By Dean Shein
Last night I saw Bob Dylan
Last night I saw Bob Dylan. As I was transported into the mid 1960’s, I could vividly see a world of tensions that still exist today. What a time in my life to see this cultural icon as I’m about to embark on a journey of my own. Floating loosely around the stage like a boxer in his penultimate round, the singer looked as composed as ever in his black leather jacket and signature Stetson. Dylan’s band appeared to resemble individuals straight out of an American Western, with their performance as polished as the boots they sported. The singer’s raspy voice was now almost as unpredictable as his hair. Dylan lyrically shared his joyful melancholic experiences in the form of barroom piano playing. His emotive vocal renditions were reminiscent of Billy Joel. This made the Enmore theatre, in Sydney’s Newtown, feel as intimate as ever. Towards the end of each tune the band would perform extended instrumental arrangements, with Dylan’s harmonica melodies providing the perfect tonic. These sentimental moments reminded me of the Grateful Dead’s improvisational style.
Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.
Dylan’s metaphorical prose when he describes an expanding body of water symbolises that society is finally becoming more tolerant and inclusive. I interpreted the lyrics above in a more personal manner. I think each SCA student will be able to resonate with my thoughts. We too are about to weather a storm. The discomfort is going to hurt but it’s going to make all the difference.
Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who that it’s namin’
For the loser now will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’
In this stanza, Dylan’s wants politicians to stop posting propaganda and start spreading the truth to the masses. As SCA students, we have been summoned. It will be up to us to prophesise with our own pens. From our sacrifice, we will write our wrongs.
This record of Dylan’s was composed at a very volatile period in history, where racial tensions were high and the political divide was capturing the opinions of society. A pleading Dylan had nothing left but to lament and stay optimistic. To our fellow SCA alumni, I believe the message embodied throughout this poem suggests we must be open and accepting towards each other. We must adopt an athletic approach and become resilient while also staying grounded as we keep perspective.
Maybe the times really are a-changin’ as last night Dylan didn’t even perform this revolutionary piece.