Bob Dylan: the 100 most inspiring musicians of all time
American folksinger Bob Dylan (born Robert Allen Zimmerman, (b. May 24, 1941, Duluth, Minn., U.S.) moved from folk to rock music in the 1960s and infused the lyrics of rock and roll, theretofore concerned mostly with boy-girl romantic innuendo, with the intellectualism of classic literature and poetry.
Bob Dylan has sold more than 58 million albums, written more than 500 songs recorded by more than 2,000 artists, and performed all over the world. He grew up in the northeastern Minnesota mining town of Hibbing, where his father co-owned Zimmerman Furniture and Appliance Co. He acquired his first guitar at age 14 and as a high school student played in a series of rock and roll bands. In 1959, just before enrolling at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, he served a brief stint playing piano for rising pop star Bobby Vee.
Fascinated by folksinger Woody Guthrie, he began performing folk
music in coffeehouses, adopting the last name Dylan (after the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas). Restless and determined to meet Guthrie—who was confined to a hospital in New Jersey—he relocated to the East Coast.
Arriving in late January 1961, Dylan relied on the generosity of various benefactors who, charmed by his performances in Greenwich Village, provided meals and shelter.
Bob Dylan quickly built a following and within four months was hired to play harmonica for a Harry Belafonte recording session. In September 1961 talent scout–producer John Hammond, Sr., signed him to Columbia Records.
Bob Dylan’s eponymous first album was released in March 1962 to mixed reviews. His singing voice—a cowboy lament laced with Midwestern patois, with an obvious nod to Guthrie—confounded many critics. By comparison, Dylan’s second album, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (released
in May 1963), sounded a clarion call. Young ears everywhere quickly assimilated his quirky voice, which established him as part of the burgeoning counterculture. Moreover, his first major composition, “Blowin’ in the Wind,” served notice that this was no cookie-cutter recording artist.
About this time Dylan signed a seven-year management contract with Albert Grossman, who soon replaced Hammond with another Columbia producer, Tom Wilson. In April 1963, Dylan played his first major New York City concert at Town Hall. That summer, Dylan made his first appearance at the Newport (Rhode Island) Folk Festival and was virtually crowned the king of folk music.
The prophetic title song of his next album, The Times They Are A-Changin’ (1964), provided an instant anthem. Dylan was perceived as a singer of protest songs, a politically charged artist with a whole other agenda. He spawned imitators at coffeehouses and record labels everywhere. At the 1964 Newport Folk Festival, while previewing songs from Another Side of Bob Dylan, he confounded his core audience by performing songs of a personal nature, rather than his signature protest repertoire. A backlash from purist folk fans began and continued for three years as Dylan defied convention at every turn.
On his next album, Bringing It All Back Home (1965), electric instruments were openly brandished—a violation of folk dogma—and only two protest songs were included.
The folk rock group the Byrds covered “Mr. Tambourine Man” from that album, adding electric 12-string guitar and three-part harmony vocals, and took it to number one on the singles chart. Dylan’s mainstream audience skyrocketed.
His purist folk fans, however, fell off in droves. In June 1965 Dylan recorded his most ascendant song yet, “Like a Rolling Stone.” Devoid of obvious protest references, set against a rough-hewn, twangy rock
underpinning, and fronted by a snarling vocal that lashed out at all those who questioned his legitimacy, “Like a Rolling Stone” spoke to yet a new set of listeners and reached number two on the popular music charts. And the album containing the hit single, Highway 61 Revisited, further vindicated his abdication of the protest throne.
At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, Dylan bravely showcased his electric sound. After an inappropriately short 15-minute set, Dylan left the stage to a hail of booing— mostly a response to the headliner’s unexpectedly
abbreviated performance rather than to his electrification. Nonetheless, reams were written about his electric betrayal and banishment from the folk circle.
By the time of his next public appearance, at the Forest Hills (New York) Tennis Stadium a month later, the audience had been “instructed” by the press how to react. After a well-received acoustic opening set, Dylan was joined by his new backing band (Al Kooper on keyboards, Harvey Brooks on bass, and, from the Hawks, Canadian guitarist Robbie Robertson and drummer Levon Helm). Dylan and the band were booed throughout the performance.
Backed by Robertson, Helm, and the rest of the Hawks (Rick Danko on bass, Richard Manuel on piano, and Garth Hudson on organ and saxophone), Dylan toured incessantly in 1965 and 1966, always playing to sold-out audiences. On Nov. 22, 1965, Dylan married Sara Lowndes.
They split their time between a townhouse in Greenwich Village and a country estate in Woodstock, New York. In February 1966, at the suggestion of his new producer, Bob Johnston, Dylan recorded at Columbia’s Nashville, Tennessee, studios, along with Kooper, Robertson, and the cream of Nashville’s studio musicians. A week’s worth of marathon sessions produced Blonde on Blonde. The critically acclaimed album pushed Dylan to the zenith of his popularity. He toured Europe with the Hawks (soon to reemerge as the Band) until the summer of 1966, when a
motorcycle accident in Woodstock brought Dylan’s amazing seven-year momentum to an abrupt halt.
He retreated to his home in Woodstock and virtually disappeared for two years. In 1967, the Band moved to Woodstock to be closer to Dylan.
