My original proposal was to give a normal platform address on Bob Dylan—what Dylan means to me, why he is a “classic” in his own time and why he will be remembered long after we’re gone. I was going to talk about his hesitancy in accepting the Nobel Prize for Literature and his eventual reluctant acceptance of the award. His protean genius resists canonization and he has continually reinvented himself by reinterpreting his old songs and adding many new ones along the way. When he did give his acceptance speech it was given not in person in Sweden but was rather via a recorded video (also now published in book form). I will discuss the most important parts of his speech, his explicit link to the bardic Homeric tradition of rhapsodes, and his love of Melville’s Moby Dick and All Quiet on the Western Front. This platform address was to have been accompanied by listening to some of his recordings with as many of our musically inclined members taking part in rousing versions of "Forever Young", "Masters of War" and "This Land is Your Land".
More recently, and having met some talented musicians here in Fauquier County I realized that it is impossible to do Dylan justice in one hour. Thus I proposed that the normal closing time of noon be expanded to 1PM. My plan metamorphosed into a short “Homage to Dylan” platform address by me — about 15 minutes, and then breaking into a practice workshop along the lines of our recent poetry workshop, but in this case there will be an “expert” in each group, i.e. a talented musician who will teach the song to the other folks in the group. I will bring in all of my Bob Dylan books, records, cd’s, songbooks, musical instruments including a guitar, 10 harmonicas, 2 rainmakers, 10 bells and various other assorted noisemakers. So far I have had preliminary assurances from several friends and neighbors. In conjunction with our musically talented members we shouldn’t have any problems putting on an excellent performance after 20 minutes or so of workshop time. The music will start with a Woody Guthrie song (To be determined by popular acclaim) to be followed by listening to one of the songs from Dylan’s first recorded concert at a hotel in Connecticut in 1962 in which he sings 4 Woody Guthrie songs (just placed online on You Tube a few days ago). We will then break into our study sessions into groups of 3 or 4 people each.
Each of our experts will pick their favorite song (or songs if time permits) to teach and lead. So far I’ve heard interest in “Don’t Think Twice", "A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall", "Farewell, Angelina", "Mama You’ve Been On My Mind", "One More Cup of Coffee", "Oh Sister", "Girl From the North Country", "If Not for You", "All Along the Watchtower", "Ring Them Bells", "90 Miles an Hour (down a dead end street)", and "Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door". We'll begin with unison renditions of "Forever Young" and close with "This Land is Your Land", with the two suppressed verses reinstated.