Looking at Bob Dylan: the man of the hour

Most of us know Bob Dylan through black and white 1960s camera footage as a harmonica-toting, bushy-haired youngster with a drone to his voice. We also know that he became one of the most distinctive and poetic forces in the history of American popular music.

His 1963 debut album, “”The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan,”” containing famous folk anthems such as “”Blowin’ in the Wind”” and “”A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,”” broke new ground in the music industry.

He then released his 1965 album, “”Bring It All Back Home,”” daring to introduce the electric guitar into the folk music realm. However, this transition from folk troubador to rock connoisseur was not a smooth one. Dylan was famously booed off stage when he performed with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band at the 1965 New Port Folk Festival.

Dylan capped off the ’60s with the album “”Highway 61 Revisited,”” which included the famous “”Like a Rolling Stone.”” The 1970s proved more turbulent as he battled a floundering marriage and was involved in a near-fatal motorcycle accident.

After the crash, he retired to his home in Woodstock, N.Y. and later released “”Nashville Skyline,”” which was a far cry from the material he had released a decade earlier.

In the late 1970s, he tried his hand at film and released one of the most covered songs in the history of rock ‘n roll: “”Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.””

Then in 1983, he released “”Infidels,”” co-produced by Dire Straits’ frontman Mark Knopfler, which proved to be a success with Knopfler’s graceful guitar tracks.

In 1997, while on tour in Europe to promote his album “”Time Out of Mind,”” he literally knocked on heaven’s door. On the eve of the tour he was hospitalized with histoplasmosis, a potentially fatal infection that causes swelling in the sac surrounding the heart.

Luckily, he was able to continue touring after a few months and even played in Rome upon Pope John Paul II’s request.

In 1998, he became one of five recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors, this country’s highest award for artistic excellence.

Now he comes to us with his new release, “”Love and Theft,”” looking like the leader of a ’30s band with a pin-line mustache. He is also currently working on an autobiography titled “”Chronicle”” and launching a tour for “”Love and Theft.””

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