Late Late Night: Belated Happy Birthday, Bob Dylan

It’s a little late, but since it’s so dead around here this weekend, I thought I’d post a tribute to the great Bob Dylan who turned 70 on Tuesday. I began listening to his music when I was in high school. Dylan helped me survive my teen years. I’ll never forget the first time I heard “Like a Rolling Stone” in 1965. It was amazing. It was the first time I ever heard such a long song played on the radio–6 minutes! And it was Dylan singing rock ‘n’ roll! Of course purist folk fans were outraged when he switched to electric, but he always went his own way.

Here’s a little history from Wikipedia:

“Like a Rolling Stone” is a 1965 song by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. Its confrontational lyrics originate in an extended piece of verse Dylan wrote in June 1965, when he returned exhausted from a grueling tour of England. After the lyrics were heavily edited, “Like a Rolling Stone” was recorded a few weeks later as part of the sessions for the forthcoming album Highway 61 Revisited. During a difficult two-day pre-production, Dylan struggled to find the essence of the song, which was demoed without success in 3/4 time. A breakthrough was made when it was tried in a rock music format, and rookie session musician Al Kooper improvised the organ riff for which the track is known. However, Columbia Records was unhappy with both the song’s length at over six minutes and its heavy electric sound, and was hesitant to release it. It was only when a month later a copy was leaked to a new popular music club and heard by influential DJs that the song was put out as a single. Although radio stations were reluctant to play such a long track, “Like a Rolling Stone” reached number two in the US charts and became a worldwide hit.

The track has been described as revolutionary in its combination of different musical elements, the youthful, cynical sound of Dylan’s voice, and the directness of the question in the chorus: “How does it feel?”. “Like a Rolling Stone” transformed Dylan’s career and is today considered one of the most influential compositions in post-war popular music and has since its release been both a music industry and popular culture milestone which elevated Dylan’s image to iconic.

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Happy Birthday, Bob! At his age, we get to celebrate a birthday for more than one day. Feel free to post your favorite Dylan tunes, covers are okay too!

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5 Comments on “Late Late Night: Belated Happy Birthday, Bob Dylan”

  1. bostonboomer says:

  2. Beata says:

    Nice post, BB. Dylan’s idol was Woody Guthrie. My father was a folksinger and was acquainted with them both. Here’s Dylan singing Woody’s “Pretty Boy Floyd”:

  3. Beata says:

    I’ve always found Joan Baez’ relationship with Dylan fascinating. Joan singing “Diamonds and Rust”, written about Dylan:

    • bostonboomer says:

      That used to be my favorite from Blonde on Blonde! Thanks for those videos!