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Bob Dylan

{{Infobox person | name = Bob Dylan | image = Bob Dylan - Azkena Rock Festival 2010 2.jpg | caption = Dylan at Azkena Rock Festival in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain, in June 2010 | alt = Bob Dylan plays a guitar and sings into a microphone. | birth_name = Robert Allen Zimmerman | other_names = Shabtai Zisel ben Avraham (Hebrew name)

In July 1966, Dylan withdrew from touring after a motorcycle accident. During this period, he recorded a large body of songs with members of the Band, who had previously backed him on tour. These recordings were released as the collaborative album The Basement Tapes in 1975. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Dylan explored country music and rural themes in John Wesley Harding (1967), Nashville Skyline (1969), and New Morning (1970). In 1975, he released Blood on the Tracks, which many saw as a return to form. In the late 1970s, he became a born-again Christian and released a series of albums of contemporary gospel music before returning to his more familiar rock-based idiom in the early 1980s. The major works of his later career include Time Out of Mind (1997), Love and Theft (2001), Modern Times (2006) and Tempest (2012). In the 2010s, he recorded a series of three albums comprising versions of traditional American standards, especially songs recorded by Frank Sinatra. Dylan has announced the release of a double album in June 2020, Rough and Rowdy Ways, his first album of new material in eight years. Backed by a changing lineup of musicians, he has toured steadily since the late 1980s on what has been dubbed the Never Ending Tour.

Since 1994, Dylan has published eight books of drawings and paintings, and his work has been exhibited in major art galleries. He has sold more than 100 million records, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time. He has received numerous awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, ten Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award. Dylan has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. The Pulitzer Prize Board in 2008 awarded him a special citation for "his profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power". In 2016, Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition".

Life and career



1941–1959: Origins and musical beginnings



Bob Dylan was born Robert Allen Zimmerman ( שבתאי זיסל בן אברהם Shabtai Zisl ben Avraham) in St. Mary's Hospital on May 24, 1941, in Duluth, Minnesota, and raised in Hibbing, Minnesota, on the Mesabi Range west of Lake Superior. Dylan's paternal grandparents, Zigman and Anna Zimmerman, emigrated from Odessa in the Russian Empire (now Ukraine) to the United States following the anti-Semitic pogroms of 1905. His maternal grandparents, Ben and Florence Stone, were Lithuanian Jews who arrived in the United States in 1902.

Dylan's father Abram Zimmerman and mother Beatrice "Beatty" Stone were part of a small, close-knit Jewish community. They lived in Duluth until Dylan was six, when his father had polio and the family returned to his mother's hometown, Hibbing, where they lived for the rest of Dylan's childhood, and his father and paternal uncles ran a furniture and appliances store. In his memoir, he said he hit upon using this less common variant for Dillon—a surname he had considered adopting—when he unexpectedly saw poems by Dylan Thomas. Explaining his change of name in a 2004 interview, he said, "You're born, you know, the wrong names, wrong parents. I mean, that happens. You call yourself what you want to call yourself. This is the land of the free."

1960s



Relocation to New York and record deal

In May 1960, Dylan dropped out of college at the end of his first year. In January 1961, he traveled to New York City to perform there and visit his musical idol Woody Guthrie, who was seriously ill with Huntington's disease in Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital. Guthrie had been a revelation to Dylan and influenced his early performances. Describing Guthrie's impact, he wrote: "The songs themselves had the infinite sweep of humanity in them... [He] was the true voice of the American spirit. I said to myself I was going to be Guthrie's greatest disciple." As well as visiting Guthrie in hospital, Dylan befriended Guthrie's protégé Ramblin' Jack Elliott. Much of Guthrie's repertoire was channeled through Elliott, and Dylan paid tribute to Elliott in Chronicles: Volume One. Dylan later said he was influenced by African American poets he heard on the New York streets, especially Big Brown.

From February 1961, Dylan played at clubs around Greenwich Village, befriending and picking up material from folk singers there, including Dave Van Ronk, Fred Neil, Odetta, the New Lost City Ramblers and Irish musicians the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. On April 11, Dylan commenced a two-week engagement at Gerde's Folk City, supporting John Lee Hooker. In September, New York Times critic Robert Shelton boosted Dylan's career with a very enthusiastic review of his performance at Gerde's Folk City: "Bob Dylan: A Distinctive Folk-Song Stylist". That month, Dylan played harmonica on folk singer Carolyn Hester's third album. This brought him to the attention of the album's producer, John Hammond, who signed Dylan to Columbia Records.

Dylan's first album, Bob Dylan, released March 19, 1962, consisted of familiar folk, blues and gospel with two original compositions. The album sold only 5,000 copies in its first year, just enough to break even. Within Columbia Records, some referred to Dylan as "Hammond's Folly" and suggested dropping his contract, but Hammond defended him and was supported by songwriter Johnny Cash. While working for Columbia, Dylan recorded under the pseudonym Blind Boy Grunt for Broadside, a folk magazine and record label. Dylan used the pseudonym Bob Landy to record as a piano player on The Blues Project, a 1964 anthology album by Elektra Records. and signed a management contract with Albert Grossman. (In June 1961, Dylan had signed an agreement with Roy Silver. In 1962, Grossman paid Silver $10,000 to become sole manager.) Grossman remained Dylan's manager until 1970, and was known for his sometimes confrontational personality and protective loyalty. Dylan said, "He was kind of like a Colonel Tom Parker figure ... you could smell him coming."

Dylan made his first trip to the United Kingdom from December 1962 to January 1963. He had been invited by television director Philip Saville to appear in a drama, Madhouse on Castle Street, which Saville was directing for BBC Television. At the end of the play, Dylan performed "Blowin' in the Wind", one of its first public performances. "Oxford Town", for example, was an account of James Meredith's ordeal as the first black student to risk enrollment at the University of Mississippi. The first song on the album, "Blowin' in the Wind", partly derived its melody from the traditional slave song, "No More Auction Block", while its lyrics questioned the social and political status quo. The song was widely recorded by other artists and became a hit for Peter, Paul and Mary. Another song, "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall", was based on the folk ballad "Lord Randall". With veiled references to an impending apocalypse, it gained resonance when the Cuban Missile Crisis developed a few weeks after Dylan began performing it. Like "Blowin' in the Wind", "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall" marked a new direction in songwriting, blending a stream-of-consciousness, imagist lyrical attack with traditional folk form.

