On May 24, 1941, Robert Allen Zimmerman was born in Duluth, Minnesota. No information is available regarding whether his first cries were hoarse and nasal. Certainly they were unintelligible.
Zimmerman is better known, of course, as Bob Dylan. On this day, “the voice of a generation” turns 72. I’ve been a Dylan fan for a long, long time — at least a generation, probably closer to two. I don’t think I bought his debut album Bob Dylan in 1962, the year it was released, but I’m certain that when I did acquire it a year or two later I could choose between mono and stereo versions of the record.
I’ve taken note of the turn of Dylan’s calendar quite a few times over the years, in a couple of settings:
- When he’s 64…, written on Peace Tree Farm in 2005
- Medicare Part D-ylan, which appeared in 2006 on both DailyKos (that’s the link) and PTF
- 2010’s Time flies…, written at PTF
- The very brief HBD, Bob! at PTF in 2011
- Last year’s Happy birthday, Bob, another dual dKos-PTF post
Dylan rarely celebrates his birthday on the road any more. By my reckoning, the Never-Ending Tour has had a late-May break in all but three years since 1996 (comprehensive tour schedules, set lists, and reviews available here). I haven’t a clue how he marks the occasion, but I bet he’s enjoying it.
The title of this essay refers, of course, to one of Dylan’s hundreds of familiar tunes. A particularly apt one, to be sure. Here’s a video of Bob and The Band playing Forever Young at The Last Waltz in 1975.
Dylan wrote the song in 1973, over half a lifetime ago (he was 32 at the time). One wonders whether he was envisioning himself four decades later. It’s clearly one of his favorite ditties — he’s played it in concert 493 times (his 27th most commonly performed song), starting on January 3, 1974 and most recently on November 21, 2011.
So, I wish a very happy birthday to Bob Dylan, and hope for many more. I can’t think of a better salutation to Dylan on his birthday than his very own words:
May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.