Happy 81st Birthday, Mister Bob!

Another great year for mr Dylan – at last following his fabulous album “Rough And Rowdy Ways” (2020) with the long awaited return to the stage – great shows in fall 2021, full of eagerly energy and passion, starting the “Rough And Rowdy World Tour” with a show dominated of his newest material – eight of the ten songs from the album the absolute heart of the setlist. My thoughts of the 2021 tour in the piece “In A State of Becoming”. The first 2022 wonderfully integrated “Crossing The Rubicon” as the ninth song from the album, into the set.

Even one of the highlights of the 2021 tour, Dylan got that restless, hungry feeling for change, making “Key West” new before our eyes – weaving it into something more, something different, dressing it up in a new suit and a new pair of shoes.

The tour came after the surprising move of “Shadow Kingdom” – the summer nights of July at the movies in black and white – making the old and early songs new and fresh, continuing making road maps for the soul, continuing asking the right questions.
What was it we wanted? Always more, I guess – even if we got more than we could ask for. In a world that falls apart we need the mixed up medicine of painkilling music – the one that makes us think there is hope, the one that makes us remember the power of song and of listening to a song, to a voice crying in the wilderness, a voice that rings true, with words written in our soul.

The Dylan Center in Tulsa just opened, and the infinity of the Dylan archives goes up on trial – blowing our minds with treasures for both eyes, ears & hearts.

What was it we wanted? We wanted the next chapters of “Chronicles” – but what we get is “The Philosophy of Modern Song” – promised in time for Christmas, described as a “master class on the art and craft of songwriting” – more than sixty essays – “while they are ostensibly about music, they are really meditations and reflections on the human condition” – much more than we could ask for, as Dylan slipping into his 82nd year by starting his Spring Tour of the West Coast. The tenth song? No, we can’t have hope for that? Or could we? You’ll never know.

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band Does Dylan in their new album “Dirt Does Dylan”, leaning hard into the sixties, but does it with grace and bluegrass.

Chrissie Hynde did use the pandemic for some good recordings of Dylan songs, a little less obvious choices than Nitty Gritty Dirt Band – a great album both in choices and performances.

Oh, and then it was the beautiful “Retrospectrum” summary of Dylan’s visual art, and the transparent “Rail Car” in France, the one for the really lonesome hobos of the world, waiting for a new train coming.

Then there of course was the remake of the classic “Subterranean Homesick Blues” video. Maybe we were most surprised of how little a surprise this was? We’re spoiled, you know.

Oh, what exactly was it I wanted? I just want Bob Dylan to have a Happy Birthday!
Nothing more this time.

Johnny Borgan

P.s.: I wrote this for Dylan at 80: Alias Anything You Please! It might still be relevant. D.s.

4 thoughts on “Happy 81st Birthday, Mister Bob!

  1. 23/4/1966. Capitol Theatre in Perth in Western Australia. My friend and I catch the number 264 bus from our street into Perth, walk to the Capitol. Iam fifteen and a half, my friend is sixteen. We had heard some early Dylan at weekend barbecues where our Communist parents gathered to discuss the end of Capitalism and raise money for the Party. Us younger ones would steal alcohol and rummage through the record collections in our hosts lounge rooms while the adults gathered outside talking revolutionary shit, or rather the records of their children, in their late teens. Harry Belefontae, Pete Seeger and the Weavers, Peter Paul and Mary. But we found Free-wheeling Bob Dylan and Times are a Changin etc amongst the records.

    Hollis Brown, this music was way beyond Seeger and PP&M. We were too young to work, just finishing school. Then we discover “Bringing it all back Home” then “Highway 61” then “Blonde on Blonde.” So my friend and I arrive at the Capitol theatre. No support act. Dylan plays his first half acoustic with all the famous standards. But he also plays ” Visions of Johanna” acoustically. Lots of clapping. No one had heard “Visions” yet, “Blonde on Blonde” had not been released! Yet the audience thought it was a new Dylan ” folkie” type song. Little did they know it was recorded with an electric backing. Just shows the hypocrisy of people. If he had played it in the electric second half, it would have been booed.

    There was some booing, but not a lot, us younger ones loved the electric set. We didn’t know it but the backing musos were the “Hawks” minus Levon Helm who had left the tour in the US because of the booing. We saw Mickey Jones on drums. But it was what was later to become the “Band.” Bonus! Dylan slid off his piano stool playing “Ballad of a Thin Man.” Some one yelled ” Get on with it Bob” as he took a while to tune his Fender. He replied, and I recall it well, ” They didn’t laugh at us in Ohio.” Ending with “Like a Rolling Stone” it was a life changing concert. Every song a story, every verse a surreal painting. Its all to do with the words. “From a Buick 6″, ” Desolation Row”, “Visions of Johanna”, “Tombstone Blues”, “Not Dark Yet”, “Takes a lot to laugh, takes a train to Cry”, “Groo m s still waiting at the Alter”, “Blind Willie McTell”, “Series of Dreams”, “Dignity”. Where do these brilliant pieces come from? I have been lucky enough to see about 5 Dylan shows here, including with Tom Petty and also the 1997 concert with Patti Smith opening.


  2. Tusen takk!  Så nydelige  versjoner – og for meg ukjente artister som synger “Sweetheart like  you”, ” Girl from the north country” m.fl.YSendt fra min Galaxy


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