When we come upon an important musician for the first time, it doesn’t matter if the music is old or new. This new relationship begins pure and we can take the music in with our fresh ears and experience it as if it was just released. When I was in college I started to listen to Bob Dylan. Of course, from the radio I knew the hits, but delving into albums (you know those things, kids?) you can hear a deeper theme of the music and also if an artist has a large catalog, you can binge listen too.
The first album that I delved into was Blood On the Tracks. It still is a perfect piece of art.
I mention Bob Dylan sometime to my students. I say that they are all in their early 20’s and I ask them, “when is it time for you to make meaningful art? How old do you have to be to make the meaningful art of your lifetime?” It’s a great question to ask a student because I think many feel that this time is off into the future. But success comes when it does, when the time is right and the skill meets the blind ambition and no time is more like that than one’s early 20s.
Bob Dylan, America’s self-made myth, started manufacturing a personality and performing style in his early 20’s and before he was 25 had made a huge impact in the world of music, of writing and performing.
At 26 he left the music scene, or so we thought, following a motorcycle crash. Not idle for long, Dylan re-booted himself and began working with the Hawks, or “The Band” to record a ton of music that would eventually become The Basement Tapes. He re-emerges and has tried every kind of music and is always interesting.
This brings me to how I think of Bob Dylan now. I use his story to motivate my students to do meaningful work NOW, but I’m an artist who did many pieces that defined my career beginning years ago. Today I look to Dylan for how he keeps at it, keeps trying new things and loves the work. The work has given us such rich music, so many powerful songs and poignant phrases and melodies. He’s an American treasure.
I was asked to do a portrait of Bob Dylan for AARP Magazine
, the only place that Dylan agreed to do an interview about his new album ‘Shadows in the Night.’ The album of standards made popular by Frank Sinatra is being met with great reviews. as for choosing AARP for his only interview, in his own words, he felt that this album “would be more appreciated by people who have more wisdom and experience in life.”
As Dylan once sang:
“Ah, but I was much older then, I’m younger than that now.”