Life Magazine - fall 1990

Source: Life magazine
Date: Fall 1990
Title: "100 Most Important Americans of the 20th Century"
Photo: by Richard Avedon, 1965

He didn't have much of a voice, but people listened anyway; the words he was singing required it. Robert Allen Zimmerman came out of Duluth, Minn., took a name from poet Dylan Thomas and created a mythological figure of himself. What began as an homage to Woody Guthrie was fused with a unique literary sensibility to create a succession of genres. Dylan used prophecy, parable, accusation, doggerel, metaphor and confession to force popular music back to its roots as folk poetry and commentary. Then he electrified it for the future.

From protest to phychedelics to back-to-the-country to faith to selfishness, he pulled a generation along like a VW drafting in the wake of a semi. "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows," but Dylan, 49 this year, knew things before the rest of us did.

Electric minstrel of the times that were a-changin'


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