Happy Birthday to Bob Dylan, who celebrates his 72nd birthday today (May 24th)!!! Dylan, Wilco, and My Morning Jacket will team up as part of the Americanarama Festival of Music tour this summer. Additional acts at select venues include the Richard Thompson Electric Trio and Ryan Bingham. The tour kicks off on June 26th at West Palm Beach's Cruzan Amphitheatre.
Bob Dylan, who was born Robert Allen Zimmerman in Duluth, Minnesota, first gained critical acclaim after he moved to New York City in January 1961 and became a mainstay on the Greenwich Village Folk scene. Dylan had barely written his first songs upon moving to New York, and patterned his act and early material on the work of his idol, folksinger Woody Guthrie.
Dylan's early '60s work, including the classics "Blowin' In The Wind," "The Time They Are A Changing'," "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall," "Only A Pawn In Their Game," and "The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll," came to define the best of folk music's topical social commentary.
In celebration of "Record Store Day," Dylan released a seven-inch vinyl single featuring a demo of "Wigwam" -- the tune which was the single off his 1970 Self Portrait album, backed with an previously unreleased cover of folk singer Eric Anderson's Thirsty Boots." Both songs will be featured on the upcoming Bootleg Series Vol. 10 collection, which will comprise the 1969 to 1973 era, touching upon such middle era Dylan classics as Nashville Skyline, Self Portrait, New Morning, the acoustic Greatest Hits Vol. 2 sessions, and the soundtrack for Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid. No release date for Bootleg Series Vol. 10 has been announced.
Earlier this year, Dylan released new collection of 86 early-'60s outtakes and live tracks in a limited edition of 100 copies as the new four-CD set, called, 50th Anniversary Collection. The release was an effort to bypass European copyright law by Dylan's label, Sony, who pressed up the copies of the set to show that Dylan and the label are laying claim on the recordings as they fall out of copyright. As it stands now, Dylan's 1962 Bob Dylan album can be released by anyone in Europe, as its copyright has expired. The copyright law was amended in 2011 from 50 years to 70 year, protecting recordings issued post-1963 until 2033.
Bob Dylan has been self-producing his albums for over a decade. He told us that after years of working with assorted producers, he feels that they all simply found it too difficult separating his new music from the legend of "Dylan": "Well, usually when it come to me, whoever is operating the controls is just thinking 'This is a 'Bob Dylan' record, this is a 'Bob Dylan' song.' So, they're not thinking about what I particularly sound like. And one person who was working with me earlier on did a whole entire record with me and realized that he used the wrong mics on me, and for a variety of reasons."
- Rolling Stone magazine's associate editor Austin Scaggs -- the son of Boz Scaggs -- says that the constantly touring Dylan is just as mysterious today as he was 50 years ago: "I don't think he travels with family. I think he has that bus all to himself. I think inside the bus, I think he has books, he has a typewriter, he has some sort of outlet to listen to music. I think he's constantly listening to new music, or old music. But who knows? What does he do all day? Does he work on the next volume of his book? Does he write new songs?"
- Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul & Mary says that in 1964, when Dylan abandoned political subjects to write relationship-based material, he did so with the blessing of most of the folk scene: "We had our own feelings about it, certainly. But an artist must do what he must do or she must do, and Bobby Dylan of course is famous for his continuing to change his perspective."
- In the mid-'60s, Dylan cut three of rock n' roll's most important albums: 1965's Bringing It All Back Home and Highway 61 Revisited, and 1966's Blonde On Blonde. These albums, which comprise his "electric period," built upon his romantic songs, added blues backing, and featured lyrics that were far beyond the norm in popular music, blending images and telling stories in abstract detail.
- In the 1995 Beatles Anthology series, the group discussed Dylan, who went from being a major influence to a personal friend: "(Paul McCartney): He was our idol. (Ringo Starr) Bob was. . . Bob was our hero. (George Harrison): Not an idol, but we just heard his record, as I said, we listened to his album and it really gave us a buzz and we played it constantly, over and over and over again. (Ringo Starr): I mean, I heard of Bob through John. (George Harrison): I think it was Freewheelin.' (John Lennon) We love Bob Dylan."
- Although John Lennon was the first Beatle to dabble in marijuana back in the band's early days in Hamburg, Germany, Dylan holds the distinction for properly turning the "Fab Four" on to pot on upon their meeting on August 28th, 1964 at Manhattan's Delmonico Hotel. The summit followed the Beatles' first proper New York City concert at the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium. Paul McCartney still considers the meeting among the most important of his life: "We had a crazy party the night we met. I went around -- I thought I got the meaning of life that night. I went around trying to find our roadie -- 'Mal! Mal! Get a pencil and a paper! I've got it! I've got it!' And Mal, of course was a bit out of it, he couldn't fond a pencil and a paper anywhere -- but eventually at the end of the evening he found it and I wrote down my message for the universe. And I said, 'Now keep that! Keep that in your pocket!' And Mal did (laughs) and the next morning, he said, 'Hey Paul, you wanna see that?' I said, 'What?' He said, 'That bit of paper.' I said, 'Oh, yeah!' And I'd written -- 'There are seven levels.'"
