– For all anybody knows, Bobby Zimmerman changed his name, not to renounce his father’s name, but to transform himself into a product with a catchy brand name.
When he arrived there in 1961, Greenwich Village was still home to the ghost of Dylan Thomas, who had had his last drink there eight years earlier, at the White Horse Tavern. That is where Bob would apprentice himself to the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, who were adding the treasury of Irish folk songs to the pot already boiling with the music of Appalachia, the Piedmont, Mississippi delta, and whatever places Woody Guthrie had traveled to.
No matter what he had in mind by changing his name, Bob Dylan turned me on to Dylan Thomas, whose poems, in turn, opened wide the door of poetry, a threshold never to be re-crossed. Besides the star-crossed Welshman, he also turned me on to Dave Van Ronk, William Zantzinger, Queen Jane Approximately, and the Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands, only one of whom I’m lucky enough to have met!
See here: Interview with Dave Van Ronk.