When Robert Allen Zimmerman was born in Duluth, Minn. on May 24, 1941, no one could have anticipated how thoroughly he would remake popular music in the 1960s. Renaming himself Bob Dylan, that scrawny kid with the scratchy, nasal voice moved away from his hometown of Hibbing, first to Minneapolis, and then to New York City, where he forever changed what we heard sung about on the radio.
Dylan’s songs were clogged with words — words that were not just poetic, but often hilarious, an inspired jumble of the French symbolists’ dense ambiguity, Chuck Berry’s high-octane wit, folk music’s cryptic wisdom, and the Bible’s thunderous profundity. Dylan’s example encouraged folk musicians to write new songs in the style of their traditional favorites and challenged rock and rollers to embrace an aura of snarling intellectual cool.
It’s been 50 years since Dylan released his classic double-LP Blonde on Blonde. Now, on the eve of his 75th birthday, Dylan is releasing Fallen Angels, his 37th studio album and his second consecutive collection of pop standards identified with Frank Sinatra.
Take the Quiz
To honor these major Dylan anniversaries, here’s a quiz that will help you determine which of Dylan’s ‘70s albums you are, from the classic Blood on the Tracks to the misguided Self Portrait.
The world has no shortage of Dylan experts. There’s even a name for them: Dylanologists. Find out if you’re one of them.
Keith Harris has written about music and pop culture for more than 20 years. His work has appeared in publications such as Rolling Stone, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Slate and Salon. He lives in Minneapolis and blogs at usefulnoise.wordpress.com.@@useful_noise