Friday, July 28, 2017

Flashback Friday: Palindromes, Weird Al and His Subterranean Homesick Wordplay

Words are endlessly fascinating. Word puzzles abound in all languages, and ours is no exception. Word play assumes many forms from crossword puzzles and word jumbles to anagrams. As kids we loved search word puzzles where you have to find all the words in a grid of letters, and who among us has not played the word game Hang Man?

I once wrote a story composed of as many homonyms as possible called How Eye One The Wore, which was published i
n Games magazine years ago. That was fun, incorrectly placing more than 150 homonyms into a 500 word short story.

But my theme this morning is palindromes. According to Wikipedia, "A palindrome is a word, phrase, number or other sequence of units that can be read the same way in either direction." Here are some examples to illustrate.

LEVEL
KAYAK
RACECAR
SOLOS
SAGAS

The fun part is seeing the elaborate lengths to which sentences can be constructed. As a general rule it is O.K. to adjust punctuation to make sentences work like actual sentences.

Here are some examples of phrases, though I assure you the lists seem endless.

A man, a plan, a canal - Panama!
"Am I mad, eh?" Giselle sighed, "Am I, Ma?"
A nut for a jar of tuna.
Dad: "Alas, a salad ad!"
Delia failed.
Del saw a sled.
Dennis sinned.
Dennis and Edna sinned.
Detach cat, Ed.

Well, you get the picture. Palindromes can be fun. There are quite a few websites with palindromes online, but here's one you might especially like.

Here are a couple examples which the Palindrome Police have indicated are not really acceptable, though you'll have to admit they are clever. (source: Rinkworks)

Retteb, si flahd noces eht tub, but the second half is better.

Doctor Reubenstein was shocked and dismayed when he answered the ringing telephone, only to hear a strange, metallic, alien voice say, "Yasec iovn eilacilla temeg! Nartsa raehoty lnoenoh pelet gnig, nirehtde rewsnaehn ehw. Deya! Msid! Dnadek cohssaw nietsne buerro, tcod?"

But my real objective here was simply to share a Weird Al video from YouTube. When my kids were growing up, this is the one show I loved to watch that they watched on Saturday mornings. Weird Al Yankovich seems to be endlessly creative, and his spoofs on MTV style videos are not to be missed. We had a couple Weird Al CDs in the house and, well, he's just plain witty.

So without further ado, here's a video of Weird Al performing Bob Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues, which appeared in the 1967 D. A. Pennebaker film Don't Look Back. Except he does the whole thing in palindromes. He even sets up the background the same, with Allen Ginsburg or a Ginsburg-like character. Turn down the volume if you are in an office.


And, for comparison purposes, here's the original below:


Have a fun day making word play.
Net forever. Often!

Originally published 2009

Thursday, July 27, 2017

A Visit with Robert Lillegard: Creating Content That Connects in Our Digital Age

Big shout out to Molly Solberg for the caliber of speakers she's brought to our monthly Social Media Breakfast Twin Ports. July's topic: Creating Good Content. July's speaker: Robert Lilegard, freelance writer, entrepreneur and founder of Be Our Guest, a results-driven PR firm.

Not only did Lillegard talk about how to create content, he demonstrated by his presentation that he could efficiently deliver shovels-full of practical info to help anyone who was seriously listening and taking notes. Practical, purposeful and efficient being the operative words here. Clearly he has walked the walk, and wasn't afraid to generously show us the ropes. What he really showed is that he knew his stuff.

What impressed me is his non-nonsense approach to content marketing. Seriousness does not mean the absence of fun, however. When you read his prose you find it to be lively, engaging, full of wit, and truly fun. No wonder editors like what he brings to the table.

EN: When did you first take an interest in writing?

Robert Lillegard: When I was six years old I wrote my first story. In it a boy finds out his brother is the devil and has to kill him. Interestingly, my brother Michael is five years younger than I am.

EN: How did you come to focus on food writing?

Delicious dish at Duluth Grill is also a work of art.
RL: There is less hate mail than with political op-eds. Although frankly there is also hate mail with food writing. I think if aliens encountered the Internet they would conclude it was a tool designed for turning ignorance into hatred.