Dylan's topical songs led to his being viewed as more than just a songwriter. Janet Maslin wrote in 1980 of Freewheelin: "These were the songs that established [Dylan] as the voice of his generation—someone who implicitly understood how concerned young Americans felt about nuclear disarmament and the growing Civil Rights Movement: his mixture of moral authority and nonconformity was perhaps the most timely of his attributes." Freewheelin also included love songs and surreal talking blues. Humor was an important part of Dylan's persona, and the range of material on the album impressed listeners, including the Beatles. George Harrison said of the album: "We just played it, just wore it out. The content of the song lyrics and just the attitude—it was incredibly original and wonderful."

The rough edge of Dylan's singing was unsettling to some but an attraction to others. Novelist 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." Many early songs reached the public through more palatable versions by other performers, such as Joan Baez, who became Dylan's advocate and lover. Baez was influential in bringing Dylan to prominence by recording several of his early songs and inviting him on stage during her concerts. "It didn't take long before people got it, that he was pretty damned special," says Baez.

Others who had hits with Dylan's songs in the early 1960s included the Byrds, Sonny & Cher, the Hollies, Peter, Paul and Mary, the Association, Manfred Mann and the Turtles. Most attempted a pop feel and rhythm, while Dylan and Baez performed them mostly as sparse folk songs. The covers became so ubiquitous that CBS promoted him with the slogan "Nobody Sings Dylan Like Dylan".

"Mixed-Up Confusion", recorded during the Freewheelin' sessions with a backing band, was released as a single but quickly withdrawn. In contrast to the mostly solo acoustic performances on the album, the single showed a willingness to experiment with a rockabilly sound. Cameron Crowe described it as "a fascinating look at a folk artist with his mind wandering towards Elvis Presley and Sun Records."

Protest and Another Side

{{Listen|type=music |filename = Bob Dylan - The Times They Are a-Changin'.ogg |title = "The Times They Are a-Changin'" |description= Dylan said of "The Times They Are a-Changin'": "This was definitely a song with a purpose. I wanted to write a big song, some kind of theme song, with short concise verses that piled up on each other in a hypnotic way. The civil rights movement and the folk music movement were pretty close and allied together at that time."

By this time, Dylan and Baez were prominent in the civil rights movement, singing together at the March on Washington on August 28, 1963. Dylan's third album, The Times They Are a-Changin', reflected a more politicized Dylan. The songs often took as their subject matter contemporary stories, with "Only a Pawn in Their Game" addressing the murder of civil rights worker Medgar Evers; and the Brechtian "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll" the death of black hotel barmaid Hattie Carroll, at the hands of young white socialite William Zantzinger. On a more general theme, "Ballad of Hollis Brown" and "North Country Blues" addressed despair engendered by the breakdown of farming and mining communities. This political material was accompanied by two personal love songs, "Boots of Spanish Leather" and "One Too Many Mornings".

By the end of 1963, Dylan felt both manipulated and constrained by the folk and protest movements. Accepting the "Tom Paine Award" from the National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee shortly after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, an intoxicated Dylan questioned the role of the committee, characterized the members as old and balding, and claimed to see something of himself and of every man in Kennedy's assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald.

Another Side of Bob Dylan, recorded in a single evening on June 9, 1964, had a lighter mood. The humorous Dylan reemerged on "I Shall Be Free No. 10" and "Motorpsycho Nightmare". "Spanish Harlem Incident" and "To Ramona" are passionate love songs, while "Black Crow Blues" and "I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met)" suggest the rock and roll soon to dominate Dylan's music. "It Ain't Me Babe", on the surface a song about spurned love, has been described as a rejection of the role of political spokesman thrust upon him. His newest direction was signaled by two lengthy songs: the impressionistic "Chimes of Freedom", which sets social commentary against a metaphorical landscape in a style characterized by Allen Ginsberg as "chains of flashing images," and "My Back Pages", which attacks the simplistic and arch seriousness of his own earlier topical songs and seems to predict the backlash he was about to encounter from his former champions as he took a new direction.

In the latter half of 1964 and into 1965, Dylan moved from folk songwriter to folk-rock pop-music star. His jeans and work shirts were replaced by a Carnaby Street wardrobe, sunglasses day or night, and pointed "Beatle boots". A London reporter wrote: "Hair that would set the teeth of a comb on edge. A loud shirt that would dim the neon lights of Leicester Square. He looks like an undernourished cockatoo." Dylan began to spar with interviewers. Appearing on the Les Crane television show and asked about a movie he planned, he told Crane it would be a cowboy horror movie. Asked if he played the cowboy, Dylan replied, "No, I play my mother."

Going electric

Dylan's late March 1965 album Bringing It All Back Home was another leap, featuring his first recordings with electric instruments, under producer Tom Wilson's guidance. The first single, "Subterranean Homesick Blues", owed much to Chuck Berry's "Too Much Monkey Business"; its free-association lyrics described as harking back to the energy of beat poetry and as a forerunner of rap and hip-hop. The song was provided with an early music video, which opened D. A. Pennebaker's cinéma vérité presentation of Dylan's 1965 tour of Great Britain, Dont Look Back. Instead of miming, Dylan illustrated the lyrics by throwing cue cards containing key words from the song on the ground. Pennebaker said the sequence was Dylan's idea, and it has been imitated in music videos and advertisements.

The second side of Bringing It All Back Home contained four long songs on which Dylan accompanied himself on acoustic guitar and harmonica. "Mr. Tambourine Man" became one of his best-known songs when the Byrds recorded an electric version that reached number one in the US and UK. "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" and "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" were two of Dylan's most important compositions.

