For the past few weeks I’ve been on a Bob Dylan kick. I listen to Dylan on my short commute to and from work. I listen to him at home. I started on the early stuff and am working my way through most of his albums in our collection. I have my Dylan station on Pandora although I wished it played more of him and less of his musical kin.
I listened to Blonde on Blonde, twice, because I liked it so much. Now I am on John Wesley Harding. Next up is Nashville Skyline.
Do I like every song? No. And the lyrics of some of his earlier songs are undecipherable. But I can feel what he intended. As the salesman at the dealership said last week when he handed me the Blonde on Blonde CD I left in the car: “Dylan? He was a poet.”
Yes, Dylan’s music, at least in the stretch I am now listening, is poetry set to guitars and harmonicas.
And then, there are the lines where there is no mistaking what he meant. “You better start swimming or sink like a stone, cause the times they are a-changing.” “Heard ten thousand whispering and nobody listening. Heard one person starve, I heard many people laughing. Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter.”
I recall one time when I was in college, about the time that photo of me above was taken, when I stayed a couple of days in a cabin waiting for my boyfriend to arrive. He was my first real love but like so many boys then scared away. He took his time getting to the cabin because, unbeknownst to me, he was planning to end our relationship.
So I spent my time listening to Dylan — over and over and over. You know you know an album when you can sing the lyrics perfectly and predict the opening chords of the next song. I still remember.
I’ve stuck through Dylan through his many phases professionally and personally — well, I could have done without that embarrassing Victoria Secret ad — even to now when his voice has worn into a raspy growl.
Dylan’s produced an outstanding body of work. He changed the way people made music. He inspired change, too, in those who listened.
I have a long ways to go before I’m done with Dylan.
Now about that photo: My sister Christine sent the faded black and white photo and Katharine, the photographer at the newspaper, was able to work it up digitally. I remember the pink sunglasses and the shirt. I was in college but I don’t know who took the photo or who owned the car. I would say I look a little Dylanesque in that photo. And I like the curl at the top.