Thursday, May 25, 2006

Happy Birthday Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan, "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall"

Bob Dylan, "Cocaine"

Jeez, I almost let this day pass without making a big deal out of it. As the subject says, today is Bob Dylan's birthday. The man turns 65 today, and Pound for Pound has to pay tribute. Y'all already know how important the man's music is to this blog, so I won't bore you with more pretentious words.

You're probably still working over that radio show I posted up on Sunday, so I wanted to keep this one short and sweet. These tracks come from a recent archive release, Live at the Gaslight 1962. This was a bootleg for many years, which got an official release just this year. In fact, it was on sale at Starbucks for awhile, not sure what the deal was with that or why I was supporting a corporate, bland coffee place. The CD sounds amazing, despite being more than 40 years old. I think that the music might appeal to a much bigger audience than his later stuff, as this is Dylan, his guitar and his harmonica. It's the iconic image of the man, on stage by himself, singing his folk songs and protest songs. In essence, the very image that I think demeans the man's career.

In spite of that, it's hard to deny the power of this music, as his voice and songs are captivating. This show came right before his second album, The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, and you get two of the classic tracks from it, "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall" and "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright". The "Hard Rain" is essential listening, a great version of one of his greatest songs. It's an early version of the song, with the extra lyric, "I heard the sound of one person crying, he as human." It's especially cool to hear the sounds of the audience at The Gaslight, singing along at the end of the song, glasses tinkling, taking the listener back to those early days in Greenwich Village.

The rest of the songs are new to me, old traditionals that played such an important role in the formation of Dylan's music. Gorgeous, powerful music from the man at the very outset of his career. It's an amazing testament on his birthday, a chance to consider how amazing his music was at the beginning, how long he has been a source of interest and how wonderful it is to have him still making music today. Buy the album here, as it is highly recommended.

Make sure to check out this great essay in Slate by David Yaffe called "The State of the Dylan Address." A wonderful piece, which marvels at the radio show as I did and looks forward to the future with the man. So today, wish the man a happy 65th birthday, take a listen to some songs from the past and prepare for what is still to come.

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