Hi folks! Today’s podcast examines Bob Dylan’s gloriously sentimental 1974 song FOREVER YOUNG.
Comments welcome at the bottom of the page.
Having written DETERMINED TO STAND: THE REINVENTION OF BOB DYLAN, a study of Dylan’s later work from ‘Time out of Mind‘ onwards, I am currently working on two sequels – firstly of the ‘middle period’ and secondly of the ‘early period’. A trilogy in reverse! As with the first book I will examine virtually all the songs from each period in detail, discussing the lyrics and music and contextualising the songs in terms of Dylan’s literary and musical influences. These blogs will – in a changed form – be eventually ‘fed into’ the books, the first of which I hope to get out in a year to eighteen months from now. Please like and subscribe on you tube!
This podcast is an adaptation of a blog previously published at https://chrisgregory.org/music/bob-dylan/a-ladder-to-the-stars-forever-young/
Forever Young is a very atypical Dylan song. It is one of the few occasions when he appears to allow his heart to rule his brain. Yet this is really highly appropriate for such a song. Parents naturally do feel sentimental about their children. Despite Dylan’s use of clichés here, the uncertainty of certain elements of the song adds to its emotional realism. Picture the acclaimed ‘acid tongued’ poet, perhaps, staring down at his newborn child and admitting his own helplessness to express himself in a wholly original way. He is, after all, just feeling what millions of parents before him have felt. Thus this is not a song that can, through Dylan’s usual process of development of his work, be pushed in different musical or lyrical directions. It is a pure expression of love, but needs to be performed by singers who are open hearted enough to admit their own susceptibility to perhaps the most basic human instinct – to love and protect a child. It is thus difficult to pick out particular performances, although the rendition in Dublin on 14th September 2000 is particular distinctive as it features highly emotive backing vocals by Larry Campbell and Charlie Sexton. This is also a song which particularly suits the mature vocal style of Joan Baez, who recorded the song in 1976. By this point, Baez’s operatic early vocalising had been tempered by experience and much usage and she is able to combine her usual vocal purity with a certain world weariness which suits the song. The Pretenders, with the generally bitter sweet Chrissie Hynde on vocals, achieve a similar effect. The song is equally effective if sung by a woman as a man.
The original version from PLANET WAVES
Does Baez do justice do the song? Comments box below…
Pretty wobnderful version from 2-021’s SHADOW KINGDOM
DAILY DYLAN NEWS at the wonderful EXPECTING RAIN