September 22, 2005
My back pages
I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see the PBS airing of No Direction Home, the two-part film on Bob Dylan (Channel 2 is running it at 9 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, Channel 11 at 7:30 Wednesday). Megastar that Dylan is (or was), nearly everyone in my generation has a personal history with him. Here are three episodes from mine.
No. 1: Dylan invaded my consciousness in 1965, when I was a college sophomore. My roommate, Jon Wilson, had Dylan’s early albums. We listened to them until they were scratched and worn, but their deterioration just enhanced the old-time folky feel Dylan was after in the first place. Lines like “You’ve got a lot of nerve to say you are my friend” became planted in my brain. They seemed so bold and – pardon my saying so – relevant. But the best thing was that Dylan made me laugh at the world. I mean, who else could pull off a lyric that included a string bean, a parking meter and Anita Ekberg?
No. 2: In 1969, after a year in a small farm town in Germany as an Army linguist, I was transferred to my unit’s main base. I went to the NCO club for cheap beers the first night back. Someone was playing the same song over and over on the jukebox. I liked it but didn’t know who was singing. I asked a fellow there who it was. Oh, he said, that’s “Lay Lady Lay” – Bob Dylan. When I heard the rest of Nashville Skyline, especially the new “Girl from the North Country” duet with Johnny Cash, I couldn’t believe how different it was from early Dylan and electric Dylan. The times were a-changin’ again.
No. 3: This was the best. I was in Florida in 1976 when the Rolling Thunder Revue passed through. As I walked into the concert, the ticket-taker handed me an envelope. Inside was an invitation to show up the next day at 1 p.m. at a grand old hotel. The invitation didn’t say why. Outside the hotel, I joined a long line as it snaked through the lobby and into a ballroom with scaffolding on one side, a stage on the other and a floor in between. A small portion of the previous night’s crowd had been chosen as the audience for a television special with Dylan and Joan Baez. Dylan wore a big white hat, and the director told him to take it off. Dylan said no. From maybe 30 feet away, I watched Dylan and Baez and their band sing and play for two hours. The program never aired, to my knowledge. In memory it remains my own secret jam session with Bob Dylan.
Posted by Mike Pride at September 22, 2005 03:21 PM
Your blog would be more interesting and would engage your readers more if you used it to share your personal thoughts on public issues or the newspaper's policies, eg. the entry re coverage of the rape trial. I hate to say this, but Drew Cline's blog is more interesting than yours is. Yours is more like your personal diary. How many of the paper's readers care about your memoris of seeing Bob Dylan? I assume that your personal political/policy views occasionally differ from the paper's - it would be interesting to read those. And surely the paper doesn't do an editorial on every topic you have an opinion about. This is the first time in a few months that I've come back to your blog, and I am disappointed you are still treating it like your personal diary.
Posted by: Bob at September 23, 2005 03:06 PM
So what did you think of the documentary? I was very impressed-- and for a young 'un such as myself (I'm 29) a lot of the material came as a shock to me. People _booed_ Bob Dylan? For not singing protest songs?!? It'd be interesting to hear your take on the documentary, given that you're obviously much more familiar with the early part of his career than I was.
Posted by: Max at September 28, 2005 01:33 AM
I Googled my way to your blog ("Dylan and Baez"), and thoroughly enjoyed the story of your own "secret jam session." Thanks.
Posted by: Diane at October 4, 2005 06:34 PM
Dylan wrote a song with Anita Ekberg in it that had the lyrics "you can't fool all the people all the time, Anita Ekberg said that You can fool some of the people some of the time, I said that" Do you know th name of the song?
Posted by: Beth at March 28, 2006 01:51 PM