Popular song-poet Bob Dylan, hailed in the '60s as prophetic spokesperson for his generation, is remarkably well and alive as he turns 50 years old May 24, 1991. Music critic Ralph Gleason early termed Dylan "a genius, a singing conscience and moral referee as well as a preacher." Although Dylan has radically shifted perspectives many times since he burst upon Greenwich Village 30 years ago, Gleason's assessment still stands. This past February, Dylan was the recipient of the distinguished Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
Dylan is now generating an everflowing stream of serious studies of his song-poems, the latest and one of the best being the first of a two-volume work by Paul Williams titled Performing Artist: The Music of Bob Dylan, published in 1990. Last fall he issued his 36th record album, titled Under the Red Sky, and he continues a heavy schedule of concerts around the world. Marking his 50th birthday, Columbia Records has released The Blue Lake Series Volumes 1-3: Rare and Unreleased 1961-1991, a three-hour retrospective set containing 58 songs.
My interest in Bob Dylan was kindled in 1965 by reading an article titled "Bob Dylan as Theologian." Upon purchasing Dylan's albums, I was less struck by his theological acumen than his flashing imagery; his hauntingly expressive, rough, and raspy voice; and his earnest, but sometimes humorous, search for life's meaning.