The album debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard charts in the United States, giving Dylan an honor bestowed upon nobody else in history: He is now the only artist to land an album in the U.S. Top 40 in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s and, now, the 2020s.
That’s obviously quite a rare accomplishment, and there’s probably no stronger endorsement of Dylan’s incredible career and longevity in music, an industry that normally leaves once-proud artists behind.
But Dylan is Dylan, an irrefutably iconic artist, songwriter and cultural influencer, whose career has spanned genres, years, generations and legacies.
— Bob Dylan (@bobdylan) June 19, 2020
Listening to Rough and Rowdy Ways, it’s breathtaking in its scope and quality. Eight years between albums of original material is a long time away from the game, so to speak, but Dylan sounds as competent and masterful as ever with these new songs.
While on the topic of Bob Dylan and his legacy, be sure to read our 2017 feature, “Musicians Recall ‘The First Time I Heard Bob Dylan,’ previewed with this memory from Judy Collins:
When I was working at the Gilded Garter – this was in Central City, Colorado and it was 1959 and it was my second professional gig, this guy used to come around and see me. He was homeless and he was badly dressed, even for the ’60s. He was trying to get a job, his name was Robert Zimmerman and he was sort of pathetic, you know? He was pathetic, there’s no other word for it.
And that’s where I met him. He would come in, sit down and listen to all the songs. But then when I came to New York two years later for the first time, I was at Gerde’s Folk City and he was singing these old Woody Guthrie blues and I dismissed him. He was like all these other raunchy boys with long hair and guitars. He wasn’t terribly attractive and, you know, he was homeless [Laughs]. He was singing at the round robins and in the hootenannies. He still couldn’t get a job.
I picked up a copy of our bible, which is a magazine called Sing Out!, and I saw, with the music printed, this song called “Blowin’ in the Wind.” And I read it and I thought, “Christ, that has to be …” He had changed his name to Bob Dylan. He explained to me who he was. He said, “You remember me. I sat at your feet in Central City. My name was Robert Zimmerman. Now my name is Bob Dylan.”
I couldn’t believe my eyes or my ears! I mean, this song was sophisticated, to say the least. It was unique – I’d never heard anything like it.