Why should Canadians celebrate Bob Dylan’s birthday as if he were one of our own?
Firstly, since Bob Dylan’s birthplace of Duluth, MN is only a couple of small forests away from the Canadian border, just above the tip of Lake Superior’s nose, it is reasonable to admit that, had a more aggressive Canadian delegate negotiated the borderline, Bob would have been born Canadian (as would other prominent northern Minnesotans,
such as Roger Maris and Gary Puckett).
As it turns out, Bob has now spent 80 years on our planet, sharing his musical and lyrical clairvoyance across generations of fans and acolytes in every country of the world. But Canada continues to inspire him.
His half hour special in February of 1964 on the CBC’s Quest program, along with a Globe & Mail interview with Ralph Hicklin came before any comparable exposure in the U.S.A.
Said Bob, “Reporters try to make what I do political. They want to make me a folk singer, and I’m not a folk singer. They want me to answer questions, and I won’t answer questions.”
His surprise appearance in the audience of the Mariposa Folk Festival was pivotal in his feeling of comfort and safety amongst Canadians.
Crossing over Toronto Harbour to the Molson Amphitheater for his 2013 performance there, he looked out at the skyline and remarked “Oh. What A Beautiful City. Hey any of you guys know that tune?”
His guitarist du jour, Canadian Colin Linden, did indeed, and so it went into the set.
His impromptu 2006 visit to Neil Young’s historic Winnipeg home makes his esteem for the Canadian song-writing tradition remarkably evident, as does his journey here in 2003 just to present Gordon Lightfoot with his Songwriters Hall Of Fame Award.
“They offered it to him before but he said he wouldn’t accept it unless I gave it to him,” Bob mumbled.
Also Ian Tyson was the one who first turned him onto weed.
Throughout his career, Bob has continued to offer support-staff opportunities to many ingenious Canadian players of instruments, several of whom have left his employ to establish impressive dojos of their own, transubstantiating their musical mettles into fame and fortune.
The inspiration he has provided to our nation’s songwriters is vast and immeasurable.
Roots Music Canada has accessed a few of Bob Dylan’s admirers, currently in isolation, to perform renditions of some of his tunes for today’s special occasion celebration.
When you spark your skyrockets and cherry bombs, and set the schoolhouse ablaze again tonight, light
one for old Bobby Dylan, an honourary Canadian.
The Young Novelists – “It Ain’t Me Babe”
With the Young Novelists off the road for a year and a half, Graydon James and Laura Spink were glad to take the opportunity to wish Bob Dylan a happy 80th birthday with a rendition of his “relationship protest song,” made famous by the Turtles and Johnny Cash and June Carter.
Scott B. Sympathy – “Something’s Burning Baby”
Here’s Scott B. singing Bob Dylan’s “Something’s Burnin’ Baby” in his back yard in Brantford for Bob’s 80 birthday. His full-band recording of the song can be found on his Drinking With The Poet album (1992), re-released on Curve Music on May 21, fully remastered.
Rebecca Hennessey and Michael Herring – “Ring Them Bells”
With a new baby girl and new albums released last year, Rebecca Hennessy & Michael Herring can still take time to ring them bells for those of us who are left, with a touching rendition for Bob Dylan’s eightieth birthday.
Jerry Leger – “Born In Time”
Jerry Leger can play you Bob Dylan songs all night and tell you a few stories about him too. With his touring suspended, Jerry has kept himself busy putting out more music, songbooks, films, singles and red vinyl. He took time to share one of his favourites on Bob’s 80th birthday.
Fergus and the Masked Marauders – “Political World”
Jerry Leger’s rhythm section of Kyle Sullivan and Dan Mock, add a timeless Jamaican rhythm to Bob Dylan’s perennially relevant fire-starter, “Political World,” as Graeme Hambleton”s propulsive bari groans under his dad, Fergus’s, raw reading of Dylan’s denunciation of the powers that be. Corby comments with a red tele from the sidelines. For Bob on his 80th birthday