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56 years ago today, Bob Dylan released Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan took just two days to record the first of his 38 studio albums which he released on this day 56 years ago.

Robert Allen Zimmerman, better known to the mainstream public as Bob Dylan, was born in Duluth, Minnesota, USA, on May 24, 1941 and would go on to become one of the greatest folk artists of all time.

Dylan’s career didn’t get off to the smoothest of starts, but he would go on to win numerous prizes over a career that has lasted nearly 60 years.

Dylan dropped out of college in May 1960, after his first year, and travelled to New York City to pursue his music career in January 1961. He grew his reputation in clubs and dives around New York City before releasing his self-titled first album on 19 March 1962.

Bob Dylan. Image: New York Post.

Dylan was signed to Colombia Records by legendary talent scout, John Hammond in 1961. It was Hammond, who would act as producer on the album, that said, “Bobby popped every p, hissed every s, and habitually wandered off mike. Even more frustratingly – he refused to learn from his mistakes. It occurred to me at the time that I’d never worked with anyone so undisciplined before.”

The recording of the album was done over only two days – 20 and 22 November 1961 – and is said to have cost a mere $402.

Overall, 17 songs were recorded for the album, with five being single takes.

When it was released, only 13 songs were featured on the album, with the four outtakes that weren’t featured being among those single takes.

During the sessions, Dylan refused requests to do second takes. “I said no. I can’t see myself singing the same song twice in a row. That’s terrible,” he said.

The album was released on vinyl in 1962, but wasn’t critically acclaimed until years later.

A pirated edition was released in June 2013 as a single album by Hoodoo Records, with 12 bonus tracks (one single and 11 live radio recordings from 1961 to 1962) and a 16-page booklet.

Dylan would go on to release a further 37 studio albums, with his 38th coming in March last year. He would also go on to win 43 of the 70 awards he was nominated for throughout his career, including a Nobel Prize for Literature on October 13, 2016, “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”.

Listen to the album on Spotify here:

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