Sunday, July 28, 2013

You're the Reason I'm Traveling On

I have a very strange fascination and preoccupation with the doings of Mr. Bob Dylan.  I love his music and I'm a huge fan of anyone that can stay so compelling for so long and he just happens to be one in a very small group.  I've even found that my own mother now reminds me of Bob Dylan as does my aging cat Willie.  There are traits that I've found in Dylan since his inception and also ones that he has possibly formed in later years that I yearn to see in more people.  I love watching old interviews and even ones where he's guarded and negative because even way back then he didn't give the reporters any relevance. And of course they didn't deserve it but who at the time knew that?

We saw Bob Dylan last night at the Americanarama Festival in Hoboken.  Great show.  We weren't really sure how much we loved it until we got home, rested, fell asleep and then awoke to watch YouTube videos of the highlights.  I'm short so unfortunately I've learned to enjoy live stand up shows through tiny peep holes between shoulders and necks.  Basically I miss most of the visuals, which just sucks plain and simple, but I've learned to accept it.  They had strange guests like Ian Hunter, Peter Wolfe and Warren Haynes.  The bands invited each other up which we were hoping for and actually played All the Young Dudes. That's on my (long) list of favorite songs of all time. 

The venue, Pier A, was pretty incredible, with the city views, right on the water, the food trucks, vast lines of porta-potties and even nice trees to make it feel intimate.  Lush green thick grass on the lawn that wasn't the kind you felt rats have been pooping on all night like the city parks.

The crowd, not what I expected.  Very straight-laced, jockish young men.  Most of the women were dates of the men, which I guess technically I would be judged as.  They seemed like a crowd that was going to see the new Adam Sandler movie and not Dylan. Wilco maybe, because they always did have the most annoying following.  They were amazing as was Ryan Bingham. What a voice and his music is so agreeable is the word that comes to mind although that's not at all a diss because I loved it.  My Morning Jacket was surprisingly thin musically. We both felt the sound lacked connection.  I accused them of putting me in a trance where I lost about 20 - 40 minutes.  That was kinda cool.  There were plenty of old-ish people too, the 50 to 60 crowd. If they were cool once, it was almost unrecognizable because they'd shed any ounce years before in exchange for possibly money or maybe they just stopped believing they were different. Maybe they never linked the music to a particular lifestyle, just liked the way it made them feel.

Maybe that's why I'm over here on the other side of the spectrum because that music and so much more does represent a lifestyle or ideals.  Not political views necessarily or anything too specific but it made me believe that my world didn't have to be filled with thick necked guys in flip flops.  That music made me see there are super cool people out there that create and feel and when they talk you eat it up like the best food.  They see with their heart and mind both, not just their eyes.  Real humor and joy do exist as does humbleness and humility, sparks of hope.

My mom reminds me of Bob Dylan because even though she's 90 and has dementia when she talks to me she always communicates profoundly and even though you have to sort of interpret through a decoder ring now, her words are never wasted.  And just like I'd imagine with Dylan, before I ask her anything I realize she already taught me I have the answers to my own questions. 

My cat reminds me of Bob Dylan because he was so cool when he was a little buck and was the great bird killer, taking down many.  He always ate his kill and instinctually knew how to be an awesome cat.  In his prime he was incredible.  Now that he's older, he has integrity and you feel respect for his life's work somehow.  He never let us down, even when he did.

I spent all day after the show watching old footage of Dylan and rare interviews, snippets.  I sat and wondered what he was doing today.  He plays tonight in Jones Beach so there was not a lot of downtime but did he spend the morning in bed?  Does he read his reviews?  Who does he Google?Does he take anyone to breakfast?  Does he have a bestie to hang with on the road?  Do the touring groups have any contact with him?  Does Tweedy dare knock on his door to chat?  What happens when he needs something from Walgreen's?  Who goes to get it and does he talk to God before he goes to bed? 

I don't idealize Dylan because he seems to be a very flawed person just like everyone else. But everyone else didn't write Visions of Johanna or Masters of War or live that musical history.  They didn't keep saying I want to do this now even if you all think it's shite.  Musically, he kept getting a new clean white sheet of paper to work with and that is so brave and uncommon.  I admire that but recognize it might not be love that fuels that but possibly malaise.   Even some of his failings are curious, like his mysterious love life and pension for voluptuous African American women.  Hell, even black men are afraid of beautiful black women and here comes this skinny Jewish man and if what I've heard is true, he charmed many of them.

Anyway so even though I am still preoccupied with odd details of Bob Dylan's life doesn't mean so much.  I appreciate him so much but I no longer ache to be him. I have always loved musicians and people that just have to do what they do.  I also watched about 3 hours of Jeff Tweedy interviews and although he's an excellent musician I bet he's only truly that magnetic to his closest of friends. 

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