Bob Dylan (born Robert Allen Zimmerman May 24, 1941, Duluth, Minnesota, USA) is widely regarded as America's greatest living popular songwriter.
Much of his best-known work is from the 1960s, when his musical shadow was so large that he became a documentarian and reluctant figurehead of American unrest. The civil rights movement had no more moving anthem than his song 'Blowin' in the Wind.' Millions of young people embraced his song 'The Times They Are A-Changin'' during that era of extreme change.
More broadly, Dylan is credited with expanding the vocabulary of popular music, moving it beyond traditional boy-and-girl themes into the heady realms of politics/social commentary, philosophy, and a kind of stream-of-consciousness absurdist humor that defies easy description. This allows for a rich ambiguity and plurality of meaning uncommon in song up until his appearance. This lyrical innovation has occurred within the context of Dylan's steadfast devotion to the richest traditions of American song, from folk and country/blues to rock 'n' roll and rockabilly, to Gaelic balladry, even jazz, swing, and Broadway.
Bob Dylan talks with Pete Seeger backstage at the Newport Folk Festival, 1965. Photo by Jim Marshall.