Bob Dylan's Influence on the Rock and Roll Era

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Bob Dylan is recognized as one of the greatest rock and roll icons of the 1960s. Whether singing a topical folk song, exploring rock and blues, or delivering one of his more abstract compositions, Dylan has consistently demonstrated the rare ability to reach and affect listeners with thoughtful, sophisticated lyrics. It is safe to say that he has been able to define the mood of his generation through his songs which provide commentary to the restless age of the 60s. Dylan played the role of a spokesperson for his generation- some even call him a poet, a title to which he would not admit to. “I don’t call myself a poet because I don’t like the word,” he has said. “I’m a trapeze artist” (Bob Dylan Quotes). Robert Allen Zimmerman was born on May 24, 1941 in Duluth, Minnesota. By age 10, he played the harmonica and piano, and he even taught himself the guitar. He was driven by his rock and roll and folk icons, Elvis Presley and Woody Guthrie, and formed a high school band called The Golden Chords. While attending the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Zimmerman traded his electric guitar for an acoustic and began playing folk music in local cafés under the name “Bob Dylan” after the late Welsh poet Dylan Thomas (Bob Dylan Biography). In 1960, Dylan dropped out of college and moved to New York City where he continued to perform in cafés and coffeehouses until he signed with Columbia Records in the fall of 1961. It was not until his second album, The Free-Wheelin’ Bob Dylan, that Dylan started to become recognized for his anti-war beliefs. Through the release of this album, Dylan raised the stakes of rock and roll music by moving from the typical slogans of rock and roll to lyrics that actually meant something. His lyrics were not so much so much a form of entertainment, but a way of making the public aware of what was actually going on in the world and in society. For example, in the song “Masters of War”, Dylan shows how morally wrong he finds war by saying...
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