Forget the Footnotes

On the road again

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Whenever I’m forced to listen to someone particularly boring and self-important or when I’m in a meeting where people speak about things I cannot relate to or properly understand, some piece of Bob Dylan lyrics and a Dylan voice suddenly pops into my head:

People are crazy, times are strange/ I’m out of bounds, I’m out of range/ I used to care but things have changed.

Quickly it blocks out all the droning voices, grows and grows in strength and eventually it’s just me and Dylan and the words.

I got my dark sunglasses/ I’m carryin’ for good luck my black tooth/ Don’t ask me nothing about nothing/ I just might tell you the truth.

Teenagers often listen to particular bands or singers since they seem to tell them something about the world that no one else ever tells them. Some bands are secret friends with secret insights, conveying messages written in code. Today Dylan is like that but for middle aged people. Middle aged people need secret friends too. And sometimes I think I can almost decipher his codes.

I flew up to Glasgow with my two oldest daughters last November when Dylan was in town. The arena was uninspiring and full of dour Scotsmen in black leather jackets. No jumping or dancing or even much clapping. My daughters thought they were at a geriatrics’ convention. But Dylan was far more generous than his audience. I replenished my supply of snippets of songs for the jukebox inside my head.

A neighbour of ours threw out Dylan from a restaurant in Crouch End once. He was looking for somewhere to have a beer but our neighbour who runs the place informed him that he had to eat if he wanted to drink. He wasn’t hungry he said and was told to leave. For heaven’s sake — give the man a sandwich! It’s Bob Dylan! Only later did they realise their mistake and now they have a ‘Dylan table’ which people reserve in order to be close to greatness.

Funnily enough Saga, my oldest daughter, was thrown out of the same restaurant. We had booked a table on her 8th birthday for her to have dinner together with some friends. Our neighbour, the manager, had the day off and the on-duty staff panicked when they realised they were dealing with unaccompanied children. They were shown the door. I often think Saga should have had Dylan as her father. He could have taught her songs and they could have gotten thrown out of restaurants together.

Well, I’m leaving in the morning as soon as the dark clouds lift/ Yes, I’m leaving in the morning as soon as the dark coulds lift/ Gonna break the roof in — set fire to the place as a parting gift.

He is playing Memphis, Tennessee, tonight. We have tickets for the concert in Bournmouth at the end of June.


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