Singer-songwriter Robert Dylan is frequently recognized as one of history’s finest lyricists.¬†Over the course of a career spanning more than 60 years, Dylan has had a significant role in popular culture. His most well-known compositions, including “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Times They Are a-Changin’,” were anthems for the civil rights and antiwar movements in the 1960s. During this time, his songs broke mainstream music norms and catered to the rising counterculture by including a variety of political, social, philosophical, and literary elements.

The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, which was released in 1963, marked Dylan’s breakthrough as a composer. His self-titled first album, released in 1962, included mostly traditional folk tunes. The musical compositions “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” are included on the CD. He used the melodies and wording of several older folk songs in his own compositions. In 1964, he released the more lyrically abstract and contemplative Another Side of Bob Dylan in addition to the politically explosive The Times They Are a-Changin’. When Dylan began using electrically amplified rock instruments in 1965 and 1966, he sparked debate among folk purists. In the subsequent 15 months, he recorded three of the most significant and influential rock albums of the 1960s: Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited (both 1965), and Blonde on Blonde. His six-minute track “Like a Rolling Stone” pushed the limits of popular music both commercially and artistically.

A motorbike accident in July 1966 forced Dylan to stop touring. He recorded a sizable collection of songs with Band members at this time, who had previously supported him on tour. The Basement Tapes, a collaboration CD including these recordings, was published in 1975. Dylan explored country music and rural themes with John Wesley Harding, Nashville Skyline, and New Morning in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Many considered his 1975 album Blood on the Tracks to be a return to form. He converted to Christianity in the late 1970s and recorded a number of albums of modern gospel music before switching back to his more recognizable rock-based style in the early 1980s. Time Out of Mind, Dylan’s 1997 album, signaled the start of a new phase in his career. Since then, he has put out five highly praised original music albums, the most recent of which being Rough and Rowdy Ways. In the 2010s, he also created a trilogy of CDs that included covers of classic American classics, particularly Sinatra songs. Since the late 1980s, Dylan has been on an ongoing tour that has come to be known as the Never Ending Tour.

Since 1994, Dylan has displayed his work in prestigious art galleries and released eight volumes of drawings and paintings. He is one among the best-selling artists of all time with more than 125 million recordings sold. The Presidential Medal of Freedom, 10 Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe Award, and an Academy Award are just a few of the honors he has won. The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame have all recognized Dylan. He received a special commendation from the Pulitzer Prize Board in 2008 for “his significant effect on American culture and popular music, defined by lyrical works of exceptional poetic intensity.” Awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016, Dylan received it “for having developed new lyrical forms within the great American song heritage.”

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