Forever Young (Bob Dylan song)

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"Forever Young"
Song by Bob Dylan
from the album Planet Waves
ReleasedJanuary 17, 1974
RecordedNovember 1973, California
  • 4:57
  • 2:49
Songwriter(s)Bob Dylan
Producer(s)Rob Fraboni
"Forever Young"
Forever Young cover.jpg
German single cover
Single by Bob Dylan
from the album Bob Dylan at Budokan
B-side"All Along the Watchtower" & "I Want You"
ReleasedJune 22, 1979
Format7-inch single
Songwriter(s)Bob Dylan
Producer(s)Don DeVito

"Forever Young" is a song by Bob Dylan, recorded in California in November 1973. The song first appeared (in two different versions, one slow and one fast) on Dylan's fourteenth studio album Planet Waves (1974).

A demo version of the song, recorded in New York City in June 1973, was included on Dylan's 1985 compilation Biograph. In the notes included with that album, Dylan is quoted as saying that he wrote "Forever Young" in Tucson, Arizona, "thinking about" one of his sons and "not wanting to be too sentimental."

A live version of the song, recorded in Tokyo on 28 February 1978 and included on Dylan's album Bob Dylan at Budokan, was released as a European single in 1979.


Written as a lullaby for his eldest son Jesse, born in 1966, Dylan's song relates a father's hopes that his child will remain strong and happy. It opens with the lines, "May God bless and keep you always / May your wishes all come true", echoing the Old Testament's Book of Numbers, which has lines that begin: "May the Lord bless you and guard you / May the Lord make His face shed light upon you." Not wishing to sound "too sentimental", Dylan included two versions of the song on the Planet Waves album, one a lullaby and the other more rock oriented.[1]

In notes on "Forever Young" written for the 2007 album Dylan, Bill Flanagan writes that Dylan and the Band "got together and quickly knocked off an album, Planet Waves, that featured two versions of a blessing from a parent to a child. In the years he was away from stage Dylan had become a father. He had that in common with a good chunk of the audience. The song reflected it. Memorably recited on American TV by Howard Cosell when Muhammad Ali won the heavyweight crown for the third time."[2]


Rod Stewart version[edit]

Rod Stewart recorded a song entitled "Forever Young" that was released as a single and included on his Out of Order album in 1988. The song was remarkably similar to the Bob Dylan song of the same title, sharing not only a similar melody but many of the same lyrics. Stewart agreed to share his royalties with Dylan.[5] His version charted at #12 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S., while it made number 57 on the UK singles chart on its release in 1988 and number 55 on re-release in 2013.[6]

Louisa Johnson version[edit]

"Forever Young"
Louisa Johnson - Forever Young (Official Single Cover).png
Single by Louisa Johnson
ReleasedDecember 13, 2015
Songwriter(s)Bob Dylan
Louisa Johnson singles chronology
"Forever Young"
"So Good"

In December 2015, Louisa Johnson, the winner of the twelfth series of The X Factor, released a cover version of "Forever Young" as her winner's single. It was released on December 13, 2015, immediately after Johnson won.[7] Johnson performed the song live on The X Factor final.[7] She also performed it on Text Santa. Johnson's version entered the UK Singles Chart on December 18 at number nine.[8] The song has sold 99,648 copies in the UK as of June 2016.[9]

Track listing[edit]

CD single[10]
1."Forever Young" 
2."God Only Knows" 
3."Let It Go" 
4."Forever Young (Instrumental)" 

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (2015) Peak
Ireland (IRMA)[11] 5
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[12] 2
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[13] 9
UK Download (Official Charts Company)[14] 4

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format Label
United Kingdom December 13, 2015

Other cover versions[edit]

A number of Bob Dylan’s contemporaries have recorded cover versions of "Forever Young". Joan Baez recorded the song, as a single (1974)[15] and on her 1976 live album From Every Stage,[16] while Peter, Paul, and Mary covered the song on their 1978 record Reunion.[17] The Band recorded the song on their penultimate album High on the Hog, from 1996.[18] Diana Ross covered the song in 1984 on Swept Away.[19] Johnny Cash contributed a cover of "Forever Young" to the 1994 benefit album Red Hot + Country.[20] The Grateful Dead performed a cover of the song with Neil Young at the Bill Graham memorial concert on November 3, 1991.[21] It was also covered regularly by the Jerry Garcia Band and included on the album Garcia Plays Dylan.[22] Kitty Wells also recorded the song for her 1973 album of the same title.[23] Pete Seeger covered the song on the 2012 charity tribute to Dylan, Chimes of Freedom: Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International.[24]

The Pretenders covered the song on their album Last of the Independents in 1994.[25] It was also used in the 1995 movie Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home.

Meat Loaf recorded a version on his 2003 album Couldn't Have Said It Better,[26] and Marcia Hines covered the song for her 2004 album Hinesight.[27]

Ray Wilson included a version, on his 2001 live album Live and Acoustic, which was mostly sung by backing vocalist Amanda Lyon.

Stoney LaRue recorded a studio version on his 2005 album The Red Dirt Album,[28] and a live version on Live at Billy Bob's Texas.[29]

Robin Wright sang to composer Max Richter's take on the song for the soundtrack of the 2013 film The Congress[30]

Norah Jones sang[31] a version at the Steve Jobs memorial service.

