Seven Reasons I’m Glad I’m Not Bob Dylan

by Belinda Munoz on August 11, 2010

bob dylan

Let me be clear.  I’m a fan of the man.  His album Love and Theft (released on 9/11, 2001 which Newsweek calls #2 album of the decade) plays at home on perennial repeat since its release.  Road trips aren’t complete without his wise and clever words.  Last Christmas, his album called Christmas in the Heart (2009)  was the only addition to the iPod which I raved about (greeted by an incredulous, Bob Dylan has a Christmas album?) to anyone who would listen.

Okay, the sound of his voice from the early days is an acquired taste.  But, even if you’d rather bathe your ears with banging and drilling from a construction site than hear his voice, you have to admit that the man has poetry oozing from his fingertips.  His credibility as a songwriter is intact.  As a wordsmith, he is highly revered and his artistic integrity is bordering on legendary.  He (along with his cohorts) made questioning the status quo as mainstream as apple pie and his work from the 60s is as relevant today as they were then.

But, though he may be enviable to most, not to me, no thanks.  I’m glad I’m not Bob Dylan.

  1. Fame and fortune may be nice but too much of either? I’m not one of those who demonizes the ego because I don’t believe anyone alive could kill it, sublimate it, starve it or deny it without serious damage to other parts of their being.  But, fame and fortune in excess would certainly mess me up.  For one, I’m not good with dealing with large numbers which would mean I’d have an impossible time keeping track of all that fortune.  (It would be forture.  Get it? fortune + torture.)  And fame? I can’t even discuss it without wondering if I’m dressed appropriately or sitting under some bad lighting.  If I had either or both, I’d recover from the volumes of issues that would ensue.  But I’d miss out on the kind of living and loving that I do now.
  2. I don’t want that kind of pressure on my work. He is prolific and has consistently delivered quality work nearly each year for four decades.  Critics seem to love almost everything he does.  But, his work is constantly being studied, taken apart, analyzed, critiqued, copied, etc.  And, did you know that Dylanology is a word?  It’s the word for the study of all things Dylan.  What’s next?  A Dylan superhero character with a super-guitar?  A highway named after him, the Dylan superhighway?  A state?  A dish?  A fruit?  When will we leave this man alone?
  3. How would he know if his work was being plagiarized? He probably can’t remember all of his songs; there are so many.  Does he assume he’s being plagiarized all the time?
  4. Who needs that kind of paparazzi? One of the things I’ve come to love about being small is that I can sneak in and out of events.  I have the option of blending in if I don’t want to be noticed.  Who wouldn’t notice Bob Dylan slipping into a cocktail party?  With him around, every iPhone or Android owner would turn into paparazzi.
  5. Constant rave reviews get old. Here in my little space in the blogosphere, I treasure the negative comments.  I don’t get many, but I secretly like getting them because I feel validated by them.  As for Dylan, I wonder if he cares more about the hit jobs than the raves?  Does he even want to pay attention when everyone says essentially the same thing?
  6. Any kind of mythical existence would cramp my style. You’d think he was otherworldly from the way critics, fans and everyone else describe his work, his message, his voice, his everything.  As much as I admire the man, he is still only human.  Human.  Not God, or Yahweh or Allah.  Not even a god.  Oh, will this statement get me truckloads of hate mail?
  7. Expectations of being prophetic would send me into 24-7 therapy. Hundreds of books have been written about him.  I believe we’re all capable of doing good work.  But, Bob Dylan’s good work, however, gets blown way out of proportion.  Many call him a prophet.  How does he react to this?  How does he cope with theories about him that are untrue?

He’s an enigma, alright.  To me, he’s just a human being who’s done and continues to do excellent work.  This, I know, is something within the realm of possibility for each of us.  Anything beyond that is possibly fiction, lies or both.  And with that, here are the words to one of his classics:

Blowin’ in the Wind by Bob Dylan

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
Yes, ’n’ how many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, ’n’ how many times must the cannonballs fly
Before they’re forever banned?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind

How many years can a mountain exist
Before it’s washed to the sea?
Yes, ’n’ how many years can some people exist
Before they’re allowed to be free?
Yes, ’n’ how many times can a man turn his head
Pretending he just doesn’t see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind

How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, ’n’ how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, ’n’ how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind

Copyright © 1962 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1990 by Special Rider Music

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Note:  I hope it’s obvious that parts of this post are tongue-in-cheek.  If not, oh well.

