I bought my first Bob Dylan album in San Antonio, Texas, in November of 1993. I had taken a train there from Springfield, Illinois with my dad and my brother—a ride that lasted 26 hours each way. We traveled to watch NAIA soccer, you know, the usual things a family does over Thanksgiving. Needless to say, we weren’t the usual family. And Bob Dylan isn’t the usual artist, I soon found out.
When I played the album in the car, which was Dylan’s Greatest Hits (I know, lame), my Turkish father, Yavuz, called him a hillbilly and turned him off. I laughed, giving my dad, who actually likes Neil Young and dislikes baseball, the benefit of the doubt. You can’t like everything that is classic.
This was during “Rainy Day Women # 12 & 35,” which I’ll admit isn’t the best song to listen to with one of your parents, and I assumed it was because of his voice, not his lyrics. And when someone tells me Dylan can’t sing, I don’t understand. I try to, but I just don’t. I realize that he doesn’t have a great voice, so to speak. I just can’t imagine anyone else singing “Like a Rolling Stone” or “Just Like a Woman” and make it sound right. Sure, Jimi Hendrix covered the hell out of “All Along the Watchtower,” but Jimi could play a little, right?
So, I like Dylan’s voice. Glad we got that out of the way.
And since that day I bought the hillbilly’s Greatest Hits, I’ve had many great moments listening to his music.
I remember playing “Brownsville Girl” in the car on trip back home from St. Louis and my grandma actually liking it.
I remember the first time my mom and my sister heard “To Make You Feel My Love.” We replayed the song at least five times.
I remember my late childhood friend, Matt, and I trying to sing along to “Subterranean Homesick Blues.” Damn, we laughed so hard.
I remember my brother once dancing to “Hurricane.” He recently told me he still plays the song in every bar where there is a jukebox. I’m sure he still dances to it, too.
Most of all, I remember the countless times I have sat alone in a room listening to Desire or Blood on the Tracks, my two favorite Dylan albums. I breathe the air around me, and I simply listen. When the last radio is indeed playing, I hope it is playing Bob Dylan.
Album Discography: http://www.bobdylan.com/#/albums
He Said It: “It’s only natural to pattern yourself after someone. If I wanted to be a painter, I might think about trying to be like Van Gogh, or if I was an actor, act like Laurence Olivier. If I was an architect, there’s Frank Gehry. But you can’t just copy somebody. If you like someone’s work, the important thing is to be exposed to everything that person has been exposed to. Anyone who wants to be a songwriter should listen to as much folk music as they can, study the form and structure of stuff that has been around for 100 years.”