- Elvis Costello first saw Dylan play live in June 1978 in Los Angeles, and remembers being impressed that he was playing yet-to-be released music alongside his well known material: "The Street Legal tour -- that's the first time I ever saw him perform. I saw him two nights and the show was largely the same, which it never is now. He was reinventing some of the songs but he had a huge band, which was a shock. I loved it because he was also playing a lot of unreleased songs. He was playing all of the Street Legal songs before the record was on the street. So that's always a thrilling thing, I think, when the artist has the confidence to do that. You don't hear it so much in the modern day, mainly because of the Internet -- that's one of the down sides of the Internet's existence. I think it's discouraged a lot of recording artists from ever playing new material until its ever available on record, because they feel it's going to get (laughs) stolen away from them."
- Dylan was one of Jackson Browne's primary childhood influences, with his early folk era having a major effect on his life and art: "When I first heard Bob Dylan, I was walking through my living room and I was probably about 12. And there was this goofy guy sitting there on the edge of a stage singing. . . and a couple of years later I really got into him. But I was looking at him, it was this afternoon TV program that my dad. . . and I stood there and said, 'Wow, what's that?' And he said, 'That is the real deal. That right there -- I knew guys in the army that sounded just like that. Whoever he is, that's like really genuine. All kinds of people in this country sing just like he's singing right now.'"
- John Mellencamp told us that opening for Dylan tour in 2009 left an indelible mark on him and the way in which he goes about touring these days: "Y'know, it's pretty loose. It's not really a 'rock show' -- y'know what I'm saying? It's about songwriting and it's a lot looser than shows I had done in the past when it was me in an arena, or me in a shed where it's, like, people expect a performance. I've learned a lot by doing so many shows with Dylan, because Bob is pretty much. . . he's really in the moment."
- Byrds co-founder Roger McGuinn has recorded and performed numerous times with Dylan over the years and told us that above all else, he rates Dylan as one of rock's greatest poets: "I've always admired Bob's work, and we've gotten along well over the years. I think Bob's most admirable quality is his sense of songwriting ability, his lyrics. I've compared him to Shakespeare."
- Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders says that even today, Dylan remains peerless: "Dylan, he's just the greatest songwriter of all time, I think. You could do album after album of his songs. I mean, there's so many of his songs that I'd like to do. I could just keep doing them."
- Cate Blanchett scored an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her work in I'm Not There, the 2008 Todd Haynes film based around Dylan's life. In the film, Blanchett plays Jude, a Dylan-like figure circa 1966. Blanchett told us it was a challenge to try and grasp Dylan's mindset prior to his infamous motorcycle accident: "He's a very, very elusive, mercurial performer and cultural figure, let's face it. I mean the film, as much as being about Dylan, is also about a creative life. There's not a linear narrative to a truly creative journey. And I think the film has that unusual elusive form to it."
- Frank Sinatra Jr. is a longtime friend of Dylan's and says that beneath Dylan's enigmatic public persona is a very humble man: "I know Bob. I've known Bob for 35 years. And I was very, very pleased at his down-to-earth personality. 'Not trying to be somebody that he isn't. Y'know? He puts on no airs at all. He's just trying to be him."
- Dylan's career has also included several films and books, but it will always be his chameleon-like approach to his music that will stand apart from most of his peers. He's gone through many different personas, from the hymn-like narrator of The Basement Tapes and John Wesley Harding, to the romanticist of New Morning and Planet Waves, and 1975's Blood On The Tracks, one of his most enduring albums.
- Dylan spent the late 1970s and early '80s recording a trilogy of Christian albums, much of which is performed with a fervor not heard from him since his mid-'60s peak.
- Over the past decade, Dylan has enjoyed a creative renaissance with his live shows and the Grammy award winning albums Time Out Of Mind and Love And Theft. In 2006, he released the critically acclaimed album Modern Times, which was Dylan's first Number One album in 30 years.
- In 2010 Dylan released The Bootleg Series Vol. 9: The Witmark Demos: 1962-1964. The collection features Dylan's legendary publishing demos recorded between 1962 and 1964 for his publishers to copyright and transcribe into sheet music, and were never intended for release. The Witmark Demos feature many songs which never made their way into the official Dylan catalogue -- as well as early demos of future Dylan classics, such as "Mr. Tambourine Man," "When The Ship Comes In," "The Times They Are A-Changin'," "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," and "Masters Of War," among other
Dylan's 2009 album Together Through Life, also debuted at Number One. His 2009 holiday collection Christmas In The Heart topped out at Number 23 on the Billboard 200, and his most recent original album, Tempest, was released on September 10th, 2012 and peaked at Number Three.
CHECK IT OUT: Dylan goes electric on July 25th, 1965 at the Newport Jazz Festival performing "Like A Rolling Stone":
Bob Dylan On Why He Produces Himself
Austin Scaggs On Bob Dylan's Backstage Life
Peter Yarrow On Bob Dylan Abandoning Topical Subjects
The Beatles On Bob Dylan
Paul McCartney On Meeting Bob Dylan
Elvis Costello On Seeing Bob Dylan In 1978
Jackson Browne On First Hearing Bob Dylan
John Mellencamp On Touring With Bob Dylan
Roger McGuinn on Bob Dylan
Chrissie Hynde On Bob Dylan
Cate Blanchett On Bob Dylan
Frank Sintatra Jr. On Bob Dylan
Ultimate Classic Rock posts the top 10 Bob Dylan lyrics