Happy 70 Bob Years!

24 May 2011
Posted by jim

Last week I was watching over my parents' house, and happened to catch Prince's interview & performance on "Lopez Tonight".  It was definitely good to see his Princeness again, especially considering how great he still looks & sounds. He's even still hitting all the high notes in "The Beautiful Ones", with pretty much the same sound overall.  For me, as a sometime singer, that's a great thing to hear...

And just when I'm thinking that Prince is the greatest Minnesota musician ever, along comes Bob Dylan's 70th birthday :) And again the Dylan memories & music come to mind... It's funny now to think that I didn't really discover Bob Dylan until I was out of college. I mean, sure I'd heard of him.... But when the secretary where I worked in college told me she went to high school with him, I could only muster a youthfully exaggerated interest.

Only after I'd graduated and started playing in a band did I actually begin digging in, curious about what I'd find....  At the time I was living in Minneapolis, so one morning (after working the night shift) I went to the Minneapolis Central Public Library. Within this massive structure, there was a huge selection of books on Dylan!

I picked out about 6 titles: a couple biographical, a couple with an academic perspective, and a couple mainly on the lyrics/poetry. I also visited the Electric Fetus in St. Cloud, and bought every album through John Wesley Harding on cassette.  Shortly afterwards, I added everything from "Blood on the Tracks" through "Infidels". And so, there at work, all by myself in a small St. Paul Kinko's store, I passed the time reading up and listening to those cassettes through the cheap boombox at hand.

And after a while I starting "getting it", and have been a fan ever since! At first, my favorite album was "The Times They Are A Changin'". I really liked the way those spare folk songs came across, with their intricate lyrics and captivating delivery. After that, I went through all the acoustic albums, then 'moving' to the amazing trio of electric albums (starting with "Bringing It All Back Home"). And for a while, at work, it was 'all Dylan all the time'.  :)

A few years later, in 1999, I went to see him live at Canterbury Park on that summer tour with Paul Simon. I remember at the show he played mainly the hits, but did them in a sort of contemporary pop-folk style, totally different than on the albums.  Usually, a song would start, and you wouldn't know for sure which one it was until he started singing the words :D

I remember he also played a lot of lead guitar that night, which one of the people I was with later wished hadn't been the case! Anyway, I left feeling like I preferred to experience his music through the album format, preferably in a room w/ a nice stereo...

After that the time passed, and I naturally moved along and got into other musics....  And sometimes it's all too easy to forget about a onetime "passion". So that's why I think it's so great that people are making a big deal of this birthday. We need to be reminded sometimes!  So today I read the first interview Dylan ever gave to Rolling Stone, along with an interesting slideshow on the stories of 70 songs.

The only other thing I'd like to mention right now is that the first Dylan song I really got into was "Knocking on Heaven's Door". However, it was the Guns and Roses version. So here is a live, "unplugged" version from the man himself: