Forever YoungDec 03, 2008
Illustrator Paul Rogers has created a book inspired by Bob Dylan’s lyrics to “Forever Young”, with gorgeous art that evokes Greenwich Village in the sixties.
In the book, Rogers shows a boy in a baseball cap listening to a folksinger playing guitar in front of the legendary Gerde’s Folk City–a mecca in NYC during the early 1960s. The singer gives his guitar to the boy, as if passing a torch to a younger generation. As the boy practices to Woody Guthrie records and performs free in the park, he also becomes involved in music-related activities such as a “Stop The War” rally in Washington D.C. The book ends with the now-grown young man passing his guitar on to a girl and, in effect, keeping the folk music ideals “forever young.”
Although Dylan’s influence was far-reaching, the boy’s tale is obviously set in New York City, “As a fan of Dylan,” Rogers says, “I always thought his early years in NYC were part of his most glamorous times, and I was influenced by what he wrote about those times in Chronicles, his memoir,” says Rogers. “As I was working, I wanted the style I was working in to evoke that time in Dylan’s life, but I also wanted each spread to look like a stage set, with scratchy lines and flat colors, against which all sorts of images could be set.”
Scattered throughout his “sets” are numerous references to other Dylan songs, from the “big brass bed” of “Lay Lady Lay” seen in a window on MacDougal Street, to a sign behind a bus stop reading “The circus is in town,” a line from “Desolation Row.” “My interest was also to see how much Dylan I could work into the text without being obnoxious,” says Rogers. “I definitely wanted to keep the story simpler for younger and general readers, but I also wanted to attract and interest Dylan fans, too–perhaps the parents who would be reading the book to their children. I realized that I could present a crowd that would work as a crowd and also as a group of interesting people from the era, like the “Stop The War” march that features Martin Luther King Jr. as well as Hank Williams and John Lennon–all of whom influenced Dylan.”
“Forever Young” (Simon & Schuster) is available at bookstores everywhere. Purchase at amazon.com
Paul Rogers’ blog, with many illustrations from the book.
Christian Science Monitor feature