Symphonic persona, spokesperson for an era, metro sexuality engulfed within every vein and a living legend, Bob Dylan remains an icon in the eyes of every soul clutched by the strings of blues and folk cult. Poetic power, guitar licks within his composition to engage your auricles, humane lyrics, he is one great combination. The 60’s shade had its golden cassettes with Simon and Garfunkel, Beach Boys and many more ruling the tongues of all, and there was Dylan who stood at the peak.
Robert Zimmerman renamed himself as “Bob Dylan” when he began his journey to make ‘folk revival’ mainstream. His influential lyrics derive itself from another inspiration of his, a man who spoke words of wisdom and imagination, a Welsh poet by name Dylan Thomas. This may also be a potential reason as to why Zimmerman’s nickname turns out to be Bob Dylan.
But here is his uniqueness. Zimmerman never sensed the ice-spice for early rock ‘n’ roll as it although had its own taste to engage the audience, but he aimed for something more humane. Inspired by folk-musician Woody Guthrie who channelized his era with his anti-fascist songs, 19 year-old Zimmerman found his love. He turned his way to live Guthrie’s dream and walked his way to become one of the most notable folk revivalists of all time, musicians who spoke to the masses about issues of the current time.
Dylan created a generation of his own, he never merged with one. He turned himself into a catalyst for the outcries of masses during the African-American civil rights movement where his songs shifted from the local radio to being archetypal protest slogans and pacifist anthems. 21 year-old Dylan spoke the haunted truths in his beautiful song A Hard Rain’s a Gonna Fall which narrated the tale about the sabotaging fear of the nuclear apocalypse and Cuban missile crisis. His most famous anthem, Blowin’ in the Wind spoke much deeper with enlightening versus like “How many years can some people exist, before they’re allowed to be free?” And then came yet another hit, The Times They Are a-Changin’ which cried out about the need for a radical change. And that is why this white man matters the most for his black fellowmen, a reason why he deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom, 11 Grammys, Academy Awards, Golden Globes and much more. His songs remained his lexicon in all ways of his life, he would say.
Now, here is an impressive and evident paradox.
If a musician dies young, his or her album sales boost high. An evident case after Lennon’s death or even Joplin for instance. You may call it the ‘dollars after death’ theory. However, if you see the same for a living legend, songs reek away to glory just like the musicians’ dying skin, Paul McCartney for instance.
But here is Dylan’s unusualness yet again. Dylan’s album Modern Times released in the year 2006 turned out to be #1 on the American charts and was ranked 204 in the list of “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time” by the Rolling Stone magazine! Sales reached impressively high, surely beating McCartney and of course, the paradox. His latest album Tempest which was released in 2012 remained third on Billborad 200. Critics and fans never fail to praise his name and glory till he continues to twirl on the top charts just ‘like a rollin’ stone’.
He did it, he did it all, but in his way and not by the way of his ardent fans. When all saw him spurning his guitar and performing alone and while they all liked being used to it, he moved onto a band. When all wished him to continue with acoustics, Dylan brings about his electrifying folk with his Electric Dylan controversy. When the media presumed he was agnostic, Bob Dylan went on to be a Christian releasing evangelic songs and classic Christmas hits. And when they all waited for some more folk anthems, he gives the world his taste for blues. And finally, when the world felt he might lose it all, he continues to keep his consistent music. Cause this 71 year-old is ‘not gonna knock on heaven’s door’, not too soon for sure!