Wednesday, August 31, 2016

"How long were you with the carnival?": Bob Dylan's dream

This snippet from one of the many (MANY) Bob Dylan biographies has always stuck in my mind. It's from Down the Highway by Howard Sounes. He's 20 years old and just getting started in the coffeehouses of Minnesota, when he says something very strange to his current girlfriend, Bonnie Beecher:

"It seemed to Bonnie that Bob's confidence was sometimes out of proportion to his ability, however. 'If the Library of Congress ever comes and asks you for these songs,' Bob told her gravely, 'I want you to sell them for two hundred dollars. I want you to promise this.' Bonnie was flabbergasted. 'I thought, what an outrageous ego! To think that the Library of Congress was going to come and ask Bonnie Beecher for Bobby Dylan's tapes!' But Bob made her promise. 'Yes, I give my word,' she agreed, when she stopped laughing." 

Bob Dylan is Rolling Stone's pick for best songwriter of all time.
Rolling Stone crowns Bob Dylan greatest songwriter of all time; here's who else made the cut


Bob Dylan made you feel his love — and his unforgettable lyrics.

To recognize the folk legend's brilliant contributions to music history, Rolling Stone has placed Dylan at No. 1 on its "100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time" list, a comprehensive ranking spanning many decades.

SEE ALSO: Bob Dylan's 'Like a Rolling Stone' Interactive Video Mimics TV Surfing

"A song is like a dream, and you try to make it come true," Rolling Stone quotes Dylan saying. "They're like strange countries that you have to enter."

Dylan, whose most recent release is 2015's Shadows in the Night, penned such classics as "Like a Rolling Stone," "Blowin' in the Wind," "Knockin' on Heaven's Door," "Forever Young," "Subterranean Homesick Blues," "Positively Fourth Street" and "Tangled Up Blue."

Contemporary chart-toppers also earned spots on the list — Taylor Swift (97), Eminem (91), Kanye West (84), Bjork (81), Jay Z (68) — although it's rightfully dominated by artists and writers whose music has stood the test of time over many generations.

Here are the top 25 songwriters on the list; go to Rolling Stone to see the top 100:

25. Randy Newman

24. Elvis Costello

23. Robert Johnson

22. Van Morrison

21. Lou Reed

20. Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller

19. Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry

18. Prince

17. Neil Young

16. Leonard Cohen

15. Eddie Holland, Lamont Dozier and Brian Holland

14. Bruce Springsteen

13. Hank Williams

12. Brian Wilson

11. Bob Marley

10. Stevie Wonder

9. Joni Mitchell

8. Paul Simon

7. Carole King and Gerry Goffin

6. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards

5. Smokey Robinson

4. Chuck Berry

3. John Lennon

2. Paul McCartney

1. Bob Dylan

"EPIPHANY!" I make this blue because I had a real snazzeroo of a realization when I was digging up the Bob Dylan quote. The thing is, that quote has been kicking around in my head for quite a while now. It illustrates the absolute Zenlike poise of the Master, the nearly extraterrestrial confidence which sustains a once-in-a-lifetime artist like Dylan through all the rotten tomatoes of existential small-mindedness.

Then comes the Rolling Stone article, in which BD is finally recognized as, not unlike Muhammad Ali, The Greatest, not just of his own time, but for all time. And somehow or other those two realizations twisted together into a perfect pretzel which only required, from me, a little salt.

I never knew much about Bonnie Beecher except that: (a) she was one of many girl friends BD had in Minnesota; (b) she later married Woodstock caterer Wavy Gravy; (c) she might have been the inspiration for Girl from the North Country, though 3 or 4 others also lay claim to the fact; AND (I just found this out) she was on the Twilight Zone! Not only was she on The Twilight Zone, she was on Come Wander With Me, one of the best-known and creepiest episodes, which I remember gave me the heebie-jeebies when I was a kid. It featured a tape recorder playing back a song that had never been recorded, which freaked me right out because I was afraid my old reel-to-reel Webcor might start doing the same thing.

So of course I had to make a gif of Bonnie Beecher! Dylan always got the prettiest girls.

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