October 13, 2016
My day started with some good news that carried me through it, so far anyway. I am of course referring to the news that Bob Dylan had been awarded the Nobel Prize for literature.
I'm not sure this is a good thing, but Dylan has supplied the soundtrack of my life. I first became aware of his work, without knowing who he was, as a little kid when my late brother came home from college with a guitar and plunked out "Blowin' in the wind." The delivery didn't get me but the lyrics did.
I've said it before and say it again: Bob had--and has--the power of the word.
There were other times in my life when he struck me cold, like the time in my teens when I heard "Tangled up in blue" in a store.
Eventually I found out who he was and started digging into his work.
Of course, when you talk about Bob, you have to be more specific, as in which one? There's folkie Bob, political Bob, hipster Bob, country Bob--and that just gets you through the 1960s, There's way more. I tend to prefer the middle and older, more obscure Bob these days.
The intimacy between his music and my life is such that I've been know to buy the latest Dylan album to find out what I've been up to.
(I can also grade seasons of my life by Dylan album. Street Legal phases are kind of downers...)
I have no idea if he writes consciously or is just the vessel of the muses, although I lean to the latter hypothesis. I was once at an Arlo Guthrie concert where he speculated that Dylan fished for songs upstream so he could catch more than anybody else.
I hope he keeps on catching them. Congratulations, Bob!
(I just checked the Goat Rope archives for all the times Bob has been mentioned here. It's quite a bit.)