Happy Birthday, Bob!

Date of birth: May 24, 1941
Place of birth: Duluth, Minnesota
Name at birth: Robert Allen Zimmerman

In case you somehow don’t know anything about the man born 71 years ago today, here’s an eight-minute profile:

Whether he likes it or not, he is truly The Voice of a Generation. Dylan has created so many brilliant albums, so many wondrous songs … and he’s still out there playing music. He’s been running the Never Ending Tour since June, 1988 (that’s 24 years, folks!), and shows no sign of stopping.

I know, I know … no Seattle or Washington content whatsoever. Tough shit. Bob’s a special case.

If you desire more listening pleasure, click below to get to a few more videos (please excuse the brief ads on some of them).


  1. 1

    Steve spews:

    Darn, wrong Bob.

    Sorry, everybody, I appreciate “Masters of War” and stuff, but I much prefered the electrified Bob Dylan.

  2. 2


    Steve, did you fail to see The Greatest Rock & Roll Song Ever? It’s the last video in the series. The all-star My Back Pages is also pretty rock-n-rolly.

  3. 4

    dorky dorkman spews:

    The first album that I ever got of his was The Times They Are a-Changin’. I still love that album. The first greatest hits album was good, too — high tide and green grass — to coin a phrase.

    The one song of his, though, that you can actually move to is Mozambique.

  4. 7

    rhp6033 spews:

    My first Dylan album is a Greatist Hits album.

    I still remember my daughter, around 18 years old at the time, coming home from a Dave Mathews Band concert, all excited about this “great new song” she heard. I asked her what it was called, and she didn’t know the name – she was sure I’d never heard it before, it was too new. I quizzed her further, and she said it had something to do with “watchtower”. My friend and I, sitting at the kitchen table, looked at each other and said – almost togther – “All Along the Watchtower?” She looked perplexed. “How did you know that”, she demanded. “Were you following me?”. My friend and I just laughed. He said, “Jimi Hendrix, 1967″, and I said “Bob Dylan wrote it a couple of years before that”. She looked at us like we were pulling her leg. I’m sure she checked it out to make sure, but we never heard her bring up the subject again.

  5. 9



    Without a doubt, Jimi’s version of AATW has become the definitive one. So much so, that Dylan himself plays it in his general manner. It’s been decades since Bob played an acoustic AATW.

    When I recently heard the original on John Wesley Harding after far too many years, even the almost-hushed singing was immensely powerful. There’s an even greater feeling of impending catastrophe in the quiet original than in the pyrotechnic cover.

  6. 10


    Like him or loathe him, it’s almost impossible to measure the mark he’s made on popular music.

    There’s hardly any significant musical artist out there that came after him doesn’t respect his legacy or cite him as a huge influence.

    Happy birthday Bob. Sure glad you’re still with us.

  7. 12

    dorky dorkman spews:

    re 8: Dave Mason played rhythm guitar on the Hendrix version. That was and is a powerful riff.

    I think that he also wrote Only You Know and I Know — a great version of this by Bonnie and Delaney or Delaney and Bonnie (saw Clapton play with them at Veteran’s Colliseum in Phx many years ago).

  8. 14


    I’ll never forget the time – I was in 6th or 7th grade and I dropped by a friend’s house and his older brother had just gotten one of those packages of vinyl lp’s through a mail order record club. I think it was run by Columbia Records..

    Anyway the brother had ordered a Dylan record. One of the early ones if not the first. I kinda groaned to myself and maybe I even said out loud that I didn’t like Dylan. The brother (he was much older than me and my pal, like early twenties) paid me no mind and put the record on.

    It was a good stereo system and for the first time I really HEARD Dylan. Just the honesty of his voice and his musicianship and how he simply and plainly interpreted the songs in his own unique style.

    Can’t say I became an instant convert right there and then but I couldn’t deny that I liked what I heard that day. And after that, hearing Hendrix and so many other people cover Dylan’s songs and say how inspired they were by his work, well, the rest is history.

  9. 15

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @5 Since Dylan sounds so much like fingernails on chalkboard, the only way he could put you to sleep is if you’re deaf or dead.

  10. 16


    8 – Dave Mason was a big favorite of my Dad. We saw him many a time..

    A relentless tourer and he always gave a good show. Was such a fanatic about sounding good, he spent a fair amount of time making sure the band was in tune between songs.

