During my freshman year of college I went to a lecture on why the lyrics of Bob Dylan were worthy of a Noble Prize for Poetry. The lecture was given by one of the foremost authorities on modern and romantic poetry from Oxford University. From what I remember, he was the ‘second in command’ behind the Poet laureate. There was a listening session for a few tracks off of Blonde on Blonde and Highway 61 Revisited and then the lecture which focused on ‘Rainy Day Women #12 & 35’ and ‘Just Like a Women’.
Before I went to the lecture, I was aware that Bob Dylan was one of the greatest lyricists of all time and afterward I stole a lot of the interesting arguments supporting this fact from the speaker to illustrate this fact, more than likely because I was trying to get laid rather than prove a point.
It turns out, discussing the finer points of Dylan’s lyrics on Blonde on Blonde wasn’t the best way to impress co-eds in my Intro to Philosophy 101 class.
The lecture was very interesting and I remember a lot of the discussion from it; however, up until that moment I had never knowingly listened to Bob Dylan song. Never.
It’s not like I was actively trying to avoid him, I just never thought, ‘I’m in the mood for [Insert any Dylan album here]’.
One of my closest friends became enthralled by Bob Dylan around the start of our senior year and could now be considered a leading authority on the man.
My friend would talk a lot about Dylan’s life, early recordings, lyric meanings and would perform his favourite tracks at various open mic nights (which were very good. So much so, that instead of wanting to listen to the actual songs, I just went to more of his open mic nights), but I still hadn’t remotely considered listening to what he was talking about.
It wasn’t until 2010, at the age of 22, nearly 4 years after that lecture did I sit down and think, ‘OK, let us listen to this Bob Dylan’.
I was staying at a family friends house before my rent kicked in at a new apartment and he had an incredible sound system with all of Dylan’s early records on vinyl and the first one I picked up was Highway 61 Revisited because I really liked the cover my friend sang of ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ (It was second only to his cover of ‘Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands).
My first thoughts were along the lines of, ‘Wow this guy really can’t sing as well as one of the greatest musicians of all time should’, but I was in my Dylan-infancy and by the end of side A, it all made sense.