EN: How many businesses do you have your hand in? And where did the entrepreneurial call come from?

RL: I have two now, a bakery and a marketing firm. Entrepreneurship was a pretty logical step because my first boss had the philosophy: "if I can't do a job while drinking wine and watching Law and Order, I'm not doing that job." This meant I'd only hear from her if I screwed something up really badly. By the time I officially started my own business I had essentially been supervising myself for years.

EN: Can I assume the alligator story was a publicity move? Where did that idea originate and how did it play out?

RL: Obviously you, too, are under the pay of Big Alligator or you wouldn't be questioning this. Mayors Larson and Ness have stayed silent on the issue but ask Jim Richardson and he will tell you about the rash of alligator attacks. The truth is out there on Perfect Duluth Day!

EN: Tell us about Be Our Guest PR? How did this come about and what is the nature of your business? 

RL: You know how some restaurants and hotels seem to always get covered on the news and in the newspaper, but yours seems to get overlooked? A lot of those have people behind the scenes talking the newspaper into covering them. I'll be that person for you.

EN: Over the past decade social media has emerged as an essential tool for business marketing, but it's still evolving. What are some essential rules or guidelines that businesses need to be aware of when "invading" social spaces for marketing purposes?

Social Media Breakfast at WITC
RL: You have to just accept that Facebook is a paid service now and if you don't pay Facebook you'll be limiting your reach. Your time is worth something too so don't waste it playing the "but it should be free" game.

EN: What is the best writing advice you ever received? 

RL: The persistent get published.

EN: And finally, do you have a boilerplate 3-4 sentence bio I can open with?

RL: Isn't this awful? I am going to insist that you as the writer research this part from what's freely available on the Internet :) I've been written about before; you'll find something.

Robert started his career as a national food and travel writer for magazines like New York Times, Outside Magazine, Cooking Light, Midwest Living, and (surprisingly) Latina. Among other familiar topics and clients, he wrote and published The Duluth Grill Cookbook, which led to a sequel. In addition to his writing about restaurants, he also knows about the hospitality business. Along with his brother he co-owns Duluth’s Best Bread. (EdNote: The names say it all.)

* * * *
Learn more about Lillegard and his work at BeOurGuestPR.com.

* * * *

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Lizzard's In Duluth

Did a little walk-through last week. Snapped a few photos. Next time you're passing by, stop in and say hello. There's plenty to see.


Looks like Terry Millikan is here.
A Wendy Rouse exhibition is slated for fall I believe.
Vibrant.
Bob Pokorney has some work on view here.
Brent Kusterman's world.
11 West Superior Street

Art in all mediums. Don't just peer in the window. Step inside and look around.

Meantime, art goes on all around you. Engage it!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Free Range Film Festival's 2017 Playlist Announced

There will be no whales saved in Wrenshall this weekend. There will be no terrifying accidents on a giant roller coaster that shoots people through the air. There will be no ocean expeditions, nor crash landings by Martian explorers (we hope). Rather, there will be laughs and sighs and other surprises, because the 2017 Free Range Film Festival (FRFF) is back.

If you've never been the the Free Range Film Barn, then you might want to go just because of the nostalgic sense of going back in time that it gives. (I think here of Uncle Harry and Aunt Isabel's spread in West Virginia. They had a bull and we were told not to get too near. That's no bull.)

The Free Range Film Festival has developed something of a cult-like following since it began in 2003 in that Wrenshall barn. The FRFF will be screening 35 films from around the world this year. The event provides a forum for filmmakers, film lovers, as well as barn enthusiasts and country living aficionados.

“That overused phrase ‘there is something for everyone’ really does apply here” says organizer Annie Dugan. “We screen short films, documentaries, animated films, and fiction. I think we try and strike a balance between work that is going to capture as well as challenge our audiences. I think there is something about watching movies in a big old barn that give people permission to relax and try something new. If they don’t like something, they can look up at the rafters and daydream. Its just such a beautiful space.”

