Bob Dylan (born Robert Allen Zimmerman on May 24, 1941) is an American singer-songwriter, musician and poet whose enduring contributions to American song are often compared, in fame and influence, to those of Stephen Foster, Irving Berlin, Woody Guthrie, and Hank Williams.
Much of Dylan's best known work is from the 1960s, when he became an informal documentarian and reluctant figurehead of American unrest. Some of his songs, such as "Blowin' in the Wind" and "The Times They Are A-Changin'", became anthems of the anti-war and civil rights movements. He remains an influential and popular artist; his most recent album of new songs, "Love and Theft", reached #5 on the charts in the US and #3 in Britain.
Dylan's lyrics incorporated politics, social commentary, philosophy and literary influences, defying existing pop music conventions and appealing widely to the counterculture of the time. While expanding and personalizing musical styles, Dylan has shown steadfast devotion to traditions of American song, from folk and country/blues to rock 'n' roll and rockabilly, to Gaelic balladry, even jazz, swing and Broadway.
Dylan performs with the guitar, keyboard and harmonica. Backed by a changing lineup of musicians, he has toured steadily since the late 1980s. Although his contributions as performer and recording artist have been central to his career, his songwriting is generally held as his highest accomplishment.