by N in Seattle, 05/24/2013, 2:33 PM

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:

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.

9 Responses to “Forever young”

1. Zotz sez: Summertime... and the livin' is easy. spews:

Forever Young is one of my favorite tunes.

Ironically, I have performed it at several memorial services / wakes. I always get a comment or two after like: “I would never have thought of that song, but it was perfect for the service.”

2. Ten Years After - Roger Rabbit is just a liberal progressive troll. spews:

My favorite is “subteranean homesick blues!”

3. Roger Rabbit spews:

More than 58,000 of his contemporaries will be forever remembered as they were when young because they did not grow old.

I wonder when, if ever, humans will invent peace? They’ve invented nearly everything else. What’s so hard about this one?

Number of rabbits killed in rabbit wars: 0

And you think you’re a superior species?

4. N in Seattle spews:


So too will the man who was President of the United States when Dylan’s debut album was released. We are five days away from John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s 96th birthday, but in our collective mind’s eye he’s still that handsome, tanned 46 year old, overflowing with vigah.

5. Roger Rabbit spews:

@4 It seems like everything has gone downhill since JFK’s death, and this country hasn’t been the same since.

6. herzog spews:

@5 that is absolutely true

7. N in Seattle spews:

I have long defined “the ’60s” as beginning on November 22, 1963 and ending on April 30, 1975 (the fall of Saigon).

Great advances on the social front, great collapses and disappointments politically. Dylan and many others represent the former, Nixon and others represent the latter.

8. Ten Years After - Roger Rabbit is just a liberal progressive troll. spews:

From 4,

It’s too bad JFK was killed. The one who followed him was a terrible president. The country would have been better off with JFK completing two terms and LBJ being relegated to the dustbin of history.

9. Dan Robinson spews:

Bob Dylan has a unique singing style. I won’t say that he manages to hit the right notes, or even that he is in the neighborhood, but he is at least in the same time zone.

The first Dylan song that grabbed me was “My Back Pages”, which I heard in 1971 at the age of 16.

“Ah, I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.” Waltz-timed, it has stayed with me.

The best bookend for “Forever Young” is Jakob Dylan’s “Baby Bird”, a hidden track on The Wallflowers “Breach”.

“When all my colors fade
And my wings, they’ve turned to leather
I’lll know the reasons why
God let me get older”