One of the leaders of this revolution was Robert Allen Zimmerman, known by his popular assumed name, Bob Dylan. Born in 1941 in Minnesota, Dylan grew up the grandchild of Jewish-Russian immigrants and had a surprisingly unexceptional childhood. His interest in music became evident in his high school years when he taught himself basic piano and guitar. From these rudimentary skills Dylan would build his knowledge and experience in music to his present status as a forefather of folk music in the rock era. Accordingly, a song from the pinnacle of his career embodies his style and poetic capabilities, acting as a reference point of the music it followed and the music that was to come.
Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowland is an unmistakably remarkable example of the work of Bob Dylan in his finest hour. To fully understand the influence of Bob Dylan on the American folk revolution and his importance in the pop culture of todays youth, one must first understand his background and development musically. First of all Bob Dylan was born in Minnesota, not a particular hub of musical activity. Author Bob Spitz makes a good point concerning Dylans birthplace. History has taught us that no matter how we change the environment it is impossible to change the man.
. . After all, anybody is as their land and air is. . . .
If that is so, it is no wonder that Bob Dylan became such a luminous amalgam of showmanship and aloofness, spirituality and desolation, eloquence and exaggeration, individuality and schizophrenia. These seesawing extremes, among others, are indigenous to the historical landscape of northern Minnesota. (Spitz 9) For others this might have been a setback but for Dylan it was the perfect environment to nurture his interests, in music specifically. At the age of ten he was writing poems and by thirteen was setting them to music with self-taught piano and guitar skills. Dylans interest in music continued to climb as he entered Hibbing High School.
During his high school years Dylan would become involved in musical productions and attempt forming many bands with such names as the Golden Chords and Elston Gunn and His Rock Boppers. He began to idolize such new rock stars as Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis to the point that his high school yearbook listed his goal in life as joining Little Richard. An eighteen year old Dylan left his hometown of Hibbing in the fall of 1959 for college at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. This would be his first taste of the big city and the life that awaited him.
The sight and sounds of the big city opened many new vistas for the young Dylan and he took advantage of his situation by studying the roots of contemporary rock. He began to listen to the works of folk pioneers like Hank Williams, Robert Johnson, and Woody Guthrie. At the same time Dylan was beginning to perform solo at local Minneapolis night spots such as the Ten OClock Scholar cafe and the St. Pauls Purple Onion Pizza Parlor. During this time Dylan was honing his guitar skills and harmonica work and developing his famous nasal voice which would become his trademark.
Halfway through his college career Dylan decided it was time for a move. He packed up and moved to New York City with two main motivations. His primary motivation was to become part of the Greenwich Village folk-music scene which was burgeoning in the city. His second reason for moving was to meet his idle, Woodie Guthrie, who was in a hospital in New Jersey with a rare hereditary disease. Dylan would succeed on both counts.
Not only did he meet Guthrie but he became a fixture at his bedside. As well, Bob Dylan was now a recognizable name among the folk clubs and coffee houses of New York. Dylan had a proficiency at learning songs perfectly the first time he heard them which was admired by his peers that, along with tireless song writing, brought him much acclaim. In the fall of 1961