This Album Changed My Life: The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (1963)

The Lost Brothers’ Oisín Leech on his transition to folk music

The Lost Brothers' Oisín Leech on his transition to folk music.
When I was fifteen there were four punk rockers in Navan and I was one of them. But, everything changed the day a classmate marched into my kitchen with an LP of The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan.

I was instantly spellbound by Dylan’s delivery. How could such a powerful sound come from just one voice and a guitar? Like punk rock, this music was real.

Dylan's songs provoked a personal revolution. Girl From The North Country was a snow globe of emotion into which I gazed in wonder. It felt like Dylan was singing only to me.

I soon acquired a harmonica and acoustic guitar and began a life-long exploration of the wider folk-roots universe. Freewheelin' inspired me to go out and study the songs of Woody Guthrie, Planxty, Van Morrison and beyond.

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Eventually mustering up the courage to belt out Dylan songs on Grafton Street, I then spent years busking across Sicily and Naples on a Dylanesque apprenticeship. I drank red wine into the wee small hours mesmerised by recordings like Hard Rain in which every line evoked its very own boundless world.

It's Dylan's fault that I chanced my arm at writing songs. If it wasn't for Freewheelin' I wouldn't be blindly attempting to capture the gold that he seemed to so effortlessly find. The artistry and focus on Freewheelin' is so great that it is still the road map by which I navigate my humble musical expeditions today.

Óisín Leech is one half of Irish duo The Lost Brothers and runs Joey Procida’s Folk Club in Co Meath.