Monday, May 24, 2021

Quote of the Day (Bob Dylan, Looking Ahead to 80 and the Need to ‘Do the Impossible’)

“If I’m here at eighty, I’ll be doing the same thing I’m doing now. This is all I want to do – it’s all I can do . . . I think I’ve always aimed my songs at people who I imagined – maybe falsely so – had the same experiences that I’ve had, who have kind of been through what I’d been through. But I guess a lot of people just haven’t.

“See, I’ve always been just about being an individual, with an individual point of view. If I’ve been about anything, it’s probably that, and to let some people know that it’s possible to do the impossible.

“And that’s really all. If I’ve ever had anything to tell anybody, it’s that you can do the impossible. Anything is possible. And that’s it. No more.”—American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan quoted in Mikal Gilmore, “Bob Dylan at Fifty,” Rolling Stone, May 30, 1991

Bob Dylan may have spoken of being 80 in this interview with Mikal Gilmore, but there surely must have been times when he wondered if he would make it, especially with the brush with mortality that produced his 1997 CD, Time Out of Mind.

Many of us who have listened to the composer of “Forever Young” find it hard to imagine him at such a stage in his life. A poet of the counterculture for nearly as long as baby boomers can remember, he has seen that fringe movement transform into part of the cultural mainstream.

Too bad that Dylan couldn't have paused more often in the “Never-Ending Tour” of live appearances that has ruined his voice to such an extent that it has often hopelessly garbled the delivery of his own lyrics.

But then again, Dylan’s always been about overturning expectations. No sooner had he been labeled “the voice of his generation” than he began to experiment with one genre after another, often trying fans’ patience and loyalty.

For all of these sometimes whiplash-inducing changes in tone, Dylan has remained, Gilmore wrote in Night Beat: A Shadow History of Rock ‘n’ Roll (1998), “a man who isn’t aiming to change the world so much as he’s simply trying to find a way to abide all the heartbreaks and disillusion that result from living in a morally centerless time.”

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