Letter to Bob Dylan

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Letter to Bob Dylan:


Bob, do you remember me?


I saw you about a million years ago in a club on Wells Street in Chicago. Maybe 1962 or 1963. I think it was the Earl of Old Town, but I'm not so sure anymore. My memory stinks. I was like 15, now I'm not.


I remember it was a snowy night, a blizzard wind had stopped all the buses, but I wanted to see you bad. So I walked to the club down North Avenue. About 2 miles through the snow from my house. Sometimes the sidewalks were so jammed up with snow I had to walk in the street.


You sang Don't Think Twice and Blowing in the Wind even though there weren't too many of us in the club that night. Just a handful. A lot of cars weren't getting through either.


I remember you joking about how we would all have to spend the night and cuddle up together because the snow outside was saying, ain't nobody going nowhere. We laughed and said we were ready.


I remember the last song you sang. The Walls of Red Wing. You wanted to sing something about Minnesota, wanted to remember the winters there.


I remember we all joined in on the chorus, all five of us, and then I went out into the snow and began the long walk home humming your songs and thinking about how someday I'd maybe grow up to be a lawyer or such, or maybe I'd end up inside the walls of the prison at Red Wing.




John Guzlowski




To read more of my stuff, check out my Amazon Author's page or my blog Echoes of Tattered Tongues, about me and my parents and our lives.  


EXPAT Added Aug 9, 2017 - 2:56pm
There is an inconsistency about you that suggests fiction. You write of family horror with the  impartiality of an observer.
You honor money over virtue, as if you have and are part of a privileged class.
You were part of the love generation, as if it was your youth.
If you were part of the 40's and then the 60's that is remarkable.
I guess I will have to read more of your work, if I am to solve this puzzle.
Why should I care, you say. Because I love quandaries.
john guzlowski Added Aug 9, 2017 - 3:09pm
I was born in a DP camp in Germany in 1948, came to America as a refugee with my parents in 1951.
I was 14 when I first heard Dylan.  20 when I first took acid and demonstrated against the war with the SDS and hitchhiked across America to Haight Ashbery.
I took acid 3 times, cocaine twice, pot about 5 times a week for 6 years, vodka/beer/tequila just about every day.

I smoked too. A pack a day. A pack was about 25 cents when I started. Sometimes when out of cigarettes I smoked a pipe.

I also drank about 10 cups of coffee a day. In the morning and in the evening and at 3 in the morning.

I don't think I ever slept. Maybe once or twice. 

I remember one time being awake for 3 days and waking up behind a gas station in Moline, Illinois. I don't know how I got home.

But most of the time I didn't sleep. At night I lay in bed, drunk and stoned and coffeed up and listened to the Doors.

"This is the end, my friend. This is the end."

I believed it and didn't care.

I was 25 when I decided to stop doing drugs and drinking and working on the docks in Chicago, and started working on my Phd in American lit at Purdue.
The rest is the rest.
EXPAT Added Aug 9, 2017 - 3:56pm
Got it! You did not experience the holocaust, it was relayed to you by those who did.
The Drugs explain your detachment from humanity. I have known several burn outs in my time.
But working on the docks and getting into Purdue was quite an accomplishment for a burnout. I guess you learned to control your psychotic episodes.
The last burnout I knew was a customer at my Bar in Long Beach. He would be perfectly normal for weeks, and then suddenly relapse. One night he started a fire under his mothers bed. Then ran down the boulevard naked.
He could never hold a job, much less go to school.
I guess you were an exception! I went thru school on amphetamines (Whites).  After not sleeping for 5 days, I mixed a can of frozen lime Juice and "Everclear" 180 proof alcohol. I would drink til I passed out. Only way to come down.
john guzlowski Added Aug 9, 2017 - 6:53pm
A lot of my friends from that time didn't make it through their 50s.  I think I lost 6 of the 10 who I was closest too.  They died of liver cancer and heart attacks. Only one died of a drug overdose. 
William Stockton Added Aug 10, 2017 - 2:56am
I enjoyed this article. Thanks
Mark Hunter Added Aug 10, 2017 - 4:55am
Yes, very well written. I never really cared for Bob Dylan (I mean his music, not him personally). But I also never did drugs, and rarely drank heavily, so it's possible I'm missing something.
john guzlowski Added Aug 10, 2017 - 6:45am
Mark, Dylan worked for me because I loved folk music, and when he first started that's where he was coming from.  When he lost that, he lost me.  
I can't listen to him now.
My favorite Dylan song?  
Probably Subterranean Homesick Blues!
wsucram15 Added Aug 10, 2017 - 6:49am
Good story...interesting.  Ive seen him, and it was an honor seeing him then, it was a tribute kind of thing, but he isnt my kind of music.
This is a well written story, very enjoyable..welcome.
john guzlowski Added Aug 10, 2017 - 6:59am
Subterranean Homesick Blues

