I used to hang out with the Folk Music Club at UT and at different times I saw this scruffy-lookin’ dude I didn’t recognize in the company of some of the of the members who were actually musicians.
One afternoon between classes, I saw him sitting alone on the campus green playing his guitar and walked over to listen and had damn near had a heart attack – I’d never heard anything like it. When he paused, I said “I don’t mean to be rude, but what’s your name?”. He looked me in the eye and said, “Robert Zimmerman”, and went back to playing, at which point I headed off to my next class.
On another occasion, some of the folkies came to my apartment with Zimmerman in tow. We were doing the folk music have-a-beer-and-yak-it-up thing and he took a seat on the floor near enough to a wall that he cast a shadow. After a few minutes, my seriously spontaneously artistic friend B________________ got himself a pencil and traced Zimmerman’s profile on the wall.
After not seeing him around for a while, I asked a Club member if he knew what had happened to him and he told me the guy had gone to New York, to which I replied, “Yeah. That’s where he belongs.”, by which I meant that there was nothing in Texas to sustain such a talent.
I have been a folk music fan ever since I lived in Alaska in the early 60s. Back then it was the Kingston Trio hanging Tom Dooley, the Limeliters havin; A Meetin’ Here tonight, Joan Baez doin’ Child Ballads, etc., etc., etc. But when “The Times They Are a-Changin'” came out, it took hold of me and wouldn’t let go. For years after that release I listened to virtually no one but him and all his contemporaries in the folk and folk-rock genres. I was so taken that the Beatles were of no interest until I was gettin’ trippy and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” was released.
I don’t read liner notes or the trades and never sat around with friends talking about who was who or who did what in the music world. For me both then and now, it’s always about the music and the stories. But something about the cover of “Bringing It All Back Home” tugged at me – Where had I seen that face before?
I don’t remember how I ultimately made the connection, but until “New Morning” was released I had no idea that Robert Zimmerman and Bob Dylan were one and the same.
That, in contemporary parlance, was an OMFG YGBSM moment…