The times they are a-changin’, but the music of Bob Dylan remains a constant.
The pioneering Rock & Roll Hall of Famer celebrates his 80th birthday Monday, and fans are commemorating the momentous milestone with events throughout the world.
At the center of the festivities is Duluth, Minnesota, where Dylan was born in 1941. Monday marks the third day of the 11th annual Duluth Dylan Fest, which aims to entertain admirers of the acclaimed singer-songwriter with performances by local artists and tribute bands.
Monday’s schedule at the virtual and in-person festival includes a free front porch birthday party at Dylan’s childhood home in Duluth. The nine-day festival also includes songwriting and poetry contests and more in honor of Dylan.
In New York, the WFUV radio station at the Bronx’s Fordham University is set to play 80 Dylan songs on Monday in honor of the folk music icons 80th birthday, with the countdown kicking off at 9 a.m. EDT.
The festivities stretch beyond United States soil, too, as a “Dignity” livestream event saluting Dylan’s 80 years will take place Monday at the U.S. Ambassadors Residence in Dublin, with music, poetry and more on the docket.
Dylan’s prolific legacy, which features six decades of music, is cause for celebration. He moved to New York at the onset of a career that’s included more than three-dozen studio albums, beginning with his eponymous debut work in 1962.
His most recent album, last year’s “Rough and Rowdy Ways,” was a massive success among critics and listeners, peaking in the No. 2 spot on the U.S. chart and No. 1 in numerous other countries.
Revered for his poignant lyrics that gave a voice to civil movements and social discussions, Dylan is a 10-time Grammy winner and a 38-time nominee. His 1960s anthems “Like A Rolling Stone,” “The Times They Are A-Changin’” and “Blowing in the Wind” are considered among the greatest songs of all time, and are still relevant today in a world with a heightened social consciousness.
While his singing voice is an acquired taste — often mocked as being nasally — Dylan’s lasting impact on music and the world continues to resonate, with former President Barack Obama honoring the artist with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.
“Bob Dylan started writing other people’s songs, but as he says, ‘There came a point where I had to write what I wanted to say, because what I wanted to say, nobody else was writing,’” Obama said of Dylan during the ceremony.
“There is not a bigger giant in the history of American music,” Obama said. “All these years later, he’s still chasing that sound and still searching for a little bit of truth, and I have to say I am a really big fan.”
In 2016, the enigmatic artist was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition,” according to the Swedish Academy.
Dylan, who is also a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 2001 for “Things Have Changed,” which appeared in the comedy-drama “Wonder Boys.”
In December 2020, Dylan sold his entire songwriting catalog — more than 600 songs — to Universal Music Publishing Group in a massive deal that shook the music industry and was reported to be worth more than $300 million, possibly the highest price ever paid for a musician’s songwriting rights.
The musician also won the respect of fans throughout the world who are hopeful to help his 80th birthday hit a high note.
So happy birthday, Mr. Tambourine Man — we’ll play a song for you. In the jingle jangle morning, we’ll come following you.