Image Credit: Christian
Synonymous with the 60’s, Dylan was one of the first musicians of his era to become part of the counter-culture movement of that decade. Through songs like “The Death of Emmett Till”, “Blowin’ in the Wind”, “The Times They Are a-Changin”, and “Masters of War”, he voiced his opinions on major socio-political issues such as the civil rights movement and the Vietnam war. He represented a critical shift in attitude towards the youth, and their ability to bring about change.
Image credit: Sam
Few musical artists can claim to have given birth to an entirely new genre of music. Bob Dylan happens to be one of them. He was responsible, at least partially, for introducing folk rock to the masses. He released “Like a Rolling Stone”, his first ever song that featured electric guitar. Shortly afterwards, he appeared at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival with a Fender Stratocaster, backed up by The Paul Butterfield Blues Band. This dramatic change in style was not received positively, with the sound of his music reportedly being completely drowned out by the vocal disapproval from the audience. However, many of his contemporaries in the industry would go on to adopt this blend of folk and rock, making it part of mainstream music.
One such group was The Beatles, who had been admirers of his from the time of his first album. John Lennon in particular had drawn much influence from Dylan’s style of songwriting, which emphasized storytelling and self-reflection. The Beatles were thus able to move on from their initial phase of writing love songs that were meant to resonate with their teenage female fans. Help and Rubber Soul displayed tracks that explored mature themes, combined with the folk-rock sound that Dylan had pioneered. Lead guitarist George Harrison would later go to form a lasting friendship with Dylan, performing with him on a charity concert for Bangladesh in 1971, and later joining the Traveling Wilburys.
Perhaps one of his most outstanding achievements, is winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016. Being a poet of the highest order, he had displayed exceptional lyricism in his songs from the very beginning of his career. He had the innate ability to connect with his listeners. He would display raw emotion, with messages that people could relate to. This was one of the key factors behind the creation of his immense following, especially among young listeners.
It is difficult to imagine how the world of music would be today, had Dylan not decided to pick up the Guitar as a kid, or move to New York after dropping out of college, to pursue a career in music. He serves as one of the most instrumental figures in music from the 20th century, with his impact extending far and wide, beyond physical borders and across all ages.