My Teacher Is an Alien

It's Bob Dylan's 60th birthday, and we're throwing a little party for him! Now, I realize that Miles Davis' 75th anniversary is this Saturday and he deserves a party too. But he's is dead, so who cares?

Ladies and gentlemen, if I could have your attention please. I have something profound to say about Dylan. Okay, I lied. I don't have anything profound to say about Dylan. Let's have Entertainment Weekly speak for me:

On May 24, Bob Dylan leaves his 50s behind. Now, we could use this event to indulge in a pensive essay pondering his cultural importance and what it means to his generation that he's five years shy of collecting Social Security checks. On this august occasion, however, we chose to imagine what the world would have been like without him. Have an extra piece of cake on us, Bobby.

• Dylan's boyhood home, Hibbing, Minn., still best known for housing the world's largest open pit iron mine.

• Without Dylan introducing them to pot, the Beatles never make the under the influence Sgt. Pepper. Rock never aims for high art; fans lose out on years of concept albums, elaborate orchestrations, head tripping cover art, and XTC homages.

• The Byrds never score a breakout smash with "Mr. Tambourine Man" and remain an L.A. bar band. Disillusioned, cofounder David Crosby quits the biz; CSNY never exist.

• Donovan goes electric at 1965 Newport Folk Festival; controversial performance gives birth to rabid cult known as Donovanologists.

• College students forced to write papers analyzing lyrics of Procol Harum songs ("'Conquistador' as Metaphor").

• Dylan's ode to Mob thug Joey Gallo, "Joey," never written. Mafia chic never kicks in; The Sopranos still a gleam in David Chase's eye.

• Without being immortalized on the cover of "Before the Flood," the idea of requesting encores by flicking lighters fails to catch fire. Forever after, concerts end on time.

• Steely Dan's first album, Can't Buy a Thrill (line nicked from "It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry"), instead called Do It Again and Other Hits.

• All rock stars required to sing on key in order to land record deals; hence, Neil Young, Lou Reed, Leonard Cohen, John Prine, Kris Kristofferson, J. Mascis, and Jennifer Lopez never make it.

• Rubin "Hurricane" Carter still in jail, but his license plates rule in Cell Block B.

• Radical leftist group the Weathermen (from a line in "Subterranean Homesick Blues") resort to calling themselves Disillusioned Hippies Who Like to Blow Shit Up.

• The Band, still called the Hawks, have a regular gig at "Rockabilly Oldies Night" at the Stagger Inn in a Toronto suburb.

• Bruce Springsteen pens concise, straightforward lyrics for early songs; dubbed the New Donovan by the press.

• White guy Afro popularized by Dylan never catches on. Don Henley, Lindsey Buckingham, and two members of At the Drive-In stuck in crew cut phase for years.

• "The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest" never written; at a loss for a name, young British metal band of the '80s resorts to calling itself A Flock of Halfords.

• The New Dylans just called the Dylans.

• At 1998 Grammy telecast, Soy Bomb leaps on stage to interrupt performance by Shawn Mullins. No one notices.

• Instead of Forever Young, Mel Gibson calls his 1992 movie What I Would Look Like Old.

• Traveling Wilburys announce original lineup: George Harrison, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, and…Donovan.

• The Wallflowers fronted by Sean Lennon.

• Counting Crows never write "Mr. Jones" (from a line in "Ballad of a Thin Man") and thereby fail to achieve fame. World spared Adam Duritz's whining about pitfalls of rock stardom.

• Dylan not around to legitimize Christian rock during his "born again" phase. World spared pompous altar grunge of Creed. In news that reshapes the cosmos, God thanks us.

So now then.

One of my uncles died yesterday. HOORAY!

I'm sorry. Did I just say "hooray"? What I meant to say was, "May he rest in peace."

Notes on the Dave Matthews Band show at Dodger Stadium on May 22, 2001:

There's really nothing quite like gettin' high in a shitty baseball stadium.

I kinda feel sorry for the bass player. Everybody's always cheering for the saxophone player and the violinist. But the bass player, he's just…a bass player. I bet you he stands on stage thinking, "Dude, I'm a bass prodigy. I joined this band when I was sixteen. Why aren't you fuckin' cheering for me? Stop cheering for the black guys! Stop cheering when Matthews gets all intense and shit! Cheer for me, dammit!"

It's nice to know that the band is in a position nowadays where their song catalog is extensive enough so that they don't have to play all their biggest hits ("Crash Into Me") in concert and can instead fill up half of their set with new material that elicits tepid responses from the audience.

John Popper joined the band for "What Would You Say" and boy, has he lost weight! I wasn't sure whether I was looking at John Popper on stage or Calista Flockhart with sideburns in a fedora and Gap clothes playing the harmonica.

Dave Matthews' foot shuffle will go down in music history as one of the most fascinating performance-enhancers, along with Thom Yorke's neck wobble and Stephan Jenkins' face.

DMB made custom t-shirts for the San Francisco shows. Where were the custom t-shirts for the Los Angeles show? Oh, that's right. We're not worthy.

People still think that "All Along The Watchtower" was written by Jimi Hendrix. For the last time, the author of "Watchtower" is none other than Mr. Bob Dylan.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.