That’s right- it’s Bob Dylan’s 70th birthday! Or as I lovingly refer to it as, Bob Dylan Day.
“I’ll let you be in my dreams if I can be in yours.” – Bob Dylan
And anyone who knows me knows that to me, Dylan is basically more of a religion than a musician. The man has been making music for five decades now. How many “artists” can say that?
it’s hard to really nail down in a few words why i love Bob Dylan the way i do. & yes i know most people don’t ‘get’ it. Because i’ll admit it: Bob Dylan is an asshole, for sure. He’s usually rude in interviews. He doesn’t like journalists- or at least, did not in the least when he was younger. Or at least, people consider him an asshole because he’s always just been honest & blunt in his views. He doesn’t sugarcoat anything. That’s what I love most about him, of course. & yes, he’s been booed off stages, bashed countless times in the media, he’s dealt with a lot. Dylan seems like one of those artists you either really love or you really hate. I’m not sure. Here’s another personal example: i got an amazing video clip of him singing Most Likely You’ll Go Your Way & I’ll Go Mine in concert last August here in Kansas City. Once i got 300 or so hits on YouTube, i get a message to remove it. Knew it was coming. That’s just hows Dylan is.
However, i am one of those Dylan fans who is mostly into his oldest work predominantly. i’ve had long debates (usually with old men in dive bars) about which album is my favorite. it’s hard to say. The first Dylan album i had (& consequently fell in love with) was Blood on the Tracks. Meet me in the Morning is a song that kills me every time i hear it. (“Look at the Sun, Sinkin’ like a ship. Ain’t that just like my heart babe, when you kiss my lips?”) Simple Twiste of Fate, Shelter from the Storm – There are too many to name. (i haven’t been able to listen to Tangled up in Blue or You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go in a few months.) This is a phenomenal album, of course. However, Blonde On Blonde is such a well laid out album in it’s own right- it’s almost a tie. Visions of Johanna has been a song that’s haunted me for years. (“Mona Lisa must’ve had the highway blues, you can tell by the way she smiles.”) That harmonica just kills me. I’ve always felt like my own sort of Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands. I Want You is one of the most romantic songs to me in the world. i’ve been listening to Just Like A Woman all day long. But when i heard Nashville Skyline, it was a completely different side of Dylan. More lighthearted, younger (not by much-) Peggy Day is great. & when he sings the song Girl From North Country with Johnny Cash, it melts my heart.
The lesser known Dylan song, Wedding Song, which I’ve read he wrote for his wife Sara, is probably the epitome of what love means to me. Or what I think love should be.
“You breathed on me and made my life a richer one to live
When I was deep in poverty you taught me how to give
Dried the tears up from my dreams and pulled me from the hole
Quenched my thirst and satisfied the burning in my soul“
– Bob Dylan, Wedding Song
The film documentary by Martin Scorsese, No Direction Home, is amazing. The trailer below tells the story in a nutshell. Throughout the documentary, countless musicians discuss their views on Dylan & there’s a lot of old concert footage that blows me away, personally. His passion shines through all he does. I love the fact that Dylan himself discusses the creation of an artist, & the fact that as an artist, you must always be in a state of “becoming.” I think that’s pretty true. Reinventing yourself, molding yourself. Growing.
Another great Dylan quote from the documentary: “You can’t be wise & in love at the same time.”
Here are some links that say it better than i could:
Bob Dylan at 70: Through The Years from Rolling Stone – this is brilliant, as expected.
Things have changed, but Bob Dylan still vital at 70
i will say: my favorite story about Bob Dylan was one Joan Baez told in one of the bio documentaries about him. Sometime during the 60’s & they heard her song, Love Is Just a Four Letter Word on the radio. Dylan said something about it being a great song. & she looked at him & said, “well, you wrote it.”
& he didn’t even remember.
“Nobody does it like I do and after I’m gone that will be that.” – Bob Dylan, Behind The Shades
So as I was researching, naturally I found something that pissed me off. Apparently Time Magazine took it upon themselves to be so bold as to make two lists- “The Top Ten Best & Worst Bob Dylan Songs of all time.” Really? REALLY, Time?
Of course this is not surprising. Dylan has been analyzed to ridiculous degrees forever- since the beginning. It would be hard to be as big of an influential musician & not be. Some birthday celebration. I could NOT believe Forever Young was on the ‘worst’ list. Seriously. Anyway, here’s a portion of the article:
But then of course, Bob Dylan has never really gotten along with Time Magazine. The interview below is taken from Don’t Look Back. I’m halfway certain this interview was filmed in 1967.