Evidently today is Bob Dylan's birthday. Now, I'm not a relative or an acquaintance, nor have I ever even stood in the same city block as the man (yes, I shamefully admit I have never seen him in concert either)... but I have enjoyed my fair share of Bob Dylan's music.
So, Happy Birthday, Bob Dylan!
We'll just pretend like we're having cake.
I probably first knowingly heard a Bob Dylan song by watching a rerun of "Fame" back when they used to show reruns of fame at like 4pm on UHF channels (which, if you have never owned a television that did not operate via remote control you may not be familiar with). I'm sure the cast of Fame was protesting something serious (yes, I'm being sarcastic) - anyway, someone was sitting on a lunch table with a guitar singing "Blowin' in the Wind." (At least that's how I remember it).
Before that, I think I only knew of Bob Dylan via parody - you know, things that sound like Bob Dylan singing - which, you know, isn't like smooth jazz...
I believe my second encounter was via an 8-track tape. If memory serves me correct it was "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan." You know, the album that "Blowin' in the Wind" is on. I'm not sure I ever made it all the way through the 8-track, because quite frankly as a 12-year-old Styx's "The Grand Illusion" was a more palatable 8-track...
My first real "Dylan" musical encounter actually came via Dr. Demento. He played "Talkin' John Birch Paranoid Blues" on his show... and that was probably also the first time I ever went to the library (how antiquated) and looked up anything about communism...
Somewhere around the age of sixteen I think I bought "Greatest Hits 3." I think I bought it for "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" and "Tangled Up In Blue." I was more interested in buying the Pink Floyd and Jethro Tull catalogs at the time, so, while every teenager is required to know a little rock history, well, priorities... It was via that album that I became very fond of "Changing of the Guards" and "The Groom's Still Waiting At the Alter."
When I went off to college, I bought "Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits" and I was mostly interested in "Mr. Tambourine Man" — albeit not for off-beat drug references, but because I really liked the line:
Though you might hear laughin', spinnin' swingin' madly across the sun
It's not aimed at anyone, it's just escapin' on the run
And but for the sky there are no fences facin'
I have a propensity for just liking a line of a song...
Anyway, around the year 2000 I finally bought "Blonde on Blonde." I remember bringing it home and popping it in the cassette player and not really feeling compelled to sit through an entire song... and I say this as someone who will listen to Pink Floyd and Jethro Tull albums all the way through. It took a really long time for that album to grow on me. But eventually I became very fond of "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat," "Visions of JoHanna" and "Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands."
Next came "Blood on the Tracks" and "The Bootleg Series: Vol. 1-3." The Bootleg Series, as it turns out - was the only album that "Talkin' John Birch Paranoid Blues" had ever occurred on, and thus I had to own it. I've heard that Dylan isn't a fan of those Bootleg series albums - but I really love that one, particularly disc 2. It was probably via that album that I started to subsequently buy the rest of the Bob Dylan catalog...
Needless to say, I own more Dylan albums than I've actually listened to. I bought "Modern Times" when it came out, but still haven't exactly gotten around to listening to it some 7 years later... I'll get around to it someday. I mean, hell, the man recorded 34 studio albums — that's a lot of music, plus the 13 live albums and all the compilations... plus, at 71 years of age — he does have 39 years on me.
Anyway, of all of the Dylan albums I have ever bought — "Desire" is my favorite, hands down. I enjoy "Isis," "Mozambique," "Romance in Durango," and "Black Diamond Bay." But for purely selfish reasons, my favorite Dylan song of all is "Sara." I know it's about his ex-wife... but it's still (phonetically) my name, and really, my favorite of all the 'Sarah' songs.
Anyway, Happy Birthday, Bob Dylan! Thanks for the music.