Japan is my 7th most visited country (16 times). Consequently, I have had many adventures and experiences with both Japanese and non-Japanese friends and colleagues from business, academic and medical backgrounds across the country. Japan is a country that is replete with amazing images wherever you look, but I chose this image of this small city at the base of Mount Fuji. I have yet to visit this place – perhaps that might happen if I do a 17th trip….
Today there have been many interviews, editorials and the like extolling the talent and the life of Bob. While I was listening and reflecting on these reports, I began to recall recent and distant events where he and his work intercepted with my life and more and more memories came flooding in. So below here are a few of mine – they are nothing special but I think it shows how an artist can cross and influence our lives. I am certain that many of you will have similar experiences.
The portrait above is my rendition of Bob in acrylic inspired and based upon one down by Joan Baez. I confess to some form of mimicry here. Joan, of course, must have a special insight into his character and I think she brings it out in the portrait.
My first exposure to Bob was when I was probably around 9 or 10 in Liverpool (UK) when my sister and her best friend, who were 3 years older tan me, starting playing his albums and on the record player in my sister’s bedroom. They were so taken and enthralled with this young man. I did not take to the music at that stage but by osmosis those tracks from his first 3 to 5 albums were indelibly imprinted.
Then I recall he came to Liverpool twice to play concerts and my sister and friend went to see him live – that must have been in 1965 and maybe a year or two after that. In later life I was a little jealous that I missed those early events. Many years later, upon watching the excellent documentary by D.A. Pennebaker of Dylan’s 1965 UK tour, I really got a kick of the scenes in Liverpool when he staying at the Adelphi Hotel downtown and he invited some fans (young schoolgirls) up to his suite. They were the same age as my sister and her friend, and for a moment I thought i was going to see my sister in the documentary – but no. The story goes that Dylan liked Liverpool as a city and felt it had a similar vibe to NYC. Who knows if that is true.
In 1999, my wife and I were in NYC and knowing that I had never seen Eric Clapton live she had treated to me to a ticket to see him in Madison Square Garden. It was the Eric Clapton & Friends To Benefit Crossroads Centre Antigua concert, and one of his (suprise) guests was Bob. That night I finally saw Clapton and Dylan in one show. Part of the show is below. Thrill!
Over the last decade I came across a couple of anecdotes from friends. The first was told to me one of my art instructors, Tom, who mentioned that one of the check out guys at Trader Joe’s used to be friend of Bob’s before he became famous. They would go camping, hang out, etc. Just a regular guy. I think he is still at TJ’s.
My friend David used to live in the same neighborhood as Bob in Hibbing, MN and was a teenage friend. David recalls Bob being distressed about a girlfriend and David trying to give him advice on the right thing to do, etc. Keep in mind, however, that human memory is flawed…
Finally, while living in Washington State last year, I ended up in a productive painting period and decided to listen to all of Bob’s discography post Blonde on Blonde. I had never really spent much time focused on his portfolio after that album. So I spent many an hour listening two or three times to each album – an enormous body of work. So glad that I did this as it opened up a new world of the many changing styles of Bob to me. I doubt that I would have done this without the lockdown. Nobel prize well justified.
I use a cropped version of this for my Gravitar on HankinsonHolmes.com. This image is an evening photograph of the reflection of the vase and cut flowers in our French Door glass – not the actual objects themselves. The overhead light illuminates the vase and flowers giving a transparent effect while allowing the dark background of the night not to be affected.
I am starting to think there is a treasure trove of images captured in old photographs from our world travels over the last 35 years. This one is from a series of ‘snaps’ taken with a simple and inexpensive camera using Kodak or Fuji film from 1983. The 3×5 print is all I have, but after scanning and a little photoshopping, I am quite pleased with the result. Hopefully, I will find more…
Perhaps my favorite way of collecting stamps has been to collect the letters, airmails and postcards sent to me and/or my spouse from countries around the world. I find that the more remote or “exotic” the country of origin the greater the thrill, but sometimes the sheer esthetic appeal is all you need. Unfortunately, the ability to practice this type of collecting has been significantly diminished in the last decade or two with the advent of electronic communication. I was fortunate to be publishing in the scientific literature for many years before pdf’s of scientific papers were available, and the only way for someone to receive a copy of your paper was to request a reprint through the mail. Consequently, I received, and collected, many of these postcard requests – a favorite example is shown below from the “CCCP”. A larger collection of these can be seen on the pull down menu under Thematic Philately on this blog.
Receiving UK First Day covers in the mail once or twice a month from the Royal Mail is a passive form of collecting, I admit…..but the array of topics and creative art that often (but not always) is provided in these covers is astounding. I have been collecting since October of 1993, and this ‘Sherlock Holmes” theme was my first received. To view more samples go the pull down “Thematic Philately” Tab on the blog.
We all had this tremendous appetite for live music. Coming from disparate corners of the UK, all of us being 17 or 18 years of age, escaping the boredom of living at home with families in sleepy neighborhoods, we just could not believe the plethora of live music many nights of the week at the University of Manchester Student Union, the Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST), downtown venues and surrounding colleges. My recollection of those times was that our ‘band of friends’ would venture out most weekend nights for one of two performances, and also mid week when possible. I recently came across my first year (freshman) student union card, on the back of which I diligently recorded the band/artist roster for the first two semesters of that first year. A list-making & collecting compulsive/obsessive pattern that has followed me into adulthood.
A total of Thirty Eight performances over the first two semesters – here is the illustrated list with a few annotated memories. This is a pretty amazing list in retrospect.
Starting with the most memorable for me – Led Zeppelin at the Students Union, March 19th. Although it was March, the Union Hall was packed solid, standing only and getting very hot. I recall making my way over the tall window on the west side and climbing onto the ledge – fabulous view over the heads of all and then cracking open the window to help cool the room.