I’ve never met Bob Dylan. I heard Rainy Day Women on the radio, but it didn’t make much of an impression. Then I was given a mixtape and listened to it on my bike to and from high school. Each song was like the sprout of a plant with very deep, interconnected roots. Whenever I got the chance, I got another album and was only disappointed once (Infidels).
Most of the time, Bob is touring. He’s got too many songs to just play once in a while. When he’s not touring, he sits in a rocking chair holding a banjo. A giraffe wanders by. The sky goes through its changes. A phone rings.
Phone: Is this Bob Dylan?
Bob: That’s who I am.
Phone: We’d like you to do a Victoria’s Secret television commercial.
Bob: I knew a Victoria once. She wore duck boots and was last seen traipsing across a deserted World’s Fairgrounds in Tangiers while humming the Star Spangled Banner in Greek.
Phone: …is that a yes?
Bob: Yeah, sure. Sounds like fun.
Bob’s lyrics are frequently in my mind. “She said you look different/I said, ‘Well, I guess.’” “Some were mathematicians, others were carpenter’s wives.” “You know something is happening here/But you don’t know what it is/Do you, Mr. Jones?” These phrases don’t necessarily mean anything to me, but they do mean everything. Bob’s words have been with me for my entire adult life.
It makes me happy every time Bob puts out a new album. His songs, the best of them, are proof that the world contains some measure of truth. Even the clunkers are pretty snazzy. I’m not ashamed to deny the fabulousness of Man Gave Names To All The Animals.
Today Bob turns 70. Happy birthday, Bob. I couldn’t write a song for you, so instead I’ll post on my blog.