In a much deserved tribute to Bob Dylan (a.k.a. The Man) I am joining the Cult of Bob. I admit my youth and cannot claim to be a High Priestess of Bob at this point in my life, but I do consider myself an Acolyte, for sure. I aspire to High Priestessness at some point on my earthy journey.
I came to know Bob in a personal way fairly recently. Mostly, when I thought of him what came to mind were various people doing parodies of his vocal style. My parents were not Dylan fans, so what I knew of him I learned from the radio or covers that other people did. I remember when Guns 'n Roses had a hit with Knockin' on Heaven's Door and my brother (who was a huge G'nR fan) said to me, "Yea, isn't that song great! Axel wrote that." I made my you-are-so-fuckin'-wrong face at him and said, "He so did not write that song, Wade. Bob Dylan wrote that, like, a decade ago!" and he didn't believe me.
While I was a nanny in Minneapolis, the people I worked for had a greatest hits album of Bob's and I liked it. Sometimes when I clean I like to have music on to inspire me, but I couldn't clean while listening to Bob. He commanded my full attention to listen to the lyrics. This was during the late 80's and I am chagrined to say I was usually listening to some crappy fly-by-night pop music that I can't remember now, or won't admit to because it would lower my cool factor.
Bob was revealed in the fullness and power of his glory to me by my ex-brother-in-law, Frank. I adore The Band (ex-husband liked them) and had a very obsessive Robbie Robertson phase (I can still tell you more than you want to know of his musical loveliness). Since Frank knew and shared that musical fondness, he gave me Bob Dylan and The Band's double album Before the Flood and The Band's double album Rock of Ages for Christmas one year. Those albums totally floored me and I listened to them incessantly. The force of Bob Dylan was pretty clear to me then. Soon after that I rented the old documentary Don't Look Back and was amazed to watch him sitting at a typewriter just churning out songs and handing them to Joan Baez. "Here's another one." It was incredible, he was like a musical channel from the other side or something.
Last weekend I had the amazing fortune to be GIVEN tickets to see The Man. Jimmy Vaughn opened for him (Jimmy is a very good guitar player, but it must be hard to have had a younger brother who could play rhythm, lead guitar, AND sing all at the same time. Jimmy can't sing and play at the same time. He may be able to, but I didn't see it.) When Bob came out in his black pants with the white pinstripe, black shirt, white jacket with the sparkly doo-dads, and the cowboy hat, I was a gonner. I hooted, I hollared, I danced in my little spot, I jumped up and down with joy. He started out with Maggie's Farm and went on to do some of my favorites: Masters of War, It's all Right Ma (I'm only bleeding), Don't Think Twice, Shelter From the Storm, Boots of Spanish Leather, All Along the Watchtower... it was and hour and a half of pure, unadulterated BOB DYLAN, people. He played keyboards, his band was tight and watched him like a hawk. He was clearly the Bandleader and they knew it.
He didn't chitchat at all. No little comments before the songs, just playing and pausing to wipe the sweat from his sacred, legendary brow. He didn't look out at the audience once (I'm pretty glad about this because it was a shame how few people were at the ballpark in Winston-Salem. Very embarrassing. Where were you guys?)
I tend not to get into commercial icons. All my tattoos are symbols that are relevant to me: tao, Haida frog, labyrinth, and a cool South American tribute to the sun god Ra. Right now though, as a tribute to The Man, I'm thinkin' about the crowned eye insignia of Bob's somewhere on my body. The question is, where?
When I was a kid, one of my father's favorite games was, Guess Who Wrote that Song? The answer most of the time was Hank Williams, which was part of his schtick. Now that I know more of Dylan's repertoire, I could have The Bob Dylan Version.
Bob's new album Modern Times is now available. He's in a swing and crooning phase in addition to his kick-ass rockin' style - consider yourself warned, but it's still good.
May Bob be with you.