For my seventh birthday, my uncle bought me a cassette tape of Peter, Paul & Mary – a glorified Minnesota-based Bob Dylan cover band in suspenders and prairie skirts. I was obsessed with it. It was accompanied by six or seven other tapes (Grass Roots, maybe?) but this was the only one that really worked for me. I literally wore out that tape and my parents had to replace it.
The main reason was the song Blowin in the Wind. I was mad about the idea that a song could be a series of questions, no answers, but still somehow it sounded resolute to me. My parents didn’t think much of it – kids always obsess over things. Most parents these days want to murder the movie and soundtrack Frozen. But for me, it was Blowin in the Wind.
I would ask my parents questions from the song and they’d dance around finding a way not to answer. That’s kind of the point of the song, right? Leave it to Bob Dylan to present you with a list of questions that have no answers and still somehow providing comfort.
My dad learned a couple of weeks after my uncle’s wedding, in which I was a ring bearer in a teeny linen suit we had bought at a flea market in Mexico, that Peter, Paul & Mary were coming to Orchestra Hall in Mobile, AL. That was my first concert ever, and I wore a teeny linen suit. I was the most well-dressed person at the concert.
It wasn’t until I was 19 years old, driving myself home from a particularly difficult break-up, that I even realized Bob Dylan was a magician. Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright, the most moving break-up song I’ve heard still to this day, came on the radio and a million things happened in my brain at once. I pulled into a Target, bought the Best of Bob Dylan CD and sat in the parking lot listening to the entire thing.
That’s when I realized that Blowin in the Wind was a Dylan song. And thus began what can only be called an obsession with the man. Freewheelin’ was the first album I bought by the guy and I truly believe my entire life changed when I first heard it.
What an embarrassing degree of hyperbole!