Happy Birthday, Bob Dylan!

Today Bob Dylan turns 70 years old.

As a writer, and as an absolutely adoring fan, I feel compelled to give mention to his birthday. The problem is, there is no way I can feel satisfied or just by doing any of the standard TVD posts because well, it’s Bob Dylan. It’s overwhelming to attempt, and impossible to succeed, so I’ll just do what I know how to do: write as it streams out.

You cannot review Bob Dylan. Sure, you can discuss new tracks off of a new album, you can compare his latest works with some from 6 decades past, and you can even attempt to criticize. But in the end, Bob Dylan is far beyond us mere mortals in terms of songwriting, poetry, social commentary, and whimsical mockery of the most intelligently brutal kind.

You cannot write a comprehensive or all-inclusive piece on Bob Dylan. Countless biographies, a memoir, analysis of every morsel of Dylan word candy, complete discography discussions, and so on and so forth all float around. Even today, headlines read of a supposed new discovery that Dylan was addicted to heroin as per his own admission from a 1966 interview. And this weekend, a good friend sent me a link to a Dylan poem entitled “My Life in a Stolen Moment”, which is exactly that, and then some. Yet even the man himself leaves out key pieces (uh, wives and children) and snippets, and apparently includes some that may or may not be entirely true (held on a murder charge?!). Who knows?

Any sort of Top 10 Best Dylan albums, songs, compilations, etc. are incomplete, unfair, biased, and generally pointless. You can base a list on your own favorites, the tracks that changed your life, the albums that saved/ruined/created your best/worst relationships. You can base it on the number of iTunes downloads, pop culture references, the albums that went Gold. You could even create a list of Top 10 Dylan lyrics by Dylan himself based on commentary he has been recorded saying; but again, this may or may not be accurate or even true. In case you were curious, two of my favorite Dylan albums are Blonde on Blonde and Blood on the Tracks and it’s because of almost all of the aforementioned reasons.

At one time or another I have owned every Dylan album available, because that’s what you do when you discover the greatest living poet also happens to be a kickass songwriter, musician, stage performer, and generally fascinating human being. Unfortunately, over the years and through relationships gone awry and a new puppy (named Zimmerman) and a new baby, I’m down to the streaming songs in my memory and about 6 albums left. Don’t worry, I’m rebuilding, and I probably will be forever.

Bob Dylan has been included in the Norton Introduction to Literature for his lyrics, nominated for the Nobel Prize for his poetry, and is regaled as perhaps the finest living lyricist and poet- the Poet Laureate of America by some. I consider him an enigma, a gift, a Master of Words, but I am willing to bet that simply having a beer with Bob Dylan would probably be a life-altering event. Or not. He’s probably just a regular, 70 year old dude.

So, here’s to you Bob Dylan, on your birthday, and always.

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