Bob Dylan at 80: in praise of a mighty and unbowed singer-songwriter

Bob Dylan at 80: in praise of a mighty and unbowed singer-songwriterMay 22, 2021

Prolific, resilient and endlessly creative … as Dylan celebrates his 80th birthday, Edward Docx assesses his artistic contribution to the human story

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Astonishingly, Bob Dylan turns 80 on Monday. For millions of people like me, this is a moment to celebrate. We’re insane, of course. We listen to him every day like other people pray. We’ve been to hundreds of the live shows – witnessed the transcendent moments and stood there loyally through entire set lists of dirge and backed-up drains. We know all 39 studio albums inside out; and the bootlegs; and the basement tapes; and the bootlegs of basements. We can tell you what year a recording was made simply by hearing which of Dylan’s dozen or so voices he is using. Bad Dylan for us is interesting Dylan. We were there for the desert wastelands of the mid-late 1980s, the soporific crooning-swamps of the middle 2010s; we even bought the 2009 Christmas album – a record so bad that an hour of pocket-dialled voicemail would make for less painful listening.

So what exactly are we celebrating? What have we been listening to all these years? And is there any way we can share the experience with the unconverted – or at least illuminate it a little?

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