Hey hey Bobby Dylan, I wrote you a song
About a kid called Zimmerman who took us along
On a magical journey right to the top
You took a bunch of folk songs and turned them to rock
I wish I had known you when you came to New York
From Duluth, Minnesota with all your jive talk
Of times that were changing and a wind that blew
It seemed nobody else, knew what you knew
No-one recognised you when to London you came
The last thing you expected was fortune or fame
You attended a Madhouse, which was on Castle Street
But you met Martin Carthy and fell on your feet
You took home Lord Franklin and borrowed Scarborough Fair
And Bob Dylanís Dream emerged through the air
You played Gerdes Folk City, but I still wasnít sure
Until you really got angry and sang Masters Of War
Vietnam, civil rights and that whole nuclear thing
Marching with Joanie and the great Dr King
Newport adored you, you won Seegerís acclaim
But did you betray him? Were there pawns in your game?
Iíd never have booed you back in ol Ď65
Or called out ĎJudasí when you got electrified
A generationís spokesman needs to have fun
And whatís not to love about Highway 61?
It must have got to you, the pressure of fame
Idiot critics and the weight of your own name
If youíd died in that bike crash, would we have left you alone?
Or made you turn in your grave like a rolling stone?
There must be some way out of here, you said with a frown
Maybe Tom Thumbís Blues was bringing you down
So then you ducked out of the whole crazy game
A recluse, they said, or were you insane?
But even self-portraits a story do tell
You followed your instincts and they served you so well
You sang of the past and a new future too
Yet poor Mr Jones, he hadnít a clueÖ
Your words were coded in mystery and rhyme
They made little sense much of the time
Who was jack of hearts, Judas Priest, Jokerman?
Is salvation found in a grain of sand?
Of Sarah you sang in the grooves of Desire
She gave you a fresh start, your muse was on fire
But love can go bad and will easily collapse
When you looked at the ground, there was blood on the tracks
All your trials were depicted in the threads of your song
You went to the watchtower and marched all along
The gospel you adopted was just to keep running
And you jumped aboard that slow train coming
There was fury and passion in Hurricaneís tale
A middleweight boxer falsely held in a jail
But you left him to rot when his appeal was denied
And I wondered then when else you had lied
There were times when you lost me, maybe that was the plan
Youíd long since deserted the tambourine man
Are you looking for something before itís too late?
Or is this another, simple twist of fate?
You returned to the road and thatís where you remain
Re-inventing back pages, your songs never the same
One thing I know and this is for sure
Itís a tour that wonít end when you knock heavenís door
You seldom say much and some think that rude
No smiles, waves or banter, just attitude
But we still love you, never give up the fight
And donít think twice, Bob, you know itís alright
They say donít have heroes, theyíll all let you down
But Iíll still go to see you next time youíre in town
For despite all your flaws Iíll never forget
Through you I found Guthrie and the folk music set
Iíve seen you plenty, but we never did get to meet
You took me on a journey, Positively 4th Street
The Isle Of Wight, Sydney, Dublin and Rome
Lost in your riddles with no direction home
I think of the time when you turned up that day
And sang a Song To Woody, which pointed the way
To new times coming though you didnít know how
You were so much older then, youíre younger than that now
Now itís hard to believe that youíre three score and ten
A god among writers, a king among men
A genius, perhaps? Thatís undoubtedly true
All hail to a hero, Bob Dylan thatís youÖ
Irwin was an assistant editor of Melody Maker in the 1970s and 1980s, before leaving in the summer of 1987 as the magazine moved in a different direction, and editor of Number One magazine in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
His book In Search of the Craic details a comic journey around Ireland seeking out pub music sessions and became a best-seller in Ireland. Subsequent books were In Search Of Albion, a similarly light-hearted journey around English traditions and rituals and Sing When You're Winning, about the history and culture of terrace songs at football matches.
He's also reviewed music for The Guardian, Mojo, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent and fRoots and has been a Mercury Music Prize judge.