16 April 2011

Artist Spotlight: Bob Dylan

[Google Images and here]

Bob Dylan was born Robert Zimmerman in 1941. He changed his surname to Dylan after the poet, Dylan Thomas. He went to college for one semester, but hated it - he spent his time there making music instead of going to classes or doing homework. He is also a painter. 

Bob Dylan is known for his twangy voice and for the difficulties that sometimes come when trying to undestand his lyrics. Don McClean said, in American Pie, that he sang with "a voice that came from you and me", referring both to his common sound and his lyrics that pertained to current events. Music was always very influential in his life. He started several bands in high school. He even got kicked off the stage by his principle once because the song he and his band were playing, "Rock and Roll is Here to Stay", was deemed inappropriate for the audience.

Though he started out playing rock and roll, Dylan later switched to a more folksy sound, saying:
The thing about rock'n'roll is that for me anyway it wasn't enough ... There were great catch-phrases and driving pulse rhythms ... but the songs weren't serious or didn't reflect life in a realistic way. I knew that when I got into folk music, it was more of a serious type of thing. The songs are filled with more despair, more sadness, more triumph, more faith in the supernatural, much deeper feelings.
One of Dylan's biggest influences, particularly concerning his folk sound and lyrics, was Woodie Guthrie, who Dylan eventually got to meet. Dylan found out that Guthrie was ill and visited him in the hospital. Many of Dylan's most well known songs - songs about the Civil Rights movement and peace and hard times - are similar to Guthrie's style of protest songs and quickly became anthems for the 60s.
In the mid sixties, Dylan's folk style changed drastically. He switched from acoustic and harmonica to a more electric sound. Many of Dylan's fans were upset by this change and felt like Dylan was abondoning his roots and his fans and selling his soul to "the man" in an effort to be more popular.

This is my favorite picture of Bob Dylan

Despite the fact that many people claim to dislike Dylan's twangy sound, he is well known and well loved and has been very influential in the field of music. Several of his songs have been covered and made well known by other artists, such as the Byrds covering Mr. Tambourine Man and Johnny and June Carter Cash covering It Ain't Me, Babe. Even Weird Al was inspired to write a parody, Bob, based on Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues. 

In 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine listed Dylan's hit, Like a Rolling Stone, as the top out of 500 greatest songs of all time. A year before that, Rolling Stone Magazine listed the 500 greatest albums of all time. Bob Dylan had two in the top ten, outdone only by the Beatles, who claimed four albums in the top ten.

Information or sources from Dylan's Wikipedia and a documentary that I watched and don't recall the name of.


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