Johnny's in the basement
Mixing up the medicine
I'm on the pavement
Thinking about the government
The man in the trench coat
Badge out, laid off
Says he's got a bad cough
Wants to get it paid off
Look out kid
It's somethin' you did
God knows when
But you're doing it again
You better duck down the alley way
Lookin' for a new friend
A man in the coonskin cap, in the pig pen
Wants eleven dollar bills, you only got ten
Maggie comes fleet foot
Face full of black soot
Talkin' that the heat put
Plants in the bed but
The phone's tapped anyway
Maggie says that many say
They must bust in early May
Orders from the D.A. Look out kid
Don't matter what you did
Walk on your tip toes
Don't tie no bows
Better stay away from those
That carry around a fire hose
Keep a clean nose
Watch the plain clothes
You don't need a weather man
To know which way the wind blows
Oh, get sick, get well
Hang around a ink well
Hang bail, hard to tell
If anything is goin' to sell
Try hard, get barred
Get back, write braille
Get jailed, jump bail
Join the army, if you fail
Look out kid
You're gonna get hit
But losers, cheaters
Six-time users
Hang around the theaters
Girl by the whirlpool
Lookin' for a new fool
Don't follow leaders, watch the parkin' meters
Oh, get born, keep warm
Short pants, romance
Learn to dance, get dressed, get blessed
Try to be a success
Please her, please him, buy gifts
Don't steal, don't lift
Twenty years of schoolin'
And they put you on the day shift
Look out kid
They keep it all hid
Better jump down a manhole
Light yourself a candle
Don't wear sandals
Try to avoid the scandals
Don't want to be a bum
You better chew gum
The pump don't work
'Cause the vandals took the handles
Songwriters: Bob Dylan
Subterranean Homesick Blues lyrics © Bob Dylan Music Co.
john guzlowski Added Aug 10, 2017 - 7:01am
I saw Dylan 3 times after that.  
He was terrible.  Didn't connect with the audience.  Ignored it in fact.  
One time he spent most of his time on stage with his back to the audience.  
john guzlowski Added Aug 10, 2017 - 7:02am
By the way, I highly recommend his autobiography.  It's called Chronicles, I believe 
Mark Hunter Added Aug 10, 2017 - 7:42am
I appreciate his song writing talents, John -- I've just never liked his voice. Ironically, my wife says I do a pretty good impression of Dylan ... but I don't like my voice, either.
wsucram15 Added Aug 10, 2017 - 8:46am
I took a very hard to get class years back on the writings of different musicians during that time, Dylan and Lennon were a big part of that actually and I took it because I thought it would be and easy A and also it was a cool class for Art Appreciation. Well it was not an easy A and  I found Dylans lyrics at times subjective and interpretive, the Professor did not. So we had some differences of opinion sometimes I won, sometimes not. So I appreciated seeing him at...
 Woodstock 94, it was a tribute to him and the others who played at the original Woodstock and I really enjoyed it.  He didnt play backwards that I recall, and I dont know if he enjoyed it but he played Hendrix. It was odd but someone had to do it.  Crosby Stills and Nash along with Santana and Joe Cocker were also there. 
I just remember thinking that there were so many others that I would love to have seen there also from the original Woodstock but I missed that time in music.
john guzlowski Added Aug 10, 2017 - 9:28am
I went to the 1968 and 69 Newport folk festival. Didn't see Dylan but did see Janis Joplin!  Greatest show ever. 
opher goodwin Added Aug 10, 2017 - 10:41am
John - that was quite an experience. On my last trip I met a guy who had compered at Gerdes Folk City and introduced Dylan. I was very jealous. I would have loved to have seen him back then. I recently saw him in Liverpool in May. He was OK - I went to pay homage to someone who meant a great deal to me. His lyrics and sensibilities back in the sixties were a guiding light.
My favourite song - well there are so many - I used to like the barbed lyrics of Positively Fourth Street but I reckon It's Alright Ma (I'm only bleeding) sums up the hypocrisy of society for me.
john guzlowski Added Aug 10, 2017 - 12:33pm
Opher, yes he's not a great performer any more. I've had some recent chances to see him and have passed. 
My favorite song?  Really too many.
I remember sitting in my tiny bedroom and listening to those early albums over and over.
The one song song of his I know all the words to is Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues. 
Maybe it's my favorite 
Minister Peaceful Poet Added Aug 10, 2017 - 1:27pm
I went to one of his concerts in California when I was in the Navy.  I was thrilled, but unfortunately I couldn't understand a word he said and I was so far away from the stage that I could hardly see him.  Oh well.  I go all his CDs and I can listen to him anytime I want to. My favorite is 
Talkin' World War III Blues
[Verse 1]
Some time ago a crazy dream came to me
I dreamed I was walking into World War Three
I went to the doctor the very next day
To see what kind of words he could say
He said it was a bad dream
I wouldn’t worry about it none, though
They were my own dreams and they’re only in my head

