Born Robert Allen Zimmerman on May 24, 1941, in Duluth, Minnesota, to Abram Zimmerman and Beatrice Stone, he moved to his mother’s hometown of Hibbing, Minnesota, at age six when his father was afflicted with polio. He began writing poetry not long after at age ten, followed by playing the guitar at fourteen, self-taught.
In 1959, Robert was awarded a scholarship to the Universityof Minnesotaand came across the autobiography of Woody Guthrie entitled, Bound for Glory, a work that would change his life. He subsequently learned many of Guthrie’s songs, performing them locally under a name he legally changed to in 1962, Bob Dylan, after poet Dylan Thomas.
First performing in coffeehouses and local venues, his music career had a respectable start in 1962 with the release of his debut album, Bob Dylan. However, it wasn’t until the release of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan in 1963 that he gained notoriety with such songs as “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall.” Infusing folk with rock and rock, as well as bluegrass and rhythm and blues, Dylan’s music was known not only for its mix of genres, but for his trademark lyrics which had a poetic sensibility not heard before, as well as a countercultural appeal. This groundbreaking writing style endeared him to the 1960s anti-war movement and Civil Rights movement, and Dylan was considered a spokesman for his generation, a title which he shrugged off.
Dylan’s writing style, unique and original, has won critical acclaim and comparisons to such classic poets as Walt Whitman and T.S. Elliot. He influenced his contemporaries, including poet Allen Ginsberg, as well. Other writers were equally inspired, some dedicating their work to Dylan, such as Joyce Carol Oates with her short story, “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”
Throughout his illustrious career, Dylan oscillated between the counterculture movement he’d helped create and nurture, and brief interludes either away from the spotlight, or from the zeitgeist for which he is known. The first involved a motorcycle accident in 1966, although he continued to write and record. Another happened in 1979, when Dylan converted to Christianity, during which time he refused to play music he’d written prior to his conversion. He returned to his rebellious roots not long after, and fans rejoiced.
Do you know someone, family or friend, who shares Bob Dylan’s birthday? Are they a fan and would get a kick out of a Talking Birthday eCard personalized with some of their favorite Dylan lyrics? Any of our Birthday eCards are sure to put a smile on that special someone’s face.