Monday, March 25, 2013

Bob Dylan for the Weary Traveler

Bob Dylan feels most comfortable on the road.  His "Never Ending Tour" has continued in cites around the world for the world for the past 25 years, and shows no signs of slowing down.  Dylan's songs speak of people that are constantly on the move, meeting strange characters, and living in obscure corners of the world.  It is easy for me to connect to the restless and mysterious characters Dylan has created, as I am one.  If you are a kindred spirit to the wandering Bob Dylan, consider these writings and music to fuel your own travels...  

Dylan Writings for the Weary Traveler

On the Road, Jack Kerouac
"I read On the Road in maybe 1959. It changed my life like it changed everyone else's" says  Dylan.  The next year, Dylan dropped out of college in Minnesota and moved to New York City.  On the Road is a tale of a strange odyssey across America that might inspire you, like it did Dylan.  

Chronicles: Volume 1, Bob Dylan
Chronicles is the first of a planned three part memoir penned by Dylan himself.  Much like his music, Dylan blazes a unique trail in telling his own story.  Chronicles does not focus on the peek of his mid-sixties fame.  Instead, Dylan outlines his thoughts, feelings, and actions during lesser-known periods of his life.  His stories crisscross the country from his (and my) native Minnesota, New York City, and Louisiana.   I was especially fascinated with the picture he paints of New Orleans during the recording of 1989's Oh Mercy album.

A Simple Twist of Fate, Andy Gill and Kevin Odegard 
A Simple Twist of Fate focuses on the tumultuous period of Dylan's life during the recording of Blood on the Tracks.  The story is is divided between recording sessions in New York City and Minnesota.     While the book is most appealing to die hard Dylan fans, anyone with an appreciation of music will enjoy the book.

Dylan Albums for the Weary Traveler

Blood on the Tracks is Dylan's masterpiece that was created while his marriage to Sara Lownds crumbled.  The album follows restless souls looking for peace and a place to call home.  "Tangled Up in Blue" tells the story of a rambling man searching for love, life, and work across the nation.  "Shelter from the Storm," written from the viewpoint of a man living in another country, searches for refuge from life's maladies.  Blood on the Tracks has been my companion through times of indecision in life, and consequently, during periods of aimless travel.  

The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan is the folk-hero Dylan at his best.  Like On the Road, the Freewheelin' Bob Dylan introduces us to a hard life of travel across the nation.  "Don't think twice, it's alright" shuns love for a life on the road.  "Girl from the North Country" introduces listeners to the barren land of Minnesota.  "Oxford Town" tells of the harsh reality of life in segregated Mississippi.  The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan serves as a historical snapshot of America in the 1960's.   

Desire, written shortly after Blood on the Tracks, features tales from around the globe.  Desire is global in more than it's lyrics; it features melodies and instruments from around the world.  "One more Cup of Coffee" tells of a family of drifters, and has a definitive middle-eastern sound.  The Latin flavored "Romance in Durango" is of life on the run in Mexico, while "Black Diamond Bay" is about the destruction of a tiny island.  "Mozambique" is probably the only folk song ever written about the obscure West Africa nation.