By Justine Plemons |Staff Writer|
On May 24, 2011, students young and old gathered in the Santos Manuel Student Union (SMSU) bay to listen to the music and poetry of Bob Dylan and although he wasn’t in the building he was alive in spirit.
This is the ninth year the Osher Adult Re-Entry Center (OARC) has hosted the Bob Dylan Coffee House. This event allows students the opportunity to showcase their own art and the work of Bob Dylan.
I have watched this event grow exponentially since 2006. Every year the coffee house event has a devoted group of followers.
As I sat in the bay, I noticed a diverse population of students, ranging from students who had seen Dylan perform live and those that just discovered Dylan’s musical brilliance.
Bob Dylan Coffee House is held every year on his birthday. This year was exceptionally special because it was Dylan’s 70th birthday.
This event first came to be in 2002 when Judi Cruz, Osher Adult Reentry Center Coordinator, wanted to find an event that appealed to an older generation.
“Dylan was an icon in the 60s and 70s. He set the tone for social activism which is perfect for a college campus. Students can perform their own work or songs by Dylan. The OARC holds this event every year to wrap up our spring quarter events,” said Cruz.
Dylan, who was born Robert Allan Zimmerman, was raised in Hibbing, Minnesota. Growing up in Hibbing, known as one of the coldest places in the US, he began to teach himself how to play guitar and piano. Dylan dropped out of college as a freshman and traveled to New York City to visit his idol Woody Guthrie who was sick with Huntington’s disease.
He gained the majority of his popularity in the 60s and 70s when his songs like “Blowin the wind” and “The Times They are a-Changin” became anthems for the US civil rights and anti-war movements.
One of Dylan’s most notable political protests came when he walked out of The Ed Sullivan Show.
The song he was scheduled to perform “Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues”, was potentially libelous to the John Birch Society. Rather than censoring his music, he refused to perform.
In 1966, Dylan was involved in a car accident that prompted him to take a step back from the spot light.
Dylan surprised the media again when took five months off in 1979 and attended Bible School.
His album Slow Train Coming reached third place on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart and included this Grammy-winning song. Dylan refused to play any of his secular music and even made declarations of his faith from the stage.
Dylan still tours regularly, The Never Ending Tour started on June 7, 1988, and Dylan has played nearly 100 dates a year. Dylan is currently touring the United States, concluding in New York in November.