Sunday, January 9, 2011

Chaos to Creation: the enigma of Bob Dylan (Part: Two)

Dylan’s radical spell lasted for a brief period – between January 1962 and November 1963. While his music was been considered as the definitive proclamation of the sixties folk revival and its radical political thought, Dylan had clearly indicated that he is not the conventional folk singer who is just adapting traditional material for a new context, neither a political artist committed only to socio-political causes. Along with the situational songs, he was writing distinctively personal lyrics marked with private references of grief and anxieties, songs about relationship, about the nuances and contradictions of love. He did not hesitate to include a confounding and abstract composition Boots of Spanish Leather in his most politically charged album The Times They Are A-Changin’. Many decades later he complained in Chronicles, “As far as I knew, I didn’t belong to anybody then or now […] the big bugs in the press kept promoting me as the mouthpiece, spokesman, or even conscience of a generation […] I had very little in common with and knew even less about a generation that I was supposed to be the voice of.”

Chaos to Creation: the enigma of Bob Dylan (Part: One)

John Bucklen, the son of a miner, was Robert Allen Zimmerman’s closest high school friend and partner in his teenage musical adventures. The two grew up in Hibbing, Minnesota – once the largest of the many mining towns on the iron-ore-rich Mesabi Range. Just a year after the Zimmerman family moved here from Duluth in 1948, the town witnessed a two months long miners’ strike demanding pensions and insurance rights from the Oliver Iron Mining Company – a subsidiary of the United States Steel Corporation. The Zimmermans were middle-class Jews and owned a household appliance store in Hibbing. Bucklin’s family depended on his mother’s earnings from sewing after his father was injured in a mining accident which restricted him from working again. By the late fifties, Hibbing’s mining community started to encounter the harsh realities of layoffs and regularly shutting down of mines as the two World Wars had seriously depleted much of the high-grade iron ore of the Mesabi Range. When the two friends parted away in November 1960, the town had become a place of limited prospect due to this bleak economic situation. Young Bobby Zimmerman had two aspirations in his mind when he left his hometown. The first was to meet his idol Woody Guthrie, who was bedridden by Huntington’s chorea in New Jersey’s Greystone Hospital. The second was to become a professional folk singer. Bucklen liked airplanes and so went on to join the United States Air Force.