Arguably the most prolific artist in recent music history, Bob Dylan has bagged numerous music and writing awards. He’s a Grammy darling, with over 10 awards and a coveted spot in the Hall of Fame. He also earned a Golden Globe and Academy Award for his original song ‘Things Have Changed’ for the film, Wonder Boys, in 2000. Two of his most popular songs, ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ and ‘Rainy Day Women,’ rose to the number two spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1965 and 1966, respectively.
However, the top spot on the Billboard charts seemed to have eluded him, until he turned 78 in 2020 that is. Beyond receiving numerous awards for his musical chops, Dylan is also the recipient of prestigious literary awards. As highlighted by Gala Bingo, Dylan’s Nobel Prize seemed like an more natural fit for him than the top spot on the hit charts. According to the award-giving body, Bob Dylan was able to create “new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” He’s also managed to add a Pulitzer to his long list of accolades. More than these shiny awards, Bob Dylan also left indelible impressions on the music industry through his influence on musicians spanning generations.
In the case of The Byrds, Bob Dylan was their claim to fame. Their versions of Dylan’s ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’ and ‘The Band’ catapulted them to chart success. In fact, in one of their fan-favorite shows, Dylan actually appeared onstage to perform with them. Bob Dylan was so instrumental in their success that they released two compilation albums called The Byrds Play Dylan, which consist of their own versions of songs penned by Dylan.
The fab four were very vocal about how Bob Dylan was a great inspiration for them, especially on their first foray into folk-rock, an entire genre attributed to Dylan. Rubber Soul was a testament to this influence. The songwriting on the entire album leans more towards storytelling. The sound was also leaner and pared down, compared to a lot of their previous songs, like ‘Norwegian Wood’ and ‘In My Life’.
Justin Smolian (Dirty Honey)
Talking to the Herald-Whig, Justin Smolian recounts an early childhood memory where he heard ‘Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,’ a song originally by Dylan, performed by Guns N’ Roses on the radio. This blend of rock and roll and captivating songwriting, similar to the Guns N’ Roses-Dylan combination Smolian experienced in early life, can be heard in Dirty Honey’s recent release called California Dreamin’.
The Velvet Underground
If you’ve ever heard any of Lou Reed’s tracks, you’d hear the familiar talk-singing shared by Bob Dylan. But it’s on the hyper lyrical ‘Run Run Run’ that you can really hear parallels to Dylan’s ‘Highway 61 Revisited’ and ‘Blonde on Blonde.’ It takes an obvious cue from Dylan’s gritty, almost raw, bordering on snarky, stylings. While Lou Reed was deeply influenced by Dylan, he was surrounded by the free minds of Studio 54 like Nico and Andy Warhol. This led his Dylan-bathed songwriting towards a more esoteric, contemporary path.
Off of the lead single from Hozier’s latest album, Wasteland, Baby!, the Irish musician sings the names of artists and civil rights figures that inspired not only his music, but his outlook on life as well— including Bob Dylan. In an interview with NPR, Hozier talks about how Dylan is referenced in ‘Nina Cried Power,’ a song about the spirit of artists in the 20th century who openly wrote and sang about things that they held important to them. And Dylan did just that – he was a prominent force in the American civil rights movement.
Bob Dylan is as iconic as they come. He’s transcended generations and genres, and he’s very likely to continue to leave his mark even when the times go a-changin’.