Forever Young (Bob Dylan song)

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"Forever Young"
Song by Bob Dylan from the album Planet Waves
Released January 17, 1974
Format Vinyl
Recorded November 1973
Genre Rock
Length 4:57, 2:49
Label Asylum
Writer Bob Dylan
Producer Rob Fraboni
Planet Waves track listing
"Forever Young"
German single cover
Single by Bob Dylan
from the album Bob Dylan at Budokan
B-side "All Along the Watchtower" & "I Want You"
Released June 22, 1979
Format Vinyl
Genre Rock
Length 5:27
Label CBS Records
Writer(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."[citation needed]

Rod Stewart[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.[2] Stewart's version made number 57 on the UK singles chart on its release in 1988 and number 55 on re-release in 2013.[3]

2009 remix[edit]

In 2009 a remix of the song, "Forever Young (Continued)" was featured in a Pepsi commercial,[4] with American rapper rapping a verse.[5] The advertisement ends with the slogan: "Every generation refreshes the world".

Cover versions[edit]

A number of Bob Dylan’s contemporaries have recorded album cover versions of "Forever Young". Joan Baez recorded the song, as a single (1974)[6] and on her 1976 live album From Every Stage,[7] while Peter, Paul, and Mary covered the song on their 1978 record Reunion.[8] The Band recorded the song on their penultimate album High on the Hog, from 1996.[9] Diana Ross covered the song in 1984 on Swept Away.[10]

Additionally, The Pretenders covered the song on their album Last of the Independents in 1994;[11] Meat Loaf recorded a version on his 2003 album Couldn't Have Said It Better;[12] and Marcia Hines covered the song for her 2004 album Hinesight.[13]

Louisa Johnson[edit]

"Forever Young"
Single by Louisa Johnson
Recorded 2015
Length 3:23

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 13 December, immediately after Johnson won.[14] Johnson performed the song live on The X Factor final.[14] She also performed it on Text Santa. Johnson's version entered the UK Singles Chart on 18 December at number nine.[15]

CD single[16]
No. Title Length
1. "Forever Young"    
2. "God Only Knows"    
3. "Let It Go"    
Chart (2015) Peak
Ireland (IRMA)[17] 5
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[18] 2
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[19] 9


  1. ^ "Smashed Hits: Forever Young". BBC News. 17 December 2015. Retrieved 17 December 2015. 
  2. ^ Goldstein, Patrick (26 June 1988). "Rod Stewart Sounds an Echo of Dylan". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 28 May 2014. 
  3. ^ "Forever Young". Retrieved 22 December 2015. 
  4. ^ "Forever Young" Pepsi commercial on YouTube
  5. ^ WTF: Bob Dylan and Will.I.Am: "Forever Young" (Pepsi ad) - Pitchfork.
  6. ^ "Joan Baez–Forever Young". Discogs. 2 February 2016. Retrieved 2 February 2016. 
  7. ^ "Joan Baez From Every Stage. AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder". AllMusic. 18 January 2016. Retrieved 18 January 2016. 
  8. ^ "Peter, Paul and Mary Reunion. AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder". AllMusic. 18 January 2016. Retrieved 18 January 2016. 
  9. ^ "The Band High on the Hog. AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine". AllMusic. 18 January 2016. Retrieved 18 January 2016. 
  10. ^ "Diana Ross Swept Away. AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine". AllMusic. 18 January 2016. Retrieved 18 January 2016. 
  11. ^ "Pretenders Last of the Independents. AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine". AllMusic. 18 January 2016. Retrieved 18 January 2016. 
  12. ^ "Meat Loaf Couldn't Have Said It Better. AllMusic Review by David Jeffries". AllMusic. 18 January 2016. Retrieved 18 January 2016. 
  13. ^ "Marcia Hines Hinesight". AllMusic. 18 January 2016. Retrieved 18 January 2016. 
  14. ^ 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. 
  15. ^ X Factor: Louisa Johnson records lowest chart entry for winner - BBC News
  16. ^ "X Factor champ Louisa Johnson is already in the Top Ten with Forever Young". Retrieved 20 December 2015. 
  17. ^ "Chart Track: Week 52, 2015". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 26 December 2015.
  18. ^ "Archive Chart: 2015-12-18". Scottish Singles Top 40. Retrieved 19 December 2015.
  19. ^ "Archive Chart: 2015-12-18" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved 19 December 2015.

External links[edit]