50 ways to love Bob Dylan...

Rolling Stone notes that today is the 50th anniversary of Bob Dylan's FIRST recording for Columbia Records.  (Check it out @ http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/50-years-ago-today-bob-dylan-released-his-debut-album-20120319)
It made me think, to paraphrase Paul Simon, there MUST be 50 ways to love Bob Dylan, yes? I remember buying that first album back in 1962.  I'd never heard anything like it before: it was raw, intimate and filled with American music that rendered this white kid from the suburbs clueless.  I mean WHAT was going on here? This wasn't the twist!

But I had to listen to it over and over again. I was writing a 6th grade paper on Leadbelly (my father had turned me onto him) and as I did my research, the names of Woodie Guthrie, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee, Cisco Houston, Blind Lemon Blake and others kept coming up.And THEY led me to Bobby Dylan who became MY way into their fabulous music.  (Same thing happened to me when the Rolling Stones opened up my world to Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters and Chuck Berry.)

For the next few years I was taken with Dylan's evolution as a poet and musician.  But my world was changed forever, as Springsteen once testified, when I heard that thunder crack on the drum kit that opens, "Like a Rolling Stone."

And then the Byrds covered "Mr. Tambourine Man" with that freakin' 12 string electric Rickenbacker and there was no turning back. "The Times They are a'Chagin'" became one of my church group's favorite songs. I found a harmonica brace and bought an E and G harp so I could do "Baby Blue" in my high school years (as well as "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean.") I used "Saved" and "You Gotta Serve Somebody" for my ordination.  "My Back Pages" has become my adult musical autobiography. "Everything is Broken" is clearly at the heart of Lent in my rock and roll hymnal. I got married to "Isis."  And we even found a way to work in a stripped down take on "Thunder on the Mountain" for this new ministry in the Berkshires.

He is the shaman of rock and roll.  He is the Trickster of American popular culture. He is a genre bender who has taken folk blues to a surreal and mystical level.  And he is a person of faith and doubt who like a jazz man uses his voice to capture the emotions of real life beyond traditional understandings of beauty.

Congratulations, my man, you are amazing. We are all the more blessed because of your dedication and artistry.



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