About Bob Dylan
The history of popular music can essentially be divided into two eras: before and after Dylan. The Minnesotan raconteur born Robert Zimmerman didn’t just unleash rock ‘n’ roll’s latent social conscience and poetic potential, he ushered in the age of the artist as auteur—the idea that true art in music, particularly in the practice of album-making, comes from the personal expression of the artist himself. During the societal upheaval of the early ’60s, he emerged as an icon thanks to inspirational singalongs like “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” But since shocking his folky faithful by going electric in 1965—a transformation heralded by his seething signature track, “Like a Rolling Stone”—he’s constantly defied expectations by pursuing his every whim, laying out a road map to creative freedom that was immediately inherited by the likes of The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and Neil Young. That non-conformist ethos has endured long past the ‘60s: Dig into “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” and you’ll find the seeds of punk’s sneering attitude, rap’s motor-mouthed repartee, and indie rock’s ramshackle DIY aesthetic. And yet Dylan is perpetually at the center of the conversation—an artist who's encompassed the entire American musical experience over his career, from folk and country to blues and gospel to jazz and rock—and one step removed from it. From the bad-romance wreckage of 1975’s Blood on the Tracks to the sobering meditations on mortality that permeate 1997’s Time Out of Mind to his 21st-century restorations of the Great American Songbook, he’s retained his uncanny ability to tap into the human condition while continuing to cultivate his singularly enigmatic aura.
BORNMay 24, 1941