Sixty years ago, Bob Dylan and his girlfriend Suze Rotolo stepped outside their West Village apartment, holding each other against the biting February cold. Standing in the snowy street beside a blue Volkswagen bus, they posed for a series of photographs. “Bob stuck his hands in the pockets of his jeans and leaned into me,” Rotolo recalled in her excellent 2008 memoir, A Freewheelin’ Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties. “In some of the outtakes it is obvious that by then we were freezing; certainly Bob was, in that thin jacket. But image was all.”
One of those photographs was used for the cover of 1963’s The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, which contains classics like “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.” The album cover is iconic — so iconic, in fact, that it’s inspired the TikTok trend known as “Bob Dylan Core,” where teens are seen walking down streets, hunched over in thin jackets and looking pensively down at the ground while “Don’t Think Twice” plays. The trend began last winter, and the hashtag #BobDylanCore currently has 11.5 million views. There was even what appears to have been a Bob Dylan Core-themed party at Emerson College last week, with a TikTok that earned nearly 500 thousand likes.
Bob Dylan Core started in January 2023, when 25-year-old Andrew Clark found himself outside a Trader Joe’s in downtown Brooklyn. “Wait, hold the grocery bags for a second,” he told his girlfriend. “You mind filming this?” With the caption “Walking in a jacket that’s not warm enough,” a trend was born.
Clark, who describes himself as “definitely a multi-hyphenate kind of business creative,” helped popularize the football look Bloke Core last year. Determined to start his own trends, he has a working list of “Funny TikTok Ideas” on his Notes app. “Jacket that’s not warm enough” was on the list for six months before he shot his video; it now has nearly 250,000 likes.
“I think the reason it blew up is it’s essentially a little choreographed thing,” Clark tells Rolling Stone. “You know how people recreate a dance on TikTok? It’s put your hands in your pocket, someone films you walking, and they can either have you walk towards the camera or do a bit of a tracking shot. That’s part of why it was so replicated.”
The trend has now extended well beyond the songwriter’s famous brown suede jacket, with participants wearing everything from denim to leather. “I had someone in my comment section ask me where he could get a Bob Dylan style jacket, which I thought was just hilarious ’cause there’s just no such thing,” says 25-year-old Aidan Hull, who is based in Vancouver. “A jacket that isn’t warm enough is a Bob Dylan type jacket.”
Plus, Hull adds, fall is the perfect season for Dylan Core. “Fashion is big in the fall, so I think this kind of just broke off a style,” he says. “He’s a funny-looking guy who wears funny little outfits. His music’s good to listen to in the fall. His outfits are all fall-based. He just pulls off the look very well.”
Bob Dylan Core is yet another example of how TikTok is introducing classic rock to Gen Z. (It’s safe to assume the upcoming Dylan biopic starring Timothée Chalamet will also get some new listeners into that thin, wild mercury sound.) “Even if there’s someone who does it and doesn’t really know much about him, at least they now know ‘Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,’” Clark says. “And maybe they’re going to look at ‘This is Bob Dylan’ on Spotify. Or maybe next time they’re at a record shop, they’ll see one of his albums and pick it up.”
16-year-old Grace Dormer, a student in London, was introduced to Dylan by her grandfather, who named his cat after the songwriter. For her, Bob Dylan Core represents a form of kinship. “Honestly, it’s becoming a niche group, especially younger people like my age liking Bob Dylan,” she says. “When you find someone else, it’s really good to bond over it. Close bonds are formed over that kind of music. That’s why I think it’s so popular, because everyone feels their own special connection to him.”