ESSAY: I Was Bob Dylan

Written by Jamie Wood on . Posted in Music

Sometimes we have dreams that are simply worth sharing. They can often be more exciting than good grades, a new girlfriend/boyfriend, or a new job. Vivid dreams provide contemplation for many quiet moments throughout the following day, recalling the foggy details over and over again in a Freudian attempt to decipher the hidden meaning within. They provide an instant conversation starter for every interaction, something about which to update your Facebook status or even tweet about over breakfast. Now the versatility of the shared dream makes its way to the silver stage of Rhombus Magazine. Every detail is completely open to interpretation — maybe a prophetic look at the 2012 election is hidden inside. You never know. As you ponder for yourself, I’ll share with you my own personal interpretation. Enjoy.

I was Bob Dylan. I had super human moonwalking abilities that allowed me to leap over buses and bound through the streets half a block at a time in slow motion. I could hear the screaming of thousands of fans somewhere in the distance, anticipating my arrival at a concert to take place. I was probably late for my own show. I possessed a large plastic cup. Not the kind that you get at gas stations to fill with 44 ounces of Diet Coke, but the regular, durable household plastic cup. I think it might have been lime green. Periodically I would shout things through the cup, like “THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGING!” or “LIKE A ROLLING STONE!,” which were met with louder and louder cheers in response.

As I continued to lumber through the urban landscape, dodging taxis and whatnot, I moved with determination toward the outdoor stage. Yet suddenly I felt compelled to blend in with the world around me. I needed to remain inconspicuous for some unknown reason. It seemed as though I was being followed and someone was in hot pursuit. I quickly ceased my epic display of clearing whole city blocks at a time and began to walk calmly on the sidewalk, still yelling through my plastic cup from time to time to keep my hungry fans at bay.

Suddenly a black limousine pulled over next to me, and who else could be inside but the governor! An aide rolled down the tinted windows and asked me if I’d like a ride. I accepted. I sat in the back of the limousine with the governor and his aides, thankful that my pursuer would be thrown off by the sudden change in transportation. The governor asked questions, like “Why do you think you’re so popular?” to which I responded in embarrassment, “I’m not sure, I just like to make music.” I might have been offered a drink; If I was, I turned it down. Either way, I never made it to the concert. This is where it ends.

A dream about a moonwalking Bob Dylan saga seemed too weird to ignore, and too weird to interpret. But upon further reflection, I think I may have partially discovered what this sordid tale tells.

My close friends are familiar with my feeble attempts at starting up bands by placing ads on Craigslist (to which I actually received four very prompt responses requesting tryouts within a day, interestingly enough), performing in bogus rap groups and constantly jotting down ideas for lyrics in my Moleskine pocket journal. There are a lot us out there: Wannabe musicians.

Do we play instruments? No. Do we have the skills necessary to weave poetry out of insightful lyrical commentary on social issues like Bob Dylan? No. Do we have the determination to actually put a band together, endure the arduous process of recording music and sell our souls’ worth in demo tapes for a shot at a gig at Velour in front of 15 people (all of which simply arrived too early for Fictionist, RuRu, The Vibrant Sound, Mudbison, insert hip Provo band name here)? No. What defines us is our love for music and an appreciation for those who make it, despite our utter helplessness in producing our own. If any of us actually got the shot at being on stage, we’d probably just end up shouting nonsense through a lime green plastic cup.

I’m a transplant from Seattle who spent the weekends of my teen years giving a can of corn to the door clerks at all the hole-in-the-wall venues downtown to get $1 off my entry fee. I’ve crowd surfed, moshed, grooved and rocked out to some of the best local music the great Seattle indie scene has to offer. Despite my history, the Provo scene has also kept me interested since my arrival. At every Provo show I’ve attended, I’ve stood there grooving my mind out like a goon. I can vividly recall the feeling of complete jealousy and envy towards the musicians onstage: Jealous of the beads of sweat that accumulate on their foreheads as the show progresses; Jealous of the long hair, the beards, the beads, the skinny jeans, and all the other contraband that I’d never be able to pull off — outside of a tool-filled theme party somewhere south of campus; Jealous of the whole experience that they create for themselves through their creativity.

But mostly I’m jealous of the opportunity that is theirs to express a very unique and personal message in a very unique and personal way. The wannabe musician may have big ideas that could leap buses, turn the world upside-down, warrant a hearing by a governor, shouted from the rooftops and played in front of thousands of screaming fans. Yet somehow the Moleskine journal never makes it to the recording booth or onto the stage. It never does, and it probably never will. The opportunity to engage in that form of unique self expression will probably always elude most of us. It’s sad. We’d love to close our eyes, clutch the mike and speak the messages of our souls to a captive audience. Half the time that audience has no clue what the performer is saying, but they’re saying it and that’s what we respect. The musicians that fill our local stages have the guts to say it, and say it loud. The levels may be off, but the feeling is sent with incredible clarity.

That may be what my dream was about: That’s where most of us fall short and never make it to the show, where we get nervous and slink into the background. We find something else to occupy us as a ragtag excuse to be too busy to face our fears and insecurities. That’s the difference between those that excel toward the greatness of self-expression and, as a natural byproduct, the phenomenon of killer entertainment. That’s what makes them great: They’re brilliant enough to do what it takes to be heard. Hats off, fellas, for doing what so many of us cannot. You’re respected, loved and anticipated on a weekly basis. You give us all the vicarious experience of expressing what we wish we could. We need you. See you this weekend at the show.

Jamie Wood is a regular contributor to Rhombus. He’s still taking auditions for his Craigslist band.

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