Mr Tambourine Man's Indian connection
By Sumit Bhattacharya
NOMINATED for the Nobel Prize in Literature, compared
to Rimbaud and Baudelaire, voice of anti-Vietnam War
protesters, father of 'folk rock', the enigmatic Bob
Dylan turns 60 on Thursday, May 24, 2001. From being
the young prophet who proclaimed Times they
are-a-changing to a revolutionary figure in rock 'n'
roll to a recluse shying away from public attention,
he has influenced a generation to whom his songs sing
of their hopes, fears, dreams and emotions. And the
singer-songwriter holds a special place in the hearts
of Indians too, proof of the universality of his work.
Sharmadip Basu, a student of JNU who is headed for
Iowa State University to do his PhD on 'The Sixties
movement and its impact on the Indian youth' states,
"We grew up with Dylan's songs. From Mr. Tambourine
Man to Idiot Wind, I know all his songs by heart."
Varuni Bhatia, another student, echoes his sentiment.
"Dylan's music influenced the way we think. When I
first heard My Back Pages, I felt like he was singing
But Dylan's Indian connection goes deeper than just a
devoted fan following. He has recorded in the past
with Purna Das Baul, a prominent Bengali folk singer.
Suman Chattopaddhyay, the Dylan-imitator who spawned a
whole new genre of Bengali music has even translated
some of Dylan's songs.
But it's not just the Bengali 'intellectuals' who have
embraced Dylan's music. This year, Mumbai is all set
to celebrate his birth anniversary with a concert
featuring jingle-giants Louis Banks and Gary Lawyer.
Word has it that the pop diva Suneeta Rao will sing a
few Dylan numbers as well!
The capital, not to be left behind, will have its own
Dylan anniversary celebrations including a
strum-a-Dylan-song gig at Greater Kailash, besides a
host of Dylan nights at restaurants and pubs.
Shillong, the idyllic little mountain town has been
having a Dylan birthday concert every year for almost
a decade now, with Lou Majaw, leader of the erstwhile
band Great Society being a prominent feature. "It's a
great experience," quip Orko and Vaishali Basu,
advertising professional and college lecturer
respectively. The recently married couple are
Shillong-bound to sing along to Bobbie's immortal
Dylan, born Robert Allen Zimmerman, burst on to the
New York music scene with a trademark nasal voice,
harsh harmonica stabs and ever-strumming guitar. He
became the spearhead of the 'protest' singers and
predecessor to Woodie Guthrie, his own idol.
How many seas must the white dove sail, before she
sleeps in the sand? The answer my friend is blowing in
the wind. and A hard rain's gonna fall - sang a
generation disillusioned with war and the American
dream. At the peak of his near idol status as a
protest singer, Dylan was already breaking new ground.
Shattering his image as a gently strumming protest
singer, he performed at the Newport Folk Festival with
a full electric band, shocking folk music puritans.
But then, Bobbie Dylan was never one to let the boos
and the jeers of the crowd deter his own creative
juices, and he went on to become the pioneer of 'folk
rock', influencing all major artistes of his time,
including Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix and the Beatles,
to name just a few.
With his words still making people think, artistes
still covering his tunes, scholars still studying his
lyrics and people still buying his records, Dylan
spends a quiet life these days. Occasionally bringing
out albums, touring with his band and making cameo
appearances in award ceremonies, his wit and cynicism
still evinced in trademark caustic remarks. While
receiving the Grammy for lifetime achievement, he
said, "When I was young, my father said..." (pause)...
"well he said a lot of things."
Strum on Mr. Tambourine Man, and we Indians will
surely 'come following you'.
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Tue May 29 2001 - 19:39:55 EDT