Young Rock Fans Still Love Dylan—But Just the Early Stuff

Don’t think twice, Bob Dylan, but millennials think you’re just alright.

The 76-year-old folk singer and rock icon was recently featured on The Village Voice’s last physical copy. Dylan also recently announced that he is touring the U.S. with Mavis Staples starting October 13 until mid-November. He draws huge crowds, but are these fans his fellow senior citizens, or are young people coming out too?

Dylan has been known to be one of the top pioneers of folk music and rock ‘n’ roll—he even won a Nobel prize in 2016 for literature. And he’s also known for being kind of an asshole. Have you ever read his autobiography? It’s fascinating, but oozes with self-righteousness. Or the book by his past tour manager Victor Maymudes Another Side of Bob Dylan? It’s full of stories where Dylan is an asshole.

If you like rock music, then you’ve probably gone through a Bob Dylan phase. If you don’t, you’ve most likely experienced it through a close friend or family member—it’s usually the person awkwardly experimenting with wearing sunglasses indoors or something like that. What I have observed as a ‘90s-baby that has gone through this phase, is that you don’t really come out of it still a fan. His sound is completely different than his early work and he’s not very much in pop culture.

When I went through my phase (around 14 years old) I was very disappointed after finally seeing him live. I was completely lost during the entire show because I had no idea what the new material was, and his in-between song banter was actually pretty rude. After that, I switched to The Clash and never went back.

So, how do the youths of today actually feel about this iconic musician?

One millennial, Sabrina Perri, tells BTRtoday she’s “definitely” a fan, but hasn’t listened to anything past “Lay Lady Lay,” which was released in 1969. Another Dylan fan, who works in the music industry in NYC, Allie Garber admits to currently be going through her “Dylan phase,” and says, “let me tell ya, younger Bob was a much better lyricist.”

Bob Dylan has been releasing music since 1962. Millennials seem to have blocked out the part where he’s still putting out music. Just this year Dylan released his 38th studio album, Triplicate, which is the third out of a series of American Songbook covers (very Frank Sinatra-esque).

It would appear that he’s not really reaching out to a younger crowd.

Twenty-something Kelsey Wagner, a music photographer in NYC, was the only person to acknowledge Dylan in a somewhat contemporary way. “Can we not do this questions?” she sarcastically asks. “It’s unfortunate the way we age sometimes, I saw Bob Dylan in 2010(?) and I had to leave halfway through the show, sad but true—I wanted to keep what I loved about Bob Dylan alive versus the way I was seeing him in the present.”

Wagner isn’t the only fan to notice that the years have taken their toll on Dylan. NYC musician, guitar instructor Casey Hopkins, also comments on the aging of the folk singer. “People age and their voices change—he’s dealt with that probably worse than anyone,” he says. “How don’t you love “Maggie’s Farm” though?”

“Maggie’s Farm,” incidentally, was released in 1965.