A Blast from the Past: A Taste of Bob Dylan

by | Dec 12, 2019

Above: Bob Dylan performing in London in 2011.

By Suraj Sait

I’ll admit – I’m not very old. At 17, I don’t have a wisp of white hair on my head, nor can I say that I watched “I Love Lucy” when it was originally airing (but hey, thank god for reruns!). 

That doesn’t matter, though. I still love Bob Dylan. The man is practically a legend in my eyes, even if he was crooning well before I was born. In the ‘60s and ‘70s, he inspired social change. He birthed advocacy movements, figuratively becoming their icon through his revolutionary songs. He’s even inspired me to pursue the changes I wanted to see in the world, like advocating for climate change and increased voter participation in our democracy.

In November, I was fortunate enough to see him live and in person. Alongside some of my friends, we journeyed to the Providence Performing Arts Center. With seats sponsored by Bob Houghtaling, the director of East Greenwich’s Drug Rehabilitation Program, I settled in for the show. 

Having never been to a concert before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But as the lights dimmed and silence set over the stadium, I felt nervous. Nervous, even though I wasn’t the one performing. Nervous, because I wasn’t sure how Bob Dylan would be.

Joan Baez and Bob Dylan during the civil rights “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom,” August 28, 1963. Credit: Rowland Scherman

See, I had been forewarned by Mr. Houghtaling that Dylan wasn’t the same. That his voice had changed with age, that he wouldn’t hit those soft, melodious notes the same as he did when he recorded “Mr. Tambourine Man.” I didn’t know if the same Bob Dylan magic would be in the air that night.

But as the band began a rendition of “Things Have Changed,” I could feel the anticipation building. I wasn’t sure if the magic was there, but there was a chance. The air was charged with Dylan.

And when he began singing, the center felt positively electric. I could see my friends leaning forward in their seats, enraptured by his casual words. Maybe his voice wasn’t the Dylan of 30 years ago, but it was the distinct Dylan sound, nevertheless.

Even one of my friends, a hardcore fan of rap music, felt enamored by Dylan’s music. “I am an avid rap listener and did not expect to enjoy seeing Bob Dylan to the degree in which I did,” said Kai Meiser, a junior at East Greenwich High School. “His music overall was very enjoyable to watch live.”

As Dylan launched into song after song, from “Girl from the North Country” to “Simple Twist of Fate,” I couldn’t help but think about his longevity. Dylan was singing in the ‘60s, and now that it’s almost 2020, he’s still in it. That’s almost 60 years right there, a career length practically unheard of. I couldn’t help but be impressed by his mastery of the craft. I might not even live that long, and he’s still performing. 

Even when the music fades, Dylan’s legacy will live on. His voice will inspire future activists, exposing them to the raw, unbridled issues of our age and convince them to take action. After all, it did for me – and will continue inspiring me to take action, even beyond my high school years.

Song titles listed in this post have been corrected since it was first posted. We regret the errors.

EG News reporter Suraj Sait is a senior at East Greenwich High School.

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Paul H
Paul H
December 12, 2019 11:47 pm

Excellent article. Very well written.

Jeffery P Mcafee
Jeffery P Mcafee
December 13, 2019 5:24 pm
Reply to  Paul H

I really do like bob Dylans music, always have thought ” that’s my words I always wanted to say, that’s what I wanted to say”, bob is a great artist.

December 13, 2019 10:40 pm

Suraj, my son and I saw Bob on Nov. 6 at Hill Auditoriam in Ann Arbor of this year. We feel the same way as you. What a great experience.

December 14, 2019 2:19 am
Reply to  Paul H

Thank u so much for yr review!

December 13, 2019 7:39 pm

Bob Dylan, did not play a show on Nov 18, And he has not been playing blowing in the wind this tour.

December 14, 2019 8:28 pm

Wonderful review about one of my heroes

Peter Light
Peter Light
December 13, 2019 10:51 pm

Yes, well written, Suraj,
As a 77 year-old who was active in the anti-nuclear, anti-war, ban-the-bomb movement starting in 1958, and a few years before I first heard Dylan, I must correct you on one or two scores. Rather than inspiring social change, I think it is more accurate to say that social change inspired Dylan, and that participants in various key movements were inspired by him – by his words, yes, but mainly just by the fact of him being a visible and auditory part of what we were already into. He did not birth advocacy movements, he was part of them, lent his voice to them.

December 14, 2019 5:01 am

How impressive,this review is as WELL WRITTEN as any I have ever read! To think a 17 yo autored it is amazing! I highly encourage this young to consider a carreer in writing.
DYLANS’ incredible mastery of musicianship,writing. influence. and endurance is truly appropriated by millions of followers, as well as new people ecposed to his brilliance and charisma.

Brian Ashcroft
Brian Ashcroft
December 14, 2019 5:58 am

I seen bob Dylan 3 times followed him all the way from the 60s his music is incredible.

Jack straw
Jack straw
December 14, 2019 7:12 pm

The person was not at the show who wrote this. As the setlist is made up and not true. Maybe he could get a job at the Whitehouse.


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