Five decades ago, in the midst of political protests and civil rights movements, a 21-year old Bob Dylan travelled to the UK for the first time, and took to the stage on BBC’s television drama The Madhouse on Caste Street. Unaware at the time, his performance of ‘Blowing in the Wind’ became known as the icon’s most significant public rendition of the single and painted him as a figurehead of social unrest.
Fast forward 50 years and it’s apparent Dylan hasn’t slowed down. Among recent accomplishments including a Grammy, Academy Award, and last year’s Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Hall-of-Famer continues to make headlines on November 4 with the release of a CD box-set spanning his entire career.
Despite his recent successes, the American singer-songwriter’s most praised work continues to date back to the ‘60s. To help guide his early work into the 21 Century, Columbia Records re-mastered 14 of his albums and is providing digital downloads on a USB stick – appropriately shaped as a harmonica.
The collection is comprised of all albums ever released, which include his 35 studio records, six live records, and two CDs featuring film tracks, non-album tracks, and songs from ‘Biograph’ – a three-compact-disc set ranging from 1962 to 1981.
With songs like ‘Blowing in the Wind’ and ‘The Times they are a-Changing’, the ‘Bob Dylan Complete Album Collection: Vol One’ will no doubt embrace the Hippie years where Dylan’s music became anthems for anti-war and the US civil rights movements.
Dylan continued to push boundaries and defy limitations of popular music with his 6-minute song ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ in 1965. Because of the song’s confrontational lyrics and combination of various musical elements, it became known only when it was leaked to a music club and later became a worldwide hit. The song labeled Dylan with an iconic status and was later covered by numerous artists including The Rolling Stones over the year.
It is no secret that Dylan was motivated and influenced by the work of Little Richard and Woody Guthrie, with Dylan even visiting Guthrie, who was suffering from Huntington’s disease, after reading his autobiography Bound for Glory. Through the ages, his music has incorporated many genres including folk, country, blues, rock and roll, jazz, and even exploring Scottish and Irish folk music.
Despite his significance as a performer and artist, his most noteworthy contributions stem from his songwriting abilities. His lyrics, inspired by political, literary, and social factors, impacted American culture and its music so notably that Dylan was awarded the Pulitzer prize in 2008.
The box collection ‘Bob Dylan Complete Album Collection: Vol One’ will be available in the UK on November 4, with the release of volume two expected next year.