Minnesota is famous for the Mall of America, Redwing boots, the juicy Lucy hamburger, and a very influential singer song writer, who was just awarded a Nobel Prize in literature. This individual is Hibbing native, Robert Zimmerman, better known as Bob Dylan.
Dylan was born on May 24th 1941 in Duluth, Minnesota, and grew up on the Mesabi Range, west of Lake Superior in Hibbing. At the same time, my grandfather, David Jackson grew up in the same town, and later attended the same elementary school as Dylan. After completing high school in Hibbing, Robert headed south to study at the University of Minnesota in 1959, and while he was there, his music career began to develop. While in college, Dylan began performing at a local coffeehouse and became involved in the local folk music circuit. As his popularity in the music business began to grow, his name soon changed, as Robert Zimmerman began introducing himself at gigs as Bob Dylan. After a year of college, Dylan soon realized it wasn’t for him, and dropped out in 1960 to further his music career.
In 1962, Dylan got the opportunity he was looking for and signed his
first contract with Columbia Records and released an album in March of the same year. But things weren’t quite glamorous for Dylan right from the get go. His first album sold only 5,000 copies and without help from supporter and musician Johnny Cash, Dylan may have lost his contract that first year. With things a little rocky in the beginning, his career quickly took off when he began composing songs that many labeled as protest songs, including “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “A Hard Rains a-Goanna Fall.”
In 1963, Dylan had an opportunity to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show, and when he was told that his songs were potentially too controversial to perform on television. So rather than complying with CBS’s censorship policy, Dylan just refused to appear. As 1963 continued for Dylan, he soon released one of his most famous and controversial songs, The Times They Are a-Changin’. The song focused on issues regarding civil rights and was accepted by many, but rejected by a similar amount. As Dylan’s fame continued to grow through the 1960’s, it was soon cut short by a motorcycle crash that took Dylan out of the lime light for a while. After a long recovery and some time away from music, Dylan returned to touring in the early 70’s and was just as controversial, as well as popular.
As time continued into the 1980’s, Dylan’s performing career began to dwindle and he began to focus on writing more than being on stage, only performing small concerts and being part of the We are the World song in 1985.
In October, Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition". Dylan’s poetic ability and influential writing style went not only in his songs, but also many others he wrote for. Bob Dylan will go down in music history as a great composer, influential writer and very controversial individual. Yet most of all, he will always be the young Robert Zimmerman from Hibbing, Minnesota, who has helped bring the land of 10,000 lakes into the lime light.