Every now and then, there comes a musician whose work shakes the foundations of popular music as we know it, and there’s no doubt that Bob Dylan is an artist who falls into this category.
It’s not every day that we name an artist one of the best songwriters of all time, one of the most important people of the century, or hand them a Nobel Prize, but Bob Dylan’s work has been so celebrated that he has been the recipient of all of the above - and that’s before we even get started on the numerous awards he’s received during his career, including 10 Grammy’s and the Presidential Medal of Freedom!
His debut album, released in 1962, was comprised of mainly folk songs, but it was one year later when Dylan began earning his stripes as a prolific songwriter. The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan was a hit, featuring songs that he’d written but still with that folk flavour in the tunes and phraseology. This kicked off a really special few years for Dylan as his popularity grew and grew.
Despite some controversy surrounding Dylan experimenting with new technologies like electronically amplified rock, this incredible artist would go on to create three of the most important rock albums of the decade in a matter of 15 months! He was certainly busy creating Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, and Blonde of Blonde!
Bob Dylan then went through a phase of experimenting with country music and rural themes, before starting his journey as a born-again Christian, creating and releasing a series of gospel albums during this time.
Here at RSL, one of our favourite Dylan tunes is undoubtedly “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”, and we’re definitely not alone! This song became a worldwide hit after it was written for the soundtrack of the 1973 film Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. It reached the top 10 in countries all over the world, and even saw some other big names creating their own versions, like Guns N’ Roses, Eric Clapton and Randy Crawford. We love this song so much that we thought it to be an essential track for the Rockschool Acoustic Guitar syllabus, so, beginners, Debut graders, this one is for you!
According to his own website, Bob Dylan performed “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” a whole 460 times between the years of 1974 and 2003. That’s a LOT of times, though it makes complete sense when you’ve learned that Bob Dylan has been on tour continuously since 1988. Yes, you read that correctly. In fact, Dylan has been on tour for so many years that it has been dubbed the Never Ending Tour! Unfortunately, it did have to stop during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What Bob Dylan has managed to do is really quite special, especially during his most celebrated era - the ‘60s. Dylan emerged during a time when the world really needed him. The anti-establishment counterculture needed his guiding spirit, anti-war and civil rights movements needed his poetic and political words to keep pushing them along, and pop music culture needed him to push the boundaries of what we all thought was possible. He did all of those things and more, and his fan base still love him today. There’s a reason that Bob Dylan is one of the best-selling musicians of all time, after all!
If you’ve enjoyed reading about this legend, there’s plenty more where that came from. He’s joined on the Rockschool Acoustic Debut syllabus by more big-time artists like The Beatles and Bill Withers, so check them out!