EdNote: It really is a cool space.

This year’s lineup features local treasures along with nationally recognized films. In fact, “Hello Stranger” was featured on the Tonight Show after it was secured for the festival. The diversity in directors and subject matter is also noteworthy this year. Dugan states that “One of the cool things that we realized after we programmed the festival is that almost half of the directors are women, something you don’t usually see in filmmaking.”


www.freerangefilm.com

Free Range Film Festival
909 County Road 4, Wrenshall, MN 55797
To get there, head South out of Carlton and take County 1 when you get to the fork.
That will bring you to an intersection with County Road 4. Make a right and you can't miss it.
If you get lost, call 218-310-4703

Friday, July 28th 7pm – 11pm
Saturday, July 29th, 2pm – 5:30pm and 7pm – 11pm

For more information contact Anne Dugan
annesdugan gmail.com

* * * *
THE SCHEDULE

FRIDAY EVENING 7pm
CATHERINE (12m)
Cat ownership can be difficult. Directed by Britt Raes.
*THE LEGEND OF CYRIL (3m)
Cat ownership can be beautiful. Directed by Beth Peloff.
SCIENCE TODAY: THE TRUMP PARTICLE (3m)
Trump stumped scientists… until now. Directed by John Akre.
*DEMOLITION DREAMING (52m)
The Minneapolis Gateway District according to the girl in the walls. Directed by John Akre.
HI STRANGER (3m)
Hi stranger. It’s been a while. I’ve missed you. Directed by Kirsten Lepore.
IT SHOULD BE EASY (2m)
Computer ownership can be dangerous. Directed by Ben Meinhardt.
*ON THE WALL, OFF THE CHAIN (7m)
Artist Adam Turman is also a gentleman cyclist. Directed by Greg Carlson
ALL THE PRESIDENTS’ HEADS (9m)
All of our presidents are cement heads. Directed by Adam Roffman.
PERFECTLY NORMAL (13m)
We are all normal in some way. Directed by Joris Debeij.
***** BREAK with music ****

FRIDAY EVENING 9:30pm
Balcony with a View
BIRDLIME (11m)
The exotic bird industry in heartbreaking stop-motion. Directed by Evan DeRushie.
FRY DAY (16m)
An adolescent girl comes of age thanks to Polaroid photography and the execution of Ted Bundy. Directed by Laura Moss.
LITTLE POTATO (14m)
Imagine growing up gay in the Soviet Union with limited television options. Directed by Wes Hurley.
TOUGH (5m)
Some cultural misunderstanding can only be understood with maturity. Directed by Jennifer Zheng.
ELECTION NIGHT (8m)
The 2016 election takes a turn for the worse at a London pub. Directed by Ryan Scafuro.
REFUGE (20m)
Captivating interviews with refugees arriving in Greece. Directed by Matthew Firpo.
SATURDAY AFTERNOON 2pm
CONDITIONER (5m)
Auditions for a conditioner TV spot get wonky. Directed by Shane Bream.
UNTAMED WORLD: DESERTS (4m)
An intimate look at desert fauna. Directed by Kelsey Juddo.
GUT HACK (13m)
This guy eats poop to feel better. Directed by Laura Heberton.
LINGUA ABSENTIA (10m)
This is difficult to watch because it involves animation of severed tongues. But it is worth it. Directed by Kate Raney & Jeremy Bessoff.
LIFE AT A SNAIL’S PACE (23m)
Snails are surprisingly fascinating creatures, and pretty too. Directed by Alexandra Gaulupeau
THE SEVENTH STAGE OF GRIEF (14m)
These guys think climate change is real! Directed by Jacob Rosdail.
*MANLIFE (94m)
The secret to a healthy life? Eat raw vegetables, abolish income tax, and go to airshows. Directed by Ryan Sarnowski.
SATURDAY EVENING 7pm
BLOOP’S BIRTHDAY (4m)
What did you get Bloop for her birthday? Directed by Julian Glander.
*WALK IN DREAMS (5m)
Edgar Allen Poe says “All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.” Directed by Jonathan Thunder.
BACK TO ABSTRACTION (10m)
Stacy Elaine Dacheux travels back to the future to explore abstraction. Directed by Matthew Quezada.
AMEN (10m)
Adam is 11 and he is a messenger from God. Directed by Marie-Helene Viens and Philippe Lupien.
PENELOPE (13m)
A couple rescues a chicken from an Orthodox Jewish ceremony in Brooklyn. Directed by Duncan Skiles.
IMAGINE KOLLE 37 (8m)
Two carefree young girls laugh in the face of danger. Directed by Michele Meek.
*IN THE SKIP DISTANCE (9m)
A young girl alone in the wilderness finds some analog technology. Directed by Emily McNeill
TOMMY AND DAVID (5m)
Michelangelo’s David does not feel inadequate. Directed by Sara Joe Wolansky.
THE COLLECTION (12m)
Two friends find the holy grail of movie memorabilia in the unlikeliest of places. Directed by Adam Roffman.
THE SCARLET WHALE (15m)
A whale hunter becomes what he hunts. Directed by Jimmy Cho.
ARKABUTLA (14m)
There are certain moments in our lives where we make memories for life. Directed by Katori Hall.
*** BREAK with music by Portrait of a Drowned Man ***

