Bob Dylan turns 70 today.
My parents love him. My dad did a painting series he called Ballad of a Thin Man after the Bob Dylan song, but I don’t remember hearing the song when I was a kid. In fact, I knew some of Dylan’s most popular songs but I don’t remember listening to my dad’s record collection so much as looking at the album art and reading the liner notes.
I loved the poem on the back of the Highway 61 Revisited but I didn’t understand at all. I thought Blood on the Tracks was a creepy name and that there was a lot going on in the cover for Bringing It All Back Home with that girl in red and all of Bob’s hair. I remember a lot of liner notes in the double LP set of Self Portrait and the album cover reminded me of art my grandfather collected. I assumed Bob had painted the picture himself since it was called a Self Portrait but I didn’t really like it. Seemed weird. He seemed weird.
But in our house Bob Dylan inhabited a musical stratum above the rest. There was Dylan and then there was everyone else. Because of that, even if I listened to everyone else more than I ever listened to Dylan, I figured he had to be the most amazing musician to ever live. I didn’t get it but I didn’t worry about it because I could say “Bob Dylan? Oh yeah, my dad loves him!” And then I’d sound really cool.
I’ve listened to a lot of Bob Dylan since then and while I like his poetry and song stylings, I still remember his album art more clearly than any of the others. In that spirit, I figured maybe his albums need an updating. A refresher, if you will. I thought to myself, what would happen if I reshot seven of his album covers in the most literal way possible, based only on their names, and only using stuff in the house? How hard would it be (not very), how long would it take (a couple hours) and will I find someone(thing) appropriate to play Bob Dylan?
I’ll let you be the judge.
So, just for Bob on his special day and because my dad loves him the most, I present seven new album covers, one for each decade of his life.
May he have at least seven more.
Self Portrait (originally released June 1970)
Shot of Love (originally released August 1981)
Blonde on Blonde (originally released June 1966)
Slow Train Coming (originally released August 1979)
Blood on the Tracks (originally released January 1975)
Under the Red Sky (originally released September 1990)
This last cover isn’t a reimagining, so much as a reshoot of the original cover, which looks like this:
In my version, the bear in the back looks particularly pissy, but I think anyone who has to wear Easter egg decorated pajamas for an album cover deserves a fit of pique; so, you all should cut him some slack.
John Wesley Harding (originally released December 1967)
Hey Bob, I’ll let you be in my dream if I can be in yours…
PS: I’m available for additional photo shoots between 2-4pm if the rest of your albums need an update.
PPS: Happy Birthday!
PPSS: Call me!