In 1965, headlining the Newport Folk Festival, Dylan performed his first electric set since high school with a pickup group featuring Mike Bloomfield on guitar and Al Kooper on organ. Dylan had appeared at Newport in 1963 and 1964, but in 1965 met with cheering and booing and left the stage after three songs. One version has it that the boos were from folk fans whom Dylan had alienated by appearing, unexpectedly, with an electric guitar. Murray Lerner, who filmed the performance, said: "I absolutely think that they were booing Dylan going electric." An alternative account claims audience members were upset by poor sound and a short set. This account is supported by Kooper and one of the directors of the festival who claims his recording proves the only boos were in response to MC Peter Yarrow's flustered announcement that there was only enough time for a short set.

Nevertheless, Dylan's performance provoked a hostile response from the folk music establishment. In the September issue of Sing Out!, Ewan MacColl wrote: "Our traditional songs and ballads are the creations of extraordinarily talented artists working inside disciplines formulated over time ...'But what of Bobby Dylan?' scream the outraged teenagers ... Only a completely non-critical audience, nourished on the watery pap of pop music, could have fallen for such tenth-rate drivel." On July 29, four days after Newport, Dylan was back in the studio in New York, recording "Positively 4th Street". The lyrics contained images of vengeance and paranoia, and have been interpreted as Dylan's put-down of former friends from the folk community he had known in clubs along West 4th Street.

Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde

In July 1965, Dylan's six-minute single "Like a Rolling Stone" peaked at number two in the U.S. chart. In 2004 and in 2011, Rolling Stone listed it as number one of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time".

In May 1969, Dylan appeared on the first episode of Johnny Cash's television show and sang a duet with Cash of "Girl from the North Country", with solos of "Living the Blues" and "I Threw It All Away." Dylan next traveled to England to top the bill at the Isle of Wight festival on August 31, 1969, after rejecting overtures to appear at the Woodstock Festival closer to his home.

1970s

In the early 1970s, critics charged that Dylan's output was varied and unpredictable. Rolling Stone writer Greil Marcus asked "What is this shit?" on first listening to Self Portrait, released in June 1970. It was a double LP including few original songs, and was poorly received. In October 1970, Dylan released New Morning, considered a return to form. This album included "Day of the Locusts", a song in which Dylan gave an account of receiving an honorary degree from Princeton University on June 9, 1970. In November 1968, Dylan had co-written "I'd Have You Anytime" with George Harrison; Harrison recorded "I'd Have You Anytime" and Dylan's "If Not for You" for his 1970 solo triple album All Things Must Pass. Dylan's surprise appearance at Harrison's 1971 Concert for Bangladesh attracted media coverage, reflecting that Dylan's live appearances had become rare.

Between March 16 and 19, 1971, Dylan reserved three days at Blue Rock, a small studio in Greenwich Village, to record with Leon Russell. These sessions resulted in "Watching the River Flow" and a new recording of "When I Paint My Masterpiece". On November 4, 1971, Dylan recorded "George Jackson", which he released a week later. For many, the single was a surprising return to protest material, mourning the killing of Black Panther George Jackson in San Quentin State Prison that year. Dylan contributed piano and harmony to Steve Goodman's album, Somebody Else's Troubles, under the pseudonym Robert Milkwood Thomas (referencing Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas and his own previous name) in September 1972.

In 1972, Dylan signed to Sam Peckinpah's film Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, providing songs and backing music for the movie, and playing "Alias", a member of Billy's gang with some historical basis. Despite the film's failure at the box office, the song "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" became one of Dylan's most covered songs.

Also in 1972, Dylan protested the move to deport John Lennon and Yoko Ono, who had been convicted of possessing cannabis, by sending a letter to the U.S. Immigration Service, in part: "Hurray for John & Yoko. Let them stay and live here and breathe. The country's got plenty of room and space. Let John and Yoko stay!"

Return to touring

Dylan began 1973 by signing with a new label, David Geffen's Asylum Records when his contract with Columbia Records expired. His next album, Planet Waves, was recorded in the fall of 1973, using the Band as his backing group as they rehearsed for a major tour. The album included two versions of "Forever Young", which became one of his most popular songs. As one critic described it, the song projected "something hymnal and heartfelt that spoke of the father in Dylan", and Dylan himself commented: "I wrote it thinking about one of my boys and not wanting to be too sentimental."

In January 1974, Dylan, backed by the Band, embarked on a North American tour of 40 concerts—his first tour for seven years. A live double album, Before the Flood, was released on Asylum Records. Soon, according to Clive Davis, Columbia Records sent word they "will spare nothing to bring Dylan back into the fold." Dylan had second thoughts about Asylum, unhappy that Geffen had sold only 600,000 copies of Planet Waves despite millions of unfulfilled ticket requests for the 1974 tour; he returned to Columbia Records, which reissued his two Asylum albums.

{{Listen|type=music |filename = Tangled Up In Blue.ogg |title = "Tangled Up in Blue" |description= Dylan said of the opening song from Blood on the Tracks: "I was trying to deal with the concept of time, and the way the characters change from the first person to the third person, and you're never sure if the first person is talking or the third person. But as you look at the whole thing it really doesn't matter." Dylan delayed the release and re-recorded half of the songs at Sound 80 Studios in Minneapolis with production assistance from his brother, David Zimmerman.

Released in early 1975, Blood on the Tracks received mixed reviews. In the NME, Nick Kent described "the accompaniments [as] often so trashy they sound like mere practice takes." In Rolling Stone, Jon Landau wrote that "the record has been made with typical shoddiness." Novelist Rick Moody called it "the truest, most honest account of a love affair from tip to stern ever put down on magnetic tape."In the middle of that year, Dylan wrote a ballad championing boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, imprisoned for a triple murder in Paterson, New Jersey, in 1966. After visiting Carter in jail, Dylan wrote "Hurricane", presenting the case for Carter's innocence. Despite its length—over eight minutes—the song was released as a single, peaking at 33 on the U.S. Billboard chart, and performed at every 1975 date of Dylan's next tour, the Rolling Thunder Revue. The tour featured about one hundred performers and supporters from the Greenwich Village folk scene, including T-Bone Burnett, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Joni Mitchell, David Mansfield, Roger McGuinn, Mick Ronson, Joan Baez and Scarlet Rivera, whom Dylan discovered walking down the street, her violin case on her back.

