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An Open Letter to Bob Dylan

Please allow me a break from my posts on millennials and mutuality to share this letter to one of my heroes.

Dear Bob:

Saw you during the Super Bowl on Sunday. Shilling for Chrysler. Had I had any inkling you would one day serve as a corporate spokesperson – a sure sign that the apocalypse is upon us – I never would have bought all that life insurance. We’ve had our ups and downs over the years. I had heard your name mentioned in my home growing up in the 60s – mostly attached to adjectives like “radical” or “revolutionary.” But it wasn’t until a friend gave me a battered copy of “The Freewheeling Bob Dylan” (released in 1963) that I realized how powerful music can be. From the “protest songs” (“Blowin’ in the Wind”, “Talking World War III Blues”) to the love songs (“Girl from the North Country”) to the best break-up song in history (“Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright”), that album mesmerized me. I carry a CD version in my car just in case I need a fix. I always appreciated your willingness to explore ways to reinvent yourself and your music. I must have heard two dozen versions of “Maggie’s Farm” over the decades – and while I didn’t love all of them, I respected your right to tinker with the tune. I’ve followed you through the good times – the 1974 “Before the Flood” tour backed up by The Band (“But even the President of the United States sometimes must have to stand naked!”), and the bad – your conversion to Christianity and the subsequent album and tour (my college newspaper column that reviewed one of the shows on this tour was titled “It Ain’t You, Babe”). But the singular genius of the “Blood on the Tracks” made up for any experiments gone awry. Until Sunday. Hey, Bob, you might want to re-read the lyrics to “Masters of War.” Not to point any fingers at Chrysler, but I’m pretty sure the company is part of the military industrial complex Eisenhower warned us about and you so eloquently condemned. Look, I get it. Poets and minstrels don’t have 401(k) plans or defined benefit pensions. But really, serving as the front man for Chrysler? Now the only thing standing between us and the end of the world is Neil Young appearing in a Bud Light ad during next year’s Super Bowl.

7 Responses

  1. Perhaps you were a bit radical and revolutionary in you comments. You might have a few music memories in the far reaches of your mind. After all, you had sisters who actually lived through the Bob Dylan era. Speaking only for myself, most of those Bob Dylan days were spent sitting around roaring fires on the beaches of Capitola. There were always guitars handy at those beach parties and we sang Bob’s tunes sounding very much like the man himself since we were(like Dylan) usually “high” on one thing or another. Some of us actually thought that Dylan songs had meaning, both apparent and hidden. I, for one, was terribly disappointed when I saw old Bob being interviewed a few years ago. When asked about the inspiration and meaning of his lyrics, he said something like “My lyrics were inspired by smoking ganga. I have no idea what the words mean”.
    Perhaps my darling brother, you would see clearly the significance and true meaning of Bob Dylan as a corporate spokesperson…..if only Mom had let you stay at the Capitola beach party a little bit longer!
    With love…you 60’s sister,

  2. In that case, I would be fully supportive if Bob served as a corporate spokesperson for the new marijuana stores in CO and WA. “Hey, you can be a poet, too. Just try this Rocky Mountain High brand!” And the only thing I remember about your beach parties in Capitola was being dragged out of bed by mom in the middle of the night to drive to the Santa Cruz County Courthouse to bail you and your friends out of jail. One of those guys (Jim O’Donnell — nick-named “OD” — what else?) went on to become a priest. Mom always took credit for putting him on that path!

  3. And this has what to do with Fraternalism?

    • Nothing, George… And that’s the point. I spend a good deal of time using this space to talk about the challenges and opportunities facing fraternals. Every now and then we need a break to comment on something that we just find interesting. Interestingly, my posts on non-fraternal items sometimes receive the most comments. Thanks for reading.

  4. I think the blog is GREAT! It shows the human side of all of us instead of “stuffy shirts”. I too remember Bob Dylan and his hit music! Thanks Joe and JoAnn for the memories and a nice break from all the worries of the Fraternal world!

  5. Thanks, Irene!

  6. the stones already did their super bowl commercial – brown sugar for pepsi – how come you do taste so good?! neil probably aint to far behind

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