Thursday, May 24, 2012

Happy Birthday Bob Dylan

Today is Bob Dylan's 71st birthday. He tours incessantly.

I am unfamiliar with large swaths of Bob Dylan's recorded catalog. You couldn't call me a "fan" in the most dedicated sense of the word.  I reached a point with Bob  fairly early on where if whatever he was doing didn't interest me, or in some instances I disliked it, I didn't feel obligated to keep listening. I know all of the popular albums to the present & some of the other stuff. As a teen,  I loved The Byrds & enjoyed other folk rock adaptations  of Dylan's songs, but I paid small attention to Dylan himself until "Like a Rolling Stone" was released. That song got my attention instantly. I  hardly believed anyone could get away with that on AM radio; the length, the lyrics, the rolling, raucous arrangement.  Kids were shouting "How does it feel?" whenever the song came on the radio or jukebox. Stations tried playing the short "A" side release, which was the first half of the song & a fadeout,  but most gave up & went with the full six minutes. Until  summer of '65 I could probably be considered a relatively dispassionate consumer of rock.  But that summer brought "Rolling Stone," "Satisfaction," "California Girls," "It's the Same Old Song," "What's New, Pussycat?" "We Gotta Get out of This Place," "I Got You Babe." It was like something cracked open. Great songs, crazy songs.  Yet nothing was up to the level of the Dylan record in my mind. The album, Highway 61 Revisited, astounded me right down to the cover & liner notes.

Dylan quickly realized "Like a Rolling Stone" was a mountain he couldn't climb twice.

I'd like to say Bob Dylan inspired me to adopt "Bob" rather than "Robert" as my writing name. Bob made it more popular for writers to use ordinary names rather than the ones on the birth certificates.  But I also knew from  experience  that the hard "B" consonant was less likely to trip me into a stutterer's word blockage than the soft "R," & Bob Rixon could be run together  into Bobrixon.

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