Under the Covers
By James Crane
Bob Dylan has been doing what he does for quite a while now. For five
decades, he's been playing shows around the world. He has released
numerous albums and gone through enough changes in musical style to
fuel quite a few books discussing the different "Dylans" he has
presented to the public. Aside from his incredibly prolific musical
career, he has also acted and has been recognized as a visual artist,
his sketches and drawings having been published in a book titled
Drawn Blank back in 1994.
Such a large body of work has gone on to encourage other artists,
notably Paul Rogers, who released the book Forever Young last year.
The words are the exact lyrics from Dylan's song of the same name.
Inspired by the song and the saga that is Dylan's life, Rogers
matches the lyrics with images he has drawn to create a wonderful
children's book that is sure to be enjoyed by children and adults alike.
Rogers' other work can be found at various places on the Web if one
wishes to compare and contrast his other work with Forever Young.
Though created much more recently, it has the feel of '60s
pre-psychedelic era pop art. It all seems steeped in the musical
traditions of that time as well, with folk, rock and jazz being
conveyed through his various mediums.
It seems appropriate that Rogers chose this song to illustrate as
artists from one-time Dylan love interest Joan Baez to Rod Stewart
have covered it at one time or another, but his influences don't stop
there. According to Rogers, he listened to most nearly every Bob
Dylan album while creating the illustrations and suggests the same to
the reader while exploring the book. The pages pay tribute to various
songs in Dylan's catalog as well as the people and events in his life.
Some are obvious, such as the likenesses of such cultural and
historical figures including Hank Williams, The Beatles, Martin
Luther King Jr., Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs.
Others hit you after a few moments, paying homage to Dylan standards
with a pawn shop full of electric guitars named Maggie's and a
well-placed tambourine. There's a two-page spread of an anti-war
demonstration in particular that reads like a who's who of famous
peace advocates. There are even a few obscure references to films and
books Dylan has released.
It seems every other drawing has references to records that
influenced Dylan, as well as books. Dylan is considered to be
literary inclined in his lyrics. Forever Young pays homage to those
writers he drew from, with drawn book cases housing titles Moby Dick,
Huck Finn and works from writers such as Ginsberg, Shakespeare, T.S.
Eliot and Ezra Pound.
Though the book is light reading written for children, it is
incredibly dense in references to all things Dylan. I'm sure any big
Dylan fan will find tons of things I've missed. For the rest of us,
there is a semi-cheat sheet in the back pointing out some of the
references for anyone who hasn't read 101 Dylan biographies. It's not
a bad purchase for a child in your life and one that Mom and Dad
won't mind reading night after night.