How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Bob Dylan

“We sit here stranded, though we’re all doin’ our best to deny it.”

I found this article in 2011 and shared it at my Ennyman’s Territory blog. It was later reprinted on Bob Dylan’s website, which is cool. Kinda fun story of a guy who did the best he could to hold Dylan at arm’s length, but after a long, losing battle finally got it. I like the title of the essay because of its deliberate take-off on the sub-title of Kubrick’s classic, Dr. Strangelove.

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Illustration by the author.

Writer Mike Walsh’s story begins this-away….

Let me make this clear up front: I’m not a Dylan-head, Dylan-ite, Dylan-phile, Dylan-ologist, or any other kind of extreme Dylan fan. In fact, I never bought a Dylan record or CD until just a few years ago. I never saw the need. Growing up in the 60’s, Dylan was on the radio all the time — “Blowing in the Wind,” “Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right,” “The Times They Are a Changin’,” “All I Really Want to Do,” “It Ain’t Me Babe, “Mr. Tambourine Man,” etc., etc. Plus, many other bands had hits with his songs, like Peter Paul and Mary, Hendrix, and The Byrds. There was no escaping Dylan back then. You listened to him whether you wanted to or not.

In college, it seemed like everybody in the dorm except me owned Dylan’s Greatest Hits, Volumes 1 and 2. So I had to listen to the same songs all over again at just about every dorm party. One kid down the hall even had a guitar, a neck stand with a harmonica, and a music book of Dylan’s greatest hits. So I got to hear the same songs played and sung live — quite amateurishly, to put it kindly. By the mid-70’s I’d had quite enough of Dylan — so much so that I did a nasally, slurred vocal rendition of “Like a Rolling Stone” just to torture the Zimmermanites, even though they never seemed to mind. In fact, they joined in no matter how obnoxiously I wheezed, “How does it feeeeeeeel?”, so the joke was always on me.

What I wanted to hear was something different, something that wasn’t on the radio. Soon punk and new wave surfaced, and I’ve been a slave to indie rock and the underground sounds ever since, as my record collection can attest. My opinion of Dylan stayed the same during all that time, even though I didn’t sing “Like a Rolling Stone” quite so often (although I did work up an even more annoying version of “The Needle and the Damage Done” but that’s another story).

The rest of the article can be found here at the Phawker blog where you’ll read that it took many a year for this fellow to come around. For seem reason I was much more prepared for his outside-the-pop-40-box sound a bit earlier than that. When Ed Hilliker loaned me The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan on the school bus, I recognized something stirring there. A few years later, when Ed shared about the beauty of eating flower petals on a subway in Greenwich Village with his girl friend, I wasn’t so sure about that part of the hip new scene.

Last night I remembered his story about the flower petals because my wife Susie bought some edible flowers to brighten the darkness of our Winter Solstice. She thus decorated my stew with a pansy. Which I ate, incidentally. It made me smile as I thought of my friend Ed on the subway. (Funny how Subway became a franchise, and yesterday noon I ate a sandwich there.)

An intersection of connections… Eds and subways and eating flowers and Dylan. As I write these lines I drift through Girl From The North Country, and Boots of Spanish Leather and Bob Dylan’s Dream…. and I dream a little, too.

Tonight I will be going to see Bob Dylan and his band perform in Mankato, MN as his Never Ending Tour (NET) passes through the Midwest. This 2013 article from the last time I saw him compiles a number of amazing statistics about Dylan and his NET. As of that point in time he’d played at least 2,503 shows in 808 cities and towns all over the world, and purportedly travelled more than a million miles. Or to put it in perspective, twice to the moon and back plus twice around the world and twice from Duluth to New York.

The guy turned 78 in May and shows no signs of letting up. In fact, reviews of his current Fall U.S. tour are more positive than ever.

If you’re a Dylan fan, how did you get introduced to his music and when did it take root in your mind and heart?

Originally published at
The Dylan portrait was painted on a page from the 1939 London Times

An avid reader who writes about arts, culture, literature & other life obsessions. @ennyman3 Look for my books on Amazon

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