If that ain’t a writer…
Whether you like him or not, it’s evident Dylan knew how to crystallize the human condition down to lyrics in a song. Every track hit the nerve of so many yearning for common ground. Whether it was about love, politics, history, romance, love, hate, anger, comedy, caddy bullshit, society coming down hard, or losers hanging around Dylan’s door – he amalgamated and borrowed aspects of life, people, old songs and inspired hymns to create an image. A by-product of that image is a body of spectacular work.
But Dylan isn’t God. He’s not the savior. He’s just a man who proved he wasn’t what he seemed by hiding behind the flour dust mask during his 1975 Rolling Thunder Tour. He’s a troubadour. He’s an historian. He’s a soothsayer. He’s an imposter. He’s the truth. He’s a man. A father. He’s flesh and blood. He’s a writer.
The quote above is the personification of the writing process. Our creative process – this mysterious output of words and thought – is not something to be questioned or judged. It’s showing up and finding the song that already exists – that’s the stuff. The mystery is in finding the key.
No wonder why Dylan was so indignant when tiresome journalists asked the same questions about his songs. Some accused him of everything. “Judas!” “Imposter!” “Savior!” They tested his resolve, treated his songs like they were bars of gold that he stole from a vault. They demanded answers. How did he write this? What is this song about? Who are you do this? How dare you?
In last Friday’s speech, Dylan was finally able to ask them the same. Face to face. It didn’t take a rendition of “Idiot Wind” to do it. “How dare YOU?” he said to naysayers.
Even if he raged and rattled his stick against their cage – the answer was always there. He had nothing to do with the songs. Oh, yes he had a way with words, or he held a sensitive radar on the human condition. But maybe he created something new from something old, in order to produce something unique on it’s own. Maybe just living, exploring and relishing the work of others sparked new thought and inspiration.
We all have this in us. We’re all Dylan in a way. Just showing up and and sticking to it helps. Kind of comforting to know it.
When MusiCares honored him last week, Dylan’s now famously long, angry, humble and transparently refreshing speech summed it all up for a writers and creative folk. You can take it as it is.
“All these songs are connected. Don’t be fooled. I just opened up a different door in a different kind of way. I didn’t think I was doing anything different. I thought I was just extending the line.”