Happy 80th Birthday Bob Dylan: Performing ‘Forever Young’ On ‘Letterman’ In 1993
Today is Bob Dylan’s 80th birthday. The iconic singer-songwriter was born on May 24, 1941 in Duluth, Minnesota. Widely considered the greatest songwriter of the popular music era, he certainly was the mold for the modern singer-songwriter, that of a young intrepid troubadour out to change the world, which Bob did.
Although Dylan defined a generation who openly questioned the rules and mores of the one that proceeded it, even revolutionaries must grow up. In 1966, after releasing three of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll albums of all time, embarking on a tour that was largely unappreciated by fans who were sometimes outright hostile and finally suffering a motorcycle accident, Dylan withdrew from touring to take stock in what was really important to him.
It was around this time that Bob married Sara Lownds and also became a father. In 1973, Dylan and frequent collaborators The Band convened to record Dylan’s fourteenth studio album, Planet Waves, which arrived in 1974. Two versions of a song called “Forever Young” appeared on the album. The song is written from the perspective of a parent to a child and one of the versions of the song is fittingly a lullaby while another a more rock-oriented rendition.
As with most great songs, “Forever Young” is timeless and infinitely relatable. Case in point, sportscaster Howard Cosell recited the lyrics to “Forever Young” after Muhammad Ali won the heavyweight crown for the third time in 1978 late in his boxing career. The song has also been covered by a number of notable artists including Jerry Garcia, Bruce Springsteen, Rod Stewart, Paul Simon, Diana Ross, Johnny Cash and more.
On November 18, 1993, Dylan appeared on The Late Show With David Letterman. Although his 1993 album World Gone Wrong, comprised of traditional folk songs, had just come out a few weeks previous, Bob, always bucking the trends, chose to perform “Forever Young,” which had been out for nearly 20 years at that point. Dylan is backed on the song by pedal steel player Bucky Baxter, guitarist John Jackson, keyboardist Paul Shaffer, bassist Tony Garnier and drummer Winston Watson.
To celebrate Bob Dylan’s 80th birthday, watch the legendary singer-songwriter perform “Forever Young” on Letterman in 1993 below via the JamBase Live Video Archive: