x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Bob Dylan: forever young at 70

As he celebrates his 70th birthday, Bob Dylan has maintained his longevity and mystique.

You don't need a calendar to know which way the years flow. Still, it feels odd to be wishing a happy 70 years to Bob Dylan, who reaches that milestone today.

The young Minnesota folk-faddist of 1960 did not remain a follower for long; by the end of the 1960s he was the icon of the youth-led social change which was transforming America and flowing around the world. But unlike many a 1960s cultural touchstone, Dylan is still with us, his longevity now part of his formidable mystique.

Like anyone who reaches 70, Dylan has seen plenty of change, both around him and within himself. His Carnaby Street stage, his pure-country period, his gospel phase, and many more have come and gone. But his stature in the 60s insulated him from ever being labelled a mere chameleon; that's one reason he still has fans of all ages.

Baby boomers like to think the 1960s produced better music than other decades. Certainly plenty of 1960s music endures in a way that neither the 1950s nor the 1970s can match. Part of that is simple demographics.

But another reason is that in those days the times really were a-changin'. Dylan, perhaps more than any other artist, caught the spirit of those times, and so came to symbolise them. For all the anger in his music, millions around the world first loved Dylan because he was demanding (and promising) change. People always want to hear that tune.