    Those were the days before electronic tuners.

  11. 17

    rhp6033 spews:

    I think Dylan does about three songs where his version is the best. “Lay lady lay” is one, “The times they are are a-changing” is another. But under certain circumstances even “the times they are a-changing” work well with another singer – Peter Paul and Mary sang it at a big Civil Rights concert (having black artists on stage with them was a gig deal back then), and Billy Joel sang it in Moscow when he performed not long after the USSR collapsed.

    As for the rest, I agree that Dylan is a great songwriter, but a bad singer – and he hasn’t gotten any better with age. He was never part of the Brill House group where it was required that the songwriters be able to sing their songs in order to sell them to the artists who would record them. Those artists included Carol King and her husband, Neal Sedaka, Neal Diamond, and many more. Instead, Dylan came from up the hard way, without any support, singing at coffee houses and clubs for food and rent money until he got his first recording contract.

  12. 18


    17 – I’m reminded of the claim by some singers that songwriters often perform their own songs the best – that they of course best carry that vision or emotional torch that was behind the song in the first place. Think of a Rodgers/Hammerstein or a Sherman Brothers and their songs for Disney. No, they’re not gifted singers by any means but it’s always interesting to see them perform their own stuff.

    I thinks that’s one way to see Dylan’s singing. No it definitely hasn’t improved with age but given the way the man has connected with his audience over the years it’s hard to NOT ever see him singing them.

  13. 19

    dorky dorkman spews:

    I’m not saying that Dylan is a great singer, but some of the singing on Nashville Skyline is good — also, the singing on Knockin’on Heaven’s Door is good.

    Dylan’s singing style is a cross between Woody Guthrie and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

  14. 20

    Steve spews:

    “I do not understand the appeal of Bob Dylan.”

    I believe he was of his time. You’d have to have been there, I’d guess, and many that were didn’t get quite it either. Take a look at the Billboard Top 100 of 1962. Roses are Red. Johnny Angel. It’s the musical cure for imsomnia at a time when society’s cracks were showing. The times were a changin’ and at a pace that would very soon accelerate. And there he was, in the right place at the right time, giving voice to what needed to be said. I suppose at the time he was to the homogenized music of the day as what grunge was to 1980’s Big Hair. A lot more real.

  15. 21

    proud leftist spews:

    Dylan, simply, is the best songwriter of the past two generations. (Okay, I recognize the subjectivity of that statement.) Others may have done some of his songs better; that is a tribute to his song writing ability. Blonde on Blonde, Desire, Nashville Skyline, Blood on the Tracks, even Slow Train Coming. I can listen to “Tangled Up in Blue” all day long, or “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright.” “Sara,” still pulls my heartstrings. “Lay, Lady, Lay.”
    He’s written many great songs since then, if no classic albums. If there was only one artist’s songs I could listen to for the rest of my life, I’d chose Dylan’s.

  16. 22


    N in Seattle,

    Thanks for bringing the celebration of Dylan’s birthday to us. (71 years!)

    Oh…and thanks for taking me to my first two Dylan shows. They were awesome!

  17. 23

    Mrs. Rabbit spews:

    15. RR Dylan’s singing: Fingernals on the chalkboard :)

    The songs written by Dylan are great, and sung by others:

    “Make Me Feel My Love” performed by Adele.
    “Mr. Tambourine Man” performed by the Byrds.
    “The Times They are a-Changing” ” the Byrds
    “Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat” ” Beck.
    “All Along the Watchtower” ” Jimi Hendrix
    “Just Like A Woman” performed by B B King
    “It Ain’t Me Babe” performed by the Turtles
    “Quinn the Eskimo – The Mighty Quinn by Phish
    “If Not for You” performed by Oliva Newton John
    “Moonlight” performed by Maria Muldaur
    “If You Gotta Go, Go Now” sung by Manfred Mann
    “My Back Pages” performed by the Hollies & The Byrds

    “Knockin On Heaven’s Door” performed by Eric Clapton

    Dylans singing “fingernails on chalkboard”.

  18. 24

    Puddybud spews:

    Bob Dylan is one of the few non-soul musicians I enjoyed when played by my college suite mates!

    I also grew to like ZZ-Top and Lynyrd Skynyrd through my suite mates!