Nick Hornby (in his Housekeeping Vs. The Dirt) told me to read this book. And since I am a sheep, I picked this up in a BookSale a couple of weeks ago. Besides, it’s Bob Dylan. I like Bob Dylan. I am not a Bob Dylan fan, though; I’m not an expert on Bob Dylan, but I like Bob Dylan. I’m not a fan because I am an absolute loser with all things music, to the horror of many musician friends. And musician poets. And my mother. Because, after all, this is Bob Freaking Dylan, y’all; do I even have a shred of self-respect? Huh. At some point in reading, I was fighting off guilt. Kept asking myself whether I deserved to stumble across this book, whether I should’ve just left it there in the stacks for someone who’d likely shit his pants on the very sight of it.
But I loved the book. It is mine now. Mine.
I love the book so much, it was so disarmingly amazing–that I won’t talk about it. Because I really can’t. I really goddamned can’t. Lots of people before me have talked about this book, and they did it well, and this time, I know I can’t add anything more to all that feedback but a firm OMG WEEEEE! It’s one of those books that needs to be read. Because, hell, even when Hornby told me to read it, I was dubious–what could Dylan tell me? Oh, honey, lots. Lots, and lots, and lots.
That said, well, here are some gems from the book–yes, I really am leaving it up to him:
Sometimes you say things in songs even if there’s a small chance of them being true. And sometimes you say things that have nothing to do with the truth of what you want to say and sometimes you say things that everyone knows to be true. Then again, at the same time, you’re thinking that the only truth on earth is that there is no truth in it.
I guess it happens to you by degrees. You just don’t wake up one day and decide that you need to write songs, especially if you’re a singer who has plenty of them and you’re learning more every day. Opportunities may come along for you to convert something—something that exists into something that didn’t yet. That might be the beginning of it. Sometimes you just want to do things your way, want to see for yourself what lies behind the misty curtain. It’s not like you see songs approaching and invite them in. It’s not that easy. You want to write songs that are bigger than life. You want to say something about strange things that have happened to you and understand something and then go past the vernacular.
If anything, I wanted to understand things and then be free of them. I needed to learn how to telescope things, ideas. Things were too big to see all at once, like all the books in the library—everything laying around on all the tables. You might be able to put it all into one paragraph or into one verse of a song if you could get it right.
PS — The Boyfriend has a fat volume (ooh purdy glossy pages) of Bob Dylan Lyrics: 1962-2001. I’ll be dipping into it now and then, the way I read books of poetry, and some short story collections. It’s about damned time. And–gasp!–I might even listen to him! (And angels wept when I typed that last sentence.)