Bob Dylan celebrates his 70th birthday today. The original North American troubadour, Dylan’s career spans six decades and shows no signs of ending – good news for his ardent fans.
June Skinner Sawyers has penned Bob Dylan New York, the newest addition to the MusicPlace Series. The cover photo, courtesy of PBS, depicts a young Dylan not long after his arrival in New York City in 1961. The night Dylan arrived he scored a gig at Cafe Wha?, the free spirited epitome of Greenwich Village coffeehouses.
According to the author, Dylan was in search of his musical hero, Woody Guthrie, for whom he wrote, “Song to Woody.” His inimitable poetry set to music has maintained its clarity and commitment to Dylan’s values and integrity.
New York City serves as Dylan’s home base and the maps designed by Kim Rush create context. For those not intimately familiar with the cafes, shops, taverns, live music locations, hotels and neighborhoods, the maps parallel Dylan’s adventure from the early 60s to the present day.
Since 1962, Dylan has recorded more than 50 albums of his inimitable poetry set to music. Many consider Dylan a Folk Singer but that moniker does not scratch the surface of a man who has worked without a pause.
A.O. Scott presciently wrote in the New York Times on May 17, 2011, “Devotees who use the age of their idol to calculate their own dismaying senescence may be shocked that he is so old, but to many more of us he has always been around.”
Many around the world grew up with Dylan as the soundtrack to exact moments in life, relationships, and whereabouts. One’s momento mori comes into sharp focus when a particular track is heard. Skinner Sawyers’ compact book is a primer for those who are unfamiliar with Bob Dylan and a cherry atop a hot fudge sundae for those who can recite every lyric to every song.
Search the Internet and one will find more than 38 million entries and 1.3 million birthday wishes, articles and celebrations dated within the past few days. Look again and there are more than 1,700 books in print about Bob Dylan. For a man who rarely granted interviews throughout his career to date, there is a mammoth range of music and print media to draw on.
Cue up whichever albums make you sing and dance along and in Dylan’s words, may you stay “Forever Young.”
About the author: June Skinner Sawyers’ themes include music, literature, and travel. Her credits include more than 20 books and untold articles and reviews. Her subjects have included the Beatles and Bruce Springsteen. She currently teaches at Loyola University’s School of Continuing and Professional studies and at the Newberry Library.
About the publisher: Roaring Forties Press’ MusicPlace Series portrays the links between musicians and the cities they call home. According to the publisher’s note, each book in the series is “Packed with details about the musician’s life, and work and stories about the city’s neighborhoods and night spots, each volume in the series captures the mood, the culture and the sounds of a revolutionary ear in popular music.”
Bob Dylan New York
Roaring Forties Press
ISBN # 978-0-9843165-9-5