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50 years of bob dylan

March 19, 2012

Bob Dylan by Bob Dylan, 1962March 19, 1962 – An eponymous album is released by a skinny, wiry-haired, 20 year-old folk singer, virtually unknown outside of the Greenwich Village club scene. Flash forward fifty years to today. That little unknown singer has become one of the most celebrated cultural figures of the 20th century. Bob Dylan stands on the other side of these 50 years with 34 studio albums to his name (58 if you include all the live albums and official compilations), enough biographies and analyses to fill a library, and a widely accepted position as the poet laureate of popular music. Are all 34 of those albums utterly brilliant? No (I’m looking at you Down in the Groove) Are there almost as many books and essays on why he’s a sham as on why he’s a genius? Yes. Controversy and personal opinions aside, no one can deny that Bob Dylan has left one of the most significant cultural footprints of any musical aritst. He’s a living legend.

What have these 50 years of Bob Dylan meant to me? Well, considering I was born in that less than magical window between Infidels and Real Live and didn’t really come into my own personal connection with Dylan until Love & Theft I’ve had to play quite a bit of catch up. But I’ve seen him live ten times now, and yes I get it Baby Boomers – I’ve only ever seen the grizzled, snarling, growling, version of Dylan live. And maybe that’s why I defend his live shows so staunchly, short of Michael J. Foxing my way into a DeLorean I’ll never be able to see anything else. But that doesn’t diminish the magic I feel every time I’m at one of his shows. He’s the most important artist in my musical universe, and today is quite the marker of his prolific career.

Whether or not you buy into the “magic of Dylan” I think a milestone this significant deserves to be applauded. 50 years of album making, and no sign of slowing down. Hats off to you Bob and thanks for the music.

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This classic all-star jam is from the celebration marking the 30th Anniversary of the release of Bob Dylan.

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