Dylan, Bob [key], 1941–, American singer and composer, b. Duluth, Minn., as Robert Zimmerman. Dylan learned guitar at the age of 10 and autoharp and harmonica at 15. After a rebellious youth, he moved to New York City in 1960 and in the early years of the decade began playing in a folk style in Greenwich Village clubs. He turned to performing with an electric rock-and-roll band in 1965. Influenced by such figures as Leadbelly, Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters, Hank Williams, and Woody Guthrie as well as by such early rockers as Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, and Little Richard, Dylan, in turn, has had a profound effect on folk and rock music, and is considered one of the world's most influential musicians and songwriters. As a lyricist he captured the cynicism, anger, and alienation of American youth, which reverberated in his harsh vocal delivery and insistent guitar and harmonica accompaniment.
Among Dylan's many social protest songs are “Blowin' in the Wind” and “The Times They Are A-Changin'.” Dylan's style evolved from acoustic folk (e.g., “Don't Think Twice”) to folk rock (e.g., “Highway 61 Revisited”), country blues (e.g., “Country Pie”), and hard-driving rock. Enigmatic and reclusive, he became something of a cult figure; he has continued to tour and record. Although many of his later recordings were not well received, his Time out of Mind (1997), Love and Theft (2001), Modern Times (2006, Grammy), and Rough and Rowdy Ways (2020) albums won wide praise. In addition to Grammy, Academy, and Golden Globe awards, he has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2012) and the Nobel Prize in Literature (2016). Dylan wrote an early autobiography, Bob Dylan, Self-Portrait (1970), and a late one, Chronicles: Volume One (2004), as well as a work of fiction that combines stream-of-consciousness prose with poetry, Tarantula (1971). Dylan made news in late 2020 when he sold his entire catalog of over 600 songs to Universal Music for an estimated $300 million dollars.
See his Lyrics: 1962–2001 (2004) and Bob Dylan: Lyrics 1961–2012 (2017); J. W. Ellison, ed., Younger than That Now: The Collected Interviews with Bob Dylan (2004) and J. Cott, ed., Bob Dylan: The Essential Interviews (2006); biographies by R. Shelton (1986, rev. ed. 2011), B. Spitz (1988), C. Heylin (rev. ed. 2001), H. Sounes (2001, rev. ed. 2011), and D. McDougal (2014); studies by P. Cable (1980), B. Bowden (1982), T. Riley (1992), P. Williams (3 vol., 1994–2004), G. Marcus (1997 and 2005), D. Hajdu (2001), C. Ricks (2004), and S. Wilentz (2010); discographies by M. Krogsgaard (1991), J. Nogowski (1994), B. Hedin, ed. (2004), and D. Dalton (2012); O. Trager, Keys to the Rain: The Definitive Bob Dylan Encyclopedia (2004); M. Scorsese, dir., No Direction Home (documentary, 2005).
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