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No short list of the 20th century’s most influential artists would be complete without Bob Dylan. Instead of relying on professional craftsmen and standard tunes, Dylan coupled a love for all forms of American pop and folk with a personal and poetic songwriting style. Influenced by Woody Guthrie, he proved you didn’t need to be a technically perfect singer or musician to make brilliant music. 1963’s The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan catapulted Dylan to stardom, and he wasted no time getting away from his acoustic backing to meld his unique vision to rock, country, and blues. His music inspired a whole generation of musicians (including Stevie Wonder and the Beatles) to craft songs about what was important to them. While his studio albums kick-started folk and country rock, the ragged home recordings he made with The Band showed that not even poorly placed microphones could mask his brilliance. Although he records less often than he used to, Dylan still tours and his albums Time Out of Mind (1997) and Modern Times (2006) prove that the man still has a lot to say in a way that nobody else can match.

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