Thursday, April 30, 2009

This Dream of You

In ten years, someone is going to record this and it will be a hit for them, and no one is going to know that it was written by Dylan. Sort of what happened several times with a Dylan song that Garth Brooks performed. Or the Byrd's recording Pete Seeger's "Turn, Turn, Turn".

I happen to like this song for several reasons--the sentimentality in the hopeless lyrics, as well as the ache of the regret. I imagine an elderly couple waltzing slowly in their living room to this tune, reminiscing and wishing for a little more time together.

Sometimes, the finite helps us appreciate we have as well as shows us to long for something lasting and eternal. Everything in our human experience shows us that death brings a natural end to things, but we have the word "forever" in our dictionaries. Our souls know something our brains can't wrap themselves around. Someone put eternity in our hearts. And we dream a little and the dream keeps us going on.

Dylan is only 68 years old, but he tries to give us the impression that he's 100, especially with the dry and cracked voice loaded with history. In a culture that worships youth, Britney Spears and anti-wrinkle creams, this blown out raspy but distinctive singing about regret and time passing too quickly by is basically a little horrid truth tickling our ear drums. It lingers way after the song is finished, we can't get the grating voice out of our minds. And despite all the talk about the new album, is anyone really listening? Life is short, everyone. Have you made your peace with God?

At work, I mention Bob Dylan to customers and I get different responses. The young adults know exactly who I'm talking about (Dylan has some great marketing going on), some around my age are confused, but the ones heading towards 65 are adament that Bob is past his prime. His voice is shot, they say. I ask them, are you sure about that? He sings for 2 hours everyday almost all year long on his neverending tour. It's amazing that he's still alive, much less being able to manage to croak through "Like A Rolling Stone" everytime with gusto, holding nothing back. Plus, Bob Dylan boxes for his daily workout. He travels with a trainer and sparring partner. I think he could hold his own against any one of those American Idols, if he wanted to, in the ring and on the stage.

If Dylan continues to create work that sells, he has created an kind of icon that is missing right now in American culture. Someone who knows music, lives music and has a depth that outlasts a million Hannah Montanas and Jonas brothers. He's the Grand Canyon of music compared to all the mud puddles. And as of right now, has put us right on an international border that we don't appreciate very much but has a major influence on our country if we would just open our eyes to see. It somehow comforts me that he has.

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