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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Barritt

Lyrics you can smell

What do I want to say about my renewed love for a man I’ve never met? This man, who has stolen my heart time and again. Watching him sing. Watching his witty responses to ignorant reporting. Hearing the sweat in his voice when he sings. Melt. Melt. Melt. Last night I caught myself laying in bed, day dreaming about fashion and Bob Dylan (as one naturally does). In the unnatural cycle of such daydreams, I purchased a Bob Dylan T-Shirt. I realized he is the first artist I have been this dearly taken with. So much so, I bought his T-shirt. I want to wear his shirt, what the F***.

He doesn't hold tragedy in the normal rock star way. So far as I know, he doesn't have a heartbreak element in the way some tragic pop divas gravitate to. Much of the media seeks to rip this tragedy from people, just for the sake of pushing an element of interest that may or may not exist. People want a story. As an artist or performer your work is far more interesting if you are seriously ill, or dead, or have a drug addiction, or have a history of abuse. Not Mr. Dylan. It's no wonder the greed of these viewers and star struck fans have donned these artists with self-inflicting torture.

Why has he captured me? He doesn't have beauty in the Paul Walker sense of the word. He has a pitchy singing voice. He jumped on the born again train (which regardless of my upbringing, I find this irritating). And maybe Bob Dylan was abused, maybe he is addicted to meth. Maybe he hurt someone’s pride. Maybe he did tell Sharon Stone he wrote ‘Just Like a Woman’ for her and made her cry with joy…even though he wrote the song years before he met her. Maybe it's messed up, but if Bob Dylan went to the effort to lie to me about writing a song about me, I wouldn't care, I wouldn't think, I would cry happy tears too. Maybe he loved. Maybe he lied in his life, maybe he didn't. Maybe he cheated, maybe he didn't. The point is, I don't care. I find Bob Dylan fascinating either way, just because of the way that he is. Bob Dylan just is. I am fascinated with any story he tells, because of the way he tells it. His words are who he was, and who he has become. His words. His words. In the distant way that one can love someone they have never spoken to, I love Bob Dylan. I will love him in sickness and in health. Dead or alive.

It's a well known controversy - Bob Dylan is better at songwriting than he is at singing. Agree with that statement or not, I will find far fewer who disagree with the greatness of who Bob Dylan is and the wonder of his songwriting. The way Bob Dylan can take just a few words and paint a picture you can almost smell, is a skill few artists can replicate - though thousands have tried. Take those thousands and multiply that by another thousand and you will get a rough approximation of people who have assembled their attempt at turning Bob Dylan's songwriting into their own thing of beauty. And maybe, just maybe, they will be that one person who can use the tractor that Bob Dylan's voice is and turn his song it into a Ferrari with their angelic voice. Good Luck.

His songs are a symbol of growth. A symbol of renewal. A symbol of enlightenment. A symbol of what true love can really be. A symbol of the bigger picture. A symbol of drenching yourself in tunnel vision and the here and now, and opening your world up to endless and sophisticated possibilities.

What do I want to say about Bob Dylan? Respect distant stranger. Respect. I love you the way you are.

Now go listen to Just Like a Woman by Bob Dylan. Not by Richie Havens or Jeff Buckley or The Hollies or Norah Jones or Snow Ghosts or Van Morrison or Charlotte Gainsbourg (I could hardly get through this version it was so bad) or even Nina Simone (although her version is hands down the best). Listen to Bob Dylan sing this song in his stunning youth. You can smell him. And if you listen really closely, you may even taste his sweat.

...But when we meet again

Introduced as friends

Please don't let on that you knew me when

I was hungry and it was your world

You fake just like a woman

You make love, just like a woman

You ache, just like a woman

*Bob Dylan, Just Like a Woman


I just wish I had the wit Dylan has so I could respond to stupid questions the way he famously does. Transcribed by yours truly of an interview from Bob's early career:

Interviewer, "How many people who labour in the same musical vineyard in which you toil, how many are protest singers. That is people who use their music, use the songs to protest the social state in which we live today. The matter of war, the matter of crime, or whatever it might be."

Bob Dylan, "Um, how many? I think there's about uh, 136."

Interviewer, "You say, about 136? or you mean exactly 136?"

Bob Dylan, "Uh, it's either 136 or 142."

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