Welcome to the life of a very famous singer.
There is no songwriter who exerted a greater influence on popular music in the 20th Century than Bob Dylan. Born Robert Zimmerman in Duluth and raised in the small city of Hibbing in Minnesota’s desolate Mesabi Iron Range, the singer picked up his first guitar after hearing Elvis Presley and Little Richard on the radio. He wouldn’t discover folk music until enrolling in the University of Minnesota. Zimmerman was drawn to the beatnik coffee house scene in the big city. He changed his name to Dylan (in honor of the great Welsh poet Dylan Thomas) and began performing around town.
After one year in college, Dylan dropped out and moved to Greenwich Village. Here, he rose to fame as the leading figure in a major folk revival. Taking cues from his idol, Woody Guthrie, Dylan inserted himself into the heart of a burgeoning anti-war and Civil Rights movements, writing and performing socially conscious and ingeniously literate original compositions.
In 1963, his Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan would become the artistic high-water mark of the Greenwich movement. In the ensuing years, Dylan would prove mercurial and resistant to categorization, though all the more innovative for his work. As the Vietnam conflict boiled over into war, Dylan shocked his folkie supporters by departing the protest movement. In rock circles, the moment that he “plugged in” at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival remains a watershed event, marking Dylan’s transformation into a fast-talking, surrealist hipster.
It was during this contentious time that he also produced his very best and most important work in Bringing It All Back Home (1965), Highway 61 Revisited (1965), and Blonde on Blonde (1966). Indeed, it could be argued that with every movement of great importance in the history of rock, from psychedelia in the mid-60s to country-rock in the late ’60s, from singer-songwriter confessional in the early-70s to slick stadium rock by the start of the ‘80s, Dylan has been a catalyst.
All told, Bob Dylan has moved more than 100 million records, earned a Grammy, an Oscar, a Golden Globe, a Pulitzer Prize, and a Presidential Medal of Freedom. He is also a member of the Rock and Roll, Nashville Songwriters, and Songwriters Halls of Fame.
Clancy's comment: Go, Bob!