Subterranean Homesick Blues
The boy who would become Bob Dylan was born Robert Allen Zimmerman on 24th May, 1941 in Duluth, Minnesota. In a career spanning over 5 decades, Dylan has won Grammys, Golden Globes and Academy Awards, been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame and was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 2008 for his impact on pop music and American culture.
Zimmerman apparently coined the name "Bob Dylan" during his time on the Dinkytown folk music circuit in Minnesota, where he attended university. It's unclear why that particular name was chosen, although the presiding theory is that the surname was inspired by the poet Dylan Thomas. "You're born, you know, the wrong names, wrong parents," Bob Dylan is reported to have said in a 2004 interview. "I mean, that happens. You call yourself what you want to call yourself. This is the land of the free."
Dylan hitchhiked from Minnesota to New York in 1961, after dropping out of his freshman year. Dylan played harmonica on Carolyn Hester's third album, which brought him to the attention of producer John Hammond, who signed the 20 year-old to Colombia Records. Dylan's first album "Bob Dylan" made little impact, selling just enough to break even. 1962 saw Dylan change his name legally to Robert Dylan and sign a management contract with Albert Grossman, who remained Dylan's manager until 1970. Dylan’s second album, "The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan", was released in May 1963. By this time, Dylan was starting to make a name for himself, and "Blowin' In The Wind" became an international hit with Peter, Paul & Mary, another band managed by Grossman.
Possibly one of the most important facets of Dylan's career has been his inspiration of so many other artists. "Freewheelin" is said to have impressed The Beatles. "We just played it, just wore it out. The content of the song lyrics and just the attitude—it was incredibly original and wonderful," George Harrison said of the album. Dylan's songs have been covered by an estimated 2,000 artists. "All Along The Watchtower", for example, was famously covered by Jimi Hendrix, and "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" has been covered by over 25 well-known artists, including Eric Clapton, Guns 'N' Roses and Bob Marley. References to Dylan's songs are rife through contemporary music, such as Radiohead's "Subterranean Homesick Alien" (in reference to "Subterranean Homesick Blues", which, incidentally, takes the credit for being one of the first music videos).
On 29th July 1966 Dylan crashed his motorcycle, breaking several vertebrae in his neck. It is reported that he had been awake for three straight days before the accident, possibly due to a huge workload. For the next 19 months, Dylan withdrew from the public eye.
In 1967, Dylan began recording with a band called The Hawks, at his home and in their basement, known as "Big Pink". The recordings were intended to be demos for other artists to cover, but gradually the original catalogue was released or bootlegged. The Hawks recorded the album "Music From Big Pink" with material they had written in their basement and renamed themselves The Band.
Throughout the 1970s, Dylan recorded and toured a great deal. Many of his releases in the early part of the decade were criticised for shoddiness. The Jewish-born Dylan became a born-again Christian in the late '70s, but claimed to follow no religion in 1997. He is reported to have said that his religion is part of music. "I don't adhere to rabbis, preachers, evangelists, all of that," he told Newsweek. "The songs are my lexicon."
1988 was the start of Dylan's 'Never Ending Tour' which has played roughly 2100 gigs to date. In April 2009 Dylan released his 33rd studio album "Together With Life".
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