Sandi and I were once a part of what I will call the broadcast television generation. What this means to me is that many of our evenings were focused around the prime-time hours from 9pm until 11 o’clock. Many of the shows that we watched from week to week were nestled into the 10 o’clock time zone and so bedtime for us was most normally about a few minutes after 11. Realistically we could then get a full 8 hours of rest by awaking at 7 and still get to work by 8. This was our pattern for several years until we cut the cable and and/or dish cord in late 2012. Things have not been the same since.
My bill went from almost a hundred bucks a month to more like $24 with subscriptions to Hulu Plus, Netflix and Amazon Prime.
However, what this change meant was that we really started watching our favorite shows, mostly a day later than broadcast around 8:30. With most of the commercials gone, shows only take up about 48 minutes. This being the case, we were done watching our two shows by 10 or a little after which gave us about 30 or 40 minutes to spare before our “normal” bedtime of 11.
What I found out many times is that going to bed early causes me to wake up around 3 am. Normally I can grab a glass of water and fall back into dream land and wake about 6:30 or 7 in a normal pattern. However, this is not always the case and there is nothing more frustrating than lying awake for an hour and trying to find that comfortable position without waking your spouse.
What I tend to do on those early-to-bed evenings, when my eyes are to tired to read or I am bored with my uke, is to pull out my iPod and listen to some music. When I was younger I listened to music all the time but as I have grown older, music has taken a back seat to so many other interests, grand babies being one of the best.
Which leads me to the real meat of this post: Bob Dylan and his 1975 album entitled “Blood On The Tracks”.
Since I never know what kind of musical mood I will be in, my iPod is loaded with a lot of different styles of music: from Peter, Paul and Mary, through Miles Davis, Muddy Waters and Alanis Morissette (a little something for every mood).
The past few nights I have listened to Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks several times. In 1975, this album was one of those bright spots that entered my life during a period of radical change and growth. I was 25 going on 26 and the days were long and the nights were heavy, to coin a phrase. I was living in an attic apartment, riding a bike and was the director of the East Lansing Arts Workshop, located in the Old Marble School. I was printing poetry broadsides on an old letter press printing machine and learning to play the flute from a lady who had four kids and played in the local symphony during whatever free time she had left.
Anyway, this album was a radical departure from what Dylan had been doing and the total ambiguity and randomness of his lyrics was just what I needed to fan the fire of my own developing creativity. Dylan has always been a hard one to pin down in terms of what his songs are really saying. What I have noticed in my recent listening is that he rhymes most of his songs and that each sentence or stanza or verse is in one sense independent and yet still relates to the verse before it and what comes after. He is a unique storyteller, with perhaps no equal, stringing together thoughts and phrases that are at once insightful and yet never quite fully revealing as to his ultimate intention.
After listening to this album and having followed his career thus far, I have to also wonder how in the world he can come up with all these stories and poems that he sets to music to amuse and entertain us with. I guess I will never know what fuels his creativity and/or his need to keep producing song after song for all these many years. All I know at this point is that his gift is perhaps a blessing and a not-so-much (I hesitate to use the word “curse”).
For most of us who measure out our lives evening by evening or weekend by weekend, the ragged edge that artists live on will remain a secret perhaps unfolding over time.
What I do know is this: our journey’s are just as unique as Dylan’s yet are private and not broadcast in the public domain as is his. And today, as long as it is called today, that will be enough for me and hopefully for you.
Enjoy your ride!