Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bob Dylan at 70

I can hardly explain the impact this one album had on small town high school culture. Despite Dylan's prior, very good 1/2 blues-rock album, he was still perceived as an older folkie, & my high school wasn't a folkie sort of place. We were... into rock & roll, all kinds of rock & roll. Beatles, Four Seasons, Byrds, Temptations, Stones, Supremes, Beach Boys, James Brown, Animals. This LP, & the single "Like A Rolling Stone," changed everything. Filled with odd, quotable aphorisms kids shouted at each other in halls & on the street. It was adopted by my town's first generation skatepunkers - no more Jan & Dean in their matching shirts. & to our delight, it infuriated the few remaining folkies, who seemed like refugees from the "Hootnanny" TV show. Dylan's initial great followups to "Rolling Stone" weren't that big, but then came "Rainy Day Women No. 12 & 35," & suddenly kids were chanting about something no one had yet (or would admit having) smoked.

This was early in  Dylan's career, & he's still performing & recording.  Neil Young became my favorite singer/songwriter/rocker, & I think he has a more impressive total body of work, more interesting failures, but even among his several masterpieces he has no Highway 61 Revisited or Blonde on Blonde.  Neil is unimaginable without Bob.

Bob released other albums I really liked: Blood on the Tracks, The Basement Tapes, Slow Train Coming, Time Out of Mind, Love and Theft, some of the box sets, the live Before the Flood with The Band, Bob bellowing through his classics,  & other songs here & there. But I had no on-going fascination with him, just respect,  In the Seventies I met & chatted with A. J. Weberman, the Dylan-obsessed writer & "garbologist." I thought he was nuts. Dylan had made an indelible impression upon me at an impressionable age.  I had the Triumph motorcycle tee shirt Dylan wears on the cover of Highway 61, & I wore it to tatters.

Yeah, Bob Dylan is pretty much why I chose to publish as a Bob instead of Robert.  Thanks largely to him I passed on using a  good old-fashioned,  All-American poet's triple-trochee full name, Robert Norman Rixon.

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I never met this guy in my life. He is liar.
Your name has a very lyrical quality to it, actually.
If I wanted to lie I'd say I met Bob Dylan.
Anyway, I barely recall the encounter, it was so insignificant. Meeting Leslie Gore, that was cool.
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