"When I was fifteen and I heard 'Like a Rolling Stone,' I heard a guy like I've never heard before or since. A guy that had the guts to take on the whole world and make me feel like I had 'em too..."
- Bruce Springsteen
The Grammy Awards ceremony in 1991 was not all that different from those which preceded it. A crowded auditorium littered with the beautiful people of Hollywood and the music industry once again gathered in Los Angeles to honor the year's most popular recording artists. However, at the time of this year's awards the country was in the midst of its first significant military action since the Vietnam conflict. The threat of a full-scale ground attack loomed on the horizon and the nation seemed overwhelmingly united in favor of war. At one point in the evening the wily Jack Nicholson rose and made his way to the podium to present the year's lifetime achievement award. This year's recipient was somewhat of a sharp contrast to the high profile event that the Grammys had become. The 1991 Lifetime Achievement Award for music went to none other than Robert Zimmerman, aka Bob Dylan, a musician whose monumental contribution to contemporary music had occurred nearly thirty years prior to this evening. After a brief introduction the lights were dimmed and all attention was directed to a slight, haggard-looking gentleman dressed in black. He faced the audience solemnly holding a guitar, his eyes hidden behind dark sunglasses. Behind him a band began whaling a tantric and ferocious melody, yet not an eye shifted from the prophet who stood before them.
"Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build the big bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks"
His voice that evening snarled with an enflamed bitterness so appropriate to his most passionate antiwar song. Bob Dylan's lyrics that evening were dated. But, no doubt to his great dismay, they were no more less relevant on this evening in 1991 then they were when he wrote them in the midst of then President Lyndon Johnson's controversial deployment of American troops to Vietnam. The audience that evening wasn't watching some fly-by-night hipster playing senseless fluff. They were caste in the shadow of the most prophetic musical figure of the last fifty years. A man whose inner fire forged a new musical frontier and shaped an entire generation of American youth.
The man affectionately known as Bob Dylan to millions of fans worldwide was actually born Robert Zimmerman on May 24, 1941 in Hibbing, Minnesota. Hibbing is a desolate mining town on the outskirts of Duluth, near the Canadian border. Zimmerman's father was a local business owner, operating an appliance and furniture store in Hibbing. As a boy, young Robert was introverted and secretive. As he reached adolescence Robert became a talented storyteller with a tendency to...