The Music That Influenced Bob Dylan
Blues…folk…country…these are the genres of the artists featured—Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Pete Seeger, Reverend Gary Davis, Blind Willie McTell and more on Down The Tracks. Legends all, and they all had a major impact on the young mind and heart of Bob Dylan. Through archival performance tapes and interview footage amidst new interviews, an understanding is achieved on what went into the making of perhaps the most enigmatic poet of music the world has ever known.
Armed with an acoustic guitar, a few bucks, and a tattered copy of Woody Guthrie's Bound For Glory, Dylan's nerve, smarts, ambition and charisma netted him a small following amongst the intellectual folksters hanging out at Greenwich Village clubs. It didn't hurt that he had an encyclopedic knowledge of artists and their songs from Seeger to Woody, from Jimmie Rodgers to Blind Lemon.
Even after he garnered his Columbia Records deal, his 1962 eponymous debut album, released when he was a mere 20, featured only two self-penned songs out of 13 (one of which was a poem for his hero, "Song For Woody," with whom he visited during a pilgrimage to Greystone Psychiatric Hospital). On that legendary debut, Dylan covered Bukka White ("Fixin' To Die") Rev. Gary Davis ("Baby Let Me Follow You Down") 18th Century New Orleans whorehouse folksong "House Of The Rising Sun," "Man Of Constant Sorrow" (a Kentucky folksong from 1913) and seven other highly idiosyncratic interpretive restorations of ancient songs of the public domain. So it's fitting that Down The Tracks pays homage to these legendary folk, blues and country heroes that so informed the early music of one Bob Dylan.