Sunday, September 14, 2008

Dylan on a Sunday

A few years ago, my buddy John Ogren and I did presentation on Dylan at a large denominational gathering. It was an after hours presentation, a coffee house of sorts, featuring live music, video clips, commentary, etc. John and a friend of his performed about a half dozen Dylan tunes and I provided the commentary.

The audience was a surprise. It was both old and young. I was surprised to see the following Dylan had among college students. They were more than curious. They knew the music, sang along with John, and listened with energy. But there were also a lot of Dylan hippies there, surprising at a church conference. These were church people who had a misspent youth (or well spent, depending on your values), now dressed in the habits of ministers and church leaders, but covering a previous life that was not quite so buttoned down.

These attendees were really into the evening. These were not so much fans, like the college students, but worshipers. I know I've written a lot on my blog about Dylan, but I was a late comer to the Dylan thing, and admitted that much that night. I was an admirer, not a congregant. One congregant in particular that evening was deep in the moment as we presented. He was probably in his early 60's. He sat front row center. Every song, he closed his eyes and rocked back and forth, mouthing all the words. He was fun to watch.

After the program, he made his way to me immediately. He had an anthology of Dylan lyrics in his hands, which he presented to me. "I want you to keep this for awhile," he said in a quite serious tone. I thought this offer indicated that either he considered me a fraud, or a promising newcomer. It turned out to be the latter, and more.

"How'd I do?" I asked. "You were right on target," he replied. "Here's my theory on Dylan," he continued. "He tapped into the Jungian collective unconscious. It's why his music is so universal and important." Interesting, I thought, and wondered if I might also learn that night secrets about Roswell or the grassy knoll. "And I've been watching you this week, and I think you've tapped in as well." (I was the director of this event and so played a very visible role). So, I've got that going for me (extra points if you can name the Caddyshack allusion).

But it gets better. He then told me that he had smoked pot and dropped acid to tap in. "But since you're a minister, I'm assuming you're getting there some other way." It's the best post-presentation comment I've ever received, save perhaps the woman who told me I reminded her of Jerry Lewis, whom she considered a very handsome man. And yes, for the record, I'm getting there some other way (assuming that I am, indeed, tapped in).

This man took quite an interest in me. He sent me books on Dylan and Jung. He sent me Jackson Browne's, Late for the Sky, cd and the different biography dvds on Dylan. Jackson Browne was a great diappointment to him after such a promising Dylan-esque beginning. Evidently, not enough acid for JB.

So, in honor of my Dylan mentor, and hoping to stay "tapped in" by some other route, today we live in the great song, "I Shall be Released."

They say ev'rything can be replaced,
Yet ev'ry distance is not near.
So I remember ev'ry face
Of ev'ry man who put me here.
I see my light come shining
From the west unto the east.
Any day now, any day now,
I shall be released.

They say ev'ry man needs protection,
They say ev'ry man must fall.
Yet I swear I see my reflection
Some place so high above this wall.
I see my light come shining
From the west unto the east.
Any day now, any day now,
I shall be released.

Standing next to me in this lonely crowd,
Is a man who swears he's not to blame.
All day long I hear him shout so loud,
Crying out that he was framed.
I see my light come shining
From the west unto the east.
Any day now, any day now,
I shall be released.


Cheryl Russell said...

The Dylan presentation sounds awesome. A great story and I love the post presentation comment. Jerry Lewis....hehehehe.

Staying "tapped in" one Sharpie sniff at a time! ;)

Mark Love said...

She also told me I had perfect diction, so there's that...

I'm assuming it was the young Jerry Lewis. Lay-de.