Bob Dylan as Relevant as Ever

Bob DylanMy allergies are terrible today, or I would spend the day on Jacopo Carucci, who I do love. But it’s Bob‘s birthday—he’s 73 today. Look, a lot of it (like all great men) is just that he was the right man at the right time. But it hardly matters, he put out at least ten albums of the greatest albums of all the time. The albums that I never tire of are The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde on Blonde, and Blood on the Tracks.

So let’s start by singing Happy Birthday for Bob from Loudon Wainwright:

So first, some early Bob Dylan, “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright.” We’ve all been at that point of a relationship. The metaphor of the rooster crowing is perfect, because it is as predictable as the end of this relationship. But it’s alright:

A few years later, he wrote one of the funniest songs ever, “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat.” It is supposedly an homage to Edie Sedgwick:


Skipping to the 1970s, we come to a song I’ve long been meaning to write an extensive analysis of “Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts.” It’s one of my favorites. This is an extended version, and it is easier to follow the story, plus it adds an extra verse that clarifies the story:

And from the 1980s, we have “Union Sundown”:

Happy birthday Bob Dylan!

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “Bob Dylan as Relevant as Ever

  1. Ages ago I saw a "Rolling Stone" picture of a Rolling Stones concert setlist. I didn’t admire their music very much at the time. But I looked at that picture of that setlist and thought, "damn, they have a lot of good songs."

    I feel the same way towards Dylan. I over-worshipped him when I was young, had a time when I disliked him in reaction. Now I just think, "damn, he’s written a lot of good songs."

    It can’t be easy for an artist to be credited with changing an art form. As you mention, Dylan was the right guy at the right time, when Tin Pan Alley was giving way to newer folk/Black-inspired music. It wouldn’t have been unexpected for Dylan to completely flame out. He didn’t, to his credit, and if he never matched that early stretch of inspiration again he still showed brilliance quite a few times later.

    Since you brought up "Leopard Skin" and "Union Sundown" I’m thinking what are my favorite lesser-known Dylan songs. I like "Jokerman," which makes no sense, but has some pretty impassioned vocals. "Up To Me" from "Biograph." "Desolation Row," because there was a bar off Fulton Street in NYC that had it on the jukebox and for 50 cents I could end my night with some music in style.

    Here’s one by Joan Baez, not in Dylan’s league in terms of talent but maybe a bit more human. He really treated her abysmally, but she realized the stress is different on icons than normal people in this goodbye tune:

    [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXLWqr6Fkdg[/youtube]

    Dylan: thank you for writing the best songs.

  2. @JMF – If I were limited to certain artists, the first I would choose would be Mozart. But the second would be Dylan. When I was younger, I didn’t think much of Baez, but I’ve really come to appreciate her.

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