08 February 2011
Has It Really Been That Long?
This week's "Take This Tune" is a Bob Dylan song "Ain't Talking" from his Modern Times album. Now I'm what might be called an "intermediate adopter" as opposed to an "early adopter". I usually wait until others have some experience under their belt before sticking my toe in the water but is is usually earlier than others who need someone just a little ahead of them to lead the way. But in the case of Dylan, I was so early that I'm not really sure if he had a record contract before I heard the lines of poetry.
Dylan dropped out of college at the end of his freshman year. In January 1961, he moved to New York City, hoping to perform there and visit his musical idol Woody Guthrie. Guthrie had been a revelation to Dylan and was the biggest influence on his early performances. I graduated from high school in 1961 and moved to West Covina during the summer in order to start college at Mt. San Antonio in September where I met the boy who would become my husband. That Christmas I attended a party at the home of his best friend who for some unknown reason had copies of Dylan's poetry and maybe the first record. He also had a mother who was eccentric to say the least in that she collected the poetry of all the friends of her son that she read while ensconced in her bed until noon whereupon she would declaim in ever more incomprehensible lectures about crystals and spheres of language
It was a delightful introduction into how "the other half lived". This beautiful home sat on the top of a hill with its pool, den set up for the practical, businessman father's purchased artwork on the walls and once a week poker games, live in maid and every convenience such as a microwave ... a 1961 microwave. The wealth that supported it and the political figures that wandered through for the annual Christmas all day buffet were eye opening. But the four young people who hung out in the garage built model airplanes, sang folk songs around the piano, and turned out poetry for the lady of the manor as that was the price we paid to sit in the lap of luxury that three of us had never known until then. To this day I sort of measure homes by the I-Shaped layout of that house. We will not mention what I once did under the rock polisher in that garage.
Those were great times up on the hill, building planes in the garage, attending the parties, and writing the poetry. Fifty years later those four youngsters formed two couples, married, had children, divorced, remarried, had grandchildren and now one has died, but Dylan is still here and we are still trying to understand what he has to say in all its layers:
All my loyal and my much-loved companions
They approve of me and share my code
I practice a faith that's been long abandoned
Ain't no altars on this long and lonesome road
Ain't talking just walking
Up the road around the bend
Heart burning, still yearning
In the last outback, at the world't end.