Sunday, May 27, 2007

Mr Tambourine Man by The Byrds

We’re in a car, and I’m sitting in the back seat. I’m maybe five or six years old, and I stare out of the window at the blue sky, a sky that hints at a far-off coldness on this, the warmest of summer days.

We are driving, in this car, my family.

Where we are going doesn’t matter to me, because what’s got my attention and won’t let go is the music: clear like the blue sky, glassy and sunbeat. Like bells are ringing out across the dull, low housing estates that lap in at either side of the road like a long-polluted sea.

I later find out that the song I’m hearing is Mr Tambourine Man by the Byrds, and that the song is written by Bob Dylan. But I don’t know this now (I didn’t know this then).

I will later think that this, and other music I heard spooling by on the cassette deck of my father’s car, is showing me the way towards a future I don’t yet know and is based on a template of a past which I’m not sure really existed outside of a few songs I heard as a child, songs that will probably stay with me forever.

The year is 1965, the place is someplace in California. When I think about it, its skies are always blue.

And here, in this memory, the main objects of a nagging obsession are put in place: the decade (the 1960s); the car, which is both freedom and constraint (we can travel wherever we want, but we can’t talk to the people that we pass on the street); the place (an America I won’t even see for many years to come) and the music.

This is the music that will come to play on my mind and spin on my stereo in the years to come: Dylan and the Byrds will be joined by others. And connected to all of this some vague notion of the Sixties, of West Coast living and of a freedom which hints that the best is, always, yet to come.


The Seventh Stranger said...

Nice, thoughtful, well-written post.

Jack W. Orf said...

I like Dylan's singing of Tambourine Man best. Along with "A hard rains gonna fall". But I don't really like Dylan in general that much. I don't like anything that he sang after about 1970. I like "The North Country Far", but I don't know enough Spanish to understand your post. But I'm currently working on learning Spanish.