Country Throwback: Watch Bob Dylan Perform ‘I Shall Be Released’ in 1976

by Madison Miller
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Legendary singer-songwriter Bob Dylan is one of the most popular artists and public figures ever. He is often credited as one of the most influential songwriters. The stain he left on all music is permanent, beautiful, and translucent.

From his anthems directed at civil rights and anti-war movements, Dylan has been the face of counterculture for more than 50 years.

Most associate the artist with folk or rock music. His self-titled album from 1962 was mostly traditional-sounding folk music. From there he incorporated a more amplified rock sound in “Bringing It All Back Home, “Highway 61 Revisted,” and “Blonde on Blonde.”

While Bob Dylan quite literally changed the world of folk, pop, and rock music as well as introduced a level of social commentary in music not seen before, he has also delved into country music.

Bob Dylan Delves into Country Music

In the early 70s, he then explored a more rural sounding voice in his music. This emerged with tracks like “John Wesley Harding,” “Nashville Skyline,” “New Morning,” and “I Shall Be Released.”

Additionally, many people trace the roots of Americana and country to the moment Dylan started mixing sounds from Johnny Cash and Tennessee Three. Even his rock albums, such as “Blonde on Blonde,” were often recorded with country musicians.

In a clip from 1976, Bob Dylan and The Band perform his more country sounding tune, “I Shall Be Released.”

The clip features a star lineup of the Band of anyone from Paul Butterfield to Bobby Charles to Eric Clapton to Van Morrison. The performance is complete with all of that country attire from hats to belts.

While Bob Dylan explored that twangy sound briefly, the 70s moved on and he then moved to born-again Christian music. This resulted in some fun contemporary sounding gospel releases. While he explored the genres, he eventually landed back on his feet in the early 80s to produce rock music.

The album “Time Out of Mind” was his renaissance.

What many people forget is that country music is often the core of a lot of music. This especially rings true for folk music, blues, and rock ‘n’ roll.

According to an article from Rolling Stone, rock and roll connect closely with country as well as western traditions. Many recent developments in rock have had a foundation in country. For example, Otis Redding was connected and inspired by country music.

This rings true for Bob Dylan who is known for singing with such soul and passion that any lyric can come alive. As the genre known for storytelling, country music can’t be too far from Dylan.

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