Friday Fives

Good day, friends. You are in for a treat today. Know why? Because you almost got a full fives about flowers. Seriously. What is worse is that I love flowers and have a very green thumb. I could have, and nearly did, have articulate and versed answers to the following questions. Really, though, who cares? In the interest of full disclosure... this is what you won't be reading about here today.

1. What are your favorite kinds of flowers?

2. Do you have any cut flowers in your home or office right now? What kinds?

3. Are you growing/planting any live flowers inside or outside your home? What kinds and where?

4. Which flowers do you associate with specific people, places, or events?

5. When was the last time you were given flowers as a gift?

So, instead I threw the iTunes up and Bobby Dylan came on. No surprise, really, since I have about twenty Dylan discs loaded in the old Dell beast. So, here goes some thoughts on the great and extremely influential (to me, anyway) Bob Dylan. These are five questions that people ask me when they find out I am a nut about early Dylan. Well, these are questions my friends would ask me if I had any. These then, would be my answers. For the time being, at least... that makes you my friend!

1. What is your favorite Dylan song?

To say "there are so many" is stupid and cliche, especially since I made the question up myself. I would have to vote for 'Tangled up in Blue'. It is the prototypical Dylan song. Beautiful, metaphorical, unnecessarily amount of verses (around eight), and catchy. Dylan did a a lifetime of work, very very little good be called 'catchy'. He was too often busy being clever or obtuse to be 'sing-along-able'. Mr Tambourine Man is another you can sing to, I guess.

Also, I really believe that Dylan personally regards this as a landmark for him. That alone means a great deal, since you can't get Dylan to talk about anything... ever. Seriously, dude is more mum than Dick Cheney discussing his daily constitution shredding parties... and Dylan feels he really hit his stride with this song. He said so himself, and when a guy like Dylan says anything... you listen.

2. Is Dylan overrated?

god no! Why was Dylan so important? Well, millions of pages have been written about this... but I will sum up my take in hopefully less than a paragraph. When Dylan came around (very early 60's), nobody wrote their own songs. Seriously, no one wrote their own songs. Songs were written in a New York City warehouse called the 'Brill Building' by young jewish kids in cubicles. I know how strange that sounds... but it is true. Songs were written by professional songwriters who worked 9 to 5 in an office building. Some of them you have heard of; Neil Diamond, Neil Sedaka, Carol King, & Burt Bacharach among others.

Dylan, and separately the Beatles, totally changed that model. They wrote, performed, and sang their own songs. This was an absolute revolution. So, not only did Dylan not follow the current business model... just about every song he wrote came to be covered. You think that is cool? You would have been the only one at the time. See, it kind of ruined everything.

Why don't you go ask the Fedora hat company how they feel about JFK never wearing a hat in public. Answer, JFK singlehandedly ended the fashion of men wearing brimmed hats. Dylan & the Beatles kinda did that to the entire professional music songwriting business. If it weren't for Dylan, you wouldn't have the Byrds, the Animals, Jimi Hendrix*, Peter, Paul, & Mary, or half of the Grateful Dead's live catalogue.

Don't forget this small detail, either: Dylan is the one who turned the Beatles on to drugs!

3. Can Dylan sing?

hell yeah. I'll allow Dylan to answers this directly, form the Pennebaker film "Yeah I can sing. I can hit every note, and hold my breath twice as long as anyone can". Indeed, his voice isn't pretty. It isn't Joni Mitchell, but we have Joni Mitchell for that, don't we? Nextly, we have a quote from Johnny Cash, who championed Dylan very early. "He is a great singer, but I don't know about his songwriting skills". Read that again. Know that Dylan was known as every one's songwriter for the 60s. Yet, Cash thought Dylan should do more singing and less songwriting.

Lastly, and the reason for the asterisk above, we owe Dylan for Hendrix. See, Jimi Hendrix was a guitar playing sensation for many years before he was big. He played guitar for Little Richard & the Isley Brothers under the name 'Jimmy James'. He was content to be a side man until he heard Dylan sing. He said "if Dylan can sing, so can I!" An additional mention should be made here of Hendrix' cover of Dylan's 'All Along the Watchtower' has become the ubiquitous version. So much so, that when Dylan plays it, he plays it by the Hendrix arrangement.

4. Seriously, what is the deal with that guy?

Dude, I wish I knew. this guy is a bigger enigma than Dick Cheney. I swear, I have no idea what makes him tick. Lord knows, I have cranked out nearly as many essays as anyone more qualified. Maybe that is what makes me crazy for him. I just can't get my head around him.

5. Did he really rhyme ‘road’ with ‘knowed’?

Oh yeah. That was in 'Don't think twice', which I think Joan Baez made famous. Lyrics above on link


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