When I was 13,
Bob Dylan started
whispering in my ear…
it was a hoarse whisper, jagged around the edges,
not-too-plain truths…ideas blowing in the wind about
how the world could be a better place if we could just
get it out of the hands of the hypocrites.
When I was 16, Bob Dylan whispered in my ear about
how the real enemy was not flesh and blood, but of a
At 21, with the slow train of faith having picked up a
little too much speed, I stood at a religious crossroads
and heard “Every Grain of Sand” stop time.
When I got married at 22, Bob Dylan was whispering
in my ear about love and infidelity.
When I had my first child at 29, Bob Dylan wrote
“Ring Them Bells” and “What Good Am I?”
When I ran out of gas in the late ’90s, I had Time Out
of Mind to hold on to.
When the world crumbled around two shining
towers, and New York had its two front teeth knocked
out, I had Love and Theft to hang on to.
Now, having faced 50, I’m realizing I knew much
more then than I do now. I’m returning to the brutal
truth that “The Times They Are A-Changin’ ”—but you
don’t have to let them change you.
In short, all my life, Bob Dylan has been there for me.
BOB DYLAN IS THE FATHER OF MY COUNTRY.
Bob is ageless
because he keeps
down new paths,
himself and his
art as he goes.
“Someone had to
reach for the ris-
ing star, I guess it
was up to me,” he
once sang. That
sums it up pretty
well. He’s still
encouraging us to
do the same.
JUDY COL L I NS
I met Bob when he was still Robert Zimmerman,
playing in Colorado in 1959. We met up later in the Village
when he was playing Gerde’s Folk City, singing old Woody
Guthrie songs—not very well, quite frankly. But he was
charming—very nice—and we got drunk a few times together. And then he just blew my mind when he started
writing those songs. I read “Blowin’ in the Wind” for the
first time when it was published in Sing Out! magazine,
and it was unbelievable. I couldn’t believe that anybody
could have written that song, but for it to come from him?
I wrote him a fan letter after I read that issue.
We wanted so much to change the world; we all wanted to stop the war; we wanted to
stop social injustice. They were good causes because they had an innocence about them.
But there was something about what Dylan was doing, a certain sophistication, that
deepened our understanding of what’s really going on here. Bob dragged us from literary
immaturity and made us grow up emotionally. He dragged us into the world of alliteration
and metaphor in a way that nobody else could do. He was our higher education.
THE TRU TH IS, BOB DYLAN
is a great American artist.
His art, his talent, is to
speak to everybody, and
so when I say American, I
think he’s a great African
American artist, he’s a
great Jewish American
artist, he’s a great Muslim
American artist, he’s a
artist—he speaks for the
American soul as much as
Ray Charles did.
There was a time when
Bob Dylan was the young
kid on the block. We all
sang at the Purple Onion
and the Hungry I and at
folk-music clubs. When
Bob came along, everyone
loved him because he was
what we all had meant to
be; he spoke for all of us.
And he was known to be
honest, which is what a
great American artist is. It
may not be expedient, but
the audience can trust
the artist who is honest,
and Bob Dylan followed
what he said in his lyrics
by his actions. He supported the human being,
the spirit of being an
that the mountains and
the rivulets and the voting
booths belong to all of us,
all the time.
CLOCKWISE, FROM TOP LEFT: GEORGE ROSE/GETTY IMAGES; KEVIN MAZURE/WIRE IMAGE; DAVID MCGOUGH/DMI/
TIME LIFE/GETTY IMAGES. OPPOSITE, KEN REGAN; COLLAGE PHOTOGRAPHED BY DAVIES & STARR