In 1960 the former Robert Zimmerman bummed a ride out of Minneapolis, where he had briefly attended the University of Minnesota. After playing small affairs around the Dinkytown district for the year he spent at the university, he grew tired of the scene. Bob Dylan was on the road -- headed east. Stopping in Madison, Wis., he found shelter in a Johnson Street boarding house. He stopped in Chicago before making it to New York City.

Dylan was 20 when he arrived at Manhattan's Greenwich Village. It was here that he found initial respect for his Woody Guthrie-inspired folk ballads. His simple strumming and nasal vocals were overlooked; the poetry and storytelling won his initial fans. And Dylan's storytelling extended beyond his music. Claiming to be a former circus hand who had met Guthrie several times by the age of 20, Dylan choose to ignore his true middle-class midwestern upbringing.

In Manhattan Dylan befriended many, including Ramblin' Jack Elliot and Dave Van Ronk. Both musicians affected Dylan's music, but neither matched Guthrie's influence on Dylan's persona. Dylan was introduced to Guthrie via his Bound for Glory autobiography in Minneapolis; soon after, his friends report, he was "doing everything the way Guthrie did" (Shelton, p. 75). The Guthrie obsession continued to the Village, where he dressed, played, and even posed for cameras like Guthrie.

Dylan visited the bedstricken Guthrie in February, 1961 in East Orange, N.J. Guthrie was "deeply ravaged" (Shelton, p.100) by Huntington's chorea The influence dominates Dylan's first Columbia album.

Bob Dylan, recorded Nov. 22 and 23, 1961, failed to produce wide acceptance. No material was original, however Dylan penned "Song to Woody" while borrowing Guthrie's "1913 Massacre" chord progression. This album also features "See that my grave is kept clean," a Blind Lemon Jefferson song Dylan would reproduce six years later in dramatically different fashion.

When he could get in the studio Dylan played small Village coffeeshops. His first mass media break was a Sept. 29, 1961 New York Times article written by Robert Shelton, entitled "Bob Dylan: A Distinctive Stylist." Following the favorable review, crowds jammed his remaining dates at Folk City. A legend was born.

studio, 1963

A Long Time Growin'
11-4-61, NYC
size = 8.91 MB

1913 Massacre
11-4-61, NYC
size = 7.46 MB

Gospel Plow
11-4-61, NYC
size = 5.14 MB

Farewell
5-2-63, Chicago
size = 5.78 MB

Bob Dylan's Dream
5-2-63, Chicago
size = 6.39 MB

Talkin' World War III Blues
5-2-63, Chicago
size = 9.13 MB

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