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Bob Dylan, 80 years of a ‘never ending’ artist like his tour


Singer-songwriter, musician, poet, even painter and sculptor: whatever category you choose, it seems reductive to describe the artist Bob Dylan, who will turn 80 on Monday, having been born on May 24, 1941 – from Ukrainian Jewish parents, with paternal grandparents of origin Turks and maternal of Lithuanian origins – in Duluth, an American town in Minnesota, port on the Great Lakes, with the name of Robert Allen Zimmerman then legally changed to Robert ‘Bob’ Dylan – who therefore cannot be considered a stage name – when he had twenty years. A 360-degree artist, who still has a reserved place in the Olympus of Music. From the beginning of his artistic career, he intended to disrupt the unwritten rules of the discography. Not surprisingly, it is his first single of ‘long duration’, more than 6 minutes and therefore well beyond the threshold of what was then considered commercially ‘tolerable’: it is the song ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ from 1965 – also quoted by Franco Battiato, recently deceased, in the text of his’ Cuccurucucù – As well as, the following year, the first double album in the history of rock music: ‘Blonde on Blonde’, while the promotional video of ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ can be considered in fact, like the first video clip produced by a singer, Bob Dylan “has created new poetic expressions within the great tradition of American song” says the mention for the Nobel Prize for Literature, awarded to him in 2016; recognition that is added to the most prestigious international awards: from the Oscar in 2001 for the song ‘Things Have Changed’ included in the soundtrack of the film ‘Wonder Boys’ for which he also won the Golden Globe; Pulitzer in 2008 and ten Grammy Awards, including Lifetime Achievement in 1991; just to mention the most coveted awards in the world.After a few concerts in Greenwich Village in Manhattan in New York, the young artist recorded his first album in 1961 between folk and blues melodies, entitled simply ‘Bob Dylan’, with little success, at the the point of risking that the record company tore up the contract just signed in his face. He went much better with the second album, which included the musical masterpiece ‘Blowin’ in the Wind ‘, a manifesto of pacifism and international success, hence his political commitment in defense of civil rights, often alongside Joan Baez in demonstrations and concerts, including the March on Washington with Martin Luther King and his famous speech ‘I have a Dream’. Although later on he felt, rightly or wrongly, manipulated by the same protest movement he had supported on so many occasions, abandoning it, followed by a more ‘romantic’ artistic period or echoing rock and roll, up to the ‘electric’ and acoustic turn , with veins of surrealism and mysticism, to arrive at ‘Mr. Tambourine Man ‘. With ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ he reaches the point of universally recognized success.After the European tour and the return to the USA, a motorcycle accident creates an aura of mystery about the causes and consequences, even with its ‘complicity’, which will be followed by a ‘country’ period of return to origins and then the composition of the intimist ‘Forever Young’ proposed in two different versions, in 1974. It is the same year in which he decides to retire from public life; the following year he recorded ‘Hurricane’ returning to the protest song and reaping success.In 1978, he embraced Christianity with conviction, underlining this choice from the musical point of view with the gospel albums ‘Slow Train Coming’ and ‘Saved’, while in the 80s is one of the artists who adhere to the charity music project of ‘We are the World’ against famine in Africa. And in 1988 that ‘Never Ending Tour’ starts, the end of which has not yet been officially decreed – the last concert so far in 2019 with over three thousand shows in total – on the eve of the blowing out of 80 candles on Bob Dylan’s cake. (by Enzo Bonaiuto)



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