I've waited until now to discuss Bob's 70th because May 24th provoked such an outpouring of stuff that it was impossible to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Boy, was there a lot of chaff! Every newspaper, magazine, TV station, radio channel, not to mention every blogger and tweeter, felt obliged to get in on the act. (Yes, I am aware that I am also doing so.) But often the only people who had less interest in Bob than most of the viewers, readers and listeners were the journalists themselves, most of whom had clearly run a couple of Google searches and recycled the same old, same old.
There were some notable exceptions, of course, to prove the rule. The always stimulating Christopher Ricks delivered a superb lecture at the University of Virginia which I commend to you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDS1YJsfvio
although it is not primarily a 70th tribute. And this piece was brought to my attention by Rick Tooth, otherwise I would have missed it:
There was also, somewhere, a story which I had not heard before - and that in itself is significant. It is told by Little Richard and concerns his time in hospital, in a coma, after a car crash. As he regained consciousness, he was aware of a presence squeeze his hand and leave the room. When he asked his nurse who it was, she told him: "That was Bob Dylan. He's been here every day since you were brought in."
I like to think that this is typical of 'another side of Bob Dylan', the unassuming, modest, working musician. The moment he knew that Little Richard was going to pull through, he packed up and moved on.
It's the Bob we see at every gig. He performs. He joins his band for a moment in the spotlight and disappears, just heading for another joint. The music, the songs, are what it's about.
Most of the time, Bob is necessarily masked and anonymous. And although he took the month of May off from his never ending tour, I suspect that his 70th birthday was a more important milestone for people like me than it was for him.
I was so much older then. Thanks in no small measure to Bob, I'm younger than that now.