Yep, he’s turning 70. But one spin through Modern Times and other recent discs illustrates both his stamina and creativity are standing tall. This birthday prompted a list of 10 great jazz spins on Dylan tunes, and a list of his funniest songs, but it also reminded me that I edited a celebration of his 60th birthday as well. Some of the pages now reside in 404ville, but several fun pieces live on, like C. Bottomley’s musings on how he fell for Zimmy, Steffie Nelson’s look at others attempting Bob’s tunes, and Kevin Whitehead’s explanation of the master’s improv skills. Several artists, like Rosanne Cash and Sting, take a sec to reflect on their hero as well. Thanks to all who helped back then. Here are a couple excerpts below.
“There so few artists who haven’t started doing parodies of themselves at around the age of 45 or 50, and Bob hasn’t done that. He’s been completely original from ’64 on. That’s a tough trick. To keep going to the same well, and finding new things there, to be young and vital regardless of age. Impressive…I must have played Desire 400, 500 times – I’m not exaggerating. That entire record carved a space in my psyche that led to a lot of other stuff for me.” – Rosanne Cash
“I think Dylan has said it himself, but “Like a Rolling Stone” is one of the greatest songs ever written. I’ve always wanted to cover it. I sing it in the shower.” – Michael Stipe
“I always knew when I heard Bob, when my parents played Bob Dylan records, when I heard them, that this man was speaking. When Bob’s voice came on, I knew it was important.” – Chris Robinson
“He managed to fuse Allen Ginsberg and Sonny Boy Williamson, and that’s just at one phase of his career.” – Marshall Crenshaw
“Even in the Wilburys, you do it Bob’s way, which means you do one vocal and that’s it. That’s your lot. That’s the performance. It’s a very brave way of doing things and very honest.” – Jeff Lynne
“And I know that he has a philosophy of ‘Strange is better.’ At 60 or even after 40, you’re usually thinking ‘Well I’ve done that, now I should be normal.’ And he doesn’t think that way at all.” – Joe Doe