'Gasping at Dylan's genius'. Ralph McTell and Martin Simpson head Salut! Live's second wave of tributes
This is the second and concluding part of Salut! Live's parade of singers, musicians and writers who were happy to respond our appeal for personal tributes to Bob Dylan to mark his 80th birthday tomorrow.
See the first instalment and all the other items we have published in the Dylan at 80 build-up to Bob's big day at this link.You’ll find comparisons of Dylan cover versions as well as the messages from artists including Richard and Linda Thompson.And thanks once again to each of the contributors to the series. Have a great day, Bob ...
Bob Dylan is the most important artist of my generation.He changed the way we listen to song lyrics by bringing a different poetic imagery to music.He insists that he is not the voice of his generation nevertheless many of us definitely found our voices through his creativity.I was 17 when I bought his first album and the cover photo on his second album Freewheelin’ inspired a song of mine West Fourth St. and Jones to which he generously found time to praise.Bob’s life has been defined and dominated by his art. He continues to inspire, frustrate, stimulate, amuse and make us gasp at his genius.Happy Birthday Bob and many happy returns
I came to Bob via Joan, I came to Joan via Jean, my beloved secondary school teacher who taught me to play Copper Kettle on guitar when I was 13 (1968). That glorious music changed this working class girl from a back water town forever and pushed me to dream of what and where I could be. Thank you Bob and Happy Birthday ....
I was around 15 when Bob Dylan's first album materialised in the art school beatnik coffee bar in Weston-super-Mare where I'd begun to hang out:
somebody's sister had sent it over from New York. I was massively impressed and even though I soon dug myself into a country blues cave, I still couldn't help but avidly seize upon everything he produced with increasing brilliance over the rest of the decade. Anybody who didn't experience his musical evolution in real time will never understand how continually startling it was. I've no idea how somebody who burns that ferociously gets to be 80! (But he'll always be three days younger than Martin Carthy!)
We listened to our Bobby D just this morning:-Murder Most Foul and Red River Shore. When wrote that she was the one that only ever “saw” him.. he’s with us most days while we potter about. I was just musing on what it must be like for him.My husband John Douglas told me a story he heard about how, one day,on tour, no one in his entourage could find him, I think it was in Boston. Finally he showed up at the venue around 6pm. He explained to his worried crew that he woke up in the morning and put his hoodie up for a stroll around the city.He felt great because no-one seemed to “see” him. So he floated around and ended up in the zoo. He took a seat and spent the day loving being anonymous in the crowd. As the sun was going down the zoo emptied and soon he was the only person in the park, on a bench. A park ranger approached him saying: “Sorry Mr Dylan we’re closing the park now.”The rangers all knew it was him but they gave him the gift of being left alone.I was just amazed that you can hear new things in his lyric that you might miss and today was like that. I started to empathise with how far removed from the rest of us he must be, and the aloneness of that. I was glad the Red River Shore woman gave him respite from that. If she is indeed a true character in his world.Then John told me the Boston Zoo story and I realised Dylan can find heaven on earth in many ways and I feel great for him that he canHappy birthday Bobby
Martin Simpson, singer-songwriter and fabulous guitarist
Bob Dylan is the same age as my older brother, and has been a presence in my life for 56 of my 68 years. I cannot imagine my world as a musician without his input. The combination of his passionate grounding in tradition and his mercurial writings have fascinated, informed and elevated me for all that time. Write on Bob.
Jez Lowe, respected singer-songwriter from North-eastern England
The music and the legend of Bob Dylan swallowed me whole when I was a mere lad of 13, when his album Freewheelin' turned me into a lifelong fan. Since then, I’ve devoured all his albums and seen around 30 concerts, and I’m still devoted to the man, but no nearer knowing who he really is. Hopefully I’ll never find out.
Lauren Housley, singer-songwriter with new album, Girl From the North, out now
Happy Birthday to one of the greatest songwriters who ever lived. You have inspired generations of musicians and songwriters, including myself.
I remember reading his interview in Songwriters on Songwriting and then I was gifted his entire catalogue, which I listened to morning, noon & night. Bob came to me in a dream and woke me up one night. I was so inspired by all that I had absorbed of his music that I picked up the guitar, played one chord and wrote the whole of The Beauty of This Life - I just opened my mouth and started singing. That became the title track of my 2nd album. Thanks for waking me up Bob!
Your formative years are your best and stay with you for ever. So, the 60s were MY formative years and Dylan was very much part of that era, along with those fab folky days of the MSG club in Manchester.The MSG has gone but Dylan lives on. Over the years he has changed his styles, revisited and changed his songs and shared his artistic contributions for 60 years, a fantastic achievement.I am still in the time warp of the 60s and those songs are still ingrained and very much a part of me and will continue to be, so thanks Bob and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!