the life of such a man, be in the palm of some fools hands? To see him obviously framed Could’nt help but make me feel ashamed to live in a land where justice is a game Now all the criminals in their coats and their ties, are free to drink martines and watch the sun riseWhile Rubin sits like Buddha in a ten foot cell An innocent man in a living hellYes thats the story of the hurricane But it won’t be over till they clear his name And give him back the time he’s done Put in a prison cell but at one time he coulda been the champion of the world
After a painful split with my wife, Sara Lowndes?the song ?Sara? on Desire was my plaintive but unsuccessful attempt to win Lowndes back. I again reinvented myself, declaring in 1979 that I was now a born-again Christian. I knew this could effect my popularity but that didn?t matter. The evangelical Slow Train Coming was a commercial hit and I won my first Grammy Award, for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Male.
Beginning in the 1980s, I began touring full time, sometimes with fellow legends Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and the Grateful Dead. My concerts were sometimes rambling and sloppy, and many fans began to suspect I was burning out in his middle-aged years. Notable albums during this period included Infidels (1983); the five-disc retrospective Biograph (1985); Knocked Out Loaded (1986); and Oh Mercy (1989), which became my best-received album in years. I recorded two albums with the all-star band the Traveling Wilburys, also featuring George Harrison, the late Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne. In 1994, I returned to my folk roots, winning the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album for World Gone Wrong.
That brings me to tonight. Bruce Springsteen spoke at the ceremony, saying ?Bob freed the mind the way Elvis freed the body?.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.?