SATURDAY EVENING 9:30pm
OH WHAT A WONDERFUL FEELING (15m)
Stars, hide your fires; let not light see my black and deep desires. Nor any truck. Directed by Francois Jaros.
*WHAT CHILDREN DO (87m)
Two estranged sisters are forced to repair their feral relationship. Directed by Dean Peterson.



Meantime, life outside goes on all around you. Get into it.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Is That Really What You Want? How Do You Know? Thoughts from The Century of Self.

For with much wisdom comes much sorrow;
the more knowledge, the more grief.
Ecclesiastes 1:18

A couple weeks ago I saw a question on Quora that intrigued me. Someone asked, "What is the hardest truth?" Several thoughts came to mind, one of them being the awareness of how chained we are by habit, genetic disposition, the formative influence of our upbringing, our tastes, our temperaments… and that to change our selves is exceedingly hard and far more difficult than we imagine.

The irony is that we believe we're free agents. It certainly feels like we're free. I can order anything on this menu that I want, right? I can watch any movie I want. Or read any book I want.

In 2002 the BBC broadcast a four-part documentary called The Century of Self. It's an eye-opening look at recent history from a new angle, from "behind the curtain" as it were.

When we think of influential people in our lives, I doubt that very many of us think of Sigmund Freud. Most people (I have no evidence and am only guessing here) associate Freud with the idea of a patient lying on a couch talking to a psychologist taking notes, or with what seem like strange notions of repressed sexuality, Oedipal complexes and the like. The Century of Self addresses another way in which Freud influenced us, through techniques of mass manipulation developed and implemented by his nephew Edward Bernays, the founder of modern Public Relations (a term which itself is a euphemism for propaganda.)

"By satisfying the masses' inner selfish desires one made them happy, and thus docile." Bernays, this program claims, was central in the development of "the all-consuming self which has come to dominate our world today."

Why are there so many hoarders among us these days? How is it that there are so many storage facilities in existence today, a whole industry that sprang up to store excess stuff, stuff that people don't use or need or know what to do with because they have so much other stuff?

* * * *
The series has four parts. They were:
"Happiness Machines"
"The Engineering of Consent" 
"There is a Policeman Inside All Our Heads; He Must Be Destroyed" 
"Eight People Sipping Wine in Kettering"

A description of Part 1 includes this paragraph:
Bernays was one of the main architects of the modern techniques of mass-consumer persuasion, using every trick in the book, from celebrity endorsement and outrageous PR stunts, to eroticizing the motorcar. His most notorious coup was breaking the taboo on women smoking by persuading them that cigarettes were a symbol of independence and freedom. But Bernays was convinced that this was more than just a way of selling consumer goods. It was a new political idea of how to control the masses. By satisfying the inner irrational desires that his uncle had identified, people could be made happy and thus docile.

