For The Record | Issue 20

For The Record | Issue 20

Bob and I

Most of us can pinpoint the exact moment our love of a certain artist began. It was my father’s rendition of Bob Dylan’s humorous bootleg “Talkin’ Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues” that set in motion my own grand musical love-affair. My Dad was a passionate Dylan fan, and from an early age I was exposed to his music. While some kids sang along to Barney or the Chipmunks, I had ol’ Bobby D. I saw nothing strange about this. Dylan crafted magical and exotic stories that transcended age limitations and wholly enchanted me.

Then I hit teenagehood and started using hair products. Desperate to fit in, I boxed up Highway 61 Revisited and bought The Backstreet Boys’ platinum-selling Millennium. I tried really hard to like it, but nothing ever clicked the way Dylan did. I suppose Rolling Stone’s “Greatest Songwriter of All Time” is a tough act to follow. With the best intentions, my Dad had inadvertently set me up for a lifetime of musical disappointment. The bar had been set. High.

Musical fads came and went, and I shamelessly dove into each one as fervently as the last. Posters in my room changed as I got older: from Weezer to Kanye; Sonic Youth to MGMT; Bon Iver to Arcade Fire. But I never externalised my love of Bob. I never built a shrine, or publicly worshipped the man. I neither preached nor proselytised.

Yet Dylan’s music has affected me more than any other artist. When I’m feeling down, I listen to Bob and feel like my suffering has some meaning. When I’m feeling happy, I blast Bobby D and feel even happier. When I really start to indulge in nihilistic angst, I play The Times They Are a-Changin’ and almost instantaneously everything feels profound. This Machine Kills Apathy.

Last year, on a cold Auckland night, I found myself waiting for a taxi in front of the Sky Tower. A rickshaw driver was set up next to me, also waiting. Business was slow, traffic was slower. We stood in silence, made awkward by our proximity, until he blurted out: “Hey kid, you look like a young Bob Dylan, you know that?” My hair was longer then, curlier, and I was wearing a Dylan-esque polka-dotted shirt, but even I never would have compared myself to “the man”. To this day, I’ve received no better compliment.

For the record, I’ve never been a religious man. And I’ve never known no God up in the sky. But I tell you, I’ve been saved time and time again by the great Bob Dylan.
This article first appeared in Issue 20, 2012.
Posted 5:14pm Sunday 12th August 2012 by Lukas Clark-Memler.