Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Great Bob Dylan Turns 70

Cover of "Times They Are A-Changin"Cover of Times They Are A-ChanginBy Jon B White

Bob Dylan has now reached the milestone of his 70th birthday. Born on May 24th, 1941, in the scruffy city of Duluth, Minnesota, Dylan (born Robert Allen Zimmerman) has gone on to spark new genres of music (folk-rock and country-rock) and revolutionise songwriting.

He first came to prominence in 1963 with his second album The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan which offered such epochal songs as Blowin' In The Wind, Masters Of War and A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall. Inspired by the likes of Woody Guthrie and Hank Williams, his lyrics in Freewheelin' were highly political and led to Dylan being dubbed as a protest singer by many.

A surge of similarly styled songs soon hit the British charts and come October 1965 there was a scattering of protest songs in the national charts; songs such as Too Many People by The Hollies which addressed the problem of over-population and It's Good News Week by Hedgehoppers Anonymous which confronted issues on nuclear war and birth control. However, his influence on protest songs was relatively short-lived compared to the impact of his lyrical styles.

In early 1964, Dylan released The Times They Are A-Changin' which showcased the work of a matured songwriter greatly inspired by poets such as Keats and Rimbaud. It was more literate and evocative than his previous offerings and had a profound effect on popular music.

In 1965 came Highway 61 Revisited and the single release of Like A Rolling Stone which is widely championed as one of the best singles in the history of popular music; breaking the barrier of the traditional three minute pop single and, of course, we can't forget the innovative Blonde on Blonde in 1966 which cemented Dylan's reputation as a genius of the times.

From the mid 60′s onwards there was a sizeable shift from frivolous and superficial lyrics to more contemplative, introspective and poetic offerings and this was largely down to the splendour of Dylan's lyrics. His talent influenced copious numbers of artists including musical giants The Beatles who, in 1965, released the more insightful Rubber Soul which was lyrically more complex than their previous releases. John Lennon had even started mimicking Dylan's casual delivery in songs such as You've Got to Hide Your Love Away and Yes It Is.

'Vocally and poetically, Dylan was a huge influence' Paul McCartney

As the years progressed, Dylan's lyrics became slightly more surreal and enigmatic but they never lost their potent essence and such was his refusal to be pigeon holed, Dylan consistently re-invented himself.

Having already given fresh breath to the protest movement, revived folk music, re-invented the singer songwriter genre and sparked folk-rock, in the 1970′s he helped give rise to country-folk and in the 80′s and 90′s (though he occasionally floundered), he still inspired and surprised his fans. In 1989 he was inducted into the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame and in 1990 Dylan was named a Commandeur dans l'Ordre des Art et des Lettres, France's highest cultural honor.

His records still sell by the truck-load, he still inspires and moves people and his concert tickets still sell like hot cakes. Happy Birthday to a legend.

Jon White is the founder of - a ticket exchange aimed at music fans who wish to buy or sell concert tickets.

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