Bob Dylan - Time Out of Mind
“The world don't need me. Christ, I'm only five feet ten. The world could get along fine without me.” —Village Voice interview, March, 1965
After four decades, Bob Dylan has proven the quote above to be wrong, and the error isn’t in the fact that his actual height is 5’ 7 ½ “. Influenced by the music of Hank Williams, Little Richard, Woody Guthrie, and Leadbelly, Dylan has changed the face of popular music with lyrics and a style that put the energy back into folk, added depth to rock, and bridged the rock-country gap.
Although the man is short in physical stature, his tremendous musical influence has been acknowledged by and shown in the music of such notables as Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, John Prine, Jimi Hendrix, and the Beatles. He has collaborated on tours and/or recordings with George Harrison, Willie Nelson, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, and the Grateful Dead.
His music has given a boost to bands like the Turtles and the Byrds from the 60’s and touched off the careers of other musicians, like his famous back-up band, The Band.
One or more of his songs have been featured in 69 movies over the last four decades.
The Internet “Dylanbase” lists approximately 1269 song titles performed by Bob Dylan. Of those listed, Dylan is the author of 434.
Bob Dylan has been referred to as “the pre-eminent poet/lyricist and songwriter of his time,” and “the most influential songwriter of the rock era”. He was described by country star Johnny Cash as “the greatest writer of our time.” However, when asked about his genius he replies, “It wasn’t me who called myself a legend… Genius? There's a real line between genius and insanity. Anybody will tell you that."
Still, Dylan’s Never-Ending Tour is a feat in itself. A series of one-night stands, which began in 1988, it has continued to the present day introduced by the words of a feature story by critic Jeff Miers, which first appeared in the Buffalo News, August 2002:
“‘The poet laureate of rock 'n' roll. The voice of the promise of the '60s counterculture. The guy who forced folk into bed with rock, who donned makeup in the '70s and disappeared into a haze of substance abuse, who emerged to 'find Jesus,' who was written off as a has-been by the end of the '80s, and who suddenly shifted gears and released some of the strongest music of his career beginning in the late '90s.’ “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Columbia recording artist Bob Dylan."
Bob Dylan was born Robert Zimmerman on May 24, 1941 to Abe and Beatty Zimmerman. Dylan spent his first six years in the port city of Duluth, MN, at the end of Lake Superior. When Dylan was in Kindergarten, his family moved to his mother’s hometown of Hibbing, a mining town about 75 miles north of Duluth where Dylan lived through high school.
Dylan began writing poetry in childhood, taught himself how to play piano, guitar, and of course, the harmonica. In high school, he formed his first bands, “The Golden Chords” and “Elston Gunn and His Rock Boppers”.
Contrary to the legend, Bob Dylan was never incarcerated within “The Walls of Redwing” reformatory. However, after high school graduation, he did travel to the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul Minnesota where Highway 61 begins it’s long journey down the Mississippi, weaving past the landmark facility.
Dylan studied art at the University of Minnesota where, he began performing folk songs at coffeehouses under the name Bob Dylan. Again, according to popular rumor, he took the name from poet Dylan Thomas, another pseudo-fact that Dylan denies.
In 1961 when Dylan heard that his boyhood hero, Woody Guthrie, was dying of Huntington’s chorea, he left Minnesota and traveled to New York where Guthrie was hospitalized. Dylan soon became well known in the clubs and coffeehouses of Greenwich Village and was able to arrange a meeting with Guthrie. The meeting turned into visits where the young Dylan would try out some of his compositions on the folk music hero who soon became his mentor and friend.
After a show at Gerde's Folk City in Greenwich Village, a glowing review was printed in the New York Times and read by Columbia A&R rep, John Hammond. Hammond produced Dylan’s debut album, which was released in March of 1962 and titled simply “Bob Dylan”. Woody Guthrie expressed approval of the album, being especially fond of one of the two original songs that debuted with the album. Dylan had written “Song to Woody” for him.