The BBC PR for this documentary describes the program this way:
To many in politics and business, the triumph of the self is the ultimate expression of democracy, where power has finally moved to the people. Certainly, the people may feel they are in charge, but are they really? The Century of the Self tells the untold and sometimes controversial story of the growth of the mass-consumer society. How was the all-consuming self created, by whom, and in whose interests?

* * * *
There's much more that can be said here, but it's time to start my day. If you have time, the programs are enlightening. You can also read a synopsis here on Wikipedia.

Meantime, life outside goes on all around you. Think about it.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Scott Marshall's Book About Bob Dylan, the Gospel and the Great American Songbook: What a Long, Strange Journey It's Been

"Good evening ladies and gentlemen,. Would you please welcome Columbia recording artist... Bob Dylan."

Glory, glory, glory, somebody touched me
Glory, glory, glory, somebody touched me
Glory, glory, glory, somebody touched me
Must've been the hand of the Lord.

* * * * 

This is a review of Scott Marshall's 2017 book, Bob Dylan: A Spiritual Life, which I finished last weekend, just before my interview with the author. This is not Marshall's first book, nor is it his first foray into the the theme of Dylan's religious convictions. Unlike his first, Restless Pilgrim, this is an in-depth survey of all that Dylan has written, that Dylan himself has said, his actions related to spiritual matters (his son's bar mitzvah, his visits to the Wailing Wall, etc.), and what others have written about Dylan's spiritual impulses, as well as some "man in the street" types of inquiries about perceptions as to where Dylan is at.

Marshall has stated that he spent 12 or 13 years consciously working on the book, sifting through everything Dylan has ever written or said in order to collect the flecks of gold dust that could be re-assembled in this volume. The author acknowledges his own bias up front (he is a Christian and a Dylan fan) but for the most part strives to let the evidence he's accumulated speak for itself.

* * * *

Last weekend, while listening to the radio program Beale Street Caravan, the theme of Pentecostal revivalism was brought up as one of the streams that flowed into the blues. The narrator of the show asserted that when we listen to Motown or the music from the streets of Memphis, there's this whole gospel Pentecostal influence that can't be ignored. Anyone who's been to Bourbon Street in New Orleans knows that one of their theme songs is "When the Saints Go Marching In."

What was the appeal of Gospel music? It's chief appeal was a message of hope, a feeling that we've not been abandoned, a message finding its strongest resonance amongst those who were indeed most likely to feel abandoned and without hope, the down-and-outers, the end-of-the-liners, the betrayed, forgotten and lost.

While Wikipedia's account of Pentecostalism is fairly extensive, the first paragraph does a fairly good job of summarizing the core of this movement.

Pentecostalism or Classical Pentecostalism is a renewal movement within Protestant Christianity that places special emphasis on a direct personal experience of God through the baptism with the Holy Spirit. The term Pentecostal is derived from Pentecost, the Greek name for the Jewish Feast of Weeks. For Christians, this event commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the followers of Jesus Christ, as described in the second chapter of the Book of Acts.*

* * * * 

When I was in college I had an art instructor named Frank Holmes. He was a sensational artist who painted interiors in the classical impressionist/realist tradition. A couple years later I learned that Frank had gone to New York and had a loft where he was now painting. I inquired as to how he was doing and what he was working on. I was told that he was painting a piano, but to paint it profoundly he had to engage it profoundly, meaning he felt he had to learn to play it. He had gone a year on this piano engagement without doing a painting. He may have been doing drawings and sketches, I do not know, and this story was relayed to me second hand, but it was my understanding that he was somehow internalizing the piano first. 

This memory popped into my head as I was listening to Beale Street Caravan last weekend, when they discussed the influences of Gospel music on the Blues. If Bob Dylan's life mission had been to internalize and absorb the Great American Songbook, it would have been impossible to do this without becoming immersed to some extent in the music of its Gospel traditions. 

The Bluegrass stream is thoroughly awash in Gospel, the Carter Family being one of its chief conduits. The music of them thar hills is a blend of both sacred and secular themes, shining a light on the high road while acknowledging the brokenness and muck of life's other side.

