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What Is It About Bob Dylan's Music That Makes His Fans Like It So Religiously?

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This question originally appeared on Quora.

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By David Stewart, Bob Fan

1. There's a lot to like.
2012 marks the 50th anniversary of Dylan's recording career. His first album came out back in 1962, and he's put out new releases fairly steadily since then. In addition to new albums, there have been a lot of unreleased tracks, and his two decade, 100+ concerts a year habit means there are a lot of bootlegs around to appreciate. Even if you don't like 75% of his output, there are still heaps of music to enjoy.

2. He covers a lot of different styles.
From his early one-man-and-his-guitar period to his psychedelic band era through to his countrified stage and his more traditional rock albums then his born again era, his more eighties pop days, his return to folk routes and then his late era steeped deep in Americana - he's covered a lot of territory without ever feeling like he hasn't made a natural progression. He also views his songs as a constant work in progress. Dylan still plays his early sixties hits in concert, but he doesn't play them the way he recorded them. His music is in a constant state of evolution.

3. He's quite good with words.
Dylan can string a sentence together. Good lyrics aren't everything in a performance, but they definitely help, and Bob can write a magnificent set of lyrics.

4. His songs are brilliant.
Dylan recently released a three disc best-of album with fifty three tracks. It's no exaggeration to say that you could produce another triple album of outstanding tracks on top of that. He's written that many great songs.

5. We love his voice.
There are a lot of people who hate Bob's voice and think it's painful to listen to. We Dylan fans don't. I hate showy vocals, I find X-Factor/Pop idol performances in which the performer has to show off their range and breath control painful to listen to. Dylan sings his music like he means it. Eric Clapton has a brilliant way of describing Bob's music. He said he was first attracted to the cover of Dylan's debut album because the young singer on the front look like he'd lived a long life already. When he heard it, he said he was captivated by a voice that sounded like it had lived all the songs he sang. Dylan's music is made more real because he sings as if he's living his songs.

6. He keeps surprising us.
Touring with the Grateful Dead, releasing a charity Christmas album, DJing a popular radio show, becoming his own keyboard player, joining up with other legends for a short lived supergroup, taking musical left turns on a regular basis, he's a truly surprising guy, and we never know what he's going to come up with next.

6. He's retained his integrity.
If Dylan wanted to, he could embrace his superstardom and coast on it for years. He doesn't need to record new music, he could go down the road BB King and others have done for years - just rerecord his old hits with young guest stars and established heroes. An album in which Dylan duets with Pink, Nickleback, Katy Perry etc along with Clapton, Jagger, McCartney would sell bucketloads and introduce him to new fans. He could become a celebrity darling and coast on the music industry's love of an elder statesman. Most musicians alive would jump at the chance to record with Bob, but he keeps releasing albums of new material recorded with only a band he's assembled for the purpose. The fact that they're hugely regarded and massive sellers (the last one topped the charts all over the world) is testament to how good his modern day material is.

I've been a Bob fan for twenty years now, and in that time, he's given me dozens of reasons to love him more and never turned me away. He's released four brilliant albums in that time, and I've attended some incredible live performances while enjoying archival material from his past. I can understand why you are curious about our love for the guy, but all I can tell you is that he's the most influential musician of the last fifty years and the greatest songwriter of the modern age. He's also an outstanding performer and incredible lyricist. Join us, become one of us, develop a love for Bob. We Dylan fans are a very happy bunch of people.

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