Thursday, May 19, 2011

Minnesota, Dylan, and Stephen

Well, I've been convalescing from graduation spending large amounts of time reading on my couch interspersed with runs, work at church, and dinner/hanging out with friends in the evening. I'm in the midst of reading Jonathan Franzen's Freedom, which I didn't realize spent large amounts of plot time in Northern Minnesota. So, that has me listening to Dylan (currently "I Want You" in the midst of my trip through Blonde on Blonde. Dylan excursus to follow.) and other Minnesota mixes and looking forward to going up there next Monday!

Speaking of Dylan, he is turning an amazing 70 on May 24th. My first real exposure to Dylan was when my dear friend Sarah Beth Buckland Miller made me a set of three CDs of Bob's best with great quotes on the homemade inserts like: "We always did feel the same,/we just saw it from a different point of view," (from "Tangled Up in Blues), which, me being a conservative evangelical Christian and she a left-leaning intellectual from Jewish roots proved to be more true later in life than I thought at this point. Anyway, she was a Dylan freak and "turned me on," so to speak (We later attended Dylan Days in Hibbing and experienced one of my all time favorite concert moments when Peter Ostroushko got up with his mandolin and sang "Girl from the North Country; it was darn near transcendent).

Now Dylan has always been known for his lyrics and his strained voice that eventually scooped into the right note (maybe), which has only deteriorated with age. And no doubt his lyrics are superb. For instance, I remember my mind being blown with such kernels as, "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows" and "People disagreeing everywhere you look/makes you wanna stop and read a book" and "I was so much older then,/I'm younger than that now." Then there were, of course, lyrics that began to bother my preconceived notions of war, politics, race, etc.: "How many times must the cannonballs fly/before they're forever banned? many years can some people exist/before they're allowed to be free? many deaths will it take till he know/that too many people have died?" and all of the words of "The Times They Are A'Changin'." Granted, it took a while for my political leanings to catch up!

However, I think Dylan doesn't get credit for the absolutely wonderful melodies he has written. "Forever Young," "Boots of Spanish Leather," "Shelter from the Storm," "Lay Lady Lay," "To Make You Feel My Love," and "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" are all gorgeous melodies and beautifully crafted songs. I think my favorite Dylan song and maybe my favorite song in general is "Girl from the North Country" which combines great lyrics, an absolutely unmatched melody (though he obviously takes it from the traditional "Scarborough Fair" melody), and mixes it with my nostalgia for the north country of Minnesota to produce an unbeatable song. Here's a great video of it, even with the Italian subtitles:

Now I'm getting really nostalgic. I can see paper birches swaying in the wind near a lake as the sun holds on to twilight for longer than you thought possible. Now I'm waxing poetic and poorly at that, so I will save it.

Congratulations to my brother who received the Presidential Scholarship and will be coming to North Park Theological Seminary in the fall! I never thought I'd see the day where my brother and I would both be in the Covenant Church. The times are indeed a'changin'. It will be weird to live in the same city as someone in my family...good, mind you, but weird.

Okay, I'm going to read some more. Later.

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