After devoting too many posts the past year on tributes for musicians who have passed away, it’s an absolute pleasure to post something of a celebration tonight. Hard to imagine, but Bob Dylan turns 80 today, May 24th.
Not to belabor the point, but it really doesn’t seem that long ago that Bob Dylan literally changed the direction of Folk Music in America, and in fact contributed substantially to the change in direction Pop Music took in the mid-1960s. I think it’s safe to say Bob Dylan as a writer and performer made a huge contribution in the way the 1960s sounded and where it took off.
Often regarded as one of the greatest songwriters of all time, Dylan has been a major figure in popular culture during a career spanning nearly 60 years. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s, when songs such as “Blowin’ in the Wind” (1963) and “The Times They Are a-Changin'” (1964) became anthems for the civil rights and anti-war movements. His lyrics during this period incorporated a range of political, social, philosophical, and literary influences, defying pop music conventions and appealing to the burgeoning counterculture.
Following his self-titled debut album in 1962, which mainly comprised traditional folk songs, Dylan made his breakthrough as a songwriter with the release of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan the following year. The album features “Blowin’ in the Wind” and the thematically complex “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall”. For many of these songs, he adapted the tunes and phraseology of older folk songs. He went on to release the politically charged The Times They Are a-Changin’ and the more lyrically abstract and introspective Another Side of Bob Dylan in 1964. In 1965 and 1966, Dylan drew controversy when he adopted electrically amplified rock instrumentation, and in the space of 15 months recorded three of the most important and influential rock albums of the 1960s: Bringing It All Back Home (1965), Highway 61 Revisited (1965) and Blonde on Blonde (1966). Commenting on the six-minute single “Like a Rolling Stone” (1965), Rolling Stone wrote: “No other pop song has so thoroughly challenged and transformed the commercial laws and artistic conventions of its time, for all time”.
So tonight, as way of Birthday tribute, here is an early session, done for The Broadside Radio Program in May of 1962.
It’s a short set, but an important one.
Here’s what’s on the player:
Bob Dylan – Broadside Show – May, 1962:
1. Ballad Of Donald White
2. The Death Of Emmett Till
3. Blowin’ In The Wind
You really wonder what it would have been like had he not been here.
And how lucky we are that he is. Happy Birthday. Stay amazing.