Running through late 1975 and again through early 1976, the tour encompassed the release of the album Desire, with many of Dylan's new songs featuring a travelogue-like narrative style, showing the influence of his new collaborator, playwright Jacques Levy. The 1976 half of the tour was documented by a TV concert special, Hard Rain, and the LP Hard Rain; no concert album from first half of the tour was released until 2002's Live 1975.The 1975 tour with the Revue provided the backdrop to Dylan's nearly four-hour film Renaldo and Clara, a sprawling narrative mixed with concert footage and reminiscences. Released in 1978, the movie received poor, sometimes scathing, reviews. Later in that year, a two-hour edit, dominated by the concert performances, was more widely released. More than forty years later, a documentary about the 1975 leg of the Rolling Thunder Revue, Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese was released by Netflix on June 12, 2019.

In November 1976, Dylan appeared at the Band's "farewell" concert, with Eric Clapton, Joni Mitchell, Muddy Waters, Van Morrison and Neil Young. Martin Scorsese's 1978 cinematic chronicle of the concert, The Last Waltz, included about half of Dylan's set. In 1976, Dylan wrote and duetted on "Sign Language" for Eric Clapton's No Reason To Cry.

In 1978, Dylan embarked on a year-long world tour, performing 114 shows in Japan, the Far East, Europe and North America, to a total audience of two million. Dylan assembled an eight-piece band and three backing singers. Concerts in Tokyo in February and March were released as the live double album, Bob Dylan At Budokan. Reviews were mixed. Robert Christgau awarded the album a C+ rating, giving the album a derisory review, while Janet Maslin defended it in Rolling Stone, writing: "These latest live versions of his old songs have the effect of liberating Bob Dylan from the originals." When Dylan brought the tour to the U.S. in September 1978, the press described the look and sound as a 'Las Vegas Tour'. The 1978 tour grossed more than $20 million, and Dylan told the Los Angeles Times that he had debts because "I had a couple of bad years. I put a lot of money into the movie, built a big house  ... and it costs a lot to get divorced in California." It was described by Michael Gray as, "after Blood On The Tracks, arguably Dylan's best record of the 1970s: a crucial album documenting a crucial period in Dylan's own life." However, it had poor sound and mixing (attributed to Dylan's studio practices), muddying the instrumental detail until a remastered CD release in 1999 restored some of the songs' strengths.

Christian period



{{Listen|type=music |filename = Gotta_Serve_Somebody.ogg |title = "Gotta Serve Somebody" |description=Dylan took five months off at the beginning of 1979 to attend Bible school. The event coincided with the start of the Gulf War against Saddam Hussein and Dylan performed "Masters of War". He then made a short speech: "My daddy once said to me, he said, 'Son, it is possible for you to become so defiled in this world that your own mother and father will abandon you. If that happens, God will believe in your ability to mend your own ways.'"

Dylan earned another distinction when a 2007 study of US legal opinions found his lyrics were quoted by judges and lawyers more than those of any other songwriter, 186 times versus 74 by the Beatles, who were second. Among those quoting Dylan were US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Antonin Scalia, both conservatives. The most widely cited lines included "you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows" from "Subterranean Homesick Blues" and "when you ain't got nothing, you got nothing to lose" from "Like a Rolling Stone".

Modern Times

Dylan's career as a radio presenter commenced on May 3, 2006, with his weekly radio program, Theme Time Radio Hour for XM Satellite Radio, with song selections on chosen themes. Dylan played classic and obscure records from the 1920s to the present day, including contemporary artists as diverse as Blur, Prince, L.L. Cool J and the Streets. The show was praised by fans and critics, as Dylan told stories and made eclectic references, commenting on his musical choices. In April 2009, Dylan broadcast the 100th show in his radio series; the theme was "Goodbye" and the final record played was Woody Guthrie's "So Long, It's Been Good to Know Yuh".Dylan released his Modern Times album in August 2006. Despite some coarsening of Dylan's voice (a critic for The Guardian characterised his singing on the album as "a catarrhal death rattle") most reviewers praised the album, and many described it as the final installment of a successful trilogy, embracing Time Out of Mind and "Love and Theft". Modern Times entered the U.S. charts at number one, making it Dylan's first album to reach that position since 1976's Desire. The New York Times published an article exploring similarities between some of Dylan's lyrics in Modern Times and the work of the Civil War poet Henry Timrod.

Nominated for three Grammy Awards, Modern Times won Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album and Bob Dylan also won Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance for "Someday Baby." Modern Times was named Album of the Year, 2006, by Rolling Stone magazine, and by Uncut in the UK. On the same day that Modern Times was released the iTunes Music Store released Bob Dylan: The Collection, a digital box set containing all of his albums (773 tracks in total), along with 42 rare and unreleased tracks.

In August 2007, the award-winning film biography of Dylan I'm Not There, written and directed by Todd Haynes, was released—bearing the tagline "inspired by the music and many lives of Bob Dylan." The movie used six different actors to represent different aspects of Dylan's life: Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Marcus Carl Franklin, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger and Ben Whishaw. Dylan's previously unreleased 1967 recording from which the film takes its name was released for the first time on the film's original soundtrack; all other tracks are covers of Dylan songs, specially recorded for the movie by a diverse range of artists, including Sonic Youth, Eddie Vedder, Mason Jennings, Stephen Malkmus, Jeff Tweedy, Karen O, Willie Nelson, Cat Power, Richie Havens and Tom Verlaine.On October 1, 2007, Columbia Records released the triple CD retrospective album Dylan, anthologising his entire career under the Dylan 07 logo. The sophistication of the Dylan 07 marketing campaign was a reminder that Dylan's commercial profile had risen considerably since the 1990s. This became evident in 2004, when Dylan appeared in a TV advertisement for Victoria's Secret lingerie. Three years later, in October 2007, he participated in a multi-media campaign for the 2008 Cadillac Escalade. Then, in 2009, he gave the highest profile endorsement of his career, appearing with rapper will.i.am in a Pepsi ad that debuted during the telecast of Super Bowl XLIII. The ad, broadcast to a record audience of 98 million viewers, opened with Dylan singing the first verse of "Forever Young" followed by will.i.am doing a hip hop version of the song's third and final verse.

