A Bob Dylan Birthday Celebration in 5 Songs

Bob Dylan backstage at De Montfort Hall on his visit to Leicester, May 1965 | Getty

On May 24, 1941, American legend of song and 2016 Nobel Literature Prize winner Bob Dylan was born. With music of gold and his lyrics of pure poetry, Dylan has been an influence on artists of all walks of life and will continue to shine for a long, long time.

Take Bringing It All Back Home, for example, which was released March 22, 1965 and is widely regarded as poetry in motion. The song “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding),” features some of the most captivating lyrics of the century, including his famous line “he not busy being born is busy dying.” I’m pretty sure this was in one of my college English literature books. “Subterranean Homesick Blues” is another poetic masterpiece from the album, the instant hit “Mr. Tambourine Man” was widely loved, and the last track, “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” is a perfect ending to the stellar album.

Without a doubt, much if not all of his work heavily influenced our culture, but today I’m celebrating Bob Dylan’s birthday with five songs that made a marked impression on me, starting with “Girl from the North Country.”

1) Girl from the North Country

“Girl from the North Country” was released May 27, 1963, on the album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. Dylan re-recorded the song as a duet with Johnny Cash in February, 1969. I love both and tend to gravitate toward the duet, but today for something a little different, here’s a live version from 1963 recorded at WNBC Studios NYC.

2) Simple Twist of Fate

A long time favorite of mine, this has had many spins in the car and plays on the jukebox. “Simple Twist of Fate” was released on Blood on the Tracks in January 1975.

3) Shelter from the Storm

Another classic I’ve always loved was “Shelter from the Storm,” also from Blood on the Tracks. This one because it may have been the first Bob Dylan song I fell in love with.

4) Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.

From 1963’s The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, this is probably the best break-up song ever, “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.” This song has been covered by so, so many musicians.

5) Boots of Spanish Leather

Happy birthday, Bob Dylan. Here is another hauntingly sentimental song, “Boots of Spanish Leather” from 1964’s The Times They Are a-Changin’.