Bob Dylan has turned 75 and he marked the occasion with a record that would have seemed unthinkable when he began his career in the frigid New York winter of 1961: Fallen Angels, which finds the singer dipping once more into the great American songbook.
Dylan’s big break came in September 1961, when the legendary Mike Porco booked him for a season at Gerde’s Folk City, in Greenwich Village, playing support to the Greenbriar Boys, a bluegrass trio. It was New York Times critic Robert Shelton’s now celebrated review that helped win him a recording contract.
On 24 May 2016, Porco’s grandson, Bob Porco, hosted ‘A Subterranean 75th Birthday Salute’ at the Village Underground, a club which stands where the last incarnation of Gerde’s once stood, and where the Rolling Thunder Revue kicked off. Performers included Rob Stoner, Happy Traum, Terre Roche, the New World Singers and Nick Spinetti.
Check out Shelton’s biography, No Direction Home: The Life and Music of Bob Dylan, revised in 2011 for Dylan’s 70th birthday. A key chapter is ‘One Foot on the Highway’, based on interviews Dylan gave to Shelton on a plane trip from Lincoln, Nebraska to Denver, and in Denver and Central City the following day.
Listen to a fragment of this celebrated interview below. This 4-minute item was broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on 23 May 2011. The presenter is Rebecca Jones.
Some highlights from Bob’s birthday coverage
- Happy 75th: a letter to Bob Dylan on his birthday by Joseph O’Connor (Irish Times)
- Bob Dylan unseen: Daniel Kramer discusses rare images from the 1960s (Guardian)
- Photos from Dan Kramer’s A Year and a Day will be on display at the Snap Gallery, London, SW1, starting 18 June. The book is published by Taschen and will be a must-buy for Dylan fans, particularly those not lucky enough to own a rare copy of Bob Dylan, Kramer’s 1967 opus (Castle).
- Blonde at Blonde at 50: Celebrating Bob Dylan’s Greatest Masterpiece (Rolling Stone)
- Just like a woman: I’m a feminist and I love Bob Dylan—even though I know I shouldn’t (Salon.com)
- 6 Stops on Dylan’s Rise to the Top (Newscenter/University of Rochester)