The Bootleg Series Vol. 8 – Tell Tale Signs was released in October 2008, as both a two-CD set and a three-CD version with a 150-page hardcover book. The set contains live performances and outtakes from selected studio albums from Oh Mercy to Modern Times, as well as soundtrack contributions and collaborations with David Bromberg and Ralph Stanley. The pricing of the album—the two-CD set went on sale for $18.99 and the three-CD version for $129.99—led to complaints about "rip-off packaging" from some fans and commentators. The release was widely acclaimed by critics. The abundance of alternative takes and unreleased material suggested to one reviewer that this volume of old outtakes "feels like a new Bob Dylan record, not only for the astonishing freshness of the material, but also for the incredible sound quality and organic feeling of everything here."

Together Through Life and Christmas in the Heart

Bob Dylan released his album Together Through Life on April 28, 2009. In a conversation with music journalist Bill Flanagan, published on Dylan's website, Dylan explained that the genesis of the record was when French film director Olivier Dahan asked him to supply a song for his new road movie, My Own Love Song; initially only intending to record a single track, "Life Is Hard," "the record sort of took its own direction." Nine of the ten songs on the album are credited as co-written by Bob Dylan and Robert Hunter. The album received largely favorable reviews, although several critics described it as a minor addition to Dylan's canon of work.

In its first week of release, the album reached number one in the Billboard 200 chart in the U.S., making Bob Dylan (67 years of age) the oldest artist to ever debut at number one on that chart. It also reached number one on the UK album chart, 39 years after Dylan's previous UK album chart topper New Morning. This meant that Dylan currently holds the record for the longest gap between solo number one albums in the UK chart.

Dylan's album, Christmas in the Heart, was released in October 2009, comprising such Christmas standards as "Little Drummer Boy", "Winter Wonderland" and "Here Comes Santa Claus." Critics pointed out that Dylan was "revisiting yuletide styles popularized by Nat King Cole, Mel Tormé, and the Ray Conniff Singers." Dylan's royalties from the sale of this album were donated to the charities Feeding America in the USA, Crisis in the UK, and the World Food Programme.

The album received generally favorable reviews. The New Yorker wrote that Dylan had welded a pre-rock musical sound to "some of his croakiest vocals in a while", and speculated that his intentions might be ironic: "Dylan has a long and highly publicized history with Christianity; to claim there's not a wink in the childish optimism of 'Here Comes Santa Claus' or 'Winter Wonderland' is to ignore a half-century of biting satire." In an interview published in The Big Issue, journalist Bill Flanagan asked Dylan why he had performed the songs in a straightforward style, and Dylan responded: "There wasn't any other way to play it. These songs are part of my life, just like folk songs. You have to play them straight too." The critical aggregator website Metacritic awarded the album a Metascore of 86, indicating "universal acclaim." In the same week, Sony Legacy released Bob Dylan: The Original Mono Recordings, a box set that for the first time presented Dylan's eight earliest albums, from Bob Dylan (1962) to John Wesley Harding (1967), in their original mono mix in the CD format. The CDs were housed in miniature facsimiles of the original album covers, replete with original liner notes. The set was accompanied by a booklet featuring an essay by music critic Greil Marcus.

On April 12, 2011, Legacy Recordings released Bob Dylan in Concert – Brandeis University 1963, taped at Brandeis University on May 10, 1963, two weeks prior to the release of The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. The tape was discovered in the archive of music writer Ralph J. Gleason, and the recording carries liner notes by Michael Gray, who says it captures Dylan "from way back when Kennedy] was President and the Beatles hadn't yet reached America. It reveals him not at any Big Moment but giving a performance like his folk club sets of the period... This is the last live performance we have of Bob Dylan before he becomes a star."

The extent to which his work was studied at an academic level was demonstrated on Dylan's 70th birthday on May 24, 2011, when three universities organized symposia on his work. The University of Mainz, the University of Vienna, and the University of Bristol invited literary critics and cultural historians to give papers on aspects of Dylan's work. Other events, including tribute bands, discussions and simple singalongs, took place around the world, as reported in The Guardian: "From Moscow to Madrid, Norway to Northampton and Malaysia to his home state of Minnesota, self-confessed 'Bobcats' will gather today to celebrate the 70th birthday of a giant of popular music."On May 29, 2012, U.S. President Barack Obama awarded Dylan a Presidential Medal of Freedom in the White House. At the ceremony, Obama praised Dylan's voice for its "unique gravelly power that redefined not just what music sounded like but the message it carried and how it made people feel."

Dylan's 35th studio album, Tempest was released on September 11, 2012. The album features a tribute to John Lennon, "Roll On John", and the title track is a 14-minute song about the sinking of the Titanic. Reviewing Tempest for Rolling Stone, Will Hermes gave the album five out of five stars, writing: "Lyrically, Dylan is at the top of his game, joking around, dropping wordplay and allegories that evade pat readings and quoting other folks' words like a freestyle rapper on fire." The critical aggregator website Metacritic awarded the album a score of 83 out of 100, indicating "universal acclaim."

Volume 10 of Dylan's Bootleg Series, Another Self Portrait (1969–1971) was released in August 2013. The album contained 35 previously unreleased tracks, including alternative takes and demos from Dylan's 1969–1971 recording sessions during the making of the Self Portrait and New Morning albums. The box set also included a live recording of Dylan's performance with the Band at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1969. Another Self Portrait received favorable reviews, earning a score of 81 on the critical aggregator, Metacritic, indicating "universal acclaim." AllMusic critic Thom Jurek wrote, "For fans, this is more than a curiosity, it's an indispensable addition to the catalog."

