Diary of a Dylanhead | Culture | Times Crest
Popular on Times Crest
  • In This Section
  • Entire Website
More in this Section
Leaving tiger watching to raise rice Ecologist Debal Deb, who did his post-doctoral research from IISc in…
The crorepati writer He's the man who gives Big B his lines. RD Tailang, the writer of KBC.
Chennai-Toronto express Review Raja is a Canadian enthusiast whose quirky video reviews of Tamil…
Don't parrot, perform Maestro Buddhadev Dasgupta will hold a masterclass on ragas.
A man's man Shivananda Khan spent his life speaking up for men who have sex with men.
Bhowmick and the first family of Indian football At first glance, it would be the craziest set-up in professional football.
From Times Blogs
The end of Detroit
Jobs in Detroit's car factories are moving to India.
Chidanand Rajghatta
How I love the word ‘dobaara’...
Can ‘bindaas’ or ‘jhakaas’ survive transliteration?
Shobhaa De
Anand marte nahin...
India's first superstar died almost a lonely life.
Robin Roy

Diary of a Dylanhead


FOREVER YOUNG: A 1964 photograph of Bob Dylan

On April 15, 2011, in the middle of the Timbre Rock & Roots Festival in Singapore, the big screens went off, photo-journalists were asked to vacate the area next to the stage, the audience told to refrain from taking pictures and the screen at the back covered to blank out all branding. Commerce was out and Bob Dylan took stage. I only managed to sneak a few photos of him, but I didn't really mind, because finally I was in the presence of the God of my imagination.

It had taken me 27 years to see Him after I first heard Blowin' in the wind when I was just seven. At that point, I liked the style, the croaky voice and the simple poetry of the words. Around then I also heard The times they are achangin', his rousing comment on the changing social order, where he prophesied that the "loser now may later be win" and that those who did not keep pace with the change would "sink like a stone". It took me a few years to understand the world around me and the politics that influenced wars and human rights. Once I had the context, I began to truly understand the greatness of Dylan. And while exploring him, I realised I was exploring life and myself and the way I looked at reality.

At the height of the Cold War he sang, "I've learnt to hate Russians all through my whole life/ if another war comes it's them we must fight/ to hate them and fear them to run and to hide/ and accept it all bravely with God on my side," addressing the hypocrisy of the religious and the God-fearing. In A hard rains a-gonna fall - a song on the disastrous effects of chemical warfare - he evoked a series of powerful and disturbing images. "I've stepped in the middle of seven sad forests/ I've been out in the front of a dozen dead oceans/ I've been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard. " Another of my favourites is Like a rolling stone, a song about social mobility, money, conceit, and failure. "Once upon a time/ you dressed so fine/ you threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn't you?. . . . Now you don't talk so loud/ now you don't seem so proud/ about having to be scrounging for your next meal."

If he was great on politics, he was equally insightful on love. Love was about acceptance, not about future promises and flowers. "People carry roses/ and make promises by the hours/ my love she laughs like the flowers/ Valentines can't buy her," he sang in Love minus zero/No limit. But love was also about individual freedom and zero expectation. He underlined these thoughts in It ain't me babe: "You say you're looking for someone who will promise never to part/ someone to close his eyes for you/ someone to close his heart for you/ someone who will die for you an' more/ but it ain't me babe."

My collection of Dylan biographies, vinyls, CDs and DVDs has grown steadily over the years. The man himself may be elusive but his powerful lyrics compel one to go back to them again and again to fully grasp the simplicity and unpredictability of his message. What you take away depends entirely on who you are and who he is and how you connect. In one of his interviews he said that none of his writings were addressed to anyone. "If you don't get it, you don't really have to think about it because it's not addressed to you! All I can do is be me, whoever that is." At 70, he's still finding out.

Reader's opinion (1)

Rahul KulkarniMay 29th, 2011 at 14:04 PM

Very few musicians create revolution for this rotating Earth. Bob Dylan is one such genius. Hats off to Him

Other Times Group news sites
The Times of India | The Economic Times
इकनॉमिक टाइम्स | ઈકોનોમિક ટાઈમ્સ
Mumbai Mirror | Times Now
Indiatimes | नवभारत टाइम्स
महाराष्ट्र टाइम्स
Living and entertainment
Timescity | iDiva | Bollywood | Zoom
| Technoholik | MensXP.com


itimes | Dating & Chat | Email
Hot on the Web
Book print ads | Online shopping | Business solutions | Book domains | Web hosting
Business email | Free SMS | Free email | Website design | CRM | Tenders | Remit
Cheap air tickets | Matrimonial | Ringtones | Astrology | Jobs | Property | Buy car
Online Deals
About us | Advertise with us | Terms of Use and Grievance Redressal Policy | Privacy policy | Feedback
Copyright© 2010 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All rights reserved. For reprint rights: Times Syndication Service