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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

  • The Legendary Bob Dylan Turns 70: Democracy Now! Airs Rare Interviews and Songs from Pacifica Radio Archives

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    Today Bob Dylan turns 70 years old, and we air a special program on his life and music. Dylan was born Robert Allen Zimmerman on May 24, 1941, in Duluth, Minnesota. Raised in Hibbing, Minnesota, he moved to Greenwich Village in January of 1961. Within a couple of years, Dylan would be viewed by many as the voice of a generation as he wrote some of the decade’s most famous songs, including “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “The Times They Are a-Changing,” “Like a Rolling Stone,” “Masters of War,” “Desolation Row” and “Mr. Tambourine Man.” After emerging from the New York City folk scene, Dylan explored many other genres, from rock to country to the blues. He continues to tour to this day. In 2008, the Pulitzer Prize jury awarded him a special citation for "his profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power." But before Bob Dylan became a musical star, he was one of countless young musicians in New York City trying to get heard. Some of his earliest radio appearances were on Pacifica radio station WBAI. We speak with the legendary WBAI broadcaster Bob Fass, the host of Radio Unnameable, who interviewed Dylan several times. Fass’s show began in 1963 and became a leading outlet for the emerging counterculture of the 1960s. It still airs every Thursday night at midnight. We play excerpts from the Pacifica Radio Archives of a 1962 performance by Dylan on Fass’s show and an interview when he was only 20 years old. We also speak with music writer Elizabeth Thomson, co-editor of the newly reissued book, No Direction Home: The Life and Music of Bob Dylan, written by the late Robert Shelton. And we feature part of Dylan’s 1963 performance at the March on Washington and hear why Dylan refused to sing out at protests against the Vietnam War. [includes rush transcript]