I seriously considered writing an analysis of the state legislature’s recent epic fail using only Bob Dylan song lyrics. Bob turns 70 today and he’s been writing songs for something like 50-55 of those 70 years, creating a lot of material for adaptation. The challenge isn’t finding sufficiently relevant lyrics but narrowing the pool.
Here, in Minnesota, conservative state policymakers delivered the conservative budget that they said they’d deliver. Governor Dayton bent over backwards to create compromise but, with none forthcoming, he rejected the conservative mess.
That was yesterday; today is Bob’s 70th birthday. What can the one tell us about the other?
Bob Dylan is the same generation as my parents. In other words, he’s always been an old guy in my eyes rather than a contemporary. I didn’t start seriously listening to him until the early 80s when I was in college. My Bob Dylan began with “Infidels.”
I still love that album. Tight songs. Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare were the rhythm section. Mark Knopfler played guitar and co-produced. It made me wonder why folks ten and fifteen years older than me muttered that Dylan was washed up. But maybe, that’s what makes it easy for me to be a Bob Dylan fan; I’m not obsessed with him.
I’m also not trying to keep Dylan boxed in a five-year, early-to-mid 60s period, expecting him to never change. Bob Dylan has spent 70 years, the past 50 as a performer and songwriter, moving forward. Sometimes, his stuff works really well and sometimes, it only works. That’s the point, however. He’s spent his life engaged by the human experience, reflecting his observations in song and performing them for listeners.
Minnesota can learn a lesson. Bob Dylan isn’t interested in constantly rewriting “Subterranean Homesick Blues” or “Blowing in the Wind” for the new album. Bob knows how to move forward. The same can’t be said for Minnesota’s conservative legislative majority. They’re sticking with a failed, ideologically determined public policy plan that ignores Minnesota’s real problems and favor’s the highest income earners. Instead, if policymakers focus on what really matters—jobs, schools, healthcare and roads—Minnesota moves forward, creating prosperity. Living in the past never creates a future.
Photo credit: Alberto Cabello, wiki commons