Bob Dylan is without a doubt one of the creative world’s most purposefully mysterious and least understood characters. He isn’t merely a good musician or a generous benefactor of folk rock. Dylan is a prophet of metaphor and a creative movement in and of himself. Listening to his lyrics is like having some sort of construction get carried out in your brain, heaps of scaffolding, a bit of chaos and lots of noise but ultimately it leaves something better in its place.
Born Robert Zimmerman in Duluth, Minnesota 1941 and was raised in a small Jewish community. His father owned and operated an electrical goods store and as a result, young Dylan enjoyed a standard middle-class Jewish upbringing. He played in a wide variety of bands in high-school, honing his taste for the appreciation and application of music in a relatively non-musical world. A few months after his 18th birthday, Bob moved to Minneapolis to enroll at the University of Minnesota but didn’t last long in the sterile confines of the academic world. He dropped out at the end of his first year and moved to New York. Desperately searching to pursue his education in the music scene and expand his learning outwards into the interlocked worlds of lyricism, philosophy, and creativity.
Outlined in Chronicles, Dylan’s free-form autobiography, he explains not only his upbringing but he gives us a rare sliver of his insight into his emotional and creative connection with the authors of old:
“I was born in the Spring of 1941. The Second World War was already raging in Europe, and America would soon be in it. The world was being blown apart…”
“It was said that WWII spelled the end of the Age of Enlightenment, but I wouldn’t have known it. I was still in it. Somehow I could still remember and the light of something about it. I’d read that stuff. Roussea, John Locke, Montesquieu, Martin Luther, revolutionaries… it was like I knew those guys like they’d been living in my backyard.”
P.S. If you like Bob Dylan and you haven’t yet read Chronicles. Stop reading this and get the book right now. Consider it essential reading.