Like Frank Holmes's efforts to understand a piano before painting it, the best way to really understand the emotional charge Gospel music gives might be to get "set afire" by the Gospel. What I mean here is that getting totally immersed in the Gospel seems to be the most authentic way to translate the Bible through the unique internal method that is Dylan.

* * * *

1979, San Francisco (photo courtesy Bill Pagel)
Marshall's book is an overview of all the periods in Dylan's life, extracting quotes from interviews as well as lyrics analysis. Many of the stories are familiar, such as Dylan's question to Noel Paul Stookey, "Do you ever read the Bible?" when the latter was visiting Dylan's Woodstock home in 1967. Nor is Marshall the first to note the more than 60 Biblical references and allusions in Dylan's John Wesley Harding. Marshall, on the other hand, may be the first to sift the sand of Dylan's life this thoroughly, from the beginning till the most current times.

The critics were harsh when Dylan released Christmas in the Heart, outdoing one another with their creative salvos, so much so that one failed to notice the positive remarks  that were made. Marshall doesn't miss these and highlights them for his readers.

One of my favorite lines in Mark Sutton's "I'm a Bigger Dylan Fan Than You" is the one where he sings, "I became a Jew and then a Christian, and then again became a Jew." On the surface, this is a common interpretation of Dylan's temporary three year embrace of Christianity. What Marshall attempts to demonstrate is that, although know one knows except Dylan himself, there is ample evidence to support the belief that he never renounced his Christian faith of the late 1970's.

The word that may best describe Dylan on these matters is syncretism, which Dictionary.com defines as "the attempted reconciliation or union of different or opposing principles, practices, or parties, as in philosophy or religion." Indeed, this is what Marshall states near the book's culmination. Dylan has been known to still attend synagogue on Jewish holy days.

Though the songs from his Saved album, for the most part, were only temporarily showcased on his playlist from 1979-1981, Dylan continued to sing "In the Garden" and "Solid Rock" up into the 21st century. He's performed "Gotta Serve Somebody" from his Slow Train Coming more than 400 times, right up to 2011. The song was Dylan's first Grammy, but would that be the only reason he opened so many concerts with this one?

* * * *

Marshall has marshaled an impressive list of endorsements, including Gary Cherone of Extreme and Van Halen, Noel Paul Stookey, Grammy-Nominated producer Jeffrey Gaskill, a columnist at The Nation Randall Balmer, Alice Cooper and the President Jimmy Carter. If this is a subject that interests you, you'll probably enjoy it, too.

Meantime, life outside goes on all around you. Engage it.

*Wikipedia entry on Pentecostalism.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Like His Hero Woody Guthrie, Dylan Spoke the Language of the Disenfranchised

My eyes collide head-on with stuffed
Graveyards, false gods, I scuff
At pettiness which plays so rough
Walk upside-down inside handcuffs
Kick my legs to crash it off
Say okay, I have had enough, what else can you show me?
--"It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)"

In the Old Testament story of David, there came a time when the young giant-slayer's reputation and honor was such that he became a threat to King Saul, who was a symbol of the established order. (See I Samuel 17-19.) After slaying Goliath David became part of the king's household, as armor bearer and poet/musician. Eventually Saul put him in command of a small army. David's achievements were heroic and greatly celebrated by the masses, public adulation that tormented Saul to the point that David's life was endangered, and ultimately David had to flee.

The young poet/musician took refuge in the wilderness, hiding in caves and moving about the surrounding hills. As word got around (even without social media or news corporations the buzz travelled fast) it is written that "everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him." (I Samuel 22:2 KJV) The New Century translation of this verse states, "Everyone who was in trouble, or who owed money, or who was unsatisfied gathered around David, and he became their leader."

What comes to mind when I think of Dylan's early songs is how they resonated with the disenfranchised. In fact, Dylan used to cite this story of David while introducing his song "When the Ship Comes In." Longtime Dylan fans are familiar with the early live recording where he stated, "Nowadays there are crueler Goliaths who do crueler