Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Song of the Week: Bob Dylan

As Valentine magically posts this tonight, I will be seeing Mr. Bob Dylan live and in person. 

In a literature class my second year of university we were asked to bring in a favorite poem.  When it was finally my turn, I slowly unfolded the papers in my hands, took a deep breathe, and broke out “Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie,” by Bob Dylan. Because it is so long, and knowing that probably no one in the class would actually go and look it up, I just read some of my favorite lines:

When yer head gets twisted and yer mind grows numb
When you think you're too old, too young, too smart or too dumb
When yer laggin' behind an' losin' yer pace
In a slow-motion crawl of life's busy race

And there's something on yer mind you wanna be saying
That somebody someplace oughta be hearin'
But it's trapped on yer tongue and sealed in yer head
And it bothers you badly when your layin' in bed
And no matter how you try you just can't say it
And yer scared to yer soul you just might forget it

And then our class had a great discussion on what does and not constitute poetry. Cue images of  Dead Poets Society. It is still one of my favorite pieces of poetry, but when asked these days, I also throw in a little e.e. cummings or Walt Whitman, just so people will take me seriously. (side note: I feel so unaware with poetry, if you have favorite poems or poets, please express them to me). 

Growing up there wasn’t a whole lot of music in our house.  Well, there was that one year that my sister played the soundtrack to the musical Cats, so many times, that still to this day, I can't listen to any songs from it, nor do I ever want to see a production. 

I do remember my dad having this great stereo system that he bought when he was stationed in Germany, with a nice record player behind a little glass door that I loved opening and closing and huge speakers. I remember shelves full of records, but I don’t remember any of those records ever actually being played. I think that my mother was too afraid of our little souls being corrupted. Or she didn’t like my dad’s music. Or maybe a little bit of both.

So where I got my intensity about music, I don't know. I romantically like to think that it is in my bloodstream, passed down from some lost generation when they sang songs around a campfire. But wherever it come from, it has always been with me. 

Whenever I got some money from babysitting or my birthday I would want to spend it at the music store buying these little cassettes of Billboard hits from the 1950’s and 60’s (these were deemed appropriate for my young ears).  I would have concerts, complete with dance moves, in my room to all my very attentive dolls and stuffed animals.

For some reason, I particularly favored folky revolution songs of the sixties. I think, at first, I was too young to really understand what they were all about, but there was just something in there that I loved.  Looking back I can see that these songs were teaching me that music could actually mean something other than meeting a cute boy at the dance.

Then I learned that the best songs are the ones that they don’t play on the radio and didn't make it on the hit list.

So here is to Bob Dylan and all the other singers that bring back memories of hours and hours laying on my bedroom floor with my ear up againist the speaker of the cassette player.


  1. I took a poetry class at USU and still recall it as one of my favorite classes.

    Some of my favorite poets include:
    Mary Oliver (obviously)
    Billy Collins
    Ken Brewer (said inspiring poetry professor)
    Kay Ryan

    I'd love to know what other people read.

    Ps. I hope the concert was a lovely flood of memories. Both old and new.

  2. Thanks for your suggestions! I am definitely taking notes.