bob dylan birthday blues

“The land created me. I’m wild and lonesome. Even as I travel the cities, I’m more at home in the vacant lots.” ~ Bob Dylan

Since the man is turning 77 today, we’re gonna sing a little birthday blues by featuring some of Dylan’s “blue paintings” paired with bits of his song lyrics.

Did you know that besides being a 12-time Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter, poet, author, small-batch whiskey entrepreneur, metal works artist, and Nobel, Pulitzer, Medal of Freedom, Oscar, and Golden Globe winner, Dylan is also an accomplished painter?

We first saw his work gracing the covers of two 70’s albums (Self Portrait and Planet Waves), but he didn’t start seriously exhibiting and selling his paintings until 2007. Like many extraordinarily gifted creatives, his output benefits from the cross-fertilization of art forms.

Dylan is that rare person who can move effortlessly between music, word, ink, paint, as if he’s just futzing around with a few different instruments in the studio. Yet again and again he reflects life back to us with a truth and simplicity that defy words . . . seemingly unworried about how something looks, he’s not after artistic perfection, but something larger, a moment, a feeling. The effect is enthralling.

~ Marisha Pessl, New York Times

I love his frequent use of blues, and of course how often he depicts eateries. It’s fascinating to see the world through Dylan’s (blue) eyes 🙂 — he’s drawn to back streets, alley ways, country roads, bridges, train tracks — landscapes and urban scenes “unpolluted by the ephemera of pop culture.” There’s a noted absence of people in most of these paintings, conveying a sense of loneliness and a nostalgia for simpler times.

“Nowhere and Anywhere” (2017)

It’s easy to THINK BLUE when it comes to Dylan’s songs — if you’re craving the blues, he’s only too happy to oblige (“Tombstone Blues,” “Freight Train Blues,” “North Country Blues,” “Cocaine Blues,” “Talkin’ WWIII Blues,” “Dirt Road Blues,” “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues,” to name just a few).

And of course there’s also the iconic “Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again,” “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue,” and “Tangled Up in Blue.” What genius!

Enjoy Dylan’s views of classic unadulterated Americana and the keen wit, humor, biting commentary, lyricism, tenderness, hard-won wisdom, and poignant humanity of his words. Whether song or picture, he continues to ask, “How does it feel?”



  ♥️ ♥️ ♥️

♥️ ♥️ ♥️ ♥️ ♥️

With haunted hearts through the heat and cold
We never thought we could ever get old
We thought we could sit forever in fun
But our chances really was a million to one

(Bob Dylan’s Dream, 1963)


Well, I’m walkin’ down the highway
With my suitcase in my hand
Yes, I’m walkin’ down the highway
With my suitcase in my hand
Lord, I really miss my baby
She’s in some far-off land

Down the Highway (1963)


Big time negotiators, false healers and woman haters
Masters of the bluff and masters of the proposition
But the enemy I see
Wears a cloak of decency
All nonbelievers and men stealers talkin’ in the name of religion
And there’s a slow, slow train comin’ up around the bend

(Slow Train, 1979)


I went into a restaurant
Lookin’ for the cook
I told them I was the editor
Of a famous etiquette book
The waitress he was handsome
He wore a powder blue cape
I ordered some suzette, I said
“Could you please make that crepe”
Just then the whole kitchen exploded
From boilin’ fat
Food was flying everywhere
And I left without my hat

Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream (1965)


Flowers on the hillside, bloomin’ crazy
Crickets talkin’ back and forth in rhyme
Blue river runnin’ slow and lazy
I could stay with you forever and never realize the time

You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go (1974)


Ain’t it just like the night to play tricks when you’re tryin’ to be so quiet?
We sit here stranded, though we’re all doin’ our best to deny it
And Louise holds a handful of rain, temptin’ you to defy it
Lights flicker from the opposite loft
In this room the heat pipes just cough
The country music station plays soft
But there’s nothing, really nothing to turn off
Just Louise and her lover so entwined
And these visions of Johanna that conquer my mind

Visions of Johanna (1966)


Leave your stepping stones behind, something calls for you
Forget the dead you’ve left, they will not follow you
The vagabond in the clothes that you once wore
Strike another match, go start anew
And it’s all over now, Baby Blue

It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue (1965)


When the evening shadows and the stars appear
And there is no one there to dry your tears
I could hold you for a million years
To make you feel my love

Make You Feel My Love (1977)


Raspberry, strawberry, lemon and lime
What do I care?
Blueberry, apple, cherry, pumpkin and plum
Call me for dinner, honey, I’ll be there

Country Pie (1969)


She lit a burner on the stove
And offered me a pipe
I thought you’d never say hello, she said
You look like the silent type
Then she opened up a book of poems
And handed it to me
Written by an Italian poet
From the thirteenth century
And every one of them words rang true
And glowed like burnin’ coal
Pourin’ off of every page
Like it was written in my soul
From me to you
Tangled up in blue

Tangled Up in Blue (1974)


You never turned around to see the frowns on the jugglers and the clowns
When they all come down and did tricks for you
You never understood that it ain’t no good
You shouldn’t let other people get your kicks for you
You used to ride on the chrome horse with your diplomat
Who carried on his shoulder a Siamese cat
Ain’t it hard when you discover that
He really wasn’t where it’s at
After he took from you everything he could steal

Like a Rolling Stone (1965)


Well, the only thing that makes me laugh again
Is a southbound whistle on a southbound train
Every place I wanna go I never can go
Because you know I got the freight train blues
Oh Lord mama, I got them in the bottom of my rambling shoes.

