Bob Dylan Turns 80! I Thought He Was (to borrow a few of his lyrics) “Younger Than That Now.”

Born My 24th, 1941, A Belated  Happy Birthday Bob

A Brief One from Niagara At Large publisher Doug Draper 

Posted May 30th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

The iconic 1963 album cover for ‘The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan’ album, with Dylan walking through the streets of Greenwich Village, New York – the hot spot for the folk music revival at the time – with then close friend Suze Rotolo

You know you’ve been around for a while when you turn on the news, as I did this past May 24th, and are told that Bob Dylan has just turned 80 years old.

I was about a year shy of my 13th birthday when, in 1963, his second album, ‘The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan’ was released with some of earliest songs like ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’, ‘A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall’, ‘Oxford Town’ and ‘Masters of War’ would cement his reputation, from then until now, as one of the powerful lyricist in the field of song-writing – enough to earn him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016.

I still remember sitting on a swing at my family home in Welland in 1963 and a working out the chords to another song on that Freewheelin’ album, ‘Don’t Think Twice Its Alright’ on a cheap acoustic guitar my parents bought me. And I remember how delighted I was when I learned later, from music sheets, that I got all of the chords, including the dominant 7th and minor chords tucked when the major ones.

Certainly, there have and still are many out there who can’t handle the sound of Dylan’s singing voice, let alone his harmonica playing. They are acquired tastes, to say the least

I, like many others, preferred to hear Dylan’s songs performed through the voices of Peter, Paul and Mary, Joan Baez, The Byrds, The Turtles and Joe Cocker.

Having said that, which may seem blasphemous to hard-core Dylan fans, there is no denying the brilliance of his over-all body of work.

In the late 1960s, when he was recording with The Band at a place called Big Pink in Woodstock, New York.

A few years back, when we ‘non-essential’ people could still cross Canada0U.S. border bridges, I took a book of chords and lyrics, about as thick as a New York City telephone director, of most all of Dylan’s songs to Cape Cod where a friends, who took out his banjo and wanted to play some with me, flipped through the pages and said; “Wow, the guy is such a pain in the ass, but look at all of the great songs.”

So for the amazing body of songs alone, here is wishing Bob Dylan a belated Happy Birthday.

I am okay with forgiving the fact that I saw you in concert twice and through it all, I don’t think you uttered more than a couple of dozen words to us between those great songs.

The songs are a gift from you that we could never pay back.

  • Doug Draper, a hopelessly addicted fan

A young Bob Dylan with close friend and fellow folksinger Joan Baez back around 1964 or so, during their Newport Folk Festival Days

As some followers of Bob Dylan’s long and winding career may know, in the mid-1960s he had a close relationship with legendary folksinger Joan Baez who, I would argue, showed more love toward him than he did to her.

In the 1970s, Joan Baez wrote and recorded a song about that relationship called ‘Diamonds and Rust’. Here are a few of my favourite lines from that song, followed by a video of  Joan performing in in front of an audience sometime way back. You can watch it by clicking on the screen below –

“You burst on the scene
Already a legend
The unwashed phenomenon
The original vagabond
You strayed into my arms

“Now you’re telling me
You’re not nostalgic
Then give me another word for it
You, who are so good with words
And at keeping things vague.”

  • From Joan Baez’s song ‘Diamonds and Rust’ about her early relationship with Bob Dylan

After Dylan annoyed the hell out of a lot of people by being his contrarian self and not showing up personally to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016, he produced a video reply later that contains more words than I have ever heard him speak outside of a song. To watch it, click on the screen below –

NIAGARA AT LARGE Encourages You To Join The Conversation By Sharing Your Views On This Post In The Space Following The Bernie Sanders Quote Below.

“A Politician Thinks Of The Next Election. A Leader Thinks Of The Next Generation.” – Bernie Sanders


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