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Robert Zimmerman left Minnesota, gave himself a new name and identity. He created a past with details and soon realised his dream of becoming a folk singer, making records and singing to audiences. In less than 10 years, he had become a giant songwriter who would influence culture, other artists and whole generations to this very day.
Many argue he’s one of the most influential figures of the 20th century, musically and culturally. Dylan was included in the Time 100: The Most Important People Of The Century - "master poet, caustic social critic and intrepid, guiding spirit of the counterculture generation". Dylan biographer Howard Sounes places him in even more exalted company - "There are giant figures in art who are sublimely good - Mozart, Picasso, Frank Lloyd Wright, Shakespeare, Dickens. Dylan ranks alongside these artists."
One legacy of Dylan’s verbal sophistication is the increasing attention paid by literary critics to his lyrics. Former Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion, argued that Dylan’s lyrics should be studied in schools. Some want him to get the Nobel Prize for Literature.
His range in different voices and personas, his influence on so many musical genres, all add up to lots of odds and ends of great import. Others see him as less seer or messiah, more a minor talent with a great gift of self promotion amidst the self-parody. It’s make your own mind up time, folks.
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