Bob Dylan, born Robert Allen Zimmerman on May 24, 1941, is an American singer-songwriter, musician, poet, and painter. He has been an influential figure in popular music and culture for five decades. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s when he was an informal chronicler and a seemingly reluctant figurehead of social unrest. A number of Dylan''s early songs, such as "Blowin'' in the Wind" and "The Times They Are a-Changin''", became anthems for the US civil rights and anti-war movements. Leaving his initial base in the culture of folk music behind, Dylan revolutionized perceptions of the limits of popular music in 1965 with the six-minute single "Like a Rolling Stone". However, his recordings employing electric instruments attracted denunciation and criticism from others in the folk movement. Dylan''s lyrics incorporated a variety of political, social, philosophical, and literary influences. They defied existing pop music conventions and appealed hugely to the then burgeoning counterculture. Initially inspired by the songs of Woody Guthrie, Robert Johnson, and Hank Williams, as well as the music and performance styles of Buddy Holly and Little Richard, Dylan has both amplified and personalized musical genres. His recording career, spanning fifty years, has explored numerous distinct traditions in American songâfrom folk, blues and country to gospel, rock and roll, and rockabilly to English, Scottish, and Irish folk music, embracing even jazz and swing.
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