Christina Perri recorded[32] a version in 2015 which is played at the end of the World of Color multimedia spectacle nightly at Disney California Adventure in Anaheim, California, as part of the Disneyland 60th Anniversary celebration.

Blake Shelton recorded [33] a version of the song for the soundtrack of the Warner Brothers movie Max.

Anderson East recorded a version that was used in a 2017 commercial for Dodge Ram.[34]


Dylan lent his name, voice, and song as the theme to the television show Parenthood.[35] Lucy Schwartz sang "When We Were Young" in seasons 3-6 internationally. On August 31, 2010, Arrival Records/Scion Music Group released a soundtrack for Parenthood. The soundtrack consists includes the both theme songs for Parenthood, "Forever Young" by Bob Dylan, and the international theme, "When We Were Young" by Lucy Schwartz. It also includes a cover of "Forever Young" performed by John Doe and Lucy Schwartz. Rhiannon Giddens and Iron & Wine covered "Forever Young" for the show's final episode on January 29, 2015.[36]


  1. ^ "Smashed Hits: Forever Young". BBC News. 17 December 2015. Retrieved 17 December 2015.
  2. ^ Shales, Tom (24 September 1978). "A Modest Proposal". Washington Post. Retrieved 26 November 2017.
  3. ^ Heylin, Clinton (1997). Bob Dylan: The Recording Sessions, 1960-1994, pp. 95-99. MacMillan. ISBN 0-312-15067-9.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Goldstein, Patrick (26 June 1988). "Rod Stewart Sounds an Echo of Dylan". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
  6. ^ "Forever Young". Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  7. ^ a b Copsey, Rob (13 December 2015). "Louisa Johnson wins The X Factor 2015 final, releases winner's single Forever Young". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
  8. ^ X Factor: Louisa Johnson records lowest chart entry for winner - BBC News
  9. ^ Sutherland, Mark (2 June 2016). "Clean Bandit get The X Factor for new single". Music Week. Intent Media. Retrieved 5 June 2016.
  10. ^ "X Factor champ Louisa Johnson is already in the Top Ten with Forever Young". Retrieved 20 December 2015.
  11. ^ "Chart Track: Week 52, 2015". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 26 December 2015.
  12. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 19 December 2015.
  13. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 19 December 2015.
  14. ^ "Official Singles Downloads Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 5 June 2016.
  15. ^ "Joan Baez–Forever Young". Discogs. 2 February 2016. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  16. ^ "Joan Baez From Every Stage. AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder". AllMusic. 18 January 2016. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  17. ^ "Peter, Paul and Mary Reunion. AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder". AllMusic. 18 January 2016. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  18. ^ "The Band High on the Hog. AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine". AllMusic. 18 January 2016. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  19. ^ "Diana Ross Swept Away. AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine". AllMusic. 18 January 2016. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  20. ^ "Various Artists Red Hot + Country". AllMusic. 5 March 2016. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  21. ^ "11/03/91 (Sun) Golden Gate Park - Polo Field - San Francisco, CA Set 1: Hell In A Bucket, China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider, Wang Dang Doodle (2), Born On The Bayou (1), Green River (1), Bad Moon Rising (1), Proud Mary (1), Truckin' > The Other One > Wharf Rat > Sunshine Daydream, E: Forever Young (3) Comment: "Laughter, Love and Music" memorial for Bill Graham without Bruce Hornsby (1) John Fogerty, guitar and vocals (2)John Popper Blues Traveler, harmonica (3) Neil Young, guitar and voca". 3 November 1991. Retrieved 2 May 2019.
  22. ^ "Jerry Garcia Garcia Plays Dylan. AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer". AllMusic. 12 April 2016. Retrieved 12 April 2016.
  23. ^ "Forever Young. AllMusic Review by". AllMusic.
  24. ^ "Various Artists Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan. AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine". AllMusic. Retrieved 31 March 2017.
  25. ^ "Pretenders Last of the Independents. AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine". AllMusic. 18 January 2016. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  26. ^ "Meat Loaf Couldn't Have Said It Better. AllMusic Review by David Jeffries". AllMusic. 18 January 2016. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  27. ^ "Marcia Hines Hinesight". AllMusic. 18 January 2016. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  28. ^ "The Red Dirt Album - Stoney LaRue | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 9 October 2017.
  29. ^ "Live at Billy Bob's Texas - Stoney LaRue | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 9 October 2017.
  30. ^ Guimaron, Jason (July 31, 2013). "Listen To Robin Wright Sing & Watch Two Featurettes From Ari Folman's 'The Congress'". IndieWire. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 2018-11-30.
  31. ^ "Norah Jones at Steve Jobs Memorial Service".
  32. ^ "Christina Perri Twitter". 6 May 2015. Retrieved 16 April 2016.
  33. ^ "Taste of Country". 11 June 2015. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
  34. ^ "Hear Anderson East Cover Dylan's 'Forever Young': Ram Report". Rolling Stone. 20 January 2017. Retrieved 23 May 2017.
  35. ^ "Parenthood (2010 TV series)", Wikipedia, 2019-01-26, retrieved 2019-02-09
  36. ^

External links[edit]