Bob Dylan's Life
Dylan married Sara Lownds on November 22, 1965. Their first child, Jesse Byron Dylan, was born on January 6, 1966, and they had three more children: Anna Lea, Samuel Isaac Abraham, and Jakob Luke (born December 9, 1969). Dylan also adopted Sara's daughter from a prior marriage, Maria Lownds (later Dylan), (born October 21, 1961 now married to musician Peter Himmelman). In the 1990s his son Jakob became well known as the lead singer of the band The Wallflowers. Jesse Dylan is a film director and a successful businessman. Bob and Sara Dylan were divorced on June 29, 1977.
In June 1986, Dylan married his longtime backup singer Carolyn Dennis (often professionally known as Carol Dennis). Their daughter, Desiree Gabrielle Dennis-Dylan, was born on January 31, 1986. The couple divorced in October 1992. Their marriage and child remained a closely guarded secret until the publication of Howard Sounes' Dylan biography, Down the Highway: The Life Of Bob Dylan in 2001. Dylan now lives in Malibu, California, when not on the road.
Growing up in Hibbing, Minnesota, Dylan and his parents were part of the area's small but close-knit Jewish community, and in May 1954 Dylan had his Bar Mitzvah. However, for a period during the late 1970s and early 1980s, Bob Dylan publicly converted to Christianity. From January to April 1979, Dylan participated in Bible study classes at the Vineyard School of Discipleship in Reseda, California. Pastor Kenn Gulliksen has recalled: "Larry Myers and Paul Emond went over to Bob’s house and ministered to him. He responded by saying, 'Yes he did in fact want Christ in his life.' And he prayed that day and received the Lord."
By 1984, Dylan was deliberately distancing himself from the "born-again" label. He told Kurt Loder of Rolling Stone magazine: "I've never said I'm born again. That's just a media term. I don't think I've been an agnostic. I've always thought there's a superior power, that this is not the real world and that there's a world to come." In response to Loder's asking whether he belonged to any Church or synagogue, Dylan laughingly replied, "Not really. Uh, the Church of the Poison Mind." Since his trilogy of Christian albums, Dylan's faith has been a subject of scrutiny. In 1997 he told David Gates of Newsweek:
Here's the thing with me and the religious thing. This is the flat-out truth: I find the religiosity and philosophy in the music. I don't find it anywhere else. Songs like "Let Me Rest on a Peaceful Mountain" or "I Saw the Light"—that's my religion. I don't adhere to rabbis, preachers, evangelists, all of that. I've learned more from the songs than I've learned from any of this kind of entity. The songs are my lexicon. I believe the songs.
In an interview published in The New York Times on September 28, 1997, journalist Jon Pareles reported that "Dylan says he now subscribes to no organized religion."
Dylan has been described, in the last 20 years, as a supporter of the Chabad Lubavitch movement and has privately participated in Jewish religious events, including the bar mitzvahs of his sons and attending Hadar Hatorah a Chabad Lubavitch Yeshiva. Subsequently, Jewish news services have reported that Dylan has "shown up" a few times at various High Holy Days for services at various Chabad synagogues. For example, he attended Congregation Beth Tefillah, in Atlanta, Georgia on September 22, 2007 (Yom Kippur), where he was called to the Torah for the sixth aliyah.
Dylan has continued to perform songs from his gospel albums in concert, occasionally covering traditional religious songs. He has also made passing references to his religious faith—such as in a 2004 interview with 60 Minutes, when he told Ed Bradley that "the only person you have to think twice about lying to is either yourself or to God." He also explained his constant touring schedule as part of a bargain he made a long time ago with the "chief commander—in this earth and in the world we can't see."
In a 2009 interview with Bill Flanagan promoting his Christmas LP, Christmas in the Heart, Flanagan commented on the "heroic performance" Dylan gave of "O Little Town of Bethlehem" and that Dylan "delivered the song like a true believer". Dylan replied: "Well, I am a true believer."