By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Happy birthday, Bob Dylan!

Bob Dylan, who celebrates his 80th birthday today, is so mindbogglingly prolific that he’s recorded songs that would have made a lesser musician’s career — yet he left them off his albums because they didn’t fit or because, well, he’s Dylan and who knows what he was thinking?

Among his greatest: “Up to Me,” an outtake from 1973’s “Blood on the Tracks” (“In 14 months I’ve only smiled once and I didn’t do it consciously”), and “Blind Willie McTell” (left off 1983’s “Infidels” even though it would have the best song on the album).

“Red River Shore” (above), an outtake from 1997’s “Time Out of Mind,” isn’t quite in that league. There’s some awkwardness in the lyrics that Dylan hadn’t quite worked out. Maybe that’s why he didn’t release it at the time; instead, it popped up on “Tell Tale Signs,” a collection of odds and ends from his later years. But it might be my favorite Dylan outtake because of the ancient feel. Even with the electric guitar, it sounds like it could have been recorded 100 years ago.

The collaboration between Dylan and producer Daniel Lanois was magic — and here’s further evidence of that.

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  1. He’s “forever young” …

  2. Dan Kennedy

    He’s been old since his 50s.

  3. Marilyn Jackson

    WUMB – 91.9 FM is broadcasting Dylan all day today – songs by Dylan and by others covering Dylan. Enjoy! mj

    Sent from my iPhone


  4. Dan Kennedy

    I was listening this morning! I have to work now, though.

  5. nahantjim

    Trieste is an intriguing city. Once the sole seaport for the Austro-Hungarian Empire it was a wealthy enough to support James Joyce’s odd job teaching while he cemented his literary career. It’s opera house was designed by the same architect that designed La Fenice in Venice. Trieste may soon become the cruise ship port of Venice. While visiting there a couple of years ago I wandered off by myself to just let the city wash over me. I ordered coffee at Caffè San Marco which is also a bookstore, and wrote some notes as I observed the intense conversations of others is this magnificent gathering place. Two tables away I could hear a script collaboration in process. I was sure James Joyce must have had coffee there too.

    As I strolled the book shop I could not help but notice a thick, two volume set translating the complete works of Bob Dylan into Italian.

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