Bob Dylan Becomes First Artist with a Top 40 Album Across Six Decades

The times may be a-changin’, but Bob Dylan’s popularity stays the same. As Billboard points out, the Nobel Prize-winning legend has become the first and only artist to have a Top 40 album in the US in every decade since the 1960s.

This past week, Dylan’s latest full-length, Rough and Rowdy Ways, gave the great bard his highest charting release in over a decade by debuting at No. 2 with 53,000 equivalent album units earned in the US. That feat notches Dylan his sixth consecutive decade of charting new top 40 albums, which is even more staggering when you consider the breakdown:

— Eight from the 1960s: The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (1963), The Times They Are a-Changin’ (1964), Bringing It All Back Home (1965), Highway 61 Revisited (1965), Blonde on Blonde (1966), John Wesley Harding (1967), Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits (1967), and Nashville Skyline (1969).

— 14 in the 1970s: Self Portrait (1970), New Morning (1970), Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits Vol. II (1971), Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973), Dylan (1973), Before the Flood (1974), Planet Waves (1974), Blood on the Tracks (1975), The Basement Tapes (1975), Desire (1976), Hard Rain (1976), Street-Legal (1978), Slow Train Coming (1979), and Bob Dylan at Budokan (1979)

— Seven in the ’80s: Saved (1980), Shot of Love (1981), Infidels (1983), Empire Burlesque (1985), Biograph (1985) Oh Mercy (1989), Dylan & the Dead (1989)

— Four in the ’90s: Under the Red Sky (1990), MTV Unplugged (1995), Time Out of Mind (1997), and The Bootleg Series Vol. 4: Bob Dylan Live 1966, The “Royal Albert Hall” Concert (1998)

— Seven in the ’00s: “Love and Theft” (2001), The Bootleg Series Vol. 6: Bob Dylan Live 1964, Concert at Philharmonic Hall (2004), The Bootleg Series Vol. 7: No Direction Home: The Soundtrack (2005), Modern Times (2006), The Bootleg Series Vol. 8: Tell Tale Signs: Rare and Unreleased 1989–2006  (2008), Together Through Life (2009), and Christmas in the Heart (2009)

— Nine in the ’10s: The Bootleg Series Vol. 9: The Witmark Demos: 1962–1964 (2010), Tempest (2012), The Bootleg Series Vol. 10: Another Self Portrait (1969–1971) (2013), Shadows in the Night (2015), The Bootleg Series Vol. 12: The Best of the Cutting Edge 1965–1966 (2015), Fallen Angels (2016), Triplicate (2017), The Bootleg Series Vol. 14: More Blood, More Tracks (2018), and The Bootleg Series Vol. 15: Travelin’ Thru, 1967–1969 (2019).

–And finally, one in the ’20s (so far): Rough and Rowdy Ways (2020)

Of course, the irony is that Dylan only just received his first No. 1 single on the Billboard charts this year. Even wilder is that said track is his 17-minute Rough and Rowdy Ways closer “Murder Most Foul”. You can’t make this stuff up, folks.

In related news, Dylan recently canceled his planned tour in support of the blockbuster album. However, if you’re looking for more Dylan to hold you over until 2021, revisit our inaugural season of The Opus that unpacks 1975’s Blood on the Tracks. More episodes can be found here.

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