February 6, 2009
The times they are a-changin'.
But one of our cultural constants during the past 45 years or so has
been the music of Bob Dylan, an iconic American original who has
shifted gears four or five times, managing to remain relevant to
newer generations. He's got a group of fans at Colorado Springs
School District's CIVA charter high school, where there will be a
Dylan tribute concert Feb. 20.
It's a bit unusual for teenagers to be so inspired by a 67-year-old
who recorded something like 35 albums before they were born.
"There's a whole lot of background for why Bob Dylan speaks to me,"
said CIVA senior Maggi D'Amour, 18, who said her mother named her for
the Maggie in Dylan's "Maggie's Farm."
D'Amour will perform "Talkin' New York," one of the songs from
Dylan's first record in 1962.
"Modern music is hit or miss," said D'Amour, who plays the mandolin.
"It's all dead and there's no one who is as original."
That's the kind of comment that might be made by someone in their 50s
who is nostalgic for the music of a bygone era.
Jake Schneider, 18, was interviewed separately but he echoed D'Amour.
"The music today, there's no meaning to what they're doing,"
Schneider said, adding that in song after song, Dylan writes about
weighty topics in a way most songwriters today just won't try.
Schneider was immersed in Dylan early-on. "I remember listening to
"Like a Rolling Stone" on a car trip when I was little," he said.
Joe Landry, 18, said Dylan "had his own style. He didn't follow anybody."
It's striking, and not too surprising, that these kids like Dylan for
the same reasons we 50-somethings did when we were the same age.
"He's honest about things," said senior Forrest Pass. "He'll give you
a bunch of stuff to sift through."
When it was suggested he was sounding much older than his 18 years,
Pass laughed and replied, "I've always said I was born in the wrong
Without ever being given the title, Bob Dylan comes as close as
anyone else to being the de facto American poet laureate for the last
Pass and D'Amour both like poetry and are the co-founders of CIVA's
Dead Poets Society. Inspired by the movie of the same name, the
group's members read and write poetry -¬ something else that's a bit
unusual for teenagers.
Asked which artist compares with Dylan today, D'Amour couldn't think
of anyone. Pass acknowledged that some of Dylan's early fans came out
of the Beat Generation, which loved poetry.
Dylan has plenty of lyrics where the meaning is not obvious; some
reflection is required.
Pass likes that.
"I want it to be up to the reader what it's about," he said.
The remarkable thing is that teenagers are talking about the songs of
their parents, sort of honoring their moms and dads while embracing
the same rebellion.
Maybe some words are just ageless:
"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'."
Contact Noreen at 636-0363 or email@example.com