"It was around 50 years ago when I first became aware of Bob Dylan. I was just as mystified by his lyrics and disregard for tradition and accepted musical standards as were the other thousands of people who would listen to a Dylan song and try to glean it's meaning and Dylan's intent for using the English language in such disjointed fashion, the more self-perceived intellectuals actually imagining they had discovered some deeper meaning, some profound insight the rest of us mere mental mortals would never be able to grasp.
I really didn't worry too much about what Bob Dylan meant by his lyrics, I figured he knew and he wasn't saying, leaving the public to conjure up their own interpretations and mental pictures of what "darkness at the break of noon" and "ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard " was supposed to convey.
But whatever it was Bob Dylan was saying it grabbed the attention of the world and changed the face of music forever, inspiring musicians everywhere to knock down the restrictive, bubble gum, three minute a side, Tin Pan Alley world that set the parameters of popular music and turn their creative minds loose in a thousand new directions.
I know, because I'm one of them. When I listened to a Dylan song I was amazed at the sheer audacity of his word combinations, his unorthodox delivery, his disdain for meter and bar counts and phrasing and his seeming indifference to anybody else's opinion of what he was doing, and it made me want to stretch out, to reach into some place in myself that I had yet to discover but I would diligently keep looking for.
And no I was not naïve enough to think I could swim in the same stream as Dylan, try to emulate what he had done or cop his licks. Nobody could do that, but my ambitions were to provoke some thought, to color the imagery of my songs, to think outside the box of conformity.
In other words, be myself.
When Dylan came to town to record Nashville Skyline, due to my friendship with Bob Johnston, Dylan's producer at the time, I was blessed to be a guitar player in the studio band on that album and the next two, Self Portrait and New Morning, an experience that did a lot for my confidence, my career and legitimizing me as a serious musician.
In the early days, Dylan sang his songs accompanied by himself on guitar and harmonica and in the late sixties when he decided to add some other instruments to his records and concerts the purists, who had declared him poet laureate, prophet and spokesman for his generation, came apart at the seams, castigating him for defiling the purity of his genius with other musical influences.
In typical Dylan fashion he just continued to plow ahead breaking new ground and creating new music with the fresh flare that drums, bass and electric guitars added.
Bob Dylan basically defies description and trying to figure out what he may do next is tantamount to trying to guess which number a roulette ball is going to land on, and after 50 plus years he remains the unrivaled free thinker with the talent and the nerve to follow his musical star wherever it leads him.
And Bob there's a lot of us out here who just can't wait to see where that will be."