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Like a Rolling Stone Bob Dylan & I Both Individually Roll on Through Life
As a child I never expected my life to veer from the tepid buoyant pebbles-in-the-road path I thought my parents followed. But then as a teen, when I heard Like a Rolling Stone, I visualized a big hulking chiseled round boulder, hot in pursuit of the normalcy of my life, and in many ways it was.
It was a little unsettling - a lot unsettling
that the boring ordinariness of my life could keep me nailed to the sidewalk of my block. Since my family had made the move from a truly exciting life in Alaska to a quaint small town on the shores of Puget Sound, and we assimilated into our schools things had been quite tame.
Dad was pretty much absent so in some ways
we all breathed more easily, after all - he was still up North earning our living in the wild land. A frugal family from the core, making do was the norm. The food tasted good, the clothes were clean, we had gas for the car, and Mom didn't seem to mind working at a low wage job, the only thing she qualified for based on her high school education.
Mom decided to make the break and
we scrimped a little more than before. But one thing for sure, we knew our days of our Mom & Pop & Kids Family had been flattened by that Rolling Stone Bob Dylan ratted on. So when we teens first heard the song we already belonged to the flattened folk.
As far as I knew, mine was among the first family broken
by divorce in our town. What would my Catholic friend's parents think of my mom now, I had wondered in the period prior to the release of this song. The religious dictum of married for life still affected us, because even though we had gotten this far without the aid of baptism, it seemed like everyone else in our world was a dedicated Christian, and their convictions permeated the community.
Once I heard the lyrics a time or two, and then joined
my brother for some eye opening discourse at the ramshackle cabin of an older man, in an alley near our high school, pondering civics and world affairs and philosophical discussions that included talk of psychedelic drugs, my perception of the future opened wide. These people blew up ideas.
Poverty and want need not restrict the lives of our minds. Maybe I wouldn't be relegated to a future of housekeeping for a prospective husband who worked an 8-hour day and drank an 8-hour evening.
The charm of Bob Dylan's voice, the speaky-singy
tones, and the uncertain meter of the lines, seemed to me a roadmap for my future: challenge the fit of the rules and the notions that girdled me to replicating the past generation, as if that's all there were to life.
When I hear the songs from Highway 61 on the Revisited album, I hear a call to continue to journey through satisfying the need to know.
It could have come from a favorite old uncle
and in some regards it did come from his wife, a newcomer to the family during my high school years. The sound of her voice, her wisdom, and her outstanding style of dress were a gentler, even if feminist, version of the rock wheeling behind me. But for me it took the combination of new auntie, Bob Dylan, parental divorce, and my brother's mentor, who prompted me to grasp what I can from every event, refusing to let my voice be flattened.
& that's why Highway 61 was a go-to album in my youth!
background photo credit: Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan by Elsa Dorfman