by Robert Jevne
I can’t honestly say that I always associate Bob Dylan with my friend Patrick because we all know Bob is malleable and has many uses, but Patrick was the one who introduced me to him and by doing so permanently put his imprint on my relationship to Mr Zimmerman.
Everyone, I would venture to say, has had a friend in their youth who they considered wild. Someone unpredictable, and perhaps, a little dangerous. Someone who seemed beyond the rest in scope and who could provoke great feats of recklessness and experimentation in the most timid middle-class kid. I met Patrick during one of my short stints in college and even though I had barely known him, he was the only person who after my short stint was over wrote a letter to see how I was doing. Granted, he teased me a bit about my status by quoting Dylan lyrics like “You sure got a lot of gall, being so useless and all.” I would write back some seriously self-pitying nonsense to which I might get a “ When gravity fails and negativity don’t pull you through.” Of course those were just snippets in letters full of humor and insight and about the only concern I was receiving at the time and it was in those letters he hooked me not only into a friendship with him but into a lifelong love of Bob Dylan’s music which has also worked to pull me out of myself when I needed pulling.
Within a year I was living in the city. Patrick arrived after graduating. We knew a lot of the same people so we hung out a lot for a while, listened to a lot of music, even tried playing some, to disastrous effect. We had a lot of fun. Some might say too much. He lived with a friend of mine for a while and then things changed. Harmless strangeness became stranger, darker. He discovered drugs. He discovered his homosexuality. Then he discovered his manic/depression, promiscuity, and AIDS. I can’t do justice to any of this even now, and certainly couldn’t back then. Patrick tried to pull me out of my bourgeois trap and when he needed help, to put it bluntly, I “sure had a lot of gall, being so useless and all.” Its not that I think I could have saved him. I know better, but no maudlin confessional like this dulls the edge of what I couldn’t do.
As I stated before, Bob is malleable and has many uses. He sends us these open-ended missives which we interpret to our own ends and for which I continue to be grateful. So I keep listening and sitting here watching the river flow.
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4 months ago