Today Bob Dylan celebrates his 67th birthday. I went fishing on YouTube for some retrospective material on his long and illustrious songwriting career, and, from the many interesting items I found, I selected two.
Here is a performance of “Chimes of Freedom”, a song that first appeared on the Another Side of Bob Dylan album in 1964. This is a live performance from the Newport Folk Festival that same year. It is not one of his greatest songs, but it is an awfully good one, in which an evening thunderstorm is transmuted into an eloquent hymn for the poor, the oppressed, and the down-and-out. There is something about this performance that is mesmerizing. He can hardly contain himself in the tumbling final stanza. (Duration: 7-1/2 min.)
Most of the good concert footage of Dylan comes from those early years. For the past few decades he has disallowed video recording of his concerts, and often the best one can find are recordings made with cellular phone cameras. Moreover, the few official videos that have been released (such as “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” (1995) and “Things Have Changed” (2000)) are “unembeddable” by decree of the record label, so I can’t show them here. The cream of the leftovers is this poor quality, apparently half-finished video for his nevertheless excellent song “Not Dark Yet”, from his 1997 album Time Out of Mind. (Duration: 6-1/2 min.)
Those are two wonderful songs, roughly bookending the career of perhaps the most vital and creative songwriter our times have known. May he have many more years. Happy Birthday, Mr. Dylan.