Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bob Dylan's Birthday

While you're celebrating, you may begin to think there's something happening but you don't know what it is. Well, here's why:
Bob Dylan famously found Jesus in 1979—and then apparently misplaced him, moving away from born-again Christian rock in his set lists and on to his next reinvention. Mr. Dylan himself has been steadily ducking messianic labels since the 1960s, and on the advent of his 70th birthday (May 24) can only be bewildered that critics still tend to refer to him in Christ-like terms. "I never wanted to be a prophet or savior," he told "60 Minutes" in 2004. "If you look at the songs, I don't believe you're going to find anything in there that says I'm a spokesman for anybody or anything really"—except, possibly, for Victoria's Secret, in whose TV ad Mr. Dylan had appeared a short time before, staring moodily into the camera while his song "Love Sick" played in the background. Yet for intellectuals as diverse as music critic Greil Marcus and historian Sean Wilentz, he is a subject fit for fine-grained, extended study. (Mr. Marcus became a writer, he says, in large part because of Mr. Dylan's music.) No other living musician has generated so much ink—articles, biographies, cultural studies, dissertations, monographs, coffee-table books, even the scholarly "Cambridge Companion to Bob Dylan."

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