Saturday, January 24, 2015

Bob Dylan's Way

According to a number of recent reports, Bob Dylan, in an interview for AARP magazine, said that "if I had to do it all over again, I'd be a schoolteacher." That quote must be from the extended version of the interview, because I couldn't find anything like that in the online version. But what I'm actually thinking about is what it might have been like to have had Mr. Robert Zimmerman of Hibbing, MN as a teacher in high school or college. What, if any, academic episode might there have been similar to when Dylan first played the electric guitar in England and members of the audience booed him and called him a Judas.

a sign of Dylan in Duluth
a sign of Dylan in Duluth
Photo by J. Harrington

As I understand it (from afar, of course) in academia a student demonstrates mastery of a topic as a precondition to reinterpreting it. I think that's comparable to what Dylan did with folk music during his early years. Then he insisted he wasn't a topical singer; he explored country music, he's done spirituals and a Christmas album (the latter standard for most garden variety "pop" singers); and now he's interpreting old standards iconized by Frank Sinatra. I don't think even Noam Chomsky has shown that kind of range and versatility.

another sign of Dylan in Duluth
another sign of Dylan in Duluth
Photo by J. Harrington

If the Iron Range wants to diversify its economy, it could do worse, it seems, than opening a west wing of Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame devoted to Dylan, or expanding the concept to house a North American Folk Music Hall of Fame. I bet the IRRB would help fund it and we could convert an old mine pit into an amphitheater to add additional realism to Girl from the North Country. I claim such a thing would be no more a stretch than Dylan as a school teacher dealing with academic bureaucracies. Why should Duluth have all the fun? Why not more honor for the prophet in his own count(r)y?

Girl From The North Country by Bob Dylan 

Well, if you’re travelin’ in the north country fair
Where the winds hit heavy on the borderline
Remember me to one who lives there
She once was a true love of mine

Well, if you go when the snowflakes storm
When the rivers freeze and summer ends
Please see if she’s wearing a coat so warm
To keep her from the howlin’ winds

Please see for me if her hair hangs long,
If it rolls and flows all down her breast.
Please see for me if her hair hangs long,
That’s the way I remember her best.

I’m a-wonderin’ if she remembers me at all
Many times I’ve often prayed
In the darkness of my night
In the brightness of my day

So if you’re travelin’ in the north country fair
Where the winds hit heavy on the borderline
Remember me to one who lives there
She once was a true love of mine 



********************************************
Thanks for visiting. Come again when you can.
Please be kind to each other while you can.