May 24, 2010
Happy Dylan Day
El Cabrero has been in Baltimore for a few days and while there I attended a concert/fundraiser for several groups, including the American Friends Service Committee. The event was called "The Night of 1000 Dylans" and featured several local musicians covering Dylan songs. It was the first time I ever heard a gospel/sax version of "Blowin' in the Wind"--and it worked.
One of the organizers reminded the audience that Bob would be turning 69 today.
In the extremely unlikely event that my life got turned into a movie (get ready, Johnnie Depp), most of the soundtrack would definitely be Dylan, which is not altogether a good thing. I was too young to be in the first cohort of Dylan fans, but even as a kid his music and lyrics would stop me cold, even before I knew who he was or when his songs were performed by someone else.
When I was around 9 or 10, my older brother returned from college with an acoustic guitar and played "Blowin' in the Wind" and I was struck hard by the power of the words. (Nowadays, however, I prefer the later random and cynical Dylan to the younger idealistic one.)
I was also KO'ed by the revolutionary lyrics "When the Ship Comes In" when I was in junior high, although Arlo does it better than Bob. At various other points growing up, other songs had the same effect, including "Tangled Up in Blue," "Knocking on Heaven's Door," and "Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts." And that was way before I actually started listening his stuff in a big way.
The man has the power of the word. The other day I listened to the album "Highway 61 Revisited" and it struck me again that one could write any number of doctoral dissertations on intertextuality in "Desolation Row."
I think one of the things I like best about Dylan is that he never became stuck. He always kept changing, often in ways that infuriated his fans. He always stayed fresh. May we do the same.
So happy birthday, Bob, and keep 'em coming.
WITH ENEMIES LIKE THESE. Here's Krugman's latest on corporate animosity towards President Obama.
COLLATERAL DAMAGE. Also in the Times was this item about how state cutbacks on child care subsidies may cause some low income parents to leave the workforce.
MASSEY MINE DISASTER. Another coal miner who worked for Massey Energy dies last week in an unrelated accident. A lot is going to happen in the Upper Big Branch disaster investigation today and beyond. The best way to keep up is to keep checking Ken Ward's Coal Tattoo blog.
GOAT ROPE ADVISORY LEVEL: ELEVATED