Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bob Dylan Is 70 Today--Really?

I knew his birthday was around this time, and that it was a "milestone," but 70 and Bob Dylan don't really go together for me. Being 12 years behind Bob, my introduction to him wasn't during his skinny New York folk period but the mid-1960's folk-rock time, when "Like a Rolling Stone" and "Positively 4th Street" burst on the pop scene. I later bought those early albums, where I could hear him sing "Blowing in the Wind" and "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll," and "Mr. Tambourine Man."

I remember how Nashville Skyline was a huge departure -- he actually sang more melodically -- and then the New Morning LP from 1970 where he seemed to come back a little to himself. But after that, I didn't follow Dylan very closely. I just knew he was out there being Bob Dylan.

And that's important to many of us who enjoy being amateur musicians. I remember, when I was just 18 and going out to open mike nights in San Francisco, that a sign by the sign-up sheet read "Featuring Bob Dylan's understudies nightly." We strummed and we sang but we were not Bob.

I think it's probably much easier to not be a tortured genius--which he certainly is. It's easier to admire him than to be him, and today I celebrate his life and his continued writing, recording and touring.

I've always liked his Blonde on Blonde album, especially "Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat."

I went to YouTube to find Bob singing Positively 4th Street. I didn't find him--just numerous "understudies."

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