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Happy 70th Birthday, Bob Dylan!


Guess who is 70 years old now? Hint: Probably not Mitt Romney, although who would even care? American troubadour Bob Dylan is 70. And throughout this May 24, anyone who visits any news site is going to encounter so many lame pun headlines based on whatever Dylan song the headline writer happens to know. We won’t do that at all. We’ll just put up a couple of after-midnight videos in the Wonkette tradition.

Thanks Bob!

About the author

A writer and editor of this website from 2006 to early 2012, Ken Layne is occassionally seen on Twitter and writes small books and is already haunting you from beyond (your) grave.

View all articles by Ken Layne
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135 comments

  1. Beowoof

    Dylan gave voice to a generation. Saw him a couple of years ago, his voice is a little raspy, but the show was awesome.

    1. mariser

      "his voice is a little raspy"
      as opposed to his normal, very raspy voice?

      I kid, I kid. glad you enjoyed the show

    1. DaRooster

      A comment that hasn't been uttered in a while… you know 'cuz of the way its been.

  2. memzilla

    I actually went to college next to Highway 61.
    Ken, however, gets his kicks on Route 66.

    1. Doktor Zoom

      I always get those Minnesota guys mixed up, too. Is it Dylan or Prince who sings that "Powdermilk Biscuits" song?

      1. Terry

        I will always love Prince for his Superbowl performance. My family was at a Superbowl party at an American Legion hall. When he stepped behind that screen and the shadow formed and his guitar moved into position, my sister and I were laughing ourselves silly. No one else in the room got it. We did point it out to Dad, who joined us in cackling. Awesome mix of subtle and completely unsubtle, and he slid it right by the censors. lol

    2. HempDogbane

      Bob is awesome, and makes Minnesota proud, and has done so for half a century. This is especially important in a time when many assholes have risen up to embarrass this great state. They know who they are, and should be shamed as often as possible. Not you Prince. You're OK, too.

  3. edywin2

    He has a website! I wonder how many old geezers in Depends are still pissed that he went electric.

  4. nounverb911

    Happy Birthday Bob!
    May your royalties last another 70 years.

    (BTW Happy Birthday Tommy Chong)

    1. Dashboard_Jesus

      wow, that is so many degrees of awesome I can't find words to describe it…ONJ shoulda been at least the 2nd or 3rd Mrs. Dylan just for that!

    2. charlesdegoal

      Disturbing to think that is what some of us (the hippest among us) were like then.

  5. OkieDokieDog

    So glad I grew up listening to Bob Dylan instead of crap boy bands (how can they be "bands" without playing any instruments? I don't know!) or that Justin Bieber boy.

  6. Negropolis

    I'm only old enough to know Bob Dylan as America's Favorite Eccentric, Mumbly Grampa. Though, I'm still not sure I "get" his style even when watching his early works. But, to each his or her own, I guess.

    1. Lascauxcaveman

      Honestly? I'm technically a much better singer than Bob Dylan (not saying much, I know.) The songs I've written, to me, make just as much or more sense than his.

      I can play guitar as well or better than he can, at least from what you see on these videos. (Although I can't really play piano at all.)

      I'm taller, and by just about anybody's subjective judgment, better looking than him.

      But Bob Dylan (not me) was banging Joan Baez back in her prime, and that's what really counts, doesn't it?

        1. Negropolis

          I bet you she's far better at falling out of trees that Keith Richards. When Keith does it, it just looks and sounds pitiful.

      1. Negropolis

        But Bob Dylan (not me) was banging Joan Baez back in her prime, and that's what really counts, doesn't it?

        You won't hear any protests from me on that one, no siree.

      2. V572..whatever

        Plus: "Mr Tambourine Man," "Gates of Eden," etc. Long after the last Lady Gaga mp3 has been erased and she's retired to a Tampa condo, some kid somewhere will still be doping out drop-d tuning or the opening lick to "Don't Think Twice."

    2. Terry

      That droney style of singing links right back to a way of reciting beatnik-ish poetry that was popular in NYC when Dylan arrived there.

      I love his writing a lot more than his voice. Anyone who adores Woody Guthrie the way Dylan does is a-ok in my book.

    3. Negropolis

      I see some are taking my comment as some bitter attack against the man. I'd like to reiterate that just because I don't "get" him doesn't mean I think he's a horrible artist.

  7. nounverb911

    OT

    Hey Ken!
    Wonkette Jr did a good job today, hope he/she sticks around for a while.

    1. memzilla

      Agreed about Wonkette Jr.! However, I wonder… whom does the anonymity protect more: the author, the website, or the website's owner?

  8. bumfug

    I saw him last in 2006 when he was touring minor-league ballfields. What a great show.
    Thanks, Ken, for this post.

  9. Gopherit

    Huh. He spent 60 years being incomprehensible…….something that it takes most people a lifetime. Well done.