Occasionally they coaxed him into the basement studio of their communal home to play music together, and recordings from these sessions ultimately became the double album The Basement Tapes (1975). In early 1968 Columbia released a stripped-down album of new Dylan songs titled John Wesley Harding. It reached number two on the pop album charts.
In January 1968 Dylan made his first post-accident appearance at a memorial concert for Woody Guthrie in New York City—with shorter hair, spectacles, and a neglected beard. At this point, Dylan adopted the stance he held for the rest of his career: sidestepping the desires of the critics, he went in any direction, but those called for in print. When his audience and critics were convinced that his muse had left him, Dylan would deliver an album at full strength, only to withdraw again.
Dylan returned to Tennessee to record Nashville Skyline (1969), which helped launch an entirely new genre, country rock. It charted at number three, but, owing to the comparative simplicity of its lyrics, people questioned whether Dylan remained a cutting-edge artist. Meanwhile, rock’s first bootleg album, The Great White Wonder—containing
unreleased, “liberated” Dylan recordings—appeared in independent record stores.
Over the next quarter-century Dylan continued to record, toured sporadically, and was widely honored, though his impact was never as great or as immediate as it had been in the 1960s. In 1970 Princeton University awarded him an honorary doctorate of music. In August
1971 Dylan made a rare appearance at a benefit concert that former Beatle George Harrison had organized for the newly independent country of Bangladesh.
At the end of the year, Dylan purchased a house in Malibu, California;
he had already left Woodstock for New York City in 1969. In 1973, he appeared in director Sam Peckinpah’s film Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid and contributed to the soundtrack, including “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” Writings and Drawings, an anthology of his lyrics and poetry, was
published the next year.
In 1974, he toured for the first time in eight years, reconvening with the Band. Released in January 1975, Dylan’s next studio album, Blood on the Tracks, was a return to lyrical form. It topped the charts, as did Desire, released one year later. In 1975 and 1976 Dylan toured North America, announcing shows only hours before appearing. Filmed and recorded, the
Rolling Thunder Revue—including Joan Baez, Allen Ginsberg, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, and Roger McGuinn— came to motion-picture screens in 1978 as part of the Dylan-edited Renaldo and Clara.
Lowndes and Dylan divorced in 1977. They had four children, including son Jakob, whose band, the Wallflowers, experienced pop success in the 1990s. Dylan was also stepfather to a child from Lowndes’s previous marriage. In 1978 Dylan mounted a yearlong world tour and released Street-Legal and Bob Dylan at Budokan. In a dramatic turnabout,
he converted to Christianity in 1979 and for three years recorded and performed only religious material. He received a Grammy Award in 1980 for best male rock vocal performance with his “gospel” song “Gotta Serve
By 1982, when Dylan was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, his open zeal for Christianity was waning. In 1985 he participated in the all-star charity recording “We Are the World,” organized by Quincy Jones, and published his third book, Lyrics: 1962–1985. Dylan toured again in
1986–87, backed by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. A year later he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Traveling Wilburys (Dylan, Petty, Harrison, Jeff Lynne, and Roy Orbison) formed at his house in Malibu and released their first album. In 1989 Dylan once again returned to form with Oh Mercy.
When Life magazine published a list of the 100 most influential Americans of the 20th century in 1990, Dylan was included, and in 1991 he received a Grammy Award for lifetime achievement. As the 1990s drew to a close, Dylan, who was called the greatest poet of the second half of the 20th century by Allen Ginsberg, was the recipient of several national and international honors. In 1998, in a comeback of sorts, he won three Grammy Awards— including album of the year—for Time Out of Mind.
Another Grammy (for best contemporary folk album) came Dylan’s
way in 2001, for Love and Theft. In 2003 he cowrote and starred in the film Masked & Anonymous and, because of the effects of carpal tunnel
syndrome, began playing electric piano exclusively in live appearances. The next year he released what portended to be the first in a series of autobiographies, Chronicles: Volume 1.
In 2005 No Direction Home, a documentary directed by Martin Scorsese, appeared on television. In 2006 Dylan turned his attention to satellite radio as the host of the weekly Theme Time Radio Hour and released his 44th
album, Modern Times, which won the 2007 Grammy Award for best contemporary folk album.
In presenting to Dylan, Spain’s Prince of Asturias Prize for the Arts in 2007, the jury called him a “living myth in the history of popular music and a light for a generation that dreamed of changing the world.” In 2008 the Pulitzer Prize Board awarded him a special citation for his “profound impact on popular music and American culture.” Dylan was still actively performing in his 60s.
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Bob Dylan Greatest Hits – Best Songs of Bob Dylan
00:00 – like a rollin stone 05:55 – Ballad of Donald White 10:25– The Death Of Emmett Till 14:55 – blowin’ in the wind 20:53 – one more cup of coffee 23:12 – Hurricane 31:26 – It ain’t me babe 35:34 – Most of the time 41:20– My back pages 47:50 – changing of the guard 53:44– With god on our side 1:00:50– love minus zero 1:04:47 – Lonesome death 1:12:00– nothing nada
- Libertango (Piano Solo) – Astor Piazzolla
- Oblivion (Astor Piazzolla) by Nadja Kossinskaja, guitar (with sheet music)
- Milonga del Angel by Astor Piazzolla (arr. piano solo)
- The Creative Development of Johann Sebastian Bach (1695-1717) Vol. I and II
- Ennio Morricone (1928-2020)
- Nocturne – by Secret Garden (piano solo)