Dylan with son Jakob

Dylan’s Song for His Sons Highlights Father’s Day Concert at the J

Bob Dylan with son Jesse.

“Forever Young: The Bob Dylan Tribute Concert” is the perfect Father’s Day treat. (CLICK HERE TO REGISTER)
Bob Dylan composed “Forever Young” for his son in 1973 in Tucson. It begins much like the Sabbath blessing of the children, one of Dylan’s great nods to the Jewish faith he was raised in.

“May you build a ladder to the stars/ And climb on every rung” also echoes Jewish imagery of Jacob’s ladder – an indication it was written for son Jakob, born in 1969, although some sources say it was written for first-born Jesse, born in 1966. Clearly, Dylan was missing his family on tour, and was inspired to convey his love in musical form.

“Not wanting to be too sentimental,” Dylan recorded two versions, one a lullaby, the other played at an upbeat tempo.

Joan Baez, Peter Paul and Mary, Diana Ross, Johnny Cash, the Greatful Dead, and Meatloaf are among the many musicians to cover the song, which expresses all the wishes a father has for his child. Howard Cosell read the verses on air after Muhammad Ali won the third heavyweight championship.

Family Man

Regularly performed at life cycle celebrations of all kinds, Nora Jones sang it at Steve Jobs’ celebration of life.

Oddly, the song was recently used in a Dodge Ram commercial. Perhaps Dodge also thinks Dylan is a real dad thing.

“Forever Young: The Bob Dylan Tribute Concert” includes a performance of the song by Carla Sciaky, a legend on the Denver folk music scene who played with the Mother Folkers back in the day. http://carlasciaky.com/

Other well-known recording artists include Rabbi Jack Gabriel and Rabbi Joe Black. Boulder favorites Michelle Wolf, Susan Berman, Kathleen Sands, and Eve Ilsen perform, along with Denver’s Harry Tuft.

We hope to see you with your dads at the Dylan concert. In the meantime, enjoy the lyrics below and this commemorative youtube version of the song.


Forever Young


May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
May your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young

About Kathryn Bernheimer

Kathryn has spent her professional life writing about, teaching, and presenting the arts. Founding Director of the Boulder Jewish Film Festival, Kathryn was Director of Menorah and ACE at the Boulder JCC from 2003 through August, 2019. The former film and theater critic for the Boulder Daily Camera, Kathryn is the author of "The Fifty Greatest Jewish Movies" and "The Fifty Funniest Films of All Time." kathryn.bernheimer@gmail.com

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One comment

  1. Stephan Pickering

    Shalom & Erev tov…when he wrote this in 1973 for Jakob, he had not toured since 1966, and, in Tuscon, was still struggling with what he later admit was 'amnesia'. Later in 1973, with the encouragement of The Band, he began seriously writing again, and 3 January 1974 in Chicago opened a new tour.
    STEPHAN PICKERING / חפץ ח"ם בן אברהם
    Torah אלילה Yehu'di Apikores / Philologia Kabbalistica Speculativa Researcher
    לחיות זמן רב ולשגשג