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  • Kathy's working on getting me tickets to see Bob Dylan when he comes to DC in November. If she is successful, this will make the 5th decade in which I've seen him perform live. The first time was when he was doing the Rolling Thunder Revue in the mid-70's. He was about 35 then, and just getting back into touring after a number of years in relative seclusion, raising his family on a farm in upstate New York. I saw him with the Dead in the late 80's at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia - that was a great show! Rumors of his demise were rampant at the time. He's 71 now, and still on the road, still doing what he loves to do best - play his music. I think he still plays something like 175 shows a year. Still the wandering minstrel.

    I can still remember the first time I heard "Positively 4th Street" - I was 10 years old, but I had a good ear for great music, even then. When I heard him whine that verse "I wish that for just one time, you could stand inside my shoes, and just for that one moment I could be you, Yes, I wish that for just one time, you could stand inside my shoes, then you'd know what a drag it is to see you!", I was hooked for life. Nobody wrote like that back then - until Bob came on the scene. Then, suddenly, everyone did.

    Yes, my first exposure was to "electric Bob", but I did come to also love the older "Folk Bob", basically his first 5 or 6 albums. At one time, I had every album he'd ever recorded. I still love his spare, haunting acoustic version of "All Along the Watchtower", the original, so amazingly covered by Jimi Hendrix, that even Bob stopped playing the acoustic version and began to play a version that emulated Jimi's version - of HIS song!

    But, that's so like Bob - despite his talent, and his universally acclaimed greatness, he never read his own press clippings. Never bought into the whole Dylan myth - the "Voice of a Generation" tag that they tried to hang on him. He refused to wear it. In fact, he took if off, threw it down on the ground, and pissed on it. When the folkies tried to claim him as the next coming of Woody Guthrie, he plugged in and went electric at the Newport Jazz Festival, and pissed 'em all off. The venerable Pete Seeger was spotted backstage with an axe, ready to chop through the electrical cable feed to the main stage. They thought he was one of theirs - they didn't know, yet, that Bob belonged to no one but himself.

    In short order, he proceeded to write and record what Rolling Stone magazine declared a couple of years ago was the greatest Rock song ever made - "Like a Rolling Stone". (Granted, they might have been just slightly biased by its title, but it truly is a great rock song). This is a song that Greil Marcus once wrote an entire book about, just describing how it was made, what it meant - and I read it. It was almost as interesting as the song, itself.

    He's written some incredibly complex songs, but some of my favorites are some of the simplest ones - they just have such power and beauty in them. "Knockin' On Heaven's Door", "Lay, Lady,Lay", "Senor", "You're a Big Girl Now".

    When I see him in November, I'll reflect on the many times I've seen him over the past 5 decades, and how his music has been such an integral part of my life since I was 10 years old.

    Ah, but I was so much older then....I'm younger than that now!

    Happy howling tonight, everyone! Enjoy the Blue Moon!


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