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Provost, auditorium director, professors talk about Bob Dylan memories



In the light of famous folk singer and music legend Bob Dylan coming to IU on Sunday, the IDS asked important IU figures three questions:

1. What is your favorite Dylan song?

2. Have you ever seen Dylan live? 

3. What should people know about Dylan?

Provost Lauren Robel

1. "Wow, so many, but 'Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall'  is way up there. It’s got the structure of a traditional folk song, but the imagery gets darker and scarier and weirder as it goes along. Really powerful."

2. "Despite being an avid concert-goer, I didn’t see Bob Dylan live until six or seven years ago, right here at IU. Elvis Costello opened for him, and Dylan had a fantastic band."

3. "He’s an incredible poet who consistently captured and elevated the zeitgeist."

[Students talk about music legend Bob Dylan coming to IU | IDS]

Doug Booher, IU Auditorium director

1. "'I Shall Be Released' … to me, it’s a song about overcoming frustration and injustice with a sense of peace and hope. Musically, I appreciate that it is one of the original rock hymns with great harmonies. Like any great song, it takes you to a different place."

2. "Yes, I have seen him perform a handful of times, both at IU Auditorium and when he performed at Assembly Hall during President (Michael) McRobbie’s inauguration week. Not only is Mr. Dylan an incomparable songwriter and performer, but he surrounds himself with the most talented musicians available. His concerts are definitely a sensory experience."

3. "He’s one the greatest living rock musicians and the opportunity to experience one of his concerts is a real privilege."



Glenn Gass, music professor who teaches Z404: The Music of Bob Dyla

1. There were too many songs for Gass to choose from, but he threw out the title "One Too Many Mornings" and "Mr Tambourine Man," as well as the album "Blonde on Blonde."

2. "I've heard him be great, and I've heard him be atrocious" Gass said, who has seen Dylan 20 to 25 times. He often watches from backstage because of his friendship with Dylan's road manager. 

3. "He's the greatest songwriter that ever lived – period," Gass said. "He's the national treasure."

John Bodnar, history professor who teaches A225: Elvis, Dylan and Postwar America

1. "Like a Rolling Stone."

2. Bodnar has seen him two to three times, and said he wasn't always a great performer. Dylan acts without a sense of responsibility to the audience. He said it would be great to walk into a theater and have Dylan from 1965.

3. Dylan was a symbol of the counterculture, Bodnar said. The culture at the time, including war protests and the civil rights movement, laid the ground for someone like him, who engaged in expression against the status quo, to be elevated to a legendary status. 

Anthony DeCurtis, contributing editor of Rolling Stone magazine, instructor of Visions of Dylan at the University of Pennsylvania and IU alumnus 

1. “'Desolation Row' by Bob Dylan. I just remember when I played that for the class, and we just started talking about it and just going through it with them and really engaging with it in a deep way. It’s extraordinary. It’s hard to think of another song even remotely like it.”

3. "I think he’s as important a literary figure, not simply a songwriter, as just about anybody else. If you like words, and popular music means something to you, then Bob Dylan is someone you maybe want to find out about. It’s kind of anyone’s loss if they don’t want to do that. Bob Dylan is just going to be fine.”

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