Only a few short hours hour my father, always a very non biased admirer of my blogs, called me to discuss a dream he had the night before. He told me that he didn’t ever dream about any celebrities-either actors/actresses or musicians at any time. But he went onto say that the dream he’d had involved Bob Dylan. In this dream,Dylan was not involved in any musical or sociopolitical context. He was just another human being,chatting apparently with my father about a rather causal and random set of topics. My father also mentioned that he’d already had two dreams involving Bob Dylan over the years, and in each one he appeared in the same manner,apparently attired similarly as he had during the period of his Rolling Thunder Review of the mid 1970’s: the time frame of which my father attended the review as it came to Bangor Maine and saw Dylan play live before his own eyes. He wanted to know how I felt about this. There was a reason for this of course.
My mother and father’s views on Bob Dylan are very much on the May/December end of the topic. My father was very much as many other people of his generation who was inspired by Bob Dylan as a creative siphon through which many new concepts spilled out,both poetically and sociopolitical. In fact during a high school poetry recital he chose to recite Dylan’s “The Ballad Of Frankie Lee And Judas Priest”,as controversial as that was at the time. He views Dylan as an artist whose artistic conceptualization defines his personality and looks to him as figure of great aesthetic interest. My mother on the other hand views Dylan as completely unauthentic-from his singing (which she dismisses as atrocious) and,while she admits that he is an important and brilliant songwriter, is convinced he uses his iconic status to exploit his followers. This familial contrast between optimistic balance and cynical assertion,to me anyway, is the perfect representation of the dividing rod Dylan himself seems to put between himself and his admirers. But there is a lot more to this entire dynamic than just the opinion of a couple of human beings.
My father speculated that perhaps one of the reasons he had this dream was because of Dylan’s performance a few hours ago at the Lewiston Armory in Maine. He than went back to his cassette tape of Dylan’s 1965 album Bringing It All Back Home to try to seek some answers relating in the song “Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream” which,of course is mostly to do with pilgrims and ships. My answer to his question as to what this dream might represent for him was that it was a way for him to reconcile his own archetype of Bob Dylan in his mind with some of the realities of his personage that have revealed themselves. He complimented me on the thoughtful analyzation that I put into my viewpoint on his dream. Through this discussion with him I felt free to reveal a similar experience once had. In my pre-adolescent years I seemed to love talking about most of my dreams,which tended to be extremely linear and were always in color. But there were some dreams I could not articulate at that time and didn’t want to discuss for a long time. But earlier, in that particular case talking with my own father I felt the time was right to discuss one such dream.
It happened when I was 12. As I already mentioned in another article here I was physically bullied for wearing clothing like faded jeans,being told that if I listen to what people like Kurt Cobain wrote I’d know what I deserved for dressing that way. One night I dreamed that I was in the local graveyard around dusk. I was not scared until I heard the Nirvana song “Smells Like Teen Spirit” being played nearby. I say Kurt Cobain and the band playing and jumping up and down on a gravestone. The stone had my name written on it: with 1992 being my dying date. Out of the dusky mist a figure emerged with his hair and white shirt blowing in the breeze. It was Michael Jackson singing “Heal The World”. Than MJ and Nirvana began trading off verses of each song: fighting out this musical battle with me in the middle. I woke up shocked,confused and barely able to perform in school that particular afternoon. I didn’t understand any of it than. Hearing my fathers story, I realized that dream likely represented my own generation conflict with a peer group I abruptly rejected-mainly for electing not to accept me at all. This all brings me to the main point I’m hoping to make.
One of the prime factors in modern pop music is the enormous re-emergence of the teen idol within the last decade or so. An ideal example in today’s world would be Justin Bieber. Here is a now 19 year old superstar,playing huge sold out shows all over the world to millions of adoring people in his age group,who essentially got a record deal based on a YouTube video he made several years back. The fact that he went from being “just a regular guy” to a pin up boy with a film documentary and two albums to his credit already relates very strongly to his fans who might feel they too could be the next Justin Bieber. Recently however Bieber has received a lot of bad press about frivolous spending,tardiness to many of his concert dates and even his security’s poor treatment of his fans. If one of Bieber’s enthusiasts who admires him for the down to Earth “realness” of his persona took these fairly typical signs of immaturity to heart, they might feel Justin Bieber personally let them down. And that they no longer would wish to become singers or musicians in fear they would end up with a poor attitude,based on biting off more than they can chew, the way Bieber has.
There is no cultural comparison between Justin Bieber and Bob Dylan at all. Justin could be thrown into the pop culture trash in a week due to today’s fickle musical environment. Dylan,whatever people may think of him,inspired both individuals and activist groups for half a century with his music and lyrics. However this all comes down to what the meaning of the term “fan” is. It is of course short for “fanatic”. Used in that context, the term has a very uncomfortable tone to it. Fanaticism about anything usually speaks to an uncontrolled and obsessive quality most people try to avoid. But despite how many people say that musicians are only “in it for the money”, they wouldn’t love making music if it didn’t deeply communicate with their audience on a mental and emotional level. That might be why people fainted over Elvis,The Beatles,Michael Jackson or…even Justin Bieber. And that may also be why a teenager like me could loose sleep over James Brown’s drug use or someone like my father could imagine Bob Dylan as an accessible “buddy” type individual. Whatever we dream,what do we really know about the creative icons we dream about?