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October 19, 2016

Dylanís Prize Stirs Memories

Tom McLaughlin

I was stunned, really stunned when the Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to Bob Dylan. I didn't think those old fogeys had ever heard of the man.


I thought they would award it to some person for books I have never heard of, and I would have to go out and purchase one or two of them. Then, I would read about the first 10 pages and put it down never to retrieve it again; but always, in the back of my mind, saying that I would. I have a lot of those books.


Of course, the classic was "Blow'in the Wind" probably my all-time favorite. I remember it during my anti-war days, a time and place so different from today. In coffee houses, old telephone cable spools as tables, stools as seats and the girl or guy singing away with that song with guitar. Most of us joined in. We so tried to end that war.


The stronger anti-war song was "Times they are Changin." It was the song that evoked the changes we hoped would take place in society. Radical for its time, it was also a coffeehouse song, and among those played in dorm rooms during my college days while studying for those infernal biology tests. I remember one class in particular, embryology, where we were supposed to identify parts of the egg under the microscope. I scraped by with “C” on that exam, I think because the prof felt sorry for me.


"Lay Lady Lay," of course, brings backs vision of pot and women and sex. There was no brass bed in the dorm room, or at friend's apartment, but being stoned and horny and, at that time, any girl would do. There would often be others in the room lit with candle light as we tried, unsuccessfully for some privacy on a small corner of the bed. The closeness and kissing went on and on all night long. The next morning we would take a shower together and go to a restaurant for a big breakfast and a copy of The Washington Post or New York Times. We were randy, not stupid. Then back to studying.


"Mr. Tambourine Man" was the name of a bar in Athens, Ohio, where I did my graduate work. I was a heavy beer drinker back then, and the song seems to remind me of that period. I can remember taking two courses that met at the same time and did two Masters programs in the time it took everyone to do one. Of course, computers were in there infancy and nobody was checking schedules, so that's how I got away with it.


They say now that "Like Rollin Stone" was some sort bridge between two lyrical mediums. I didn't know anything about that. Still don't. I liked it merely as a toe tapper and one to dance to. I was a good dancer back then, or so people, mainly lovers told me. My ex-wife told me she didn't like the way I danced, so I never danced again for over 22 years. I do so now, but now my wife doesn't know the steps, so I have learned the Malaysian steps.


A job, raising children and moving, relegated Bob Dylan to the oldies channels on the radio while I was driving back and forth to work. My ex-wife was into disco and took over the music at home. God, I hated that music.


I am glad Bob Dylan earned the Nobel Prize for Literature. I still have a lot questions about life. I am 65 now and have let the others take over the causes I once held close. But, from my teens to my old age, I still wonder whether the answers are blowing in the wind.


...Life is good. . . . .


Woodsboro - Walkersville Times
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