Monday, October 17, 2016

Lazy Sunday # 440: Playing Bob's Records

A poster version of the image above hung in my bedroom for a good chunk of my teenage years. But Bob Dylan had been around for a while before I really listened to him. 

He arrived in my world around the same time as "The Beatles" and they and all of the following British Invasion invaders took up most of my time and vinyl budget. 

I was probably only aware of him because I was, at the same time, smitten with a beautiful blonde who ironed her hair just like Jane Asher (McCartney's girlfriend) and sang and played guitar well enough that she got invited to perform at a local coffee houses and every high school Hootenanny.

For those who didn't keep track of the 60's, A hootenanny was the final supernova of the Folk Era, where all these singers, guitar and banjo pluckers would get together for a wholesome sing-song, which always included Bob tunes like "Blowin' In The Wind", "Girl From The North Country" and "Don't Think Twice, It's all Right" -- the last of which always made the goatee'd Assistant Profs get maudlin over their cappuccinos and clutch the suede elbows of their corduroy jackets as they tried to hit on my girlfriend.

But I didn't listen to Bob's records. He was just kinda this folk guy who got lucky by having "The Byrds" record "Mr. Tambourine Man" so he could have a real hit.

But in the Summer of 1965, Bob caused a bit of a scandal by playing an electric guitar at the Newport Folk Festival. It was in all the papers and had Folk people calling him a traitor and guys like me suddenly paying attention because he'd finally seen the light.

I remember hearing "Like a Rolling Stone" a few months later while listening to a cheap. tinny sounding Japanese transistor radio on a noisy bus. It was longer than every other song on the radio and seemed to be about something more important than all the others too, and I started paying attention.

Around the same time, my friend Marc, who played drums in a band, got his own apartment. Perhaps my first buddy to do so. He also bought a stereo system that filled most of the place and covered the walls by thumb tacking his album covers to the peeling plaster -- which also saved having to build a shelving unit or steal plastic milk crates to store them.

That might've been the first time I ever laid eyes on Bob's actual albums, like "Freewheelin", "Blonde on Blonde" and "Highway 61 Revisited". It was certainly the first time I played them in full. Both sides.

And when Marc and I picked up chicks and brought them back to his place, I quickly realized that the presence of Bob's records transformed us (in their eyes) from a couple of horny guys into guys who were "sophisticated horny" and deserved a little more attention.

I started to listen to Bob's records more closely. And have continued to this day.

Years later, I met Bob for about ten seconds. I was staying at a friend's house in LA and one morning there was a knock at the door and some scrawny little homeless guy looking for his dog. Only later did I learn Dylan lived nearby and his dog was always wandering off.

This week, Bob was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature, which caused another round of literary types feeling betrayed and guys like me knowing our affection for his words had been validated.

And hey, Don Delillo might still have a shot -- just as soon as he goes electric...

Herewith, my all time favorite Dylan tune...

Enjoy Your Sunday.

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