Why As An Artist, I Admire Bob Dylan
Bob is a vigorous wanderluster
Don't wanna be a bum, you better chew gum!
There has been a lot said and written about Bob Dylan. You can't go anywhere near a music store (what remaining few are left) or musical instrument store, or hippie warehouse supply store and not be bombarded with Bob Dylan images and paraphernalia. Thank the Great Spirit for that! Thanks for letting somebody creative in this world receive some wealth and renown.
This article is not The Definitive Guide To Bob Dylan, it is my life experience with the man and his art from an artist's point of view.
My first recollection of Bob Dylan was with my parents lamenting me finally having discovered his music for myself somewhere around the late 1980's. Experimenting with various unmentionables in the usual way for a teenage American boy, I was enthralled at the grit of Dylan's voice. I also admired how he somehow seemed like an underdog in contrast to the more popular band of my generation, Van Halen. Though I learned to like Jump and Panama with practice, nothing could stop me from the instant gratitude of Subterranean Homesick Blues and It's All Over Now Baby Blue.
Once in college in Stevens Point, Wisconsin I was able to fully experience the hippy time warp as even in the early 1990's hippies and punk rockers still existed there in full force. I guess I toggled back and fourth between Donovan and Bob Dylan but mostly I was glad their music was there to talk me down! This of course was still the prime time for the Traveling Wilburys, so I was tangled up more in Tweeter and The Monkey Man than I was in baby blue. What a power house, every musical hero I could ever want together making music! George Harrison, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne and Bob, what a collective of talent!
I spent one summer in Amsterdam before I graduated from college. The cleanest place I could find to stay at my $7/night budget was a great youth hostile called the Eben Haezer. It was a thoroughly Christian establishment, and what's more, clean as a whistle. One of my fondest memories of my stay there was the constant beat of Bob Dylan music. For you see, Bob was raised Jewish, but then converted to Christianity for a few albums! So at this Christian youth hostile in the middle of Dutch Amsterdam what better way to connect with those crazy youths than to pipe in some Christiam Bob Dylan! Later Bob became a Druid, I like the evolutionary chain his religion followed.
Somewhere around the mid to late 1990's, maybe 1995? I finally got to see Bob live at Summerfest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. If you've ever been to the Marcus Amphitheater it's very architecturally tantalizing smacked up against Lake Michigan, the sound is great, and the expensive seats are only so so. The cheap seats in the back are where most people dance, and there's a small area in the front where a few can do the same. Mostly though, the expensive seats, where I happened to be for that show, are all seats. So it's like dancing in a movie theater. Anyway, I remember thinking before the show, aw this is so over already! Bob is so old and past his prime. Then he came out onto the stage, in a bright white, sequins covered suit with an equally white and sequins covered ten gallon cowboy hat! What a sight, I can only hope when I enter into the quiet invisible, that Moses, Mohammad, Jesus and the Buddha will greet my eyes as kindly as did Bob Dylan!
He proceeded to launch into a varied set of great classic Dylan tunes intermixed with his ever evolving new work, his energy and talent were extraordinaire! But by far, the best part of the show, was when he spoke to the audience in between sets. He said, "I love Wisconsin! One of my first girlfriends was from Wisconsin! She was an artist!" With that he pulled out his guitar and went into the next song.
I guess for me, hearing his personal tribute to my beloved State, made Bob Dylan into Bob. Anyone who knows his music will call him that, you'll see for yourself. As for the hate crowd that bemoans him as some aging idealist hippy, well he's too kind to defend himself, and his words reveal he's no plain bleeding heart. But anyone who doesn't like Bob can kiss the biggest star on my red, white and blue behind. Bob Dylan is one of my heroes because he stood up against the bullies and won. He pursued his art against the grain of the angry mainstream. He is freedom incarnate, and liberty hitching a ride on the highway of art.