Columbia Records released a boxed set containing all 35 Dylan studio albums, six albums of live recordings, and a collection, entitled Sidetracks, of non-album material, Bob Dylan: Complete Album Collection: Vol. One, in November 2013. To publicize the 35 album box set, an innovative video of the song "Like a Rolling Stone" was released on Dylan's website. The interactive video, created by director Vania Heymann, allowed viewers to switch between 16 simulated TV channels, all featuring characters who are lip-synching the lyrics of the 48-year-old song.

Dylan appeared in a commercial for the Chrysler 200 car which was screened during the 2014 Super Bowl American football game played on February 2, 2014. At the end of the commercial, Dylan says: "So let Germany brew your beer, let Switzerland make your watch, let Asia assemble your phone. We will build your car." Dylan's Super Bowl commercial generated controversy and op-ed pieces discussing the protectionist implications of his words, and whether the singer had "sold out" to corporate interests.

In 2013 and 2014, auction house sales demonstrated the high cultural value attached to Dylan's mid-1960s work and the record prices that collectors were willing to pay for artefacts from this period. In December 2013, the Fender Stratocaster which Dylan had played at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival fetched $965,000, the second highest price paid for a guitar. In June 2014, Dylan's hand-written lyrics of "Like a Rolling Stone", his 1965 hit single, fetched $2 million dollars at auction, a record for a popular music manuscript.

A massive 960 page, thirteen and a half pound edition of Dylan's lyrics, The Lyrics: Since 1962 was published by Simon & Schuster in the fall of 2014. The book was edited by literary critic Christopher Ricks, Julie Nemrow and Lisa Nemrow, to offer variant versions of Dylan's songs, sourced from out-takes and live performances. A limited edition of 50 books, signed by Dylan, was priced at $5,000. "It's the biggest, most expensive book we've ever published, as far as I know," said Jonathan Karp, Simon & Schuster's president and publisher.

A comprehensive edition of the Basement Tapes song recorded by Dylan and the Band in 1967 was released as The Basement Tapes Complete in November 2014. These 138 tracks in a six-CD box form Volume 11 of Dylan's Bootleg Series. The 1975 album, The Basement Tapes, had contained just 24 tracks from the material which Dylan and the Band had recorded at their homes in Woodstock, New York in 1967. Subsequently, over 100 recordings and alternate takes had circulated on bootleg records. The sleeve notes for the new box set are by Sid Griffin, author of Million Dollar Bash: Bob Dylan, the Band, and the Basement Tapes.

Shadows in the Night, Fallen Angels and Triplicate

In February 2015, Dylan released Shadows in the Night, featuring ten songs written between 1923 and 1963, which have been described as part of the Great American Songbook. All the songs on the album were recorded by Frank Sinatra but both critics and Dylan himself cautioned against seeing the record as a collection of "Sinatra covers." Dylan's first foray into this material was in 2001 when he recorded Dean Martin's "Return to Me" for the third season of The Sopranos.

Shadows In the Night received favorable reviews, scoring 82 on the critical aggregator Metacritic, which indicates "universal acclaim". Critics praised the restrained instrumental backings and the quality of Dylan's singing. Bill Prince in GQ commented: "A performer who's had to hear his influence in virtually every white pop recording made since he debuted his own self-titled album back in 1962 imagines himself into the songs of his pre-rock'n'roll early youth." The archive will be housed at Helmerich Center for American Research, a facility at the Gilcrease Museum.

Dylan released Fallen Angels—described as "a direct continuation of the work of 'uncovering' the Great Songbook that he began on last year's Shadows In the Night"—in May. The album contained twelve songs by classic songwriters such as Harold Arlen, Sammy Cahn and Johnny Mercer, eleven of which had been recorded by Sinatra. in The New York Times, Jon Pareles wrote, "Decades later, what comes through these recordings above all is Mr. Dylan's unmistakable fervor, his sense of mission. The studio albums are subdued, even tentative, compared with what the songs became on the road. Mr. Dylan's voice is clear, cutting and ever improvisational; working the crowds, he was emphatic, committed, sometimes teasingly combative. And the band tears into the music." Trouble No More includes a DVD of a film directed by Jennifer Lebeau consisting of live footage of Dylan's gospel performances interspersed with sermons delivered by actor Michael Shannon. The box set album received an aggregate score of 84 on the critical website Metacritic, indicating "universal acclaim".

Dylan made a contribution to the compilation EP Universal Love, a collection of reimagined wedding songs for the LGBT community in April 2018. The album was funded by MGM Resorts International and the songs are intended to function as "wedding anthems for same-sex couples". Dylan recorded the 1929 song "She's Funny That Way", changing the gender pronoun to "He's Funny That Way". The song has previously been recorded by Billie Holiday and Frank Sinatra.

Also in April 2018, The New York Times announced that Dylan was launching Heaven's Door, a range of three whiskeys: a straight rye, a straight bourbon and a "double-barreled" whiskey. Dylan has been involved in both the creation and the marketing of the range. The Times described the venture as "Mr. Dylan's entry into the booming celebrity-branded spirits market, the latest career twist for an artist who has spent five decades confounding expectations."

On November 2, 2018, Dylan released More Blood, More Tracks as Volume 14 in the Bootleg Series. The set comprises all Dylan's recordings for his 1975 album Blood On the Tracks, and was issued as a single CD and also as a six-CD Deluxe Edition. The box set album received an aggregate score of 93 on the critical website Metacritic, indicating "universal acclaim".

Netflix released the movie Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese on June 12, 2019, describing the film as "Part documentary, part concert film, part fever dream". The Scorsese film received an aggregate score of 88 on critical website Metacritic, indicating "universal acclaim". The film sparked controversy because of the way it deliberately mixed documentary footage filmed during the Rolling Thunder Revue in the fall of 1975 with fictitious characters and invented stories.

Coinciding with the film release, a box set of 14 CDs, The Rolling Thunder Revue: The 1975 Live Recordings, was released by Columbia Records. The set comprises five full Dylan performances from the tour and recently discovered tapes from Dylan's tour rehearsals. The box set received an aggregate score of 89 on the critical website Metacritic, indicating "universal acclaim".

