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TRCH The Da Vinci Code

A brief introduction to Bob

12 November 05 words: Richard Wilson
The legendary Bob Dylan is coming to Nottingham next Tuesday. We take a look at the career of America's favourite songwriter


Bob Dylan is a living legend. A man who was around at the same time as Elvis, Sinatra, The Beatles and more, he’s still going and heading to Nottingham’s Ice Arena this November.

Dylan was born in Dublin Minnesota. He recorded his first album in 1960 simply titled Bob Dylan and gained instant popularity with his acoustic guitar playing and soulful voice. The sound of Bob’s harmonica playing added to the greatness of his songs and the eponymous debut LP sold millions worldwide.

On July 12, 1962 he signed a publishing deal with Whitmark music and cut a demo of Blowin’ in the wind in their small recording room on the fifth floor of 488 Madison Avenue. . The song not only helped his career, but also those of Joan Baez and Peter, Paul and Mary who both did cover versions (something that  has happened regularly to his music).

During the following eighteen months he recorded around 40 publishing demos for M Whitmark and Sons. Dylan’s second album was titled The Freewheeling Bob Dylan (the photo below right is a scene taken from the album cover). Following this The times they are a changing was released in October 1963. In 1965 the album Highway 61 Revisited and Bringing back home were both bought by popular music fans in their millions and as confirmed Dylan’s status as one of the most prominent people in music across the globe.

The first track from side two of Bringing it all back home was Mr Tambourine Man, a song remembered for soundtracking an era, selling millions and still being played on the radio fairly often these days (albeit more often by The Byrds).

1966 saw the Blond on Blonde double LP and the first Bob Dylan greatest hits LP in the record shops. Around this time Bob revealed to journalists that the anthemic Blowin’ in the wind took him all of ten minutes to write.

Nashville Skyline, with cover featuring a photo of Bob with a short beard and moustache, contained some great tracks including Girl from the north country (also featuring Johnny Cash) and Lay Lady Lay.

Bob’s career was rarely without controversy. One of the seminal moments of popular music happened in Manchester on his UK tour of 1966 when during the set he changed from an acoustic to an electric guitar, disappointing some of his fans and prompting the infamous "Judas" chant that saw him switch from Folk to Rock, before finally fusing them forever.

In 1978 when Bob became a born-again Christian, many of his songs reflected his new found faith. Songs such as Slow Train, Precious Angel, Convenient Woman had religious undertones and the trilogy of religious albums Slow Train, Planet Waves and 1981’s Shot of Love

His 1997 album Time out of mind was described as 73 minutes of genius by the standard Dylan at his creative peak by the Guardian and The Original is back by the NME. 2001’s Love and Theft was a bestseller in both the UK and the US and confirmed that four decades on Bob still had it. 

A legend in his lifetime and the poet laureate for a generation. From his early days as a protesting folk troubadour Dylan has consistently reinvented himself through rock poet, country music crooner, star-crossed lover and prophet of doom.

Always either one step ahead of the game, or ignoring the game altogether, Dylan continues to live up to the expectations of fans by producing material that has the full history of American song writing flowing through it.

The man the legend is heading to Nottingham Ice Arena on 15 November 2005.

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