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Every generation has a poet, Bob Dylan is ours.

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Born on May 24, 1941, Robert Allen Zimmerman turns 72 today.

Dylan 2010

Yikes! Yes, folks, that’s his real name.

The grandson of Russian Jews who emigrated to the US in 1905 to avoid the anti-Semitic pogroms of the Russian Empire was born in Duluth, Minnesota.

He spent his early years helping to care for his invalid father and listening to blues, country, and early rock and roll.

He had no idea at the time just how much he would influence all three.

Little Bobby Zimmerman formed many bands while at Hibbing High School, covering popular songs.

His early interest in rock gave way to American Folk Music.  He said, “…the thing about rock n’ roll is that, for me anyway, it wasn’t enough…there were great catch-phrases and driving pulse rhythms…but the songs weren’t serious or didn’t reflect life in a realistic way.  I knew that when I got into folk music, it was a more serious type of thing.   The songs were filled with more despair, more sadness, more triumph, more faith in the supernatural, much deeper feelings.”

The story of Dylan is enormous, and can’t be contained in a blog post.  His music tells his story, and ours.

Baez and Dylan

From Blowin’ In The Wind to Lay, Lady, Lay to Just Like A Woman, he tells the story of our generation, our journey of a Million Miles from where we were to Where Teardrops Fall.

It wasn’t all A Simple Twist of Fate, he was a prophet when he told us The Times, They Are A Changin’.

He claimed that Woody Guthrie had been a revelation to him and was the biggest influence on his early performances. Describing Guthrie’s impact on him, Dylan later 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.”

Dylan's first album

Woody Guthrie may have been the true voice of the American Spirit in his day, but Dylan carried on and became ours.

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