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Bob Dylan
In the second of a two-part series on this legendary singer/songwriter/musician, we take a look at his long and arduous journey from his 1966 reincarnation to his present day success. He still has the world enamoured, more than 40 years after he first performed his introspective and extroverted anthems of awareness.

Like many other events in Bob Dylan’s life, there are varying accounts of how Dylan crashed his bike in 1966 near New York. Most of the contradicting versions are given in various interviews by Dylan himself. No one knows for sure whether it was the brakes that jammed, or if it was the sunlight that momentarily blinded Dylan causing him to lose balance, or if it was an oil spill that caused the singer/songwriter to crash. What is for sure is that it changed Bob Dylan forever.

As is the case with the details of its occurrence, the effects of the accident are also unclear ~ though it is believed that Dylan suffered a concussion. After the crash, Dylan became a recluse, disappearing into his home in Woodstock and spending time with his wife, Sara, whom he had married a year before the accident. Dylan was said to be very unhappy with the demands of his management at the time and used the accident to take a break for about a year. The accident itself was not a major event, but it gave him a much needed chance to take a breather. He also stopped using amphetamines, a substance that he was hooked on to. His pre-accident photos depict a tired and thin Dylan, while after the crash he looked healthier.

After a few months, he retreated with the Band to a rented house, subsequently dubbed Big Pink, in West Saugerties to record a number of demos. For several months, Dylan and the Band recorded a lot of stuff. In an interview conducted by a music magazine around this time, Dylan elaborates on his daily activities and his outlook towards playing. He said, “I play a lot of music. I am always trying to put up shows together which never come about…I hurried for a long time. I am sorry I did. All the time you are hurrying you are really not as aware as you should be. You are trying to make things happen instead of just letting it happen.”

While Dylan was in seclusion, rock ‘n’ roll had become heavier. Dylan’s next album, John Wesley Harding, was released in 1967 and featured a quiet, country ambience that surprised everyone. The album’s sound was different from Dylan’s previous work. It was a significant hit and Dylan was back on the charts. John Wesley Harding showcased sparse instrumentation and songs that were more streamlined. The album included All Along The Watchtower, with lyrics derived from the Book of Isaiah. The song was later recorded by Jimi Hendrix, whose version Dylan acknowledges as definitive.

Modern Times: The 00s
Dylan released Time Out Of Mind, his first album of original material in seven years, in 1997. The album received the strongest reviews in years and its success sparked a revival of interest in Dylan. The album picked up three Grammy awards.

In 2000, Dylan’s song Things Have Changed, penned for the film Wonder Boys, won a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song and an Academy Award for Best Song. This would become a trend over the decade, as Dylan received many awards, recognitions and accolades in the 00s. In 2000, Dylan received the prestigious Polar Prize from the Royal Swedish Academy of Music. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature on many occasions for his lyrics. Dylan was back in form and was writing new songs. Dylan’s next studio album, Love And Theft, was released on September 11, 2001. This album was also well-received and Dylan had made a comeback in every sense of the word.

His next album was released in 2006 and called Modern Times. This record made him the oldest living chart topper and added a few more classics to his repertoire. Modern Times won a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album. Bob got another Grammy for Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance for the song Someday Baby. It was a significant achievement that in the day and age of manufactured music, an artist such as Dylan, who never went about catering to popular tastes, found favour with young and old fans. Considering the fact that Dylan was written off by many after his initial success, it was also a personal triumph. Modern Times’ reception was reminiscent of the 60s when every Dylan album was eagerly anticipated, quickly bought and discussed in length by fans. Dylan hadn’t lost his ability to surprise, provoke and piss off, while endearing himself. On Modern Times, Dylan was still saying “things ain’t going well” and he said it brilliantly enough to retain his status as a counterculture icon, four decades since he became one.

You can read the rest of our feature on Bob Dylan in the December 2007 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.


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