The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia


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One of the things I wanted to do was entries on every musician that's played with Dylan either on recording or onstage. It was fun sometimes because I was ringing up musicians that played on Blonde on Blonde , say, and finding out how they felt now and what was myth and what was true. The fanatics, who never seem to have time to listen to the great Dylan albums because they're too busy collecting DVDs of last night's mediocre concert, tend to just tell me what's wrong with my book.

I think most people take the more pleasurable task, which is to browse, to open it up and read about one thing, which leads them to something else, and three hours later they've forgotten to have lunch. Like Dylan's songs, I hope my book works on several levels. However, that summer he created a major controversy with his first public electric set, backed by a pickup group drawn mostly from the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, while headlining at the Newport Folk Festival.

Dylan met with a mix of cheering and booing and left the stage after only three songs. The boos reportedly came from outraged folk fans who felt Dylan had betrayed the idiom and sold out to commercialism. Dylan soon reemerged and sang two much better received solo acoustic numbers, "Mr. Tambourine Man," and "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue," the latter thought by some to have been an intentional signal to his audience to let go and move on. The Newport performance provoked an outraged response from the folk music establishment, but on July 29, Dylan was back in the studio in New York to record the hit single "Positively 4th Street.

At over six minutes in length, this song has been widely credited with altering attitudes about both the content and form of the pop single. The song began an anthem of the hippie generation, and in , Rolling Stone magazine listed it at number one on its list of the greatest songs of all time. The sound of "Like a Rolling Stone" also characterized Dylan's next album, Highway 61 Revisited, featuring surreal litanies of the grotesque, flavored by Mike Bloomfield's blues guitar and Dylan's obvious and sometimes gleeful enjoyment of the sessions.

Its closing song, "Desolation Row," is an apocalyptic vision with references to many figures of Western culture. In support of the record, Dylan was booked for two U. While Dylan and the Hawks met increasingly receptive audiences on tour, their studio efforts floundered. Producer Bob Johnston had been trying to persuade Dylan to record in Nashville for some time, and in February , Dylan, together with Robertson and Kooper, recorded the Nashville sessions which produced the album Blonde on Blonde For many critics, Dylan's mid-'60s trilogy of albums— Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, and Blonde on Blonde —represents one of the great cultural achievements of the twentieth century.

On November 22, , Dylan married Sara Lownds. He undertook a tour of Australia and Europe in the spring of Each show was split into two parts. Dylan performed solo during the first half, accompanying himself on acoustic guitar and harmonica.

The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia

In the second half, backed by the Hawks, he played high voltage electric music, sometimes to boos and jeers from some sections of the crowd. After his European tour, Dylan returned to New York , but the pressures on him—political, psychological, and professional—continued to increase. Meanwhile, manager Albert Grossman had already scheduled an extensive concert tour for that summer and fall.

On July 29, , while Dylan rode his Triumph motorcycle near his home in Woodstock, New York, when its brakes locked and the crash reportedly broke several vertebrae in his neck and resulted in a period of virtual seclusion from the public. In , he began recording music with the Hawks at his home and in the basement of the Hawks' nearby house, known as "Big Pink. The relaxed atmosphere yielded renditions of many of Dylan's favored old and new songs and some newly written pieces.

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The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia

When the the Hawks re-named themselves The Band in , their own recording of Music from Big Pink would begin a long and successful career for them. Columbia belatedly released selections from these recordings in , as The Basement Tapes, and over the years, more and more of these recording appeared, culminating in a five-CD bootleg set titled The Genuine Basement Tapes, containing songs and alternate takes. In his first album since the motorcycle crash Dylan presented a contemplative record of shorter songs, set in a landscape that drew on both the American West and the Bible.

The sparse structure and instrumentation marked a departure not only from Dylan's own work but from the escalating psychedelic fervor of the s musical culture.

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It included the expectant "All Along the Watchtower," with lyrics derived from the Book of Isaiah —9. The song was later recorded by Jimi Hendrix , whose celebrated version Dylan himself acknowledged as definitive. When Woody Guthrie died on October 3, , Dylan made his first live appearance in 20 months at a Guthrie memorial concert held at Carnegie Hall on January 20, Dylan's next release, Nashville Skyline , featured more instrumental backing by Nashville musicians, including a prominently featured Pete Drake on steel guitar, and a new, uncharacteristically mellow-voiced Dylan.

The album also included a duet with Johnny Cash and the hit single "Lay Lady Lay," which reached number five on the U. In the early s, critics charged that Dylan's output was of varied and unpredictable quality.

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Self Portrait, a double LP including only a few original songs, was poorly received. It reached number seven in the U.

A single from this album, "If Not for You," reached number 25 on the U. The album also signaled things to come spiritually with the devotional song "Father of Night. Despite the film's failure at the box office, the song "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" has proven to be one of Dylan's most durable compositions, having been covered by over recording artists.

He recorded Planet Waves with The Band. The album included two versions of one of Dylan's best known songs, "Forever Young," written for one of his children.


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Promoter Bill Graham claimed he received more ticket purchase requests than for any prior tour by any artist. A live double album of the tour, Before the Flood, was released on Asylum. After the tour, Dylan and his wife became publicly estranged. He soon returned to Columbia Records, and in early , Blood on the Tracks was released. It received mixed reviews at the time but is now seen as one of Dylan's better achievements.

The single, "Tangled Up in Blue" peaked at number 31 on the U. That summer Dylan wrote his first successful "protest" song in 12 years, championing the cause of boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, whom he believed had been wrongfully imprisoned for a triple murder in Paterson, New Jersey. Despite its minute length, the song was released as a single, peaking at number 33 on the U. Billboard Chart.

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This marked Baez and Dylan's first joint performances in more than a decade. The tour encompassed the release of the album Desire , with many of Dylan's new songs. An album from the first half of the tour would be released in Martin Scorsese's acclaimed cinematic chronicle of this show, The Last Waltz, was released in and included about half of Dylan's set.

Dylan's album, Street Legal, was lyrically one of his more complex and cohesive. It suffered, however, from a poor sound mix until its remastered CD release nearly a quarter century later. In the late s, Dylan became a born-again Christian. He soon released two albums, many with Christian themes music. When touring from the fall of through the spring of , Dylan refrained from playing any of his older works, and he delivered declarations of his faith from the stage. Dylan's embrace of Christianity was extremely unpopular with many of his fans and fellow musicians.

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In the fall of , Dylan briefly resumed touring, restoring several of his most popular s songs to his repertoire. The album Shot of Love, recorded the next spring, continued in a Christian vein, but also featured Dylan's first secular compositions in more than two years. In the later s, Dylan continued to broaden the themes of his work and left behind his overtly evangelical themes.

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The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia

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