Bob Dylan at 70
(CONTINUED FROM PAGE 59)
Mavis Staples I met Bob when he
was a little skinny kid back in the early
’60s. We were all doing a television
show together and his manager said,
“I want to introduce you to the Staple
Singers,” and he said, “I’ve been listen-
ing to the Staple Singers since I was 12
And he proposed to me the same
day we met! We all had to stand in
line for lunch that day. Our family
was way up in the front of the line
and Dylan was way in the back, and
all of a sudden you heard somebody
say, “Pops, I want to marry Mavis.”
And everybody laughed, and Pops
yelled back, “Well, don’t tell me, tell
Mavis.” So that was the beginning
of our little romance. We were glad
to be on folk festivals because that’s
when we would see each other. He
was the cutest little curly-haired guy.
I often think about that, if Bobby and
I had gotten married and had chil-
dren, we would have had us a family
of singers now. We would have had
the Dylan Staples family.
Bobby, 70 is the new 60. It’s the best
time of our lives, whatever age we are.
I’m the happiest old girl in the world,
and I’m sure you will be just as happy.
Smokey Robinson Bob is unique
unto himself, a one-of-a-kind kind of
artist. He’s controversial and commercial and underground and all those
things at the same time. Bob tells it
like he feels it, and he’s been like that
for his entire career. He’s never ever
pulled any punches or tried to clean it
up for the public or censored himself,
and that’s the thing I love about him.
I want to say “Happy Birthday” to
you, Bob. I’m proud to know you.
Kinky Friedman Bob’s a rock star, a
world icon, a songwriter and performer who has influenced and inspired
millions and affected our music and
our world in a profound way. But at
heart, I believe, if someone asked him
how he thinks of himself, he would
say he’s only a minstrel boy. I say, long
may he wander in the raw poetry of
time! Happy Birthday, Bob.
Tom Brokaw Bob Dylan is the
sound track of one of the most profound generational and cultural transitions in American life—the ’60s and
all they started. Every Dylan song
conjures up for me a passage of that
time—or just a good time.
One night in 1970 I spent a long
evening in a famous Santa Monica
beach hangout called Chez Jay, a
dark little joint with a great jukebox.
Someone must have fed it five bucks
worth of quarters and punched “Lay,
Lady, Lay” for the full fare. Through
too many beers, peanuts in the shell,
and laughs, all I heard was “Lay, Lady,
Lay.” Even now, 40 years later, it takes
me back to a California evening with
the Pacific surf just over the beachhead and a room full of free spirits.
Bob Weir I was a junior in high
school. Earlier, I had heard Peter,
Paul and Mary doing “Blowin’ in the
Wind” and “The Times They Are
A-Changin’,” and I had heard a bit
about this guy who wrote them, so I
was loaded and primed to hear this
guy’s real voice. I was thunderstruck.
Compared with anything I had heard
to that point, this was raw. He sang in
tune and played well, but there was
a notable lack of finesse to it. In its
place was a gut punch. I was changed:
If this guy can be so uncompromising,
so direct, why can’t I?
After that, I was no longer interested in being polished or accessible.
I was interested only in finding something worth expressing, and doing so
with clarity, animation, and color.
Dylan’s a poet, at times an oracle,
and a musician. The first two I won’t
address. As a musician, he more than
gets the job done. I’ve played with
him, and he rocked my socks. I’m
gonna want to hear what Dylan has to
say as long as he wants to say it. ;
Larry “Ratso” Sloman is the author of
On the Road With Bob Dylan and The
Secret Life of Houdini.