I just spent the evening with Bob Dylan, and my daughter, and Sgt. Robert Clark, newly returned from Iraq. From Baghdad to Dylan in less than thirty days. Think about that.
I was worried the concert would be a long, boring endurance test for my two companions, neither of whom have entered the Church of Dylan before. I knew they would hear excellent rock music performed by consummate musicians, even if the songs were unknown to them, and even with no personal emotional history to any of the music.
Privately, I was hoping the sixty eight year old Dylan still had what it takes. He has been an important spiritual resource for many of us old hippies for lo, these many years. He has provided the soundtrack for many important events in our lives. What if this concert was that one tour too many? It would mean the end was just that much nearer for all of us. It would mean my generation's season was drawing to a close.
All my fears were unfounded. Those musicians on that stage were playing smokin' hot rock music, and Bob was still The Bob Dylan. I am not sure about Sgt. Clark, but my daughter is a brand new convert. That skinny, gravel voiced, hard minded old poet still has what it takes to charm women and impress men. My daughter came entirely under his spell. She will be borrowing ALL of my cd's.
Looking around the crowd, there were many my age, white hair visible in the low light. There were many of our children there, and more importantly, a good number of our grandchildren, too. The culmination of the Bush years has been hard on us in Kansas, in so many ways. The Bicentennial Center was not sold out. It would have surprised me if it had. But the Faithful were there.
I admit that I teared up a time or two. It is one thing to love Bob Dylan's music when you are young. But when you have been through a thing or two in life and you hear his music with a deeper soul, music written thirty and forty years ago remains relevant. When you know how goddamned hard it is to do what you love in this world - when you count all you have sold out, traded away, given up, lost, and done without, yet Bob is still making his music, then you think most likely you are still doing your own thing, too. Not that I need a Dylan song to know what I am doing. It is simply a fine, fine thing to have him put our lives to music.