Bob Dylan (; born Robert Allen Zimmerman, May 24, 1941) is an American singer-songwriter, author, and painter, who has been an influential figure in popular music and culture for more than five decades. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s, when he became a reluctant "voice of a generation" with songs such as "Blowin' in the Wind" and "The Times They Are a-Changin'" that became anthems for the Civil Rights Movement and anti-war movement. In 1965, he controversially abandoned his early fan-base in the American folk music revival, recording a six-minute single, "Like a Rolling Stone", which enlarged the scope of popular music.
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Here's the thing with me and the religious thing. This is the flat-out truth: I find the religiosity and philosophy in the music. I don't find it anywhere else. Songs like "Let Me Rest on a Peaceful Mountain" or "I Saw the Light" — that's my religion. I don't adhere to rabbis, preachers, evangelists, all of that. . . . The songs are my lexicon. I believe the songs.
I think it's helpful to remind white ethnics that they, too, came here in boats; that they, too, lived in slums; that they, too, had yellow fever; that they, too, were stigmatized as incorrigible; that they, too, had the highest homicide rates and the highest incarceration rates and the highest rates of mental illness; and that everything that was said about them in those days is now being said about Salvadorans, Dominicans, African Americans, Mexicans, Vietnamese, and Cambodians in our inner cities.
I still say black. I say it because . . . African American . . . doesn't make your life any easier. You don't see black people . . . saying, "Oh yeah, African American. Man, I'll tell ya, this beats the hell outta being black." . . . You don't see any of us going into Bank of America [saying], "Excuse me, I'm here to pick up my loan." . . . You were rejected for that loan last week." . . . "I was black then. See, I'm African American now. I'll just go in the vault and take what I need.