Freight Train Blues (1978)


Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, where have you been, my darling young one?
I’ve stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains
I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways
I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests
I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans
I’ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall (1963)


Then take me disappearin’ through the smoke rings of my mind
Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves
The haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow
Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free
Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands
With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves
Let me forget about today until tomorrow

Mr. Tambourine Man (1964)


How many years can a mountain exist
Before it’s washed to the sea?
Yes, ’n’ how many years can some people exist
Before they’re allowed to be free?
Yes, ’n’ how many times can a man turn his head
Pretending he just doesn’t see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind

Blowin’ in the Wind (1962)


Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls

The Times They Are A-Changin’ (1963)


One more cup of coffee for the road
One more cup of coffee ‘fore I go
To the valley below

One More Cup of Coffee (1974)


May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young

Forever Young (1973)



“He not busy being born is busy dying.”

“In the jingle jangle morning I’ll come followin’ you.”


It’s only right to let Bob sing us out. To all the naysayers who complain about his “twang” and maintain that he can’t sing, please listen to his rendition of “Pretty Saro,” an 18th century English folk ballad. There is such character and “story” in his voice. Timeless, it aches with experience and takes us on a fine musical journey.


And I never get tired of this one. Bob with a little help from his friends at Madison Square Garden (1992).



Margaret Simon is hosting the Roundup at Reflections on the Teche. Be sure to check out the full menu of poetic goodness being served up in the blogosphere this week. Have a good holiday weekend!


*Many of the paintings featured in this post may be purchased online as signed, limited edition prints via Castle Galleries. They are included in Bob Dylan’s Drawn Blank Series, The Beaten Path, and Silkscreen Series (2008-2017).

**Copyright © 2018 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

42 thoughts on “bob dylan birthday blues

  1. Have a wonderful weekend yourself, Jama. This is a wonderful post. I love seeing Dylan’s art, takes me back to my growing up with those old drive-in paintings and the railroad tracks, etc. I saw him once long ago in the rock ‘n roll time of the 70s. He was young and exciting, writing such marvelous songs.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I can honestly say, this is a post I will return to. Fantastic, thank you for putting this together, Jama. At one time, I had all of Dylan’s albums. They jackets were dog eared and the records scratched, but I had used my babysitting money to buy them, and he was my favorite artist. Even more to be in awe of now.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. When you think you know everything, Jama does it again. I had no idea about Bob’s artistic talent. I love the paintings paired with verse. Inspiring!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. WOW! I never knew Dylan was a visual artist, too. So much nostalgia in these paintings. I adore the painting of the Brooklyn Bridge. Reading the lyrics paired with the paintings is a great experience. And that rendition of “Pretty Saro” is amazing. Thank you, Jama!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Rich reverie of Dylan you’ve montaged for us here Jama–and what gorgeous paintings, some remind me a bit of Van Gogh in his brush strokes. I sang through most of your songs, I’ve always been a huge fan of his and continue listening to his music–Thanks for this smashing birthday celebration to him, and enjoy the holiday weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A beautiful tribute to the timelessness of poetry:
    “And everyone of them words rang true
    And glowed like burnin’ coal
    Pourin’ off of every page
    Like it was written in my soul”
    The cupcake at the top looks tasty! Maybe made with whiskey?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I had no idea that Bob Dylan painted with colors as well as with words. Your post is such an amazing tribute to him and your pairing of paintings and lyrics is inspired–each enriching the other! Wow! I’m pretty sure I’ll be listening to a lot of Dylan today!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Happy birthday, Mr. Dylan. I am now even more impressed–I had no idea he also painted. Jama, I love how you have combined the art and words to play off each other.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Wow! There is so much to love about this post, Jama. I had no idea Bob Dylan was such a talented painter. Your pairings add depth to both the images and the words. Thank you for taking so much time and care to match them up so perfectly!


    1. I was happy and surprised to discover Dylan’s paintings back in 2008. Nice that he’s a visual poet on top of everything else — a true Renaissance man (and he makes good meatballs). 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. So much new to discover here, Jama, but my favorite part is how clearly you enjoyed selecting lyrics (and the melodies that accompany them in your head) to match this stunning gallery of paintings. And I’m taking a lesson from Marisha Pessl’s words: “seemingly unworried about how something looks, he’s not after artistic perfection, but something larger, a moment, a feeling.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, that’s a great quote. I would think “artistic perfection” would be less true or real. But give me a good moment, make me feel something — that’s what counts.


  11. In answer to your initial question, “No. I had no idea Bob Dylan was also a painter!” I might like his paintings even more than his music!! No, I take that back. I love them so much TOGETHER. You’ve got a picture book here, you know. Pitch it, girl! Let’s see this collection of art and lyrics between covers!!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Painting and poetry spring from the same wellspring, I think. I love this best:

    Flowers on the hillside, bloomin’ crazy
    Crickets talkin’ back and forth in rhyme
    Blue river runnin’ slow and lazy
    I could stay with you forever and never realize the time

    Liked by 1 person

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