Could anyone have realised the impact of repetitions through the years of ‘the president of the United States sometimes must have to stand naked’? It was Lyndon Johnson that night; there would be others and worse.
The overall imagery of It’s Alright, Ma staggers even today. What a marvellous song. Go read the words.
And Hard Rain – what twenty one year old had the talent to pen such an eternally riveting song?
Who needed folk music any more? Not those who were inside those Gates of Eden to be sure. Hmm – maybe it was those outside the Gates of Eden? What’s real and what is not? It didn’t really matter. The analytical mind would struggle to explain in words – but the illusions sufficed at that time and later.
The song man – the performer: the words mixed in with the melodies – written and sung with imagery beyond my imagination – a visual landscape in the mind – no drugs needed to listen when the bits between the words fit in so well time and time again – with the words themselves condensed or stretched and twisted into places that no such words could fit. And the interlaced harmonica spoke too in unexpected ways.
And then it was to walk through the back streets of Boston, wondering what it was that the magician had just done in spinning those words to those tunes. And wondering, just a little, what would come next.
That concert was a turning point in my appreciation of Dylan – his train a-travelin’ and my train a-travelin’ were at the same symphony hall station that night.
As he wrote “Then you heard my voice a-singin’ and you know my name.” It was pretty simple, really. It still is.
A few months later the girl with green eyes went her way, leaving me to go my way, but that’s part of a different story altogether.
Chapter 2 of the 1964 music story would soon enough become the 1965 music story – with “Bringing in All Back Home” in early 1965. The singer-songwriter’s evolution was increasing in intensity. I didn’t hear anyone complaining – except for my flatmate who was more into Brahms and The Beatles. I graciously shared my hard earned stereo equipment with him and his records – and he graciously shared his opinion with me that Dylan was a relatively clever guy with words, but not a great deal more. No future for Dylan; no future for my musical tastes. Time would tell.
Less than a year after the Boston concert – following a diversionary and busy first eight months of 1965 finishing off my degree at university – time to move on, heading west in early September 1965.
Four long days into the drive westwards from the Boston area to the San Francisco area, with all belongings in the back and boot of my car, sleeping in the car on quiet side roads in Kentucky, Kansas and Utah, and now an hour or two out of San Francisco, in the dark, coming to California for the first time, the radio kicked back into action to tune into something wonderful, that seemed to go on and on and on rolling through the car – wide awake now, wondering what it was, and what was happening, and where I was coming from, and where I was going, and what’s going on here since this music can’t be for real.