… but I thought I would get in early.
I guess quite a few people will be wanting to say something to you this year about how much they admire your work, and how it has influenced their lives. “Thank you Bob for all the songs, they have changed my life, they have rescued me when times have been dark,” that sort of thing. And yes I can utterly relate to that.
And what a wonderful thing it must be to have that – to know that you have touched the lives of I guess, hundreds of millions (I’ve no way of working out the number but it must be a lot). More than that, you’ve helped shape western culture as a whole. And that’s pretty damn amazing, when you come to think about it.
But no, I’m going to leave that for others, because my thanks to you, for all you have done for me through my life, is this little website.
When I started the website in November 2008 of course I wasn’t the first guy with such an idea, but I think we have managed to take things a little further than most – listing all your songs in the order they were written (as far as we can) and then seeking to explore what they mean to us all, in ways that maybe other people have not.
So here’s this website: your life in 626 songs. Not reviews created by some self-appointed scribbler who thinks that he or she knows exactly what’s what, and doesn’t actually understand the notion of art. But by people who just love what you’ve done, and want to share their love of your work, and the impact it has had on them, with each other. You’ve touched us all.
It’s still growing of course, this Untold Dylan website, and hopefully it will for a few more years yet. And maybe we’ll find some way of preserving it for the future when I’m not around to curate it any more. Perhaps some university might want to take it over, or maybe one of our regular contributors, or my mate Pat who endlessly badgered me to get on with it in the early days…. Maybe someone…
But insofar as what it is, I think it has worked because it now is a record of your lifetime’s achievement as seen not by record producers and self-appointed experts, but by us. The people who listen to your music, because we enjoy it. Because it moves us.
So Bob, what I am trying to say in my usual rambling way is that this is a sharing thing. You created the songs to share with us, and we created this website to expand that sharing, and to keep a record of all those wonderful concerts, and to look again at all those album sleeves, to dig out all those recordings that you made and then left, to listen to all the recordings of your work made by other performers, and from there to go on and record thoughts and memories of the people who have listened to your work, and been inspired and touched by what you have done.
You’ve given us the songs, and through this website, we’ve been trying to give something to each other as we consider what you have done, so that we can enjoy your creativity even more.
I suspect if I had had the money, the influence and the land I’d have put up an 80th birthday Bob Dylan monument this year, but I don’t so I haven’t. But I have this website, and I think that in a way that’s worth a little bit more, because it is built by people who care about you, and care about your work. It’s personal Bob. You and me. You and everyone who ever writes for or reads this site.
So from myself, and all the people listed before and all those whose names I have missed out (and whose names I will add if they remind me) thank you Bob. Thank you for every single song. Thank you for every concert. Thank you for every interview (no matter how silly the interviewer turned out to be). Thank you for every film.
Thank you Bob. We owe you. Happy birthday.
Tony Attwood, Pat Sludden, Larry Fyffe, Jochen Markhorst, Aaron Galbraith, Mike Johnson, Patrick Roefflaer, Filip Łobodziński, Denise Konkal, mr tambourine, Joost Nillissen and the hundreds and hundreds of people who have kindly written an article or three for us before going on their way to other pastures. All those people I’ve missed, please accept my apologies. And if you want me to add your name, of course I will.
Tony Attwood, publisher, Untold Dylan
And to our readers around the world, and others who have offered articles here, if you’d like to offer your good wishes to Bob on his 80th through an article of your own, please do so. You can either send it to Tony@schools.co.uk for consideration for inclusion on this site, or to the Untold Dylan Facebook page, whichever you think is best.