When He Was on His Own

Martin Scorsese makes a film about Bob Dylan's early freewheelin' years

So many singers have imitated him that it's hard to realize how weird Bob Dylan sounded on first hearing--when the gods of show biz must have wondered, Who let him in? A slight figure with voluptuous lips and a hawk's hooded eyes, he hid behind his guitar and his neck-brace harmonica and emitted those torturous barnyard vowel sounds. Yet almost immediately, people got it. The imagery was so rich and cascading, the urgency of his outrage so compelling and contagious that listeners pretty quickly adjusted their long-held definition of what a folk song--or a pop song--was or could be. And if...

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