Once upon a time (very trite, I'll begin this
like any other fairy tale), there lived a frail, naïve little boy on
the threshold of adolescence. And like all other naïve little boys
at that age (maybe 12, maybe 13), Rebellion (you read right, it is
R) had started brewing in him. And like most kinds of Rebellion,
this was also without reason or purpose. This Rebellion grew in him
till he was so full of it he was ready to burst.
He turned a
recluse, a loner, began to chafe when at home: he became much like a
pregnant bitch just before childbirth. On one of those really bad
nights (you know, when he thought Nobody related to him and that
Life's a total waste of time) someone came home carrying a tape of
some guy called Bob Dylan. Our friend sulked in a corner until that
exceptional tape was played.
That raspy voice hit him
where it hurt:
Because something is happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?
could apply to anyone, not just Mr Jones. After that one album
('twas the ever famous, evergreen Highway 61 Revisited) our friend fell head over heels (a very apt cliché) in love with.
He felt that He was the only one who could recognise his angst and translate it into such beautiful yet raw and straight-from-the-heart poetry. And that voice. Ah! Does anyone else have such a rasp? True, a Pavarotti could beat him in singing, but that kind of raw poetry can only be sung in that heavy-metal rasp. Who else can sing such masterpieces as, well, When I paint my Masterpiece?? Not the Byrds, not the Band, not even the late, great Hendrix (who added his own fantastic guitar flicks to most Dylan songs including Can you please come crawl out your window, Drifter's escape, All along the watchtower and such other songs) could capture the essence -- the soul -- of a song like its Creator. A paraphrasing of that immortal Stevens' song sums it up most accurately: "the first cut is the loveliest".
Sure, Dylan (born Bob Zimmerman) was the godfather of rock, folk-rock, even clean rock as we know it. But that's not the reason that our friend found him his favourite artiste. He thought Dylan was the only guy who could relate to him (I'm repeating this only to emphasise the point). Dylan wouldn't give him solutions, but would tell him what was exactly wrong with him and his way of thinking:
Look out kid
Don't matter what you did
Walk on your tip toes
Don't try 'No Doz'
Better stay away from those
That carry around a fire hose
Keep a clean nose
Watch the plain clothes
You don't need a weather man
To know which way the wind blows.
No wonder a whole generation thought of him as their Messiah, including me, though I wasn't part of that generation. Dylan didn't think so, though:
No martyr is among you now
Whom you can call your own
in I dreamed I saw St Augustine.
Dylan wasn't only a friend and comforter to our friend but he was also a teacher. If it wasn't for Dylan, our friend would still be in the back alleys (or probably the main roads, judging by their popularity) of music, listening to Backstreet Boys (I'm not talking about the original one), Boyzone (wrong spelling - it ought to be boozy!), Britney Spears (Christ! I can become a musician myself since I too can strum a few chords and sing a few off-key tunes)!
It isn't that our friend is a connoisseur of music and it isn't that our friend can recognise Hendel from Medtner or that he can recognise one progression from another, but at least he's learnt to recognise good music from bad. If it wasn't for Dylan, our friend would still have no clue whether the Hawks came first or the Band, or whether the Woodstock year was the summer of love or whether the summer of love was '66. He wouldn't even have known why Dylan wrote Fourth time around (it was a parody of Lennon's Norwegian Wood) or whether Karlheinz Stockhausen was the guru of the likes of Frank Zappa and the Mothers (of lumpy gravy fame), Jefferson Airplane (the great psychedelic band), the Grateful Dead (what can I say?!).
I mean, he wouldn't even have known who Brian Epstein was! The list could be endless. Oh yeah, our friend owes Dylan a lot (much like what Ekalavya owed Dronacharya). And Dylan won't even know that such a great bhakta exists in Bangalore, a distant country's "cradle of Rock".
Niki N Kalpa
is a 17-year-old who sleeps to rock and sneers at
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