Bob Dylan’s 80th Birthday (24 May 2021)

Photo: Bob Dylan in 1968 at his home in Woodstock, New York MAGNUM PHOTOS

24 May 2021 | James Porteous | Clipper Media

For me, the moment of truth came when I heard ‘Like a Rolling Stone‘ on the radio on 20 July 1965.

To be honest, I do remember the day but not the date but that was the day the single was released and I swear I heard it, entirely by happenstance, on that very day.

I was all of 11-years-old and of course, I knew something was happening but I didn’t know what it was. Once upon a time.

I memorized the lyrics without even trying and carried that knowledge around with me like it was a membership card to a secret music club.

And that was the start of Bob Dylan.

In those days there were barely any music magazines let alone internet and I was living in a small town outside of Toronto and it was dreadfully difficult to find any information on artists other than James Last or Perry Como.

For a while, I found myself in Dylan-limbo. It was not a nice place to be.

Eventually, a few more albums followed in quick succession, and then he disappeared. I mean like really disappeared. I later found out it was the result of a motorcycle accident but for a long time, I did not know if this guy was dead or alive.

After a while I thought, okay, that’s that. Dead or alive, either way, his music had changed my young life.

And then finally, he did reappear. And then stayed the course. There were ups and downs, musically speaking and I saw a few concerts along the way, some good and some not-so-good, but ‘the Dylan thing’ reached a point that the pros or cons did not really matter anymore.

In over a dozen albums, he had offered more creativity than most artists could muster in an entire lifetime and I came to think that I was just plain thankful to have been ‘there’ when he was ‘here.’

But oddly enough he continues to be highly original and creative, and caustic, and funny, even now.

And I don’t imagine anyone really expected him to last this long, to be honest. It is not a case of pessimism but just so many artists from that period died too early and too fast.

But here he is. Eighty-years old.

And, as I said, he has given so much and I truly believe that if there are any history books still to be written 100 years from now, the name Bob Dylan will be one of the few from this era who will still be celebrated. And studied.

I have included a link below to an article published a few years ago in Uncut in which they asked ‘famous fans, Dylan associates and Uncut writers’ to pick their top 40 Dylan songs.

It is a testament to his vast back-catalog that my personal favorite did not even make that list!

So we will start with that one. There are other versions of this song from the tour of the UK that are ‘better,’ but as I mentioned in my book ‘The Last Record Album,’ this is the song that does it for me.

James Porteous / Clipper Media

Bob Dylan: One Too Many Mornings (originally recocrded on The Times They Are A-Changin’, 1964)

Down the street the dogs are barkin’
And the day is a-gettin’ dark
As the night comes in a-fallin’
The dogs’ll lose their bark
An’ the silent night will shatter
From the sounds inside my mind
For I’m one too many mornings
And a thousand miles behind

This is it, man. A thousand-mile journey in a heartbeat.

The desperation, desolation, the lover on the edge of the bed, the thoughts and ideas as yet unspoken, still struggling to find some place in the world. A thousand miles.

As good as this solo version is, the ‘electrified’ versions that came to life during the 1966 tour are as raw and as deep as any well in any oasis anywhere in the world.

I found this poster in a store many, many years ago while on a family vacation in Cape Cod. I laid it out flat in the back of the station wagon, desperately afraid that something might happen to it during the long journey home. But it survived. And so did he.

Bob Dylan’s 40 best songs

As chosen by famous fans, Dylan associates and Uncut writers


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