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  1. Are you a Bob Dylan fan?
  2. Are you pursuing fame and fortune?  If so, for reasons that are right for you?
  3. Do you write songs?  Poetry?

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 TheKitchenWitch August 11, 2010 at 4:53 am

Love his words, just wish TO GOD that they were delivered in a different voice. Aieee, that voice makes my ears bleed. And I had no idea he had a Christmas album? That kind of cracks me up.

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2 gigi August 11, 2010 at 7:09 am

Hi! Following Justine’s recommendation and hopped over to check you out.

I’m not a huge fan, but I appreciate his talents.

Fame and fortune? Well, I did apply for a Project Mom casting spot, which is a reality show they’re doing about mom bloggers. It’s not really for the “fame”, and not for the fortune. I gave up pursuing fortune about two years ago, when fortune left us. Makes life much too complicated!

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3 Kate August 11, 2010 at 7:24 am

Hi Belinda,

I am also glad I’m not Bob Dylan! I am constantly amazed by people who want to be famous, simply for being famous. I just don’t understand it. It seems people being famous for having an amazing talent is dying out and being replaced with people being famous for having huge fake boobs or a footballer for a boyfriend (UK media is TERRIBLE for this).

I give Bob credit for being famous for all the right reasons – he’s bloody good!

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4 BigLittleWolf August 11, 2010 at 9:33 am

Yes, we got (and appreciated) the tongue-in-cheek part. 🙂

Enjoyed this post. (I also love Dylan’s words, but think less is more in life, in general.)

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5 rob white August 11, 2010 at 10:25 am

Hi Belinda,
I’m a big Dylan fan (not to date myself but saw him play in Greenwich Village). He’s a complicated figure and by most accounts is fairly disgruntled/ unhappy most of the time. One reason I would want to be Bob Dylan is because he came to Planet Earth and totally mastered his Art and his creative expression… I would love to know what that feels like.

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6 Justine August 11, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Forture? Perfect. I love it (Like zooshi!). I did a little woot woot for the Android phones that you mentioned here. How awesome of you to include the underdog.

Fame is certainly not for everyone. It isn’t for me either. I prefer to not be noticed when I walk my dog in my pajamas sometimes.

While I’m not a fan of Dylan, I certainly admire and appreciate his work. And this is my favorite part: I was scrolling away, reading about Dylan, laughing at some parts and nodding my head to most, until I came to the song you picked here. A group of junior high school friends and I sang this for a school concert and it transported me back in time. It is a lovely memory – one I hadn’t thought of in awhile, and this just makes me smile. And a little teary as I long for those carefree days of my past. This is my favorite song of his for that very reason. Thank you for this little bit of warm fuzziness.

p.s. I”m sorry for this epic comment but remember we once talked about how our posts had similar headers, like as if we’re on the same channel? Well, it’s uncanny but we did it again today! Of all the numbers in the world…

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7 Patty - Why Not Start Now? August 11, 2010 at 12:54 pm

So clever of you, Belinda, to use Bob Dylan to explore our outsize fascination with fame, wealth, and celebrity. I don’t imagine many people would want to be Dylan; he’s such a mythic figure, a living, breathing archetype carrying the story of a cultural/societal/historical tsunami. That’s gotta be hard. But I’m curious what people would say if you dangled a current pop icon in front of them, like Lady Gaga, or whoever is the modern day celebrity hero. Or closer to home, (since fame, wealth, and celebrity comes in many shapes and sizes these days), a famous blogger like Leo Babauta or Heather Armstrong. Maybe Seth Godin or Penelope Trunk, even.

