May 24, 2001
Hero With a Thousand Faces
The 60th birthday of Bob Dylan (né Robert Zimmerman) has created a bull market in baby-boomer nostalgia and soul-searching. In his 20's, Dylan defined a generation. Perhaps even more significantly, he invested pop music with social meaning, giving future generations a powerful tool for defining themselves. His religious identity has always been a source of mystery (and obsession) to Jewish fans. He flirted with Christian messianism, sent his children to a Beverly Hills Hebrew school, nearly joined a kibbutz and danced with the Lubavitchers. A generation that looked to Dylan for The Way seemed forever disappointed that he was often lost himself. Four decades later, his spiritual quest and his musical achievements seem of a piece -- a long strange trip, with so many of us as eager passengers.