Tuesday, May 23, 2006
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BOB!
Dylan, that is. Born May 24th 1941 in Duluth, Minnesota.
Even people who’ve never heard had the pleasure of hearing me sing “Subterranean Homesick Blues” in the shower know that Bob Dylan is important to me. I named my youngest son after him, after all.
I once broke up with a girl years ago because she proved herself unworthy of sharing my adoration for the great folk singer. We were listening to Dylan’s album “Blood on the Tracks,” specifically the song, “Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts.”
She said, “So, you like that song?”
“Yeah, I like it a lot. I just wish I knew what it meant.”
“Oh, I can tell you what it means,” she said smugly.
“You can? What?”
“It means the Jack of Hearts was cool.”
Which, I’m sorry, just was not an astute enough analysis of the song for me.
And I probably should explain for those of you who haven’t heard it, that “Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts” is not just some mindless piece of tripe about some guy whose face resembles a face card. It’s a complicated saga of safe-cracking, show business, betrayal, revenge, murder and monk-impersonation. It requires some thought on the part of the listener to figure it all out, specifically who really killed Big Jim with the pen knife. I don’t guess kids these days have to try to figure out what songs mean anymore. That’s because all the songs today are about what a tough guy the singer is and how much he likes some girl’s butt.
(I should mention too that I did eventually get it all straightened out. Rosemary killed Big Jim, the drunken hanging judge executed the right person.)
And “Lily. . . ” is not even my favorite Bob Dylan song. Barring any unlikely last-minute surprises, that honor will always belong to “Brownsville Girl.” I didn’t realize it until shortly after our Dylan was born that “Brownsville Girl” was co-written by modern day renaissance man (playwright, writer and actor) Sam Shepard. Had I had known then my youngest son might be named Dylan Shepard instead of Dylan Tyler.
One last thing about the birthday boy. He’s now a disc jockey and absolutely hands-down the best one I’ve ever heard. He’s the host of Theme Time Radio on XM satellite radio. You can read more about it here) Every week he picks a theme and plays records from his own collection (which must be ginormous). Last week the theme was Mothers, and he played everything from an old obscure Buck Owens track “I’ll go to Church Again With Mama,” to some truly twisted thing called, “Mama, Get a Hammer, There’s a Fly on the Baby’s Head.” And in between he does snappy patter – no, really. It is amazing. There’s so much to love about XM, but Theme Time Radio is worth the price all by itself.
Happy birthday, Bob. And thanks for everything.