[Verse 2]
I said, “Hold it, Doc, a World War passed through my brain”
He said, “Nurse, get your pad, this boy’s insane”
He grabbed my arm, I said, “Ouch!”
As I landed on the psychiatric couch
He said, “Tell me about it”

[Verse 3]
Well, the whole thing started at 3 o’clock fast
It was all over by quarter past
I was down in the sewer with some little lover
When I peeked out from a manhole cover

Wondering who turned the lights on

[Verse 4]
Well, I got up and walked around
And up and down the lonesome town

I stood a-wondering which way to go
I lit a cigarette on a parking meter and walked on down the road
It was a normal day

[Verse 4]
Well, I rung the fallout shelter bell
And I leaned my head and I gave a yell
“Give me a string bean, I’m a hungry man”
A shotgun fired and away I ran
I don’t blame them too much though, I know I look funny

[Verse 5]
Down at the corner by a hot-dog stand
I seen a man
I said, “Howdy friend, I guess there’s just us two”
He screamed a bit and away he flew
Thought I was a Communist

[Verse 6]
Well, I spied a girl and before she could leave
“Let’s go and play Adam and Eve”

I took her by the hand and my heart it was thumping
When she said, “Hey man, you crazy or something?
You see what happened last time they started”

[Verse 7]
Well, I seen a Cadillac window uptown
And there was nobody around
I got into the driver’s seat
And I drove down 42nd Street

