Bob Dylan – The most influential artist in popular culture
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I think the material is excellent. I’ve benefited so much. I’ve now begun to improvise with some confidence and have written songs that feel authentic. I can now develop musically in a broad and rich way. Your work has illuminated an exciting path forward.– Roger
Widely regarded as the most influential artist in popular culture, Bob Dylan has been covered and copied by almost everyone who’s attempted to write a song. Some might even say that he invented modern songwriting. It is difficult to find an artist post ’60 who has not been heavily influenced by Bob Dylan, directly or indirectly.
His classics include a huge selection of songs, making it hard to pick a handful to sum him up but let’s give it a go. ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’, ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’, ‘Hurricane’, ‘Mr. Bojangles’, ‘Knocking On Heavens Door’, ‘All Along The Watchtower’, ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’, ‘Like A Rolling Stone’, ‘One More Cup Of Coffee’, ‘Sara’ and ‘Make You Feel My Love’, pretty impressive!
Blowin’ In The Wind
‘Blowin’ In The Wind’ is a song from the 1963 album, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. This wasn’t Dylan’s first album and he still mainly played covers at this point but ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’ was his own song, quickly covered by his contemporary peers!
In fact, Peter Paul & Mary actually charted with the song way before Dylan did with his own version.
‘Blowin’ In The Wind’ is often used as an example of a ‘protest song’, posing philosophical questions about peace, war, and freedom. American teens in the 60s couldn’t get enough of it and Dylan became an icon.
Dylan has recorded a number of albums following this, now legendary, album. Even though he is now approaching half a century as an active recording artist. For many he still remains the one man band that sang ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’, ‘The Times They Are A Changing’ and ‘Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right’.
In 1999, ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’ was inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame. In 2004, it was listed as #14 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
One More Cup Of Coffee
‘One More Cup Of Coffee (Valley Below)’ is a song by Bob Dylan from his album Desire. Since its release, the song has been covered by many artists including The White Stripes, Calexico, Roger McGuinn and Robert Plant.
The 1976 album it appeared on is ranked by many as Bob Dylan’s finest collaboration work.
Dylan had approached the concept of making an album from many different angels and this seventeenth studio album was his first attempt at a large collaborative effort.
Collaborative for Dylan meant chaotic for the rest of the band. For example, the violin player, Scarlet Rivera, was spotted walking down the street with her violin case as Dylan passed in his limo. They’d never met before but Scarlet ended up playing on most songs on the album.
Overseen by producer Don Devito, many famed musicians were involved in the making of ‘Desire’. Eric Clapton was present at one point but he soon left the studio advising Dylan to get a smaller band. There where five guitar players present on the day he was there!
Emmylou Harris sang the improvised harmony on the original recording making it her first big performance. At the time she was relatively unknown.
It is possible that Dylan surrounded himself with so many musicians because his marriage was heavily on the rocks during this time.
The song ‘Sara’ speaks for itself. The vocal take for ‘Sara’ was done with Dylan singing it to her in the studio. Two years later she filed for divorce.
Another controversial track off Desire is ‘Hurricane’, a true tale of how Rubin Hurricane Carter was wrongly jailed for triple murder. Since 1976, Dylan has never performed this song again.
Desire is one of those albums that could potentially change your perception of music. It certainly did for me.