But back to Dylan. I adore him, although I came late to appreciating his music, after seeing Scorsese’s documentary (which I highly recommend to anyone who hasn’t seen it). I love Dylan’s old stuff, and now find a pureness in that voice that seems remarkable. Hard to explain. But it got me to go back even farther in time, to Woody Guthrie. And spending an evening listening to them both is quite amazing.

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8 Katie August 11, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Belinda, I love how you wrap up your tongue-in-cheek musings with a simple observation that Dylan is “a human being who’s done and continues to do excellent work. This, I know, is something within the realm of possibility for each of us.” I’m with you. Fame would careen me away from all that I love – ducking out unnoticed from parties being number one.

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9 Tony Single August 11, 2010 at 4:07 pm

Wow! Patty knows about Woody Guthrie! I arrogantly thought that I was the only one! I got into him through the Mermaid Avenue albums by Billy Bragg and Wilco. Those albums featured songs where the words were by the late great Guthrie, and the music was by the respective performers. Great albums!

As for Mr. Dylan? Yup, big fan here too. And yup, Love and Theft is a great album. However, it doesn’t have my most favouritest Dylan song ever, which is Highlands from the Time Out of Mind album. I love that it comes across as a shaggy dog story, but could also be taken as a spiritual/philosophical ramble. Marvellous song that.

I’m not pursuing fame and fortune. Those things, and the constant grasping for them, would only do my head in. I can already do my head in from the comfort and relative obscurity of my armchair, thanks very much. Why expend effort on what already comes naturally? 😛

Oh, and I write poetry that are words without music, so yes, they could be songs. Maybe one day…

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10 Meg August 12, 2010 at 8:31 am

Love him, wouldn’t want to be him, would love to know what it feels like to be as good at what I do as he is at his art.

Used to write poetry. A lot of poetry. Every once in a while another one wells up and gets written down. More often than not it wells up and gets unworded into a painting. Much safer.

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11 Tess The Bold Life August 12, 2010 at 8:43 am

Hi Belinda!

I love Bob Dylan. When I was first married at 17 and after my first baby was born I’d play his album and cry over the lonliness I felt and the position I put myself in. Even though my hubs was great (and still is) I was lonely for all my girlfriends who went on with their own lives. His music was soothing for me. So love him but don’t follow him anymore.

Fame and fortune? A useless chase because where ever you think it is or what ever you it means to you when you get there your ego (mine too) will move the line…mean while you forget to enjoy live!

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12 Angela Artemis August 12, 2010 at 11:51 am

Belinda,
What a fabulous topic! I love Bob Dylan – but am not too aware of his more recent works. I have a couple of CDs of his older stuff. Blowin in Wind I loved when Peter Paul and Mary sang it. It’s funny, I just saw an interview with his son Jakob who is now 40 on Tavis Smiley’s show a few days ago.
Dylan is definitely a great and gifted poet – no doubt about it.
As for being famous – I’ve never been to interested in that. All I want is to be able to pursue my writing and mediumship development and to live an abundant life full of great relationships and fun!

Thanks for such a fun exercise!

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13 Preeti @ Heart and Mind August 12, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Belinda,

It is not only Bob Dylan but could related to any creative and famous person. When you are forced to be in limelight and churn out hits after hits, it can take a hit on creativity. Fortunately for Bob Dylan, he seemed to be doing quite well under pressure. I like being me, small to world but powerful enough for those who close to me. Just the way it should be. Thanks for reminder.

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14 Leslie August 12, 2010 at 8:43 pm

Love him! We spun his Christmas record around here, too, and loved it – though I’ll admit in many parts I just had to laugh. (And not only at the album art.) I’m not pursuing fame, though as I wrestle with future plans, I’m realizing that at work I do pursue recognition; I’m not pursuing great wealth, but I have a hard time turning down opportunities for work, and financial security is ever at the forefront of my mind.
I write songs only for my toddler’s bedtime, and often enough he asks me to stop. I’d say it’s not Bob’s kind of oozing. 🙂

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15 Stephen August 17, 2010 at 1:35 am

Still you gotta admit it would be kinda cool :-).

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