If you haven’t done so, check out Bob Dylan’s early work. “In My Time of Dyin’,”Man of Constant Sorrow,” “House of the Risin’ Sun,” “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding).” Headphones in place. Darkish room. Eyes closed. You will be transported to another time and place.
And, his book Chronicles, Volume One, is an amazing read. He got some grief for plagiarism, but the stories are expertly told, insightful, transcendent, and fun to read (whether some other writers may have unknowingly contributed to them or not).
Of course, he’s in the news this week for winning the Nobel Peace Prize in Literature, the first musician to ever receive the prize, and for failing to respond publicly to the announcement of his award. A Nobel academy member called him “impolite” and “arrogant” for daring not to respond to such an esteemed honor. I think I read somewhere that it’s not a good idea to be a pleaser of men. I don’t know if that’s what Mr. Dylan has in mind in choosing not to acknowledge the not so noble Nobel givers, nor the prize, which has its roots in the invention of a powerful explosive, but I’m pretty sure he’s not losing any sleep over this petty man’s view of him regardless.
. . .
I took a road trip to Texas in ’97 with two friends. We stayed in Austin at a young woman’s home. We were told she had some issues with mania. She wasn’t at her home, but as you walked through the apartment, there was writing, in Sharpie, everywhere. Walls. Appliances. Mirrors. Ceiling. Toilet Seat. Everywhere. We were told by her friend and our host that she asks everyone who visits to leave words behind, and we were expected to do the same. I remember being surprised that I had no hesitation when it was time for me to leave my message. I drew a picture of the Earth with an umbilical cord leading to a preborn baby. In a circle around my “art” I wrote the words: “He not busy being born is busy dying.” I’m always hopeful the woman enjoyed my offering when she returned home, and more importantly, that her mind is well. Dig this live version of the song from which I plagiarized my aphorism — and MAY YOU BE BUSY BEING BORN…