24 May 2011

Happy Birthday, Bob Dylan

Today, I (and not a few others!) celebrate Bob Dylan’s 70th birthday. Indeed, wherever I turn on the dial (alas, no radio really and no dial: just the click of the computer mouse on different web radio stations) there is the work and sometimes even the voice of Bob Dylan.  Right now, Peter Keane is singing “One Too Many Mornings:” You’re right from your side and I’m right from mine, Just one too many mornings and a thousand miles behind.  He’s ironically right: every declaration of certainty comes too late and from too far away. Many programs today are playing listener choices of Dylan’s top 70 songs—Rolling Stone detailed their selection in the recent issue—when my daughter asked what songs I would have chosen for Dylan’s favorite, I couldn’t decide. Wherever I turned, I found a favorite. I saw my life. 
Dylan has been present in my consciousness throughout my sixty-four years. The sound track of my too many memories consists in large part of Dylan songs. I have in my life celebrated many new mornings, and been torn between the debutante who knows what I want and Ruthie who knows what I need. I have too often been stuck in Mobile with the Memphis Blues, and have certainly stayed in Mississippi a day too long.  No matter where I was in my life Dylan walked with me, supported me, led the way: He not busy being born is busy dying. I have tried to heed his urgings. But he also cautioned never to become too dependent on him: oh, it ain’t me you’re looking for, babe. Don't follow leaders, watch the parking meters. I have paid too many parking fines. And though sometimes he felt inspired, he suffered the same vulnerability, pain and loneliness as did I: I hear the ancient footsteps like the motion of the sea
Sometimes I turn, there’s someone there, other times it’s only me. Dylan’s humility taught me humility, his strengths taught me strength, his angers taught me anger, his loves taught me love and his pain taught and yet relieved my pain. He has been for almost fifty years my tambourine man singing a song for me. 
I am glad to have been aware of his presence and to have known him as my teacher. 
Happy Birthday, Bob Dylan. 


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