Tagged: Nobel Prize

My Bob Dylan Story

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The Swedish Academy says it has given up trying to reach Bob Dylan, days after it awarded him the Nobel Prize of Literature. The Guardian, 10/17/2016

Bob Dylan has accepted the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature, the Swedish Academy said, adding that getting the prestigious award left him speechless. Billboard, 10/29/2016

Yesterday evening the Swedish Academy received a personal letter from Bob Dylan, in which he explained that due to pre-existing commitments, he is unable to travel to Stockholm in December and therefore will not attend the Nobel Prize Ceremony. The Swedish Academy, 11/16/2016

In honor of Mr. Bob Dylan, who is scheduled to receive tomorrow, in absentia, the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature, I submit this personal anecdote.

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When Bob Dylan stepped onto the stage at the Au-Rene Theater at the Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale two weeks ago, the crowd stood and applauded.

I, on the other hand, remained in my seat, shaking the ice loose in my whiskey.

This wasn’t the first time I’d seen Bob Dylan in concert.  That was 10 years ago at the Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, FL, and it was dreadful.

That spring night, Dylan mostly stood on a dimly lit side of the stage with his guitar, and labored through song after song with the least amount of interest, his face shadowed by a large black hat.

There was no greeting. There were no pleasantries. I don’t recall that he ever once turned to the crowd.

Our friends walked out early. My wife and I stuck it out for one encore but we were miserable. We argued on the way home.

The next morning, we talked about it. What a disappointment, she said. Well, I replied, it’s always a risk when you have certain expectations of an eccentric like him.

Bad night? Sure, but devoted and forgiving Dylan fan nonetheless.

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My big-hearted affinity for Bob Dylan started in October 1999.

I was engaged to another girl then. She was lovely and I imagined a good life with her at first, but as the months passed, I began to drift. I considered the possibity of relocating to a new city. Denver, San Francisco, anywhere but where I was. On the outside, I may have kept it cool with friends and acquaintances but inside I was crumbling.

It was around that time that I discovered Dylan, that is, I discovered my first Dylan record album, at a book sale at the Coral Gables Public Library, a two-record compilation titled Greatest Hits, Volume 2.

Released in 1971, “Volume 2” was once dubbed the album that best represents what Dylan has “wrought in popular music, as a composer, lyricist, and performer.” [Rolling Stone Record Guide, 1983].

I paid a dollar for it.

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With a marriage engagement hanging by a thread, I found solace in Dylan’s music, and in particular, one song – Don’t Think Twice Its All Right.

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Countless love songs have been written throughout history. Even Dylan wrote long songs, but this song is not one of them. This is a break-up song. Honest, crude, and unapologetic. (About the song, Dylan once wrote,“It’s a statement that maybe you can say to make yourself feel better.”). It was exactly what I needed.

By November that year, I had typed the feel-better lyrics and tacked them to a bulletin board above my desk next to a digital map of Northern California and a photo of a desert tree near the Grand Canyon.

By December, the song had become a personal anthem. Whichever action I needed to take, whatever consequences would come, I needed to be selfish, I needed to move on. It would be all right.

Greatest song ever? Probably not. Probably not even Dylan’s best song, but, it doesn’t matter.

At the concert in Fort Lauderdale two weeks ago, the set list consisted of many songs I didn’t know from his last two albums, Tempest [2012] and Shadows In The Night [2015]. Of course, he could have, and was entitled to, perform any of the more than 650 songs he has recorded since 1961.

The unpredictable Dylan opened the show with the single Things Have Changed from the 2000 film Wonder Boys, a somewhat obscure song (save for the fact that it won an Academy Award for Best Original Song).

He grinned. He even kind of danced. Already, this show was feeling good.

Then he strutted to a piano, removed his hat, and began playing another tune. He hit a few keys I knew. I sat up in my chair and turned to my wife and said, I think I know what’s coming.

And then it came.

Well, it ain't no use to sit and wonder why, babe

Even you don't know by now

And it ain't no use to sit and wonder why, babe

It'll never do somehow




When your rooster crows at the break of dawn

Look out your window, and I'll be gone

You're the reason I'm a-traveling on

But don't think twice, it's all right.




And it ain't no use in turning on your light, babe

The light I never knowed

And it ain't no use in turning on your light, babe

I'm on the dark side of the road




But I wish there was somethin' you would do or say

To try and make me change my mind and stay

But we never did too much talking anyway

But don't think twice, it's all right.




So it ain't no use in calling out my name, gal

Like you never done before

And it ain't no use in calling out my name, gal

I can't hear you any more




I'm a-thinking and a-wonderin' walking down the road

I once loved a woman, a child I am told

I gave her my heart but she wanted my soul

But don't think twice, it's all right.




So long honey, baby

Where I'm bound, I can't tell

Goodbye's too good a word, babe

So I'll just say fare thee well




I ain't a-saying you treated me unkind

You could have done better but I don't mind

You just kinda wasted my precious time

But don't think twice, it's all right.

 

That night, there would be no disappointment, there would be no fight. The ice in my drink had broken loose and dissolved into my whiskey.

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