Happy Birthday Bob – Part 2. From Filip Łobodziński

Previously: Bob – it’s not quite your birthday but…

And today from Filip Łobodziński….

Prompted by Tony Attwood’s post Bob – it’s not quite your birthday but…, specifically by his encouraging words near the end: “if you’d like to offer your good wishes to Bob on his 80th through an article of your own, please do so” – here I am.

I’d considered several ways to celebrate the 24th day of May (in a drizzlin’ rain or otherwise). I thought of videotaping my own Polish versions of some of your more obscure songs – just to get away from the obvious. I thought of writing a letter to you, of videotaping myself reading it and then upload it on my YT channel.

But it would be all too self-indulgent and focused on myself rather than on you, Mr. Dylan or Bob, however you’d like me to call you. So, Tony’s words were a minor revelation: how could I find a better place to bow down and do hats-off than this self-proclaimed and yet so relevant scholar space.

My puff piece is likely to be short and unrevealing, if we take into consideration the supreme master-levelled writers contributing to the Untold Dylan free University.

But I need to say this:

Mr. Dylan, Bob –

There are plenty of reasons I admire and love your work. It’s your voice. It’s your overall presence throughout your career spanning 60 years now. It’s your ability to change skin before everyone expects you to, and yet to remain consistent. It’s your seriousness. It’s your sense of humour.

It’s your constant creative fervour when each and every artist with a body of creative output equalling perhaps a quarter of what you’ve done – and being still in the business! – would be willing to take a rest and just reap the benefits counting the royalties dripping.

But of course, it’s your songs. Without them, there wouldn’t be Untold Dylan, there wouldn’t be the world as we know it. And there wouldn’t be me the way as I am, studying, translating and singing your songs for over four decades now.

Once, just after that day in October 2016, some journalist asked me, as a local Polish Bob Dylan expert, why did I think Bob Dylan were so important. I pondered a little and then said: “Just try and imagine a world where Bob Dylan didn’t exist. A world where only Robert Allen Zimmerman lived, having some more or less interesting job up there in a little Minnesota town or anywhere else. It would be highly probable that there would not be these songs that provoke us to think. There would not be this whole part of the popular culture that gave us Joni Mitchell, Lou Reed, David Byrne, Patti Smith, Joe Strummer, Suzanne Vega, PJ Harvey, Nick Cave and Tom Waits. Who knows – there would not be rap music as a global cultural and business phenomenon – because the industry wouldn’t be sensitive to music that speaks”.

What I’d like to thank you especially deeply, Bob, is your way of treating a song as a vehicle not only for emotions and rhythms but for reflections and worries too. I wish we could experience your coming in Poland back in the early Sixties the way you affected the Western society.

And I thank you also for the way you refer to the tradition. In a world where so many groundbreaking artists (and peculiarly those less talented too) try to convince their audience they epitomize a revolution and that the whole music has changed radically with their coming – you started a conservative revolution of sorts. You were never ashamed of maintaining a close watch on what had preceded you in music and poetry. You’ve always known your place within this chain of artistic events. It requires a sublime consciousness and a sublime humility. Being who you are, it’s absolutely amazing. You’re a teacher who hasn’t stopped to be a disciple.

Thank you for that. And for these 600+ songs and all that Tony has already mentioned in his admirable piece. We’re blessed with being able to listen to your songs and allowed to wait for more to come.

Stay safe, observant and sharing.

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You can read more about Filip in our  “About the authors” section.

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