“Alias Anything You Please!” – Bob Dylan at 80.

We all contain multitudes. Thank God for the artists that, on our behalf, is able to dig into and convey the diversity and somersaults of both their own and our experience, the artists that don’t pussyfoot around and don’t turn a blind eye to human nature. Bob Dylan is one of them. May he stay forever young!

Bob Dylan contains multitudes. He got six carburetors, and he’s using them all. He always did. The King of restless, hungry feelings. Busy being born, not busy dying. He gave us a rainbow. Of songs. Of sounds. Of colors. Of feelings. He’s a crucible of song and poetry through the ages, he is a brilliant connector to the world literature, to the history of music, yes, to the whole story of the naked ape.

You may call him Shabtai Zisel ben Avraham, you may call him Zimmy, you may call him Elston Gunnn or Blind Boy Grunt, you may call him Lucky or Boo Wilbury, you may call him Bob Landy or Robert Milkwood Thomas, Tedham Porterhouse or Jack Frost, or you may call him Sergei Petrov, you can call him Alias anything you please, but you still are not really sure what’s happening. That’s part of the enigma. He is Bob Dylan only when he has to be. The rest of the time he is himself.

He is, first and last, a Singer of Songs, loved by the Muses, the ones that chose to through him tell the stories. A master of rhythm & rhyme, of timing & phrasing. That’s it, that’s what I want to celebrate – the sound of Dylan. The magical physical meeting between music, words and voice and ear, regardless of which genre he uses as a vehicle for meaning and feeling beyond words. When it comes to music, there is no need for border patrol.

Bob Dylan + Rock’n Roll = True!

Bob Dylan + Folk = True!

Bob Dylan + Blues = True!

Bob Dylan + Country = True!

Bob Dylan + Soul = True!

Bob Dylan + Gospel = True!

Bob Dylan + Bluegrass = True!

Bob Dylan + Jazz = True

Bob Dylan + The Great American Songbook = True!

He always was an endlessly performing artist, hopelessly in love with having an audience to sing to, his shyness mistaken for aloofness, his silence for snobbery, always searching for that wild, mercury sound and the new way to sing the old song, long time since given up any attempt of perfection.

In his last album, “Rough And Rowdy Ways”, he in a masterly way rose the bar for what an aging artist is capable of, and everybody knows that it would have been the perfect last album – still, everybody also hopes for just one more. Always. We hope to hear him sing again. Hopefully from stage, the frightening place that is up where he belong, and where he feels both mortified and free.

Listen to Bob Dylan, once more, always eager to convey the song, more than himself.

Happy Birthday, Mr Bob! Thank you for always connecting the dots, and for extending the lines.

Johnny Borgan

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