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The times they are a-changin’, but the music of Bob Dylan remains a constant.
The pioneering folk music icon celebrates his 80th birthday Monday, and fans are commemorating the milestone with a handful of music and poetry events across the country.
At the center of the festivities is Duluth, Minn., where Dylan was born in 1941. Monday marks the third day of the 11th annual Duluth Dylan Fest, which features performances by local artists and tribute bands.
The virtual and in-person festival includes a free birthday party at Dylan’s childhood home The nine-day event also includes songwriting and poetry contests in honor of the acclaimed singer-songwriter.
In New York, Fordham University’s WFUV radio station in the Bronx is set to play 80 Dylan songs on Monday in honor of his age, with the countdown kicking off at 9 a.m.
The celebration stretches beyond the United States. A “Dignity” livestream event saluting Dylan will take place Monday at the U.S. Ambassadors Residence in Dublin, with music, poetry and more on the docket.
Dylan, who moved to New York City at the onset of a six-decade career, has recorded more than three dozen studio albums, beginning with his eponymous debut work in 1962.
His most recent album, last year’s “Rough and Rowdy Ways,” was a huge hit, peaking at No. 2 in the U.S. and No. 1 in several countries.
Revered for his poignant lyrics that gave a voice to the social unrest of the 1960s, Dylan is a 10-time Grammy winner and a 38-time nominee. His anthems “Like A Rolling Stone,” “The Times They Are A-Changin’” and “Blowing in the Wind” are considered among the greatest songs of all time, and are still relevant today in a world with a heightened social consciousness.
While his nasally singing voice is an acquired taste, Dylan’s lasting impact on music and the world continues to resonate, with former President Barack Obama honoring the artist with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.
“There is not a bigger giant in the history of American music,” Obama said during the ceremony. “All these years later, he’s still chasing that sound and still searching for a little bit of truth, and I have to say I am a really big fan.”
In 2016, the enigmatic artist was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition,” according to the Swedish Academy.
Dylan, a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame, won the Academy Award for best original song in 2001 for “Things Have Changed,” which appeared in the comedy-drama “Wonder Boys.”
In December 2020, Dylan sold his entire songwriting catalog — more than 600 songs — to Universal Music Publishing Group in a massive deal that shook the music industry and was reported to be worth more than $300 million, possibly the highest price ever paid for a musician’s songwriting rights.
So happy birthday, Mr. Tambourine Man — we’ll play a song for you.