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.
Keep on truckin’, Bob.