Saturday, May 24, 2014

Bob Dylan, born May 24 1941

On the corner I put the dime in the slot and dialed the operator for long distance, called collect and the call went right through. I wanted everyone to know I was all right. My mother would usually give me the latest run of the mill stuff. My father had his own way of looking at things. To him life was hard work. He’d come from a generation of different values, heroes and music, and wasn’t so sure that the truth would set anybody free. He was pragmatic and always had a word of cryptic advice. “Remember, Robert, in life anything can happen. Even if you don’t have all the things you want, be grateful for the things you don’t have that you don’t want.” My education was important to him. He would have wanted me to become a mechanical engineer. But in school, I had to struggle to get even decent grades. I was not a natural student. My mom, bless her, who had always stood up for me and was firmly on my side in just about anything and everything, was more concerned about “a lot of monkey business out there in the world,” and would add, “Bobby, don’t forget you have relatives in New Jersey.” I’d already been to Jersey but not to visit relatives.

Lou snapped the big tape machine off after listening hard to one of my original songs. “Woody Guthrie, eh? That’s interesting. What made you want to write a song about him? I used to see him and his partner, Leadbelly-they used to play at the Garment Workers Hall over on Lexington Avenue. You ever heard ‘You Can’t Scare Me, I’m Sticking to the Union’?” Sure I’d heard it.

“Whatever happened to him, anyway?”
“Oh, he’s over in Jersey. He’s in the hospital there.”
Lou chomped away. “Nothing serious I hope. What other songs do you have? Let’s put ‘em all down.”

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