Happy birthday, Bob Dylan

As mentioned in an earlier post, I discovered Dylan late in life –

Upon learning that the legendary singer-songwriter will be playing Paris in October 2022, I’ve taken an interest in the man. I was never a fan. Oh, sure, like everyone else, I sang along to his greatest songs: Lay Lady Lay, Blowin’ in the Wind, Like a Rolling Stone, etc., but he was on the far periphery of my musical odyssey as I romped and rocked my way through the 1970s and 80s.

I’ve spent the past month watching his early performances and interviews from the 1960s on YouTube, reading his memoir (Chronicles), viewing Martin Scorsese’s documentary (No Direction Home) and observing his startling transformations and mutations over the decades. He’s been called so many names: Shape-shifter. Protest singer. Jewish boy from Minnesota. Born again Christian. Trickster, troubadour, joker. Iconoclast, innovator, icon. And in 2016, Nobel Prize for Literature winner. What an extraordinary life this man has lived. And to think it all started with an acoustic guitar, a harmonica and a clutch of amazing songs.

It was difficult for me to choose one single song to honor his birthday on May 24, there are so many. In the end, I chose Pretty Saro from my BD playlist. Pretty Saro was recorded during a Columbia recording session in 1970, fell by the wayside and was forgotten, only to be discovered and released in 2013. What’s surprising about it is Dylan’s voice. Not a trace of the whiny, nasal delivery of the past, but instead warm and melodic while dipping to low notes and then, surprisingly, up to high notes. And isn’t that the perfect word to describe the chameleon-like Bob Dylan? Surprising.