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Bob Dylan: The Voice Of A Generation

1318 words - 5 pages

The Voice Of A Generation

As one gradually makes their way through the exclusive pantheon of Rock & Roll, they will cross paths with such deities as Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry, be exposed to the unparalleled mastery of Jimi Hendrix and absorb the raw emotion of Janis Joplin and Curt Cobain. Eventually, at one point or another, they also must discover Dylan. The 1960s was a fiery decade for the United States, not only due to the fact that this country was engaged in a bloody stalemate in the jungles of Southeast Asia, but because we were gradually transforming into a new, better America back home. Because these tumultuous times were so important in shaping the country, Bob Dylan, a legendary songwriter, became the voice of an entire generation, and therefore, an unlikely icon amidst the other titans of American history.

Perhaps the most famous man ever born in frosty Minnesota, Robert Zimmerman came into this world on May 24, 1941, in Duluth, the son of Eastern European Jews. Robert's introduction to the world of music came early, and by the time he turned 10, he showed a precocious ability to write poetry and had already learned to play the guitar. Robert spent most of his childhood in Hibbing, Minnesota listening to music on his radio. As powerful, emotional blues and Rock & Roll streamed across the country and out his speakers, Zimmerman was captivated by the performances of Little Richard and Carl Perkins, among others. By the time he enrolled as a freshman at the University of Minnesota in 1959, he had already been drawn away from contemporary rock, and become fixated on American folk music, which was considerably softer and of a more solitary nature. It was soon after, when he became a regular in the Minneapolis folk circuit, that he began introducing himself as "Bob Dylan." Interestingly enough, critics and fans can only speculate as to what influenced this name change. The most widely accepted theory is that this was a tribute to one of his idols, poet Dylan Thomas.

Dylan dropped out after his freshman year and began developing a unique voice and blues/folk style of singing. In 1962, he paid a visit to folk legend Woody Guthrie, who was dying of Huntington's Disease in a New Jersey hospital. Dylan gained much notoriety on the nearby circuit in New York, his breakthrough coinciding with a sparkling review in The New York Times. This review, as well as significant local word-of-mouth, led to his signing with Columbia Records in October 1961. Throughout his long and illustrious career, Dylan has released over 50 albums, including such classics as Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde. Since the 1960s, many believed the quality of Dylan's songwriting has deteriorated, but he still remains one of the most active musicians on tour, and one would be hard-pressed to think of an artist who is more respected by his contemporaries than Dylan. In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine polled a panel of musicians, critics and industry...

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