The next instalment of Dylan's Bootleg Series, Bob Dylan (featuring Johnny Cash) – Travelin’ Thru, 1967 – 1969: The Bootleg Series Vol. 15, was released on November 1. The 3-CD set comprises outtakes from Dylan's albums John Wesley Harding and Nashville Skyline, and songs that Dylan recorded with Johnny Cash in Nashville in 1969 and with Earl Scruggs in 1970. Travelin' Thru received an aggregate score of 88 on the critical website Metacritic, indicating "universal acclaim".

2020s

On March 26, 2020, Dylan released a seventeen-minute track "Murder Most Foul" on his YouTube channel, revolving around the assassination of President Kennedy. Dylan posted a statement: "This is an unreleased song we recorded a while back that you might find interesting. Stay safe, stay observant and may God be with you." Billboard reported on April 8 that "Murder Most Foul" had topped the Billboard Rock Digital Song Sales Chart. This was the first time that Dylan had scored a number one song on a pop chart under his own name.

Three weeks later, on April 17, 2020, Dylan released another new song, "I Contain Multitudes", on his YouTube channel. The title is a quote from Section 51 of Walt Whitman's poem "Song of Myself". On May 7, Dylan released a third single, "False Prophet", accompanied by the announcement that "Murder Most Foul", "I Contain Multitudes" and "False Prophet" would all appear on a forthcoming double album, Rough and Rowdy Ways, to be released on June 19. This will be his first album of original material since 2012. In October 2019, drummer Matt Chamberlain joined the band. Vineyard Pastor Kenn Gulliksen has recalled: "Larry Myers and Paul Emond went over to Bob's house and ministered to him. He responded by saying, 'Yes he did in fact want Christ in his life.' And he prayed that day and received the Lord." From January to March 1979, Dylan attended the Vineyard Bible study classes in Reseda, California.

The Swedish Academy announced in November that Dylan would not travel to Stockholm for the Nobel Prize Ceremony due to "pre-existing commitments." At the Nobel Banquet in Stockholm on December 10, 2016, Dylan's speech was given by Azita Raji, U.S. Ambassador to Sweden. Patti Smith accepted Dylan's Nobel and performed his song "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" to orchestral accompaniment.

On April 2, 2017, Academy secretary Sara Danius reported: "Earlier today the Swedish Academy met with Bob Dylan for a private ceremony [with no media present] in Stockholm, during which Dylan received his gold medal and diploma. Twelve members of the Academy were present. Spirits were high. Champagne was had. Quite a bit of time was spent looking closely at the gold medal, in particular the beautifully crafted back, an image of a young man sitting under a laurel tree who listens to the Muse. Taken from Virgil's Aeneid, the inscription reads: Inventas vitam iuvat excoluisse per artes, loosely translated as "And they who bettered life on earth by their newly found mastery."

Dylan's Nobel Lecture was posted on the Nobel prize website on June 5, 2017. The New York Times pointed out that, in order to collect the prize's eight million Swedish krona ($900,000), the Swedish Academy's rules stipulate the laureate "must deliver a lecture within six months of the official ceremony, which would have made Mr. Dylan's deadline June 10." Academy secretary Danius commented: "The speech is extraordinary and, as one might expect, eloquent. Now that the lecture has been delivered, the Dylan adventure is coming to a close." In his essay, Dylan writes about the impact that three important books made on him: Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front and Homer's Odyssey. He concludes: "Our songs are alive in the land of the living. But songs are unlike literature. They're meant to be sung, not read. The words in Shakespeare's plays were meant to be acted on the stage. Just as lyrics in songs are meant to be sung, not read on a page. And I hope some of you get the chance to listen to these lyrics the way they were intended to be heard: in concert or on record or however people are listening to songs these days. I return once again to Homer, who says, 'Sing in me, oh Muse, and through me tell the story'."

Legacy

Dylan has been described as one of the most influential figures of the 20th century, musically and culturally. He was included in the Time 100: The Most Important People of the Century, where he was called "master poet, caustic social critic and intrepid, guiding spirit of the counterculture generation." In 2008, the Pulitzer Prize jury awarded him a special citation for "his profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power." President Barack Obama said of Dylan in 2012, "There is not a bigger giant in the history of American music." For 20 years, academics lobbied the Swedish Academy to give Dylan the Nobel Prize in Literature. He received the award in 2016, Horace Engdahl, a member of the Nobel Committee, described Dylan's place in literary history:Rolling Stone has ranked Dylan at number one in its 2015 list of the 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time, and listed "Like A Rolling Stone" as the "Greatest Song of all Time" in their 2011 list. In 2008, it was estimated that Dylan had sold about 120 million albums worldwide.

Initially modeling his writing style on the songs of Woody Guthrie, the blues of Robert Johnson, and what he termed the "architectural forms" of Hank Williams songs, Dylan added increasingly sophisticated lyrical techniques to the folk music of the early 1960s, infusing it "with the intellectualism of classic literature and poetry." Paul Simon suggested that Dylan's early compositions virtually took over the folk genre: "[Dylan's] early songs were very rich ... with strong melodies. 'Blowin' in the Wind' has a really strong melody. He so enlarged himself through the folk background that he incorporated it for a while. He defined the genre for a while."

When Dylan made his move from acoustic folk and blues music to a rock backing, the mix became more complex. For many critics, his greatest achievement was the cultural synthesis exemplified by his mid-1960s trilogy of albums—Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde. In Mike Marqusee's words:

Between late 1964 and the middle of 1966, Dylan created a body of work that remains unique. Drawing on folk, blues, country, R&B, rock'n'roll, gospel, British beat, [[Symbolist poetry


Dylan's lyrics began to receive detailed scrutiny from academics and poets as early as 1998, when Stanford University sponsored the first international academic conference on Bob Dylan to be held in the United States. In 2004, Richard F. Thomas, Classics professor at Harvard University, created a freshman seminar titled "Dylan" "to put the artist in context of not just popular culture of the last half-century, but the tradition of classical poets like Virgil and Homer."

