Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Bob Dylan Experiment:

Day One: Introduction

Friday afternoon was a stormy afternoon. The rain came down sideways pulling bright yellow leaves from the trees making a sunny blizzard outside of the coffee shop where I sat at a small table across from IB, my mentor.
We started out talking about our week, and ended up talking about a blog he was writing.

"It's good," I told him, taking a pull from the mug in my hand. I was referring to to his blog, not the coffee.

"You don't think it's too self-serving?" He asked.

"Nope; it's professional, inspirational, and has a call to action... I wonder, though," I said, pointing to the printout of IB's blog, "why do you always quote Bob Dylan? Who is he anyway?"

"What?" IB said. I could have sworn he lost some of the color in his cheeks. "You're kidding, right?" He asked me, incredulous.
"Well, no... I mean, I know he's a singer or something. Is he still alive?" I asked.
IB was silent across the table; he looked a bit ill.
"So...?" I said. He was looking at me as though I were a foolish little girl.
"I need a moment to process," he said; he leaned back in his chair for a second, and then leaned quickly toward me leaning his elbows on his knees.
"Okay," he said, "who is most influential in literature?"

"Easy," I said, "Henry James, Nathanial Hawthorne, Hemingway, a few others."
"Henry James; English author, hard to read, but highly influential, right?" IB asked.
"Yes; that's all true." I said.
"Now take Henry James and put him up against Salinger." IB said, tucking in for a true teacher/student session of education.
"There isn't a lot of depth to Salinger; his writing is what it is; each sentence means exactly what is written." IB is speaking passionately, still leaning toward me, his eyes shining.

"Sure," I agreed.
"Henry James wrote meanings within meanings; there was always something layered underneath." He said.
"Right, definitely!" I said. IB took a sip from his water glass, raised an eyebrow, and continued:
"That's Dylan!" He exclaimed. "Bob Dylan is one of the most meaningful and prolific songwriters in the world. He wrote meaning on top of meaning, and layered it with depth not seen in any other music or poetry!" He sat back in his chair again, seemingly spent.
"Wow," I said.
"Rebecca, I can't believe you are an author, and you don't know. You should know Dylan's work. As an author, you should study his work." IB said. He ripped a piece of yellow paper off of the legal pad he always carries with him and murmured bits of songs as he feverishly wrote:

It's alright Ma, I'm only bleeding
Forever Young
Lay Lady Lay
Blowing in the Wind
Positively 4th Street
Tangled Up in Blue
Just Like a Woman (he scribbled a star next to that one)
Gotta Serve Somebody
One More Cup of Coffee Before I Go
Shelter From the Storm
Maggie's Farm

IB looked up, satisfied, and slid the paper across the table to me.
"These will get you started," he said. "This is your homework; I'll bring you some CD's to borrow."
"Wow," I said again. I took the paper and folded it in half, and in half again and slid it into my notebook.
"I'll do it!" I caught his excitement, and I was suddenly resolute.
"I will do an experimental study on Bob Dylan; this will be fun!"

That, my friends, is how it started. "The Bob Dylan Experiment" is underway; I will be on a lyrical, musical journey for a while, and I'll let you know how it goes!

Live a great day!


  1. Enjoy the experiment, RR!

    While riding on a train goin' west,
    I fell asleep for to take my rest.
    I dreamed a dream that made me sad,
    Concerning myself and the first few friends I had.

    With half-damp eyes I stared to the room
    Where my friends and I spent many an afternoon,
    Where we together weathered many a storm,
    Laughin' and singin' till the early hours of the morn.

    By the old wooden stove where our hats was hung,
    Our words were told, our songs were sung,
    Where we longed for nothin' and were quite satisfied
    Talkin' and a-jokin' about the world outside.

    With haunted hearts through the heat and cold,
    We never thought we could ever get old.
    We thought we could sit forever in fun
    But our chances really was a million to one.

    As easy it was to tell black from white,
    It was all that easy to tell wrong from right.
    And our choices were few and the thought never hit
    That the one road we traveled would ever shatter and split.

    How many a year has passed and gone,
    And many a gamble has been lost and won,
    And many a road taken by many a friend,
    And each one I've never seen again.

    I wish, I wish, I wish in vain,
    That we could sit simply in that room again.
    Ten thousand dollars at the drop of a hat,
    I'd give it all gladly if our lives could be like that.

    ~ Bob Dylan's Dream (THe older a get, the more this song means to me)

  2. Bob Dylan is the Woody Guthrie of our day. Almost our own Alexandre Solzhenitsyn, with feelin'.