www.whyville.net Mar 29, 2009 Weekly Issue

Times Writer

The Poet with the Harmonica

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I love my music.

I listen to a lot of modern songs, but I like the oldies too. One musician that I've always heard of but never really understood was Bob Dylan. Up until recently, he was just another name in the world of music.

A few days ago, I decided that I wanted to find out more about the mysterious Bob Dylan. I got my hands on one of his CDs, "No Direction Home." I popped it into my computer, opened up iTunes, and started to play one of his songs.

It was like listening to nails on a chalkboard. I cringed when I heard the shrill harmonica, the tuneless melody, and the voice. Eek. Bob Dylan is no Judy Garland.

By the end of the song, I was emotionally scarred. I needed a break from the musical chainsaws.

I listened to one of my favorite songs - by a different artist - after that. It was like trying to get a bad taste out of my mouth. I played another song after that, and then another. Finally, I mustered up all of my courage and tried Bob Dylan's music again. I chose the song "Hurricane."

The music began again, and I could recognize the instruments screeching away. But then I heard Dylan's voice, and something clicked. I had heard this song before.

I had heard this song a thousand times before!

It was just one of those songs that I knew. Like "Mary Had a Little Lamb" or "Three Blind Mice." I was familiar with the tune, but I hadn't paid attention to the lyrics.

Now, knowing why Bob Dylan was so famous, I started to really listen. The lyrics were sheer poetry. Take a look at these words from his song "Silvio":

"One of these days and it won't be long Going down in the valley and sing my song I will sing it loud and sing it strong Let the echo decide if I was right or wrong"

I played the other songs. Some were familiar, and others were completely new. I liked them all.

I actually found myself smiling, humming his music to myself. What I used to think of as shrill was really just catchy. What I used to think of as tuneless really was just subtle. What I used to think of as a terrible voice was . . . well, a terrible voice. Bob Dylan is still no Judy Garland.

But I don't think I'd like the songs nearly as much if someone else sang them. They're his music, his poetry, and if anyone's earned the right to sing those lyrics, it's him.

Off to listen to "Like a Rolling Stone" for the hundredth time,



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