Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bob Dylan turns 70

Dylan is 70!

Bob Dylan, born Robert Allen Zimmerman in Hibbing, Minn., on May 24, 1941, is celebrating his 70th birthday today. His songs are among the first I remember listening to - and loving. So happy birthday, Zimmy!

A few years ago I wrote a blog post about my favorite Dylan tunes, most of which date from the 1960s. As much as he fought against the whole "voice of his generation" label, his music really did help to define that tumultuous decade.

I've only seen him perform once, in 1988 at The New York State Fair. As usual, he didn't say much between songs but he did play a couple that I especially love: "The Times They Are A-Changin" and "Like A Rolling Stone."

But my favorite - and most likely the first Dylan song I ever heard - is "Blowin in the Wind," from 1962. Based on the spiritual "No More Auction Block," it became an anthem of the civil-rights and antiwar movements and remains an American classic.

More than four decades later, "Blowin in the Wind" resonates deeply with a simple, direct question that continues to define the struggle for equal rights: "How many years can some people exist before they're allowed to be free?"

Here's a young Dylan singing what is arguably his most famous song. I listened to this a few times last night when I found it on YouTube and what struck me was how sweet he sounds.

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