Today, Bob Dylan may well be the most relevant figure in popular music — and that's saying something for a 71-year-old man, who is competing quite favorably with recording artists who are half and even one-third his age.
Dylan's 35th studio album, entitled "Tempest," is coming out on Sept. 11. I've heard it — and it is terrific. It is already building the kind of big buzz that his 1997 album "Time Out of Mind" boasted. That album, by the way, went on to receive the Grammy for Best Album. I wouldn't be shocked if "Tempest" eventually earns the same recognition.
The real tribute of Dylan's relevance occurred recently, when we learned, once again, that people take Bob Dylan's legacy quite seriously. It's hard to imagine any other pop-culture icon who has this lofty status. Paul McCartney? Nah. Mick Jagger? Nope. Paul Simon? Not quite.
There has been a commotion surrounding an electric guitar that a woman claims is the same one that Dylan, then the king of folk music, used when he "went electric" at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. She insists he left it on the plane he was traveling around on. Her father happened to be Dylan's pilot and he retrieved it. The guitar, needless to say, is worth a lot of money in today's collectibles climate.
It isn't certain whether she is 100 percent correct. But the point is that no other rock and roll figure could prompt this kind of intense scrutiny. Only Dylan. There was even a TV show aired recently that was devoted to answering the question of whether the guitar was the genuine article — and who was its rightful owner! Only Dylan, right?
It's the ultimate tribute to your vitality when so many people take you this seriously. Roll on, Bob.
Jon Friedman writes the Media Web column for MarketWatch.com. Click here to read his latest column. He is also the author of "Forget About Today: Bob Dylan's Genius for (Re)invention, Shunning the Naysayers and Creating a Personal Revolution," which Penguin will publish Aug. 7. Read more reports from Jon Friedman — Click Here Now.
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