I think it was my friend Bosco introduced me to Bob Dylan.
(the music, not the man)
Bosco was the first of my friends to express an interest in Dylan.
The stations I had listened to as a kid were Top 40, album rock, and then modern rock. I don’t remember hearing Dylan on the radio in the first years I was listening to music.
I knew Dylan’s name from reading it in music magazines (though I was pronouncing it Dye-lan).
The first music I remember hearing from Dylan was when Infidels came out in autumn of 1983. 97X, which was my station of choice at the time, was playing Neighborhood Bully.
I think, then, I had little feeling one way or another about the song. It was Bob Dylan, this legend I had read about, but I was far more excited to hear 97X play Talking Heads’ Burning Down The House or Siouxsie & The Banshees’ cover of Dear Prudence.
Bosco often mentioned Dylan and Infidels. I’m not sure if he had previously been a big fan, but I imagine now it was Mark Knopfler’s involvement – Bosco was a big Dire Straits fan – that was the hook.
It must have been a couple years later, maybe our senior year, that Bosco apparently spoke to Dylan on the syndicated call-in show Rockline. I don’t recall what he asked Dylan, but it did pertain to some well-documented moment of his career.
I do remember what Dylan’s reply supposedly was.
“Well, I’ll tell ya, it’s been so long, I don’t remember.”
Meanwhile, the parents of another friend of ours claimed to have known a young Mr. Zimmerman, attending school with him, during his short stint at the University of Minnesota.
I haven’t seen Bosco in twenty-five years, but I have listened to much more Dylan during those years. I don’t have a subscription to Isis, but I have a far greater appreciation of the man and his place in history.
Bob Dylan – It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue
from Bringing It All Back Home
Somber, bitter, melancholic, beautiful, haunting – It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue is as hopeless as hopeless gets.
The song reminds me of Paloma as she turned me on to Roky Erickson and the 13th Floor Elevators’ Easter Everywhere with their version of the song – simply titled Baby Blue – which Dylan has supposedly noted as his favorite.
Bob Dylan – Hurricane
Hurricane is a riveting tale and a potent call for justice. For whatever reason, when I think of the song, I immediately hear Dylan howl, “He could have been champion of the world.”
Bob Dylan – Jokerman
The first time I ever saw Bob Dylan live, it was at the legendary Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. He walked out and his band immediately launched into Jokerman.
Afterwards, I bumped into a friend who had seen Dylan three-dozen times. He said it was the best performance of his that he’d ever seen.
I’ve always thought that evening – everything seemed to align – to be one of the more fortuitous things I’ve experienced.
Bob Dylan – Series Of Dreams
from The Bootleg Series
Dylan teamed with producer Daniel Lanois for 1989’s Oh Mercy. It was the first album Dylan had released during my years as a music fan that resonated with me.
Series Of Dreams is a surging anthem that supposedly Lanois had hoped Dylan would put on Oh Mercy. It didn’t make the cut, but it was released a few years later on The Bootleg Series.
I’d name it as one of my favorite Dylan songs.