Born 71 years ago today as Robert Allen Zimmerman, Bob Dylan may be the most prolific American poet and song writer alive today. His music spans the spectrum of folk, protest, ballad, country, gospel and rock ‘n roll. Heavily influenced by folk balladeers Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, Dylan became a regular on the Greenwich Village scene in the early 60’s. In 1965 he performed his live first electric set at the Newport, Rhode Island Folk Festival and was booed off the stage after 3 songs. The folk/protest crowd felt that Dylan had betrayed their movement and sold out to the pop culture which they despised. This was a liberating moment for Dylan who ventured on to write and record in many different genres.
In September 1999 I took the family to see Bob Dylan and Paul Simon when they performed in Austin. It was a great show with Paul Simon leading off. At the end of Simon’s set, Dylan came out and jammed with Simon on The Boxer. At the end of Dylan’s set, Simon came out and jammed with Dylan on Like a Rolling Stone. The show was just spectacular. The next day the music editor of The Austin American Statesman wrote a somewhat critical article saying that “Dylan should never play lead guitar”. That editor quite obviously didn’t understand that Dylan’s musical and lyrical style is distinctly discordant and is part of makes Dylan… Dylan.
Happy Birthday, Bob and I wish you many more.