Happy Birthday Bob Dylan, Turns 79 Years Old This Weekend (5/24, to Be Specific)

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On Sunday, May 24, Bob Dylan turns 79 years of age — so what better opportunity to celebrate the legendary musician/songwriter/cultural icon, who remains as crucial a part of our collective human experience as ever?

Rock Cellar contributor Jeff Slate, also an accomplished musician, paid tribute to the man with a livestream birthday concert on Facebook that aired Thursday afternoon:

Week 8! This time via JSHQ…All #Dylan, all request. 14 classic Dylan (and #Wilburys!) tunes in honor of Bob’s 79th birthday, plus stories and shout outs to Roger McGuinn, John Doe, Andy Crofts, Steve Pilgrim, Jesse Malin & Lucinda Williams, Don DiLego, Trapper Schoepp plus Mark Bosch, Scott Campbell, Steve Holley, Mark Plati, Charly Roth, Shannon Conley, Johnny Pisano, Rick Mullen and… Howie Fox! #stayhome #withme #alonetogether #livemusic #onlineconcert #bobdylan #happybirthdaybob #idiotwind

Posted by Jeff Slate HQ on Thursday, May 21, 2020

The man born Robert Allan Zimmerman excited the masses recently with the announcement of a new album, Rough and Rowdy Ways, which is set to be released on June 19. He dropped a new song titled “False Prophet”:

That track joined recent song premieres from Bob Dylan, including “I Contain Multitudes”:

And the 17-minute JFK Assassination dirge, “Murder Most Foul”:

All of this new activity is a testament to the man, who just refuses to slow down. Bob Dylan could surely just rest on his laurels, taking it easy and enjoying life basking in the glow of a Nobel Prize win. But no — he’s all about the music, and the creative quest he set out on decades ago.

That quest wasn’t always “smooth sailing,” mind you. In our 2017 column documenting musicians’ first encounters with Bob Dylan, Judy Collins reminisced about her initial experience with a scrawny young man named Robert Zimmerman:

When I was working at the Gilded Garter – this was in Central City, Colorado and it was 1959 and it was my second professional gig, this guy used to come around and see me. He was homeless and he was badly dressed, even for the ’60s. He was trying to get a job, his name was Robert Zimmerman and he was sort of pathetic, you know? He was pathetic, there’s no other word for it.

And that’s where I met him. He would come in, sit down and listen to all the songs. But then when I came to New York two years later for the first time, I was at Gerde’s Folk City and he was singing these old Woody Guthrie blues and I dismissed him. He was like all these other raunchy boys with long hair and guitars. He wasn’t terribly attractive and, you know, he was homeless [Laughs]. He was singing at the round robins and in the hootenannies. He still couldn’t get a job.

More, from Collins, after some time had passed from her first encounter with him:

I picked up a copy of our bible, which is a magazine called Sing Out!, and I saw, with the music printed, this song called “Blowin’ in the Wind.” And I read it and I thought, “Christ, that has to be …” He had changed his name to Bob Dylan. He explained to me who he was. He said, “You remember me. I sat at your feet in Central City. My name was Robert Zimmerman. Now my name is Bob Dylan.”

I couldn’t believe my eyes or my ears! I mean, this song was sophisticated, to say the least. It was unique – I’d never heard anything like it.

That’s that work ethic for you.

Happy birthday, Bob Dylan! Keep on keepin’ on.

Musicians Recall ‘The First Time I Heard Bob Dylan’

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