March 19 – Bob Dylan's First!

Posted on March 19, 2018

On this date in 1962, the album Bob Dylan was released by Columbia Records.

Dylan (who was born Robert Allen Zimmerman) had dropped out of college to travel to New York City. He wanted to visit his hero, Woodie Gurthrie, who was seriously ill. He wanted to immerse himself in the folk music scene. He wanted to perform!

Dylan started to get known in the American folk music scene. He explained later that rock'n'roll had appealing, driving beats, but that the lyrics just didn't speak to him. They were catchy instead of deep, fun instead of serious.

Dylan was so serious, he got the record deal with Columbia.

And he was so serious that many of his songs were labeled as protest songs.

As a matter of fact, Dylan came to be labeled as "the voice of a generation."

And...what a voice! Dylan's voice was pretty rough, and that turned some people off. But it was a stand-out for others. Author Joyce Carol Oates wrote: "When we first heard this raw, very young, and seemingly untrained voice, frankly nasal, as if sandpaper could sing, the effect was dramatic and electrifying."

Folk musician Joan Baez was
an early promoter of Dylan.

Dylan's early songs were more popular, at first at least, when other singers sang them. It was easier for most audiences to enjoy melodious, mellifluous voices singing songs like Blowing in the Wind and The Times They Are a-Changin.' 

But some of the people who sang Dylan songs dragged him up on stage with them during shows and promoted him in other ways - and soon audiences knew and loved Dylan songs sung by Dylan.

In all the years since the early 1960s, Dylan didn't stick with just one kind of music, just one kind of song. He's written what some people consider popular music (Like a Rolling Stone), rock, blues, and country. He's explored gospel, rockabilly, even Irish folk music and jazz! He's performed on guitar, harmonica, and keyboards, he's sung, he's recorded - but his greatest contribution, surely, is his songwriting.

Blowing in the Wind is one of Dylan's best. This video was crafted by a Brazilian person, I guess, who writes at the end (in Portuguese), "One day this world, now dominated by some, has to again belong to all."

I grew up listening to The Times, They Are a-Changin' covered by Simon and Garfunkel. Check out Dylan's version and the S&G cover

Check out these words of wisdom from Dylan:

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