How Can I Explain- Part 2
I was saying that Dylan became a man to me- what I mean by that is that he was no longer a composite of all the cliched labels that have been projected upon him.all the images of the past, the folkie Bob, the hipster Bob, the pastoral Bob, The Rolling Thunder Bob, the Gospel Bob, the Infidel Bob, the rock star Bob, Bob the enfant terrible, the enigma, the shape-shifter, the trickster, the re-inventor, the mage, the grump, the difficult, the elusive coalesced into a person. duh.
I mean of course he was a person and I always saw him as such. But...
even with the knowledge that Bob Dylan was a person apart from the public image and personal projections you/I can't help but be affected by all these overlays that hid him from view- and perhaps that was the point, eh? Now those layers seemed to fall away, or perhaps they became a backdrop rather than a curtain. ahhh- it breathes. He's a man. a guy, twice divorced, maybe he has a love-hate relationship with his job. A dad to six (?) kids, an ex husband, a friend, a grandpa with a bumper sticker, a lover, a voracious reader. He is a a lover of words and The Word, a collector of stories and a weaver of images. Shy, sweet, stormy, mischevious, caustic, funny, mean, spiteful, generous cruel, kind, self aware. A very human being. Just like me. Just like you, like all of us, working through the world as best we can on our way home.
It isn't that I was always mad for Dylan.
There have been waxing and waning stages of interest and fandom . When, as a teenager I first heard "Like a Rolling Stone" I went wild-at least as wild as an oppressed teenager could under the watchful eye of a control freak mother.I'd sing along when I heard it and I sang it by myself as I cleaned house or did the dishes after dinner. I was singing out of anger, hope and fear. Ripping into my parents and the neighborhood bullies that made my life hell. It didn't matter that the actual words seemed to be about love, loss, hurt, contempt and spite- at least to my inexperienced teenage ears. I wished as only a teen can that the tormentors would experience this loss of everything. Paradoxically I identified with the one asking and being asked "How does it feel..." Imitating Dylan's delivery, hoping dear mother would catch my passive aggressive drift I sang defiantly and with the kinship of misery connecting complete unknowns.
So yes, there was a profound impact on me in a purely personal way- but of course that is in hindsight. I am always amazed when people relate that the first time they heard Dylan the world changed for them and they knew with certainty that nothing would be the same. It wasn't like that with me. I could only hope that life would change, that I wouldn't always be that complete unknown, that I would find a way out and a direction "home"- to a place of warmth, welcome, nurture. I did not know how that could be accomplished - I guess i had some idea that I would magically be given the keys and know my way.
As it turned out I had no sense of direction and if in fact I had the key I was ill prepared to use it.
I don't remember the next song and the next and the next that had profound impact- I think there was/is a cumulative effect over decades to tell you the truth. The songs are just there- as if they have always been there. I remember sitting in my HS friend's bedroom listening to him but I don't believe we had any long intense conversations about his lyrics and their meaning. In fact I don't recall ever having conversations on what hidden meanings were lurking, what secret messages were buried in those spectacular words.
It seemed pretty clear and upfront to me. How many roads, really? Nothing hidden there- plain as day.
How many roads can I dance down with one hand waving free?
The songs that weren't clear statements, however layered and nuanced, didn't seem like they were concealing anti-government propaganda or the joys of drug taking. This isn't to say that there weren't layers of meaning and critique about power imbalances and injustice-but I wouldn't call them messages- they were the facts as experienced by Dylan, how he saw it in that moment in time. But hidden messages were unnecessary- As I moved out into the world, leaving an overly restrictive and oppressive childhood revolution was in the air- or so it seemed to a young, highly idealistic little girl lost looking for purpose and somewhere to belong. The whole world was becoming anti-government it seemed- drugs were everywhere, free love was around the corner--- literally--- though what was free about it I have yet to discover- perhaps this writing will clear that up for me.
Dylan's music was there as I wandered out of one prison and into another.into a series of others- each one looking like freedom and a place to call home at first.
And in a sense those traps we can fall into, those places of being stuck before moving on to the next one are our ways to freedom and home.
And this way of thinking, for better or worse the way I think has been directly influenced by Bob Dylan and the language that he uses. If you live with those words, listening, singing along, at times reading the lyrics over decades of time how could it be otherwise?
am I rambling?
did I get from point A to point C and travel through point B on the way?
It is late, I am tired and in need of the comfort of bed.
I don't know if I re-read it all I would be able to make heads or tails- (tales?) out of this whole thing.
I don't know if anything I said here has any bearing on anything or any meaning to anyone but myself.
And I guess that has to be enough, eh?