14 November 2017

Manure To Music: Seeing Bob Dylan And Mavis Staples

Mavis Maple

I am now old enough to remember Bob Dylan playing at the Cafe Wha in Greenwich Village, I was living just around the corner above a pizza parlor. And I am going to see him again Friday night.

For the better part of a year, my daily sustenance was a Coke and a thick slice of Sicilian pizza. On weekends and holidays, we regulars got an extra slice, the Italian family who ran the place knew we were hungry and sometimes malnourished.

I lived with a giant pacifist named Matthew and three beautiful young women from different parts of the country. There were some memorable evenings.

I am always grateful whenever I see a slice of Sicilian pizza, which up here, is rarely. I love our lives, we are out shoveling manure in the morning, and off to see music legends at night. This is a good place to live.

I loved Dylan's writing and his music, he was an electrifying genius even then. I am not as rabid a Dylan fan as some, but then I avoid being rabid about anything, it feels like a disease to me, too cultish. Drama never works for me.

I still listen to several of his early albums, they often move me to tears. I think we need another Dylan now, but music doesn't play the role it once did.

I also love Mavis Maples.

Staples and Dylan are old and close friends, he even proposed to her many years ago. She was shocked when he invited her to join his tour. It will be great fun to see them together.

She says she hopes he won't hide from her on the tour, she wants to cook dinner for him. The truth is I want to see her as much as I want to see him.

I swallowed hard at the ticket price – just under $400 for two tickets plus handling and service fees – but I bit the bullet. Life is too short to fret.  I want to see Dylan before he retires or dies. I am just a hair younger than he is.

I have not seen Dylan since those heady days in the Village – I saw him often then, and I have long loved Maple's music, this will be the first time I've seen her perform live.

I have come to admire Dylan for changing and growing and being himself. He just doesn't care what people think of what he does, he does what he wants. That is an inspirational message for me.

I suppose Dylan reminds me I am aging also – a neighbor's nephew asked him recently if "the old man who walks with the border collies" might help him train his dog. I do not yet think of myself as an old man, but I see some people do.

You often learn about yourself through the eyes of others.

I am excited to go to this concert Friday, I have this sense it is the last time I will see Dylan and it will also be the first time I have seen Staples.

Both of those things feel good to me, and Maria and I are planning to see more live concerts when they come through Albany, as they often do. Tonight, she is doing to see Roseanne Cash with some friends in Troy.

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