Monday, March 31, 2014

Don't Think Twice It's All Right: the moment I 'discovered' Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan!!!
I don't know what to say, I adore his music more than almost anything, except The Beatles.
And that my friends, is really saying something.
But it wasn't always this way, I knew Dylan, knew his stuff, as a music lover how can you not? But I think I got caught up in the whole he can't sing, he's a bit too precious, and he's difficult, and I just didn't GET him. Funnily enough, these are the things I love about him the most now! I also was overloaded on his popular folksy stuff way too much in music lessons when I was younger, no matter how good something is, if it is shoved in your face too much, too often, it becomes tiresome. 
And so it went.
When his book, Chronicles, Volume 1, came out, I read it purely out of curiosity, not knowing how much I would love it. Or how much it would make me smile, because of his history and knowledge, and because he was bloody funny.
But also...because he is a wordsmith, a poet, a man with a turn of phrase that delights me, and now has a profound effect on me.
And then one day out of the clear blue sky I heard Don't Think Twice It's Alright on the radio...I song I knew, knew well, but up until then had never really heard.
I remember it so well, it was about 7 years ago, I had my new car about a week, and was driving and thinking about a boy long gone, and this song came on, and I just like that I got Dylan.
I remember going home and digging out his greatest hits and playing it over and over again, sobbing and smiling.
And I was the best possible way.
And it wasn't really about the long gone boy, or every other long gone relationship, it was just the right words to express those feelings, the culmination of life's disappointments and the calmness I felt about them upon hearing that song. Which is why it is my go to song for comfort now. At least that's my interpretation of the feeling of it.
It is not his best song I guess, but for those reasons it will remain my favourite forever, and one song I will never tire of hearing.
I know it is about Suze Rotolo disappearing overseas and abandoning him, mostly as he'd been a bit of a dope and a bit too intense for her, but of course he was bereft and missing her. I read her book and can appreciate both sides of the situation, it's also a fine book.
To me Don't Think Twice It's All Right is also about self respect and love and yearning. All the things that make the world go round really.
And it's a very polite fuck off too, and I love the ambiguity of that.
"You just kinda wasted my precious time, don't think twice it's all right."

That could possibly be one of my favourite lyrics ever.
I think it's also about people not realising the impact they can have on others, for good or for bad, and how we can unwittingly treat others not as well as they deserve, or be treated similarly ourselves, sometimes without even realising until after it has happened.
Other lyrics that really sing to me from it are:
"It ain't no use to sit and wonder why, babe" - advice I need to pay more heed to!
"But I wish there was somethin' you would do or say. To try and make me change my mind and stay" - That moment where you're waiting for that last grand gesture.
"I gave her my heart but she wanted my soul" - that thing where you give the very best of you to someone and they kinda stamp on you and destroy or try to destroy your soul, purposefully or not.
"Goodbye's too good a word, babe. So I'll just say fare thee well" - the ultimate kiss off!
Bless you Bob, whenever I feel down or used or hurt I listen to it and somehow, melancholy as it is, it makes me feel better, it warms my heart, hugs me lyrically and assaults every sense in my body in such a way it can bring me to tears. Sometimes tears of joy, sometimes tears of genuine sadness. I don't mind either way, to me that is the testament of a perfect song.
Musically I love it's rhythm, and the fingering on the guitar is so sweet and intricate. Add in the mellow harmonica and his voice (forlorn and melancholy), to me, sounds pretty perfect and that is why I love it so.

I could go one forever about Bob, but many have done it before me and so much more eloquently.
So instead, here is a list of my favourite things:
The Blonde on Blonde album cover
Blonde on Blonde 
The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan
Blood on the Tracks
Time Out of Mind/Love and Theft/Modern Times trilogy
Christmas in the Heart
Like A Rolling Stone - his best song
Subterranean Homesick Blues - all those words, all that attitude, musically fluid, and THAT video!
If Not For You and the pretty xylophone riff
Don't Look Back AND No Direction Home
The vibe and sentiment of Knocking on Heaven's door and Forever Young
His sense of humour...probably moreso in later life
He wrote the Ab Fab theme song...many years earlier of course
Chronicles, Volume 1
His wild hair and those cool black sunglasses
He's daggy AND the epitome of cool simultaneously
His authenticity
His intelligence
His way with words
His politics and hippy peace
He does it his way
He is fucking important musically
The perfect poetry of Blowin' in the Wind
"You may call me Bobby, You may call me Zimmy" in You Gotta Serve Somebody
Manfred Mann's cover you You Angel You
The Band and The Last Waltz
Theme Time Radio Hour
The beauty and fragility of Just Like A Woman
And the way I'll be your Baby tonight makes me melt
It's all over now, Baby Blue - his voice is not great in this, but the intent in there and his phrasing and rhyming is fabulous
Every single lyric he has ever written

An aside, I've been working on this for over a week, and could do forever and still not be happy with it. No doubt, once I hit publish I will think of something to add or change, but I'll let it go for seems the right thing to do...



Lawrence Simon said...

I too remember the exact moment I discovered Bob Dylan, I grew up and R & B fan, Didn't have much use for rock and roll, and then my friends and I discovered Jimi Hendrix and so for awhile it was R & B and Hendrix, when a friend of mine got a new Hendrix album the soundtrack to the film Jimi Hendrix and invited over to his house after school to listen, he played me Hendrix version of Like a Rolling Stone and I just got it, when I asked him if I could borrow it, he said no way but you can have this and gave me a copy of Bob Dylan's greatest hits and I have been hooked ever since

Anonymous said...

You have described how I have felt about Bob Dylan for most of my life, 40 years to be exact. And yes, there is always more. And Dylan always leads you to other brilliant musicians, writers and artists. There is so much to learn from him. Thanks for being one of those people who get it!

Cathy said...

I love these stories, thanks so much for taking the time to comment. It's a glorious thing when you 'get' something, life changing in fact!