In honor of Bob Dylan's 70th birthday, it's good to remember his admonition, "he not busy being born is busy dying," from It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding). We know which direction he's been going all these years, since he's never stopped working at his art. So, what are your favorite Bob Dylan songs? You’ve got hundreds to choose from.
According to Wikipedia, over the last five decades, Dylan has recorded at least 34 studio albums, 58 singles, 13 live albums, nine bootleg collections and 14 compilation albums.
Here’s a list of titles of every song he recorded.
My favorites include When I Paint My Masterpiece, Maggie's Farm, Mr. Tambourine Man, All Along the Watchtower, Don't Think Twice, One More Cup of Coffee, Subterranean Homesick Blues, Masters of War, I Shall be Released, Mozambique and Hurricane, for starters. As someone said earlier today, it would be easier to list the songs I hate than those I love.
For fans or for those who want to know what all the hullabaloo is about, Rolling Stone has devoted an entire issue to Dylan, his music and impact on several generations.
I’m so glad Bob Dylan is still around, still doing what he’s always done. Yes, he’s evolved, gotten raspy and wrinkly and old, but his essence is still there, clear as it was in 1963. The first song I ever heard by him was "The Ballad of Hattie Carroll," and since I lived in the state where Carroll lived and was killed, that song rocked me to my core. Then I heard "Like a Rolling Stone" and he had me in the palm of his hand.
To me, Bob Dylan is far more than a singer, songwriter, lyricist, artist or personality. He's my anchor to the beginning of my own sense of self. Without him in the world, I’d have to invent him.
One of my all-time favorite Dylan lyrics, if a bit cynical:
"Ah, get born, keep warm
Short pants, romance, learn to dance
Get dressed, get blessed
Try to be a success
Please her, please him, buy gifts
Don't steal, don't lift
Twenty years of schoolin'
And they put you on the day shift"
- Subterranean Homesick Blues
Feel free to add your list of favorite songs or lines, in Comments.
Happy Birthday, Bob, and many, many more.
If the world doesn’t end tomorrow, Bob Dylan will turn 70 next week. That’s right, 70. I, for one, hope I don’t outlive him because I can’t imagine a world without Bob. You can hardly find a publication that isn’t honoring this milestone, but the best tribute of all may be from Psychology Today, of all places. Here are a few excerpts from Not Dark Yet: Bob Dylan at 70, in the April issue:
Unlike many of his generation, who died or became nostalgia acts, Dylan remains active, innovative and relevant. He has continued to make new music, and his new music is often more urgent, more probing than before, exploring various aspects of Americana--its interior and exterior landscapes.
In a world where most artists have one good song, or at best one good record in them, Dylan has made multiple masterpiece recordings in each one of the last five decades, creating undoubtedly the deepest, richest, and most influential songbook in the history of adult American pop music.
His influence and longevity are even more startling given the fact that he's never sold that many records; he has sold less than the Spice Girls, less than Cher. He's never been a heartthrob, never shook his hips or pouted. He never starred in the tabloids, never did the talk show thing, the ‘reality' thing, the rehab thing. His children and ex-wives have never been paraded in the media. The only thing he's known widely for is his art.
Here are a few graphs from a beautifully written review of a New York City film festival featuring two documentaries about Dylan. For the full piece, go here.
From The New York Times:
His Back Pages, Captured on Film
By A.O. Scott
Published: May 17, 2011
Bob Dylan will turn 70 next Tuesday — unless of course Judgment Day arrives in the meantime, an eventuality that Mr. Dylan might well take in stride. After all, the scope of his historical imagination stretches from before the flood to the end of days, and the man himself can sometimes seem to dwell outside of time altogether. Devotees who use the age of their idol to calculate their own dismaying senescence may be shocked that he is so old, but to many more of us he has always been around. He was never young. Or else he was so much older then, and he’s younger than that now.
A hustler and a confidence man arriving on a scene that valued authenticity and ideological relevance above all, he ruined any easy distinctions between protest and surrealism, parody and profundity.
But what is hardest to believe may be what is most self-evidently true, namely that this kid from Minnesota, before he was 25, was able to absorb so much of the history of the world, musical and otherwise, and turn it into songs that are likely to last at least until Judgment Day.