Life and times of a troubadour
May 14, 2022 - It’s unusual for a museum to be devoted to a living figure. Still, such is the influence Bob Dylan has cast over popular music since his emergence in the early 1960s.
The Bob Dylan Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which opened this month, joins the nearby Woody Guthrie Center, celebrating Dylan’s hero and another of America’s most influential songwriters and recording artists.
While Guthrie died in 1967, Dylan is still working, performing onstage in the “Rough and Rowdy Ways” part of the Never-Ending Tour -- and Dylan is due to turn 81 on May 24.
In 2004, at age 65, he told Los Angeles Times music critic Robert Hilburn, “There are many sides to us. And I wanted to follow them all.”
It was in Manchester, England, in 1966 that Dylan, with the Band -- then called the Hawks -- in tow, showed his lightning-rod side. The previous year, fans booed and jeered him at the Newport Folk Festival when he played “electric,” backed by a five-piece band.
In Manchester, he performs the first half “acoustic,” a diminutive figure alone on the stage. The second half is electric, and the protests start. As the sound ebbs before Dylan’s final song of the set, there is a shout of a single word from the audience -- “Judas.”
“I don’t believe you, you’re a liar,” Dylan shoots back before crashing into “Like a Rolling Stone.”
Dylan’s many sides can be seen in his lyrics: “He not busy being born is busy dying.”
“You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”
“If your time to you is worth savin’, then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone, for the times they are a-changin’.”
Like so many artists, the troubadour feels that his work expresses all people need to know about him.