Happy 82nd Birthday, Mister Dylan. 24th of May, 2023.

Just a few days before releasing his 40th studio album, just a few days before starting his next leg of the Rough And Rowdy Ways World Tour, Bob Dylan can celebrate his 82nd birthday, if he got the time. About ninety shows since his last birthday, twenty-five new shows planned for this summer, certainly more to come. This year he released the fabulous “The Bootleg Series, Volume 17: Fragments – Time Out of Mind Sessions (1996 – 1997)”, in fall 2022 we got “The Philosophy of Modern Song”. The “Retrospectrum” exhibition opened for the first time in Europe, December in Rome. His largest sculpture, so far, was installed at a vineyard in France just before his last birthday – Rail Car, a real Mystery Train.

When Bob Dylan celebrated his 80th Birthday, I tried to make a summary of some of the musical multitudes of the artist, speaking of all, or some of, the different genres he’s been inspired by. I always think of this perspective this time of year. It might be of interest to some of you.

To encapsulate the last year, some of my writings since last birthday follows.

In 2022 I got to attend nine of Bob Dylan’s great shows in Europe, after thinking that 2019 might be the last time I would have the chance. To my delight he started this leg of the tour in Oslo. I saw and reviewed Oslo, Gothenburg, three times Paris and four times London. Enclosed are my reviews of the first and last show I saw, the tour opener always exciting, the last London show my favorite of all the nine.

“The Philosophy of Modern Song” both surprised and provoked in so many ways, but to be honest, not me. Here are my thoughts of the book, a release I see as a great sequel to the fabulous Theme Time Radio Hour broadcasts from 2006-2009 (plus to later released programs), the same spirit, I can feel it, I can hear it, especially in the great audio version of the book.

The giant Jerry Lee Lewis died the day of the Nottingham Concert, and Dylan tributed Jerry Lee with one of the songs recorded by him, a perfect fit for the occasion, and a heartfelt and touching rendition. Jerry Lee of course covered Bob with both “Rita Mae” and “Stepchild”.

“It has always been the case, for me, that it is the sound of Bob Dylan that forms the basis of my passionate relationship with the artist.” This is the start of an essay where I try to describe in words what’s impossible to describe in words – why I love the sound of Bob Dylan. 

To get a volume of Bootleg Series focused on “Time Out of Mind” has been on top of many a wishing list when it comes to archival recordings, certainly mine. This year the wish was fulfilled with one of the greatest box sets of them all, even with that beautiful 10 vinyl album box including all tracks. Wow – what a treasure chest.

The Dylan shows in Japan continued a long streak of great and vital performances from both USA and Europe, even including new cover versions and new arrangements of some of the songs. The returning focus of Jerry Garcia and Grateful Dead appeared once more, with several great cover versions, most surprising the beautiful cover of “Only A River” by Josh Ritter/Bob Weir. It all was just whetting our appetite for the European shows, I myself are going to see the two shows in Barcelona, if the creek don’t rise and the good Lord´s willin’.

My summary of the Japan leg follows.

So, one more year has already passed, and we can still be happy to be alive as the same time at this very special artist, busy being born, not busy dying. There are surely more masterpieces waiting, just around the bend.

Happy Birthday, Mister Dylan!

Johnny Borgan

7 thoughts on “Happy 82nd Birthday, Mister Dylan. 24th of May, 2023.

  1. Thanks, Johnny. Hope all is well with you and your family on this great day. Wasn’t “Only a River” a fantastic surprise? Jeff


  2. Great writing! I’m gonna see Bob in Lyon twice in a couple of weeks! So delighted as I couldn’t reach my 50th concerts last October in Paris (if you remember my messages then!).


  3. There should be an international ” Bob Dylan’s day on the 24 May!!!
    Not for his sake, he doesn’t need it but for the sake of future generations of youngsters who might not be lucky to be introduced to his art like we were.


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