When I was ten years old, my father decided to move the old RCA Victor radio upstairs into my bedroom. I should say our bedroom, since there were six of us kids out of nine still living at home. The radio however, was placed next to the head of my bed where I could reach out and turn the station dial with my left hand. Though the tuning was finicky, it was a powerful receiver. On clear nights, at two or three in the morning, I could tune in a station out of Nashville, Tennessee. My memory fails me as to the station’s call sign, but it seemed miraculous to me that we could get a signal from such a great distance. We lived a hundred miles south of the Mackinac Straits in Northern Michigan and I could still here the voice of WolfMan Jack.
On those nights I was transported into a universe of heartfelt music created by Johnny Cash and June Carter, Buddy Holly and Patsy Cline, but most of all I found the music of Bob Dylan reaching into my soul and expanding my perceptions far beyond the farmhouse and the little community in which we resided. It became a ritual in the wee hours of the night to catch a song like Blowin’ in the wind, Like a Rolling Stone, Masters of War or A hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall. These songs were so extraordinary to my ten year old self they gave me chills. I was able to look at the world through Bob Dylan’s eyes. What I saw scared, moved and inspired me.
There are few lyricists that have ever matched the wit and vision of Mr. Dylan in the early sixties. I have carried his words and visions through a lifetime. They are words that will never grow old or die. The establishment of his day hasn’t changed very much, they have only grown more sophisticated and deceitful.
I had few real childhood heroes, but Bob Dylan fits the bill. I hope generations to come will take the time to listen to the directness and honesty of his songs. It took a cocky courage to say what he had to say in those treacherous days. He was and still is a true troubadour.
Richard Rensberry, Author at QuickTurtle Books®