Friday, May 20, 2011

Bob Dylan's A-Changin'


I read last week that Bob Dylan will be 70 on May 24. He was turning 60 when he wrote "Bye and Bye" for the 2001 album "Love and Theft." As I listened yesterday in the car the line that echoed in me was, "The future for me is already a thing of the past." But earlier in the song, Dylan sang,"I still have a dream that hasn't been repossessed." And he has kept right on sharing his dreams in song, even a worthwhile Christmas album this past year.
This morning in the AARP magazine I read tributes to him from several famous people. The most comprehensive was from Bono who told how Dylan's very different songs and albums met him where he was at different points in his life. I can't think of a composer whose songs have changed so much as he has grown.
When I arrived at the March on Washington the first voice I heard was not Martin Luther King's but that of this kid singing roughly, "Only a Pawn in Their Game." Oddly, it was about how politicians had used the racial prejudice of poor southern whites to get themselves elected. Later Peter, Paul, and Mary sang "Blowin' in the Wind," written by the same gravelly-voiced kid, a profound song that still remains a favorite of mine.
As Bob Dylan continued to change his lyrics and his style, I bought every album he put out. I thought his many changes expressed not only what he was experiencing but what many of our generation were experiencing. They rang true for me and touched me, sometimes deeply, as did "Beyond the Horizon" on his 2006 "Modern Times" album. He has helped to teach me how to grow old with Truth and Beauty.
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