  10. memzilla

    For the Youngz out there, you cannot imagine how perfectly in sync Dylan was with the times… the stupid war, the fight for civil (=black) rights, the disillusionment with government, the riots, the drugs, the Summer of Love… *snf*… OK, time for another Geritol 'N Vodka smoothie.

    1. LetUsBray

      Stupid wars? Disillusionment with government? Civil rights getting trampled on? Thank goodness we don't have to deal with shit like that any more.

    2. Bonzos_Bed_Time

      Yeah, I was bummed when Rage Against The Machine broke up, too (supposedly back together???)

      1. WunkRocker

        Yeah RATM are playing on the bill with Muse and Lauryn Hill. Morello is all kinds of Dylan-styled-activist. Only really.

        1. Bonzos_Bed_Time

          I saw that after I posted. LA Coliseum, yuck. NEVER go to a concert there! It's an absolutely terrible venue to see a band you care about. Stay home and buy the DVD.

          Dylan seems more a musician that was embraced by activists (right place, right time), while Rage are pissed-off activists that happen to be musicians (that rock out!).

          I'll tell you the missed opportunity of the last decade was not having Chuck D front Rage when ZdlR went solo.

          1. WunkRocker

            Yeah I don't do arena shows. I think it was that year my 1st wife drug me to Lilith, The Stones, The Who, and some asshole gave us tix to the Wallflowers/Counting Crows that did it. Free tix are over priced. I'd rather get rape-tured with MC DSK!

  11. Bonzos_Bed_Time

    If you have a chance, listen to his Theme Time Radio Hour on Sirius. It might be floating around elsewhere, but they are marvelous shows to listen to. Fun, educational, occasionally poignant. Worth your time to check them out!

    1. Ken Layne

      Still plays all the time on Sirius XM, I think the "deep tracks" channel. You can find 'em all online, too. I've got 'em all and when they come up on shuffle, you're going to hear a very good hour of music and poetry and cornball jokes.

  12. Numbat_Dundee

    I'm still trying to get over John Howard (Dubya's best mate from down under) when asked what music he liked. He nominated Dylan and, when the journalist expressed surprise, added that he liked his songs for the tunes rather than the lyrics.

  13. undeterredbyreality

    I first saw Bob on the Before The Flood comeback tour in '74 with The Band in Seattle; last saw him last summer in Austin. About 20 times in between, including an unannounced solo appearance in Eugene while he was on the tour with Paul Simon. With the Dead, with Petty, with Van, with Joni. Every time was different, every time was unique; some were better than others, but every one was worth it. SorosBot–you absolutely hit it with Workingman's Blues as a demonstration of his continuing abilities to write great songs. Others–if you don't think he can sing, you haven't listened with your heart, or ever heard him do Blind Willie McTell. I could go on, but what's the point–either you get it or you don't–which just means you haven't heard enough.
    Happy Birthday, Bob–I hope I get to see you 20 more times.

    (And thanks to you, Ken, for the straight-up great post.)

    1. charlesdegoal

      You're fortunate to have seen him perform so often. I only saw him in concert a few times, but spoke with him in bars twice, once at the Kettle of Fish (with Andy Warhol and Dave van Ronk) around 1966 and once at the Gramercy Park Hotel just before the start of the Rolling Thunder Review. Great musician, average conversationalist.

  14. Radiotherapy

    Mr. Dylan and his obviously liberal stylings have nothing on the modern production values and independent, free market maudlin formula of toots fucknut.

    1. Rotundo_

      I just hadda go there. Ouch. Is it still free market if the guy has to pay people to listen? Mr. Dylan on the other hand, can just keep on liberal stylin' as long as he pleases. A 90th birthday bash sounds like fun!

  15. charlesdegoal

    There are those who like Dylan and those who don't (see above). Those who think he cannot sing should try and do an apparently simple line like "and you're so kind and careful not to go to her to soon". As in the case of Billie Holiday and many other great singers, it's all in the phrasing, not the voice itself. And the inimitable lyrics. Thanks Ken.

    1. Ramon X

      Good point. For me, a singer is someone who can put a song over, and Zimmy is a master at that.

    2. HuddledMass

      I honestly did not know what was meant by "phrasing" until I tried to sing Baby Blue in the shower that time.

  16. C_R_Eature

    Thanks for this, Ken. It’s a welcome respite from a few genuinely grim news days.

    I have to say that, more than any other singer-songwriter; Dylan and his songs have always been there for me when I needed him. Kind of like an old friend of mine who I don’t see for years, then one day drops me a postcard or shows up at my door, on the way to somewhere else and is always welcome.

    Anyway, it’s good to see him alive, well and playing still.
    But me, I’m still on the road, headed for another joint…

  17. Goonemeritus

    Happy birthday Bob I love that you’re still out there. And to all you Dylan and Hippie haters, everyone knows it’s just the anonymity of the internet that gives you freedom to spew your venom. In the public square you would be pummeled by Frisbee’s to within an inch of your life.

  18. Mort_Sinclair

    Passing on the hagiography while admitting that his actual songs are outstanding. Having to hear him sing, however, is like having a root canal without anesthesia, pausing for a few seconds, and then going back for more over and over for about 45 to 50 minutes.

  19. easynewz

    You know who else had radical political views and traveled throughout his country inspiring fervent, unquestioning loyalty in his followers at large events?

    1. EatsBabyDingos

      Metoo. Saw him at the 930 with Sheryl Crow ten years ago. Awesome! And I may not be gay (no Schock), Jakob was hot.

  20. FNMA

    A local radio station, Philly's excellent WXPN, is playing 70 Dylan tunes in a row in honor of Bob. On the way into work this morning, I heard "Stuck in Mobile" and it kind of set the mood for the entire day.
    It's going to be one those days…

    1. DashboardBuddha

      I tried to get their streaming broadcast, but all I could see was the blond lady touting Ithaca…and then they played "In A Big Country".

  21. EatsBabyDingos

    Now Bob's recognized as the preeminent old white incoherent person, does that make him the new GOP frontrunner? Or is the door still winning?

  22. BaldarTFlagass

    One glaringly overlooked contribution of Dylan was that he turned the Beatles on to the ganja back in August 1964. No Dylan, no Rubber Soul/Revolver/Sgt Pepper.

    Right, Baldar, as if no one else would have thought to get them high eventually.

  23. V572..whatever

    Thanks for this, Ken.

    And for any guitar-plunking Dylan wannabees out there, this site has wonderful stuff.

  24. FakaktaSouth

    Ah Bob, Happy Birthday, you're almost as old as you look. Those motorcycle wrecks to the face are a hell of a way to transform oneself.
    I love you, Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts forever.
    Also, "I wanna be your lover baby, I don't wanna be your boooooooosss….."

  25. Gorillionaire

    I have seen His Bobness perform about four dozen times since 1986. I have all the records, even the incredibly stupid ones from the 1980's, and books and etc. My spouse and many of my friends think it is hysterical and love to do their cartoonish Dylan impersonations for me.
    I know that everybody doesn't get it and I am fine with that, but what I have found over the years is that the overwhelming majority of people who do get it tend to be decent, smart human beings who are concerned about their fellow humans and don't mind getting arrested at a damn good protest here and there.

    1. AJW@[redacted]

      I've had the scorchies for that girl on the fiddle since I saw The Paperboys on the festival circuit in the 90's.

  26. GortRay

    I'm listening to"The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan" and being blown away by it for about the 10,000th time. And to think he had just turned 22 when it was released. If he had been run over by a cab on 4th Street the day he finished this album he would still be remembered as a towering genius of American music. But, of course, there was much more to come. Happy 70th Bob.

  27. undeterredbyreality

    One of the greatest (and hawtest) covers ever: Sophie B. Hawkins doing "I Want You" at the 30th Anniversary Tribute Concert.
    http://bit.ly/3IwTIR

    (With an as-yet-virtually-unknown and uncredited Sheryl Crow singing backup.)

  28. GeneralTapioca

    Can't snark on Bob, just can't do it. He'd be a genius if Visions of Johanna was the only song he wrote.

  29. James Michael Curley

    Just a reminder Ken, "After Midnight" is by JJ Cale; made unforgetable by Eric Clapton and nobody booed when he played electric guitar.

    Still Dylan blows them all away. Happy Birthday – where's the birth certificate?

  30. Limeylizzie

    I wasn't old enough to appreciate Bob, not sure that I appreciate him even now the singing not the songs. MrLimeyLizzie, however, who also just turned 70 was in San Francisco in 1961 and stayed there until 1974 and he has the best stories of those times

  31. yyyaz

    X2, although I am being charitable, being the bleeding-heart libtard that I am. And even though there is nothing I can say that will add to his legacy, neither is there anything a billion knuckleheads can say that will diminish it.

  32. OneYieldRegular

    Happy birthday, Bob.

    But I can never listen to "Oh Sister" without immediately having to follow it up with Joan Baez's fierce ripost to it, "Oh Brother!" (alas, no video seems to be available).

  33. LettucePrey

    I have no snark for this post… Just wanted to thank Ken and Wonkette for this wonderful tribute.

    Dylan has kept me alive through more than one dark period in my life. I really hope he sticks around.

  34. NadePaulKuciGravMcKi

    Binyamin Netanyahu:
    You don’t need a weatherman
    To know which way the wind blows

  35. SonofSpermcube

    Conservatives love Bob Dylan and claim him as one of their own.

    site:freerepublic.com "bob dylan"

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