In my Cadillac
Good car to drive after a war

[Verse 8]
Well, I remember seeing some ad
So I turned on my Conelrad
But I didn’t pay my Con Ed bill
So the radio didn’t work so well
Turned on my record player—
It was Rock-a-day Johnny singing, “Tell Your Ma, Tell Your Pa
Our Love’s A-going to Grow Ooh-wah, Ooh-wah”
opher goodwin Added Aug 10, 2017 - 2:08pm
That's another great one John. So many. What about 'from a Buick six'?
opher goodwin Added Aug 10, 2017 - 2:09pm
MPP - particularly on his early albums he used a lot of humour. He had a Chaplinesque personality at times then.
john guzlowski Added Aug 10, 2017 - 2:10pm
And Desolation Row!
Don't forget Desolation Row!
wsucram15 Added Aug 10, 2017 - 2:25pm
See I think if I could go back in time it would be to see joplin, maybe the beatles.  Hard to choose.  I think I would have had a better chance to hear her sing than the Beatles and she is one of my favorites.
Watch Janis; Little Girl Blue,  I think it is probably the best film ever made about her.    https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/janis_little_girl_blue/     just a sample.
 John..I am jealous...
John Minehan Added Aug 10, 2017 - 6:37pm
One of my old friends from the Army's mother babysat young Bobby Zimmerman up in Hibbing, Minnesota long before the events you describe. 
Apparently, she did not teach the then-child to sing on key, something she was probably able to do as her son would be in the VMI Glee Club one day.  
john guzlowski Added Aug 10, 2017 - 7:44pm
John minehan. 
Barath Nagarajan Added Aug 12, 2017 - 7:46am
"...We sit here stranded, though we're all doing our best to deny it, And Louise holds a hand full of rain tempting you to defy it"
Visions of Johanna
What Dylan had to say was mostly in his songs, not his interviews. He once said, "It's not in the lyrics, it's in the rhythm and phrasing, maybe on the records it's in the lyrics",
and His favorite singer was an Egyptian singer named Um Kalthoum; he said no western singer was in her league except maybe him, but on another level.
He can also sing as well as Caruso, he hits all the same notes and can hold his breath 3 times as long.
But, actually he considers himself a "song and dance man".
John Minehan Added Aug 12, 2017 - 8:07am
Ever see the John Belushi short form from SNL, Don't Look Back in Anger?
John Minehan Added Aug 12, 2017 - 8:20am
john guzlowski Added Aug 12, 2017 - 8:46am
Barath, I've been following and loving Dylan's singing since 1961, and I respect you but cannot believe you said he sings as well as Caruso.
opher goodwin Added Aug 12, 2017 - 8:51am
Barath - good quotes. But I always say what Dylan says with a pinch of salt. He enjoyed winding people up and throwing up smokescreens.
opher goodwin Added Aug 12, 2017 - 8:52am
John - that's a quote from Dylan about himself. He was responding to people who said he can't sing and making a bit of a joke.
john guzlowski Added Aug 12, 2017 - 11:18am
Opher/Barath -- I read Chronicles, Dylan's Autobiography, and feel like he is basically a guy who doesn't like to reveal much of anything about himself.
john guzlowski Added Aug 12, 2017 - 11:20am
By the way, there's a terrific book called Positively 4th Street, about his early days in the New York folk scene.  A lot about the Baez sisters and Richard Farina too.  Worth a look
Barath Nagarajan Added Aug 12, 2017 - 11:25am
I think he was saying that you can make any words fit the sing them with the right rhythm, they have the right rhythm, or if you phrase it right, it will fit. Dylan often changes the words, or rewrites them in Concert.
    He said,  " The words have to be there sure they do".
     Then he said (from memory)
Um Kalthoum will sing a song, it will last maybe 45 minutes, but it will be just one phrase sung over and over again in a different way. He said she was his favorite singer. No other western singer was in her league, except maybe him(laughs, but on a different level).
opher goodwin Added Aug 12, 2017 - 11:29am
John I read that too - It was a great read though. I'm amazed he remembers in such detail. I believe he is currently working on volume 2.
I have Positively Fourth Street and numerous other books on him. He was a huge influence on me.
opher goodwin Added Aug 12, 2017 - 11:30am
I have never heard Um Kalthoum. I'll have a check.
opher goodwin Added Aug 12, 2017 - 11:31am
John - not many people know about Richard Farina - what he would have been if he hadn't killed himself on that bike.
john guzlowski Added Aug 12, 2017 - 11:33am
Can I change the topic for a moment?
I can't access my profile page or post anything.  
Are others having this problem?
Am I being blocked for some reason?
opher goodwin Added Aug 12, 2017 - 11:54am
John - this keeps happening. My posts disappear off the site. My replies vanish. You cannot access of post. Autumn said it was a fault with the site last time it happened.