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Linking Young Minds Together
     Volume 2 Issue 102 | January 18, 2009|


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Sounds & Rhythm

Bob Dylan- the trapeze artiste

Nazia Ahmed

Take me disappearin' through the smoke rings of my mind,
Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves,
The haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach,
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow….
…Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,
In the jingle jangle morning I'll come followin' you.

The uncontested poet laureate of the rock and roll era and the pre-eminent singer/songwriter of modern times Bob Dylan has consistently demonstrated the rare ability to reach and affect listeners with thoughtful, sophisticated lyrics, whether singing a topical folk song, exploring rootsy rock and blues, or delivering one of his more abstract, allegorical compositions. Dylan re-energized the folk-music genre in the early Sixties; brought about the lyrical maturation of rock and roll when he went electric at mid-decade; and bridged the worlds of rock and country by recording in Nashville throughout the latter half of the Sixties. As much as he's played the role of renegade throughout his career, Dylan has also kept the rock and roll community mindful of its roots by returning to them. With his songs, Dylan has provided a running commentary on our restless age. His biting, imagistic and often cryptic lyrics served to capture and define the mood of a generation. For this, he's been elevated to the role of spokesmen - and yet the elusive Dylan won't even admit to being a poet. "I don't call myself a poet because I don't like the word," he has said. "I'm a trapeze artist."

His birth name is Robert Allen Zimmerman. He was born in May, 24th, 1941, in Duluth, Minnesota and grew up in the iron-mining town of Hibbing. He learned to play harmonica and piano by age ten and was a self-taught guitarist. As a high-school student in the late Fifties, he listened to everyone from Hank Williams and Woody Guthrie to Roy Orbison and Chuck Berry, cultivating a lifelong appreciation for traditional folk, country and rock and roll. While attending the University of Minnesota, Dylan traded his electric guitar for an acoustic instrument and began to pattern himself after quixotic folksingers of the previous generation.

Here are some bits from Dylan's interviews with New York Times and Playboy:

Q: Besides being a singer, a poet and now a film maker, you've also been called a visionary. Do you recall any visionary experiences while you were growing up?
Dylan: I had some amazing projections when I was a kid, but not since then. And those visions have been strong enough to keep me going through today. They were a feeling of wonder. I projected myself toward what I might personally, humanly do in terms of creating any kinds of reality. I was born in, grew up in a place so foreign that you had to be there to picture it. In the winter, everything was still, nothing moved. Eight months of that. You can put it together. You can have some amazing hallucinogenic experiences doing nothing but looking out your window. There is also the summer, when it gets hot and sticky and the air is very metallic. There is a lot of Indian spirit. The earth there is unusual, filled with ore. So there is something happening that is hard to define. There is a magnetic attraction there. Maybe thousands and thousands of years ago, some planet bumped into the land there. There is a great spiritual quality throughout the Midwest. Very subtle, very strong, and that is where I grew up. New York was a dream.

Q: When did you decide that you - the white, Jewish son of a hardware store owner in a northern state of the USA - that you could also play music that made people feel things?
Dylan: My memory does not go that way back or I can't remember ever doing anything else than sing, for that matter. But if somebody back then had an influence on me it must have been the folksinger Woody Guthrie - without really wanting to be influenced.

Q: Do you listen to your old songs when you're at home?
Dylan: I never listen to my old stuff. I don't want to be reminded of my self or be an influence on my self. I want to go on, always go on...

Q: On your new record that sounds a bit darker. There you sing the line: I wish somebody would push back the clock for me."
Dylan: Don't we all feel that way? I for one feel like that plenty of times. I would prefer to start my life anew over and over again. Learn a new trade, marry another girl, live in another place.

Q: What does the blues mean to you?
Dylan: The blues? An extremely simple and open form by which you can say anything; also, what's being said comes out the way you meant it. But the blues has become rare. I don't even know if people know what to do with it in this world which has become a rat race. The blues stems from the coutryside, from the cotton fields in the south. And they dragged it to the big cities and charged it with electricity. Today this has turned into electronics. One does not perceive that out there there is a person that breathes or that there is still a heart out there. And the more people get away from this, the less they are connected with what I call the blues. Like I said, the blues is simple and it comes from the countryside just like country music.

Back 1964, Dylan said he hoped to carry himself like Big Joe Williams, Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly and Lightnin' Hopkins when he was older, and indeed he has done just that. Having embraced the role of wandering troubadour, Dylan is doing what his mentor Woody Guthrie no doubt would have done, had failing health not prevented him: performing his songs for people till the end of his days.

“If you are going to go out every three years or so, like I was doing for awhile, that's when you lose your touch,” Dylan has said. “If you are going to be a performer, you've got to give it your all.” And so this uniquely American legend remains alive and well, not to mention highly accessible as a performer.

Sources: Internet

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