As he blows out his birthday candles, the musician Bob Dylan shows no sign of winding down; Tim Bowen pays homage with some appropriate phrasal verbs.

Veteran American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan has just celebrated his latest birthday. Even as he blew out the candles on his birthday cake (blow on the flame to extinguish it), tributes were pouring in from fans around the world, with many saying they were blown away (impressed and excited) when they first heard his music.

In 1965, Dylan blew apart the idea that he was ‘just’ a folk singer by appearing at a festival with an electric band (showed that the idea or theory was completely false or wrong). However, a controversy immediately blew up (started suddenly) when some fans accused him of betraying his folk roots. Many British fans, in particular, were wound up (angry and upset) by this change of direction. The controversy soon blew over, however (most people forgot about it), even when Dylan refused to wind back the clock (return to a time in the past) and revert to his former style. 

If we wind the clock forward (move to the future) about forty-five years, Dylan shows few signs of winding down his career (relaxing or reducing his workload) and the chances of him winding up (bringing to an end) his so-called ‘Never Ending Tour’, which began in 1988 and has continued almost non-stop for more than twenty years, seem remote. It is now a remarkable fifty years since a young guitarist from Minnesota first blew in to New York City (arrived unexpectedly). Will he stay forever young? The answer is, of course, ’blowin’ in the wind’ …