by Sophie Taylor
On music legend Bob Dylan’s birthday, take a look back at his origins withMoment’s “Unauthorized Spiritual Biography” of the singer. Seventy years ago today, Robert Zimmerman was born in Hibbing, Minnesota, a middle-of-nowhere town whose other claim to fame is its six-by-three mile open-air mine shaft. He grew up in a small but deeply Jewish community, studying for his bar mitzvah at a rock-‘n’-roll café and practicing in his garage. Moment editor-in-chief Nadine Epstein chronicles Dylan’s small-town life, his arrival in Greenwich Village, and his early rise to fame, and explores the Jewish, then Christian, themes in his music. Dylan’s religiously inspired lyrics range from:
Oh God said to Abraham, ‘Kill me a son’/Abe says, ‘Man, you must be puttin’ me on’/God say ‘No.’ Abe say, ‘What?’/God say, ‘You can do what you want Abe, but/The next time you see me comin’ you better run’/‘Well,’ Abe says, ‘Where do you want this killin’ done?’/ God says, ‘Out on Highway 61.
To the much more New Testament-y:
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed/You’re gonna have to serve somebody/Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord/But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.
References aside, Dylan’s lyrics and their meanings remain ever-elusive.
Read the full story here.