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Bob Dylan’s First Gig

Lawrence Bush
September 25, 2017

Bob Dylan (Robert Zimmerman) began his first major gig, a two-week stint at Gerde’s Folk City in New York, on this date in 1961, as the opening act for the Greenbriar Boys. New York Times critic Robert Shelton described him in a review as “one of the most distinctive stylists . . . bursting at the seams with talent,” with “a searing intensity [that] pervades his songs.” Dylan went on to become the most influential and prolific songwriter of his era, an artist of world-class rank who continues to play roughly 80 concerts per year on his “Never Ending Tour.”

“Here’s the thing with me and the religious thing . . . I find the religiosity and philosophy in the music. I don’t find it anywhere else.” —Bob Dylan, 1997

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.