Bob Dylan has been one of the most influential people in the popular musical culture for the past fifty years. Did you know that his successful musical career was inspired by marijuana and other psychedelic substances? More than anything else, weed helps Dylan find inspiration for his music.
The first encounter of the future star with weed was in a coffeehouse in Dinkytown, Minnesota, where many visitors smoked marijuana for relaxation. It was the time of his education at the University of Minnesota. During one of his performances, a young singer Robert Zimmerman decided to call himself “Bob Dylan” in honor of the poet Dylan Thomas.
Instead of graduating the university, Dylan moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, and began his musical career as a folk singer. There he met Eric Von Schmidt, who would later inspire his music. Together they smoked marijuana during musical sets by Joan Baez and mastered the harmonica.
One time, the famous folk singer invited Dylan to the stage to sing ”A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall.” Schmidt admits that he was greatly amazed that Dylan knew almost all of the verses of this song and even sang a few of his own.
Later, in one of his
interviews on the rise of his popularity, Dylan said that severe
drugs should not be used for recreational purposes, only for medical
reasons. But he also added that opium, hash, and marijuana were not
hard substances, as they just bent the mind. Moreover, such bending
should be experienced by everyone once in a while.
His opinion towards drugs was expressed in his music. In one of his songs, and namely “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35,” Bob Dylan sings that “everybody must get stoned.”
In 1964, Bob Dylan got acquainted with the Beatles and was very surprised that the band had never tried marijuana before. He asked them how it could be possible if they had a song in which they sang “and when I touch you, I get high, I get high…” To this, John Lennon replied that the lyrics were in fact “I can’t hide, I can’t hide.”
Then, the folk singer showed the Beatles how to smoke marijuana. They were in a hotel room and secured the door with towels. According to the memoirs of Victor Maymudes, his road manager, Dylan made a joint and gave it to Ringo. Ringo smoked the whole joint without sharing it with anyone. After Brian Epstein tried weed, he kept saying, “I'm so high I'm on the ceiling.” Paul McCartney also had an interesting reaction to smoking pot; he stated that it made him really think for the first time in his life.
Marijuana helped Bob Dylan perform throughout the country for almost five years, but then he felt completely exhausted and decided to stop using weed and other drugs. Dylan told the press about his decision, but nobody believed him because of his tendency to lie.
Dylan's fans pressed the singer to record and perform, but an unfortunate road accident resulted in a long-lasting rest from the limelight. This reluctant pause in performances allowed Dylan to cooperate with Johnny Cash on his album Nashville Skyline.
When John Lennon and Yoko Ono were accused of marijuana use, Dylan made a stand against their deportation.
In the middle of the 1970's, Bob Dylan came back to the stage as a born-again Christian. He released two albums that became extremely popular among his fans. “Gotta Serve Somebody” is one of his most famous songs of that period that brought Dylan the Grammy for the Best Male Rock Vocal Performance. However, in a short time, Dylan turned to other styles of music.
In the 90s, the singer faced serious problems with his health that forced him to stop drinking. Maymudes recalled that a healthy lifestyle caused Dylan to laugh more rarely and become less social.
Although Dylan has had a long-lasting career, he does not seem to want to finish it. He is still productive and successful. This year, the singer managed to release his triple album, Triplicate, and published a long promoting article on his website.