When the 1960’s come to one’s mind, various
thoughts arise. Most think of the wide spread use of drugs. Others may think of
the hippies and their promiscuous ways. When I think about the 1960’s, there is
one thing that comes across my mind. Written huge in bold writing, the word
music. Bob Dylan’s is forever changing and his life affected his
writing and contributed to the development of his music.

Bob Dylan was born Robert Allen Zimmerman, May 24,
1941, into a Jewish family in Duluth, Minnesota. He started writing poetry
at ten years old and taught himself to play guitar at the young age fourteen. Dylan
was inspired by musicians like Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, and Little Richard.
In college, Bob was introduced to Bound
for Glory, the
autobiography of Woody Guthrie. He was greatly affected by the book and soon
learned dozens of Guthrie’s songs. He played folk music in clubs and coffee houses in Greenwich
Village and visited the ailing Woody Guthrie in the hospital. One night, as an
opening act Dylan received a review from The New York Times. In the article
it states “when
he works his guitar, harmonica or piano and composes new songs faster than he
can remember them, there is no doubt that he is bursting at the seams with
talent” (Shelton). The next day, at a studio session as a harmonica
player, he was signed to Columbia Records by John Hammond.

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            His first album Bob Dylan includes only two Dylan originals, one of which,
“Song to Woody,” demonstrates the influence of his one-time idol. The
Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, his second album, contains
mostly Dylan originals, and includes such protest songs as “Blowin’ in the
Wind” and “Masters of War”. These songs capture the mood and spirit of the counterculture
of the early 1960s. His third album, The Times They Are
A-Changin’, contains many classic
folk-protest and socially-conscious songs hailed as masterpieces including the
song the album is named after and “Only a Pawn in Their Game,” and “The
Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll.” Released in the same year, Another
Side of Bob Dylan, indicates his shift
from political to more personal lyrics. By the time his 6th
album, Highway 61 Revisited was released in 1965, Dylan solidified
his transition from political folksinger to rock musician. His music still
critical of society but without any specific political agenda. The changes in
his music were due to many reasons. Though Dylan sang of American
struggles at the time, he was never interested in politics and he was annoyed by
people defining him solely as a protest singer. Excessive hype from
Dylan’s presence in politics inspired him to move his music in a different
direction. In 1964 and 1965, Dylan’s musical style and appearance changed quite
rapidly as he transitioned from a modern song writer of the folk scene to a
rock music star.  In 1966, Dylan suffered from a motorcycle accident and spent a few months home recovering
from not only the pain but the rumors of brain damage and death. This forced him to drop out of touring.

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