Happy Birthday, Mr. Dylan

May 24, 2008

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.

9 Responses to “Happy Birthday, Mr. Dylan”

  1. asad123 Says:

    I love Dylan. I’ve been trying for years to write a poem about him, but it never seems to come out right. Did you see the film, “I’m Not There”? It was interesting but rather strange.

  2. Happy birthday indeed. Those are some great videos. I find that I’m Not There is an interesting film, but I prefer No Direction Home.

  3. theartofrunning Says:

    Nice post. It’s funny how some fact stay with you. In 1974 I did a biographical report on Dylan for my high school English class. Ever since then I remember May 24 as Bob’s birthday. He is a classic.

  4. Martha Says:

    Thank you! I really enjoyed this unexpected treat. I saw both films and enjoyed both. I’m really a Patti Smith fan, but I like Dylan more and more, thanks to a true Dylan fan whom I met at a Patti Smith concert nearly 10 years ago. Will see Dylan next month in concert and I’m looking forward to it.

  5. Mak Ossa Says:

    Thanks for bring another great classic back to life….What a nice video

  6. Simon Says:

    Happy birthday Dylan! I’ve had Girl from North Country stuck in my head all day.

  7. zeynepankara Says:

    Hope it is not too late to say Happy Birthday to Mr. Dylan 🙂

  8. cburrell Says:

    Thank you, all, for your comments. I’m sure that it is still not too late to wish Mr. Dylan a belated Happy Birthday, and certainly it is never too late to renew one’s appreciation for him.

    I have not yet seen the film I’m Not There, though I do have plans to watch it soon. I did see No Direction Home, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I even prefer it to the classic Don’t Look Back.

    Simon, I was humming that song to myself yesterday too, although it had to jostle for attention with “Subterranean Homesick Blues”.

  9. Elements Says:

    Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Elements

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