Last Tuesday night, my friend and I went to see Bob Dylan at the Kiva Auditorium in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Friend Bob has been a Dylan fan since age 18 or so when he heard his first Dylan song; he doesn’t exactly say it changed his life—but close. This is around his tenth Bob concert and he knows most of the lyrics to everything The Bob has written.
I was a little older when introduced to the famous Bob from Minnesota and that was mostly from With God on Our Side which, as I’ve said previously, was my teaching aide for 6th grade social studies class, and from Peter, Paul and Mary’s version of Blowin’ in the Wind.
As I drove home Tuesday night, neither slightly inebriated nor stoned—as might have been the case in the past—it became clear to me I had in the space of that hour been attentive to several Dylans. Let me explain:
First there was Bob Dylan, practically a home town boy from Hibbing, Minnesota; my town Northome just a few miles and a lifestyle or so away, the difference between a mining town and a village of Norwegian lumberjacks. Given the remoteness of northern Minnesota from the rest of the world, and the fact Bob Dylan and I are almost exactly the same age, I choose to claim kinship and listened to that gravelly voice with thoughts of both of us coming home from school in the snowy dusk of a January afternoon. I wanted to get out too but my escape was Minneapolis and then Florida and marriage. Bob did much better—the Village and folk singers’ heaven and fame and fortune.
Those thoughts alternated with the pleasure of watching that famous old poet/song writer and Nobel Literary Prize winner gyrating a bit stiffly on stage and actually appearing to be having fun. So it’s okay to be an elder in this crazy world—having lived through some pretty stimulating times and not having to face the long future riddled with Trump-alikes.
Then there was the background music introducing me to my Albuquerque life. While not specifically Dylan, it was rock n roll of the folk variety generally, and it was playing when I moved to Albuquerque and met the ‘cool kids’ working in politics and for George McGovern. So, Tuesday night when I couldn’t understand a word being sung in some of the numbers, I metaphorically closed my eyes and drifted back there…
How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
How many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, and how many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they’re forever banned?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind