Like all good love stories, as well as all the joy and love, there’s pain, disillusionment and the slow growth of a much deeper relationship when it comes to the relationship between NYC and Dylan. Look at the 2 videos, the first one so much part of the original Greenwich Village Dylan, the time of youthful intensity, exploration and raw musical genius.
The second one, just a week ago on Letterman, the voice now ruimed but showing a Dylan still capable of real sweetness and love with his peerless musicality intact and ripened into reflection and acknowlgement of what life brings.
It’s important to acknowledge that what is important about Dylan and NYC is the nature of his poetic and musical journey as part of his relationship with this great city. Especially now when if you just pay attention to the surface, his time here has been reduced to a walking tour of Greenwich Village. Of course it’s nice to see where he lived and hung out but that’s not the man and it’s certainly not his music or his poetry; that rises above the streets, bricks and buildings and yet is anchored by them at the same time.
Arriving here originally in 1961 he was searching for his own musical maturity and mentors who already had the world experience he was too young to have accumulated. And he found it in Woodie Guthrie. From his admiration for Guthrie he found his way through folk, to protest to electric expressions of what was important to him, not just as a performer but also as an incredible songwriter and lyricist.
He has continued to follow the true north of his own musicality, alientating those who wanted him to be their seer and guru, but continuing to grow and change. And NYC has been a constant touchstone the whole time. And surely also a model of how to change and still inhabitat the essence of what is true. In his case that is his relationship with his expressive medium, music. In NYC’s case it is holding all of its history and change in an embrace. Happy 74th Bob dylan from New York City