Literary critic Christopher Ricks published Dylan's Visions of Sin, a 500-page analysis of Dylan's work, and has said: "I'd not have written a book about Dylan, to stand alongside my books on Milton and Keats, Tennyson and T.S. Eliot, if I didn't think Dylan a genius of and with language. Former British poet laureate Andrew Motion suggested his lyrics should be studied in schools. The critical consensus that Dylan's song writing was his outstanding creative achievement was articulated by Encyclopædia Britannica where his entry stated: "Hailed as the Shakespeare of his generation, Dylan... set the standard for lyric writing."

Dylan's voice also received critical attention. Robert Shelton described his early vocal style as "a rusty voice suggesting Guthrie's old performances, etched in gravel like Dave Van Ronk's." David Bowie, in his tribute, "Song for Bob Dylan", described Dylan's singing as "a voice like sand and glue." His voice continued to develop as he began to work with rock'n'roll backing bands; critic Michael Gray described the sound of Dylan's vocal work on "Like a Rolling Stone" as "at once young and jeeringly cynical." As Dylan's voice aged during the 1980s, for some critics, it became more expressive. Christophe Lebold writes in the journal Oral Tradition, "Dylan's more recent broken voice enables him to present a world view at the sonic surface of the songs—this voice carries us across the landscape of a broken, fallen world. The anatomy of a broken world in "Everything is Broken" (on the album Oh Mercy) is but an example of how the thematic concern with all things broken is grounded in a concrete sonic reality."

Dylan is considered a seminal influence on many musical genres. As Edna Gundersen stated in USA Today: "Dylan's musical DNA has informed nearly every simple twist of pop since 1962." Punk musician Joe Strummer praised Dylan for having "laid down the template for lyric, tune, seriousness, spirituality, depth of rock music." Other major musicians who acknowledged Dylan's importance include Johnny Cash, Jerry Garcia, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Pete Townshend, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Ferry, Nick Cave, Patti Smith, Syd Barrett, Joni Mitchell, Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen. Dylan significantly contributed to the initial success of both the Byrds and the Band: the Byrds achieved chart success with their version of "Mr. Tambourine Man" and the subsequent album, while the Band were Dylan's backing band on his 1966 tour, recorded The Basement Tapes with him in 1967 and featured three previously unreleased Dylan songs on their debut album.

Some critics have dissented from the view of Dylan as a visionary figure in popular music. In his book Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom, Nik Cohn objected: "I can't take the vision of Dylan as seer, as teenage messiah, as everything else he's been worshipped as. The way I see him, he's a minor talent with a major gift for self-hype." Australian critic Jack Marx credited Dylan with changing the persona of the rock star: "What cannot be disputed is that Dylan invented the arrogant, faux-cerebral posturing that has been the dominant style in rock since, with everyone from Mick Jagger to Eminem educating themselves from the Dylan handbook."

Fellow musicians have also presented dissenting views. Joni Mitchell described Dylan as a "plagiarist" and his voice as "fake" in a 2010 interview in the Los Angeles Times, despite the fact that Mitchell had toured with Dylan in the past, and both artists have covered each others songs. Mitchell's comment led to discussions of Dylan's use of other people's material, both supporting and criticizing him. Talking to Mikal Gilmore in Rolling Stone in 2012, Dylan responded to the allegation of plagiarism, including his use of Henry Timrod's verse in his album Modern Times,

If Dylan's work in the 1960s was seen as bringing intellectual ambition to popular music, critics in the 21st century described him as a figure who had greatly expanded the folk culture from which he initially emerged. Following the release of Todd Haynes' Dylan biopic I'm Not There, J. Hoberman wrote in his 2007 Village Voice review:When Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, The New York Times commented: "In choosing a popular musician for the literary world's highest honor, the Swedish Academy, which awards the prize, dramatically redefined the boundaries of literature, setting off a debate about whether song lyrics have the same artistic value as poetry or novels."

Archives and tributes

Dylan's archive, comprising notebooks, song drafts, business contracts, recordings and movie out-takes, is held at the Gilcrease Museum's Helmerich Center for American Research in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which is also the home of the papers of Woody Guthrie. In 2017, the George Kaiser Family Foundation announced a design competition for a major Bob Dylan Center in Tulsa's Arts District. In 2018, the foundation announced that it had selected Olson Kundig Architects to design the building. The center is expected to open in 2021, and be located next to the facility dedicated to Guthrie.

In 2005, 7th Avenue East in Hibbing, Minnesota, the street on which Dylan lived from ages 6 to 18, received the honorary name Bob Dylan Drive. In the town of Hibbing, a walk of fame-styled "star" is embedded in a sidewalk with the words Bob Dylan as well as a cursive-Z for Dylan's nickname Zimmy in youth. In 2006 a cultural pathway, Bob Dylan Way, was inaugurated in Duluth, Minnesota, the city where Dylan was born. The 1.8 mile path links "cultural and historically significant areas of downtown for the tourists."

In 2015, a massive Bob Dylan mural was unveiled in downtown Minneapolis, the city where Dylan attended university for a year. The mural was designed by Brazilian street artist Eduardo Kobra.

Tribute albums



The large number of tribute albums devoted to Dylan’s work demonstrates the significance of his song writing. Early in Dylan’s career, veteran folk singer Odetta recorded Odetta Sings Dylan (1965). Joan Baez, who had mentored and promoted Dylan’s work, recorded the double album Any Day Now (1968) with Nashville backing musicians. English art rocker Bryan Ferry devoted an album to idiosyncratic interpretations of Dylan’s work, Dylanesque.

The BMG record label released three albums of compilations of various artists covering Dylan songs: May Your Song Always Be Sung: The Songs of Bob Dylan, Volume 1 (1997), Volume 2 (2001) and Volume 3 (2003).

Gotta Serve Somebody: The Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan (2003) featured performances of Dylan songs by artists from a gospel background, including Shirley Caesar, Aaron Neville and Mavis Staples. The connection between Dylan’s career and human rights was embodied in the four-CD album Chimes of Freedom: Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International (2012), featuring contributions from 80 artists, including Adele, Sting, Patti Smith and Miley Cyrus.

Explanatory notes