Shillong: Shillongites never forget to celebrate legend Bob Dylan`s birthday. And Monday was no different as nearly 100 Dylan fans descended on the Pearly Dew School here to wish that the singer stays "Forever Young".
This un-broken celebration in the Meghalaya capital began in 1972 from a small private celebration among close friends to an annual event that draws Dylan fans from across the country.
Lou Majaw, 63, is a respected musician from the northeast and is the driving force behind the annual Bob Dylan birthday celebrations.
"Happy birthday, Bob Dylan, wherever you are and god bless you," Majaw said as he began the birthday bash. Then with his eyes closed, he strummed the chords to "Blowin` in the Wind".
Dylan, born Robert Allen Zimmerman, in Duluth, Minnesota, on May 24, 1941, is a legend whose profound lyrics and songs set a new trend in American music spanning nearly five decades.
Among the Dylan fans was Jasper Dawson, who came from Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu.
"I should thank Dylan for bringing me to Shillong to celebrate his 69th birthday," Dawson said while strumming "Tambourine Man".
Majaw was introduced to Dylan`s music in 1966. "Dylan`s songs changed my life... he lit up my life and gave it a lot of meaning," recalls Majaw.
"The more you know him (Dylan), there is more to learn about him," Majaw said.
Majaw, a self-taught musician and a household name in the northeast, now has a new mission. Through impromptu campus gigs, he is taking Dylan`s music to thousands of children across schools in Meghalaya.
Born to a poor family, Majaw taught himself to play guitar in school.
After a few years as a struggler in Shillong, Majaw moved to Kolkata where he played at various pubs, bars and with bands like the "Dynamite Boys", "Vanguards", "Supersound Factory" and "Blood and Thunder".
He jammed with some of the biggest names of the Kolkata music scene like Nondon Bagchi, Arjun Sen and Lew Hilton. But Majaw is best known for his `Bob Dylan Birthday Concerts`, which he has been hosting every year since 1972.
"It took me six years to get to know Lou (Majaw). He is the only musician who has remained committed to Dylan and rock-and-roll all these years," said filmmaker Ranjan Palit, who has made a documentary on Lou called "Forever Young".
The first time when Palit met Majaw in 2001, the musician was playing Dylan numbers to a group of children in Shillong. "I remember him saying `come in, it is a free country`. Then I decided to go back and told him I wanted to make a movie on him. His eyebrows shot up and on my third visit I was allowed into his home," Palit told IANS.
The Dylan number that Majaw does best is perhaps "Rainy day Woman (Everybody Must Get Stoned)" - an improvised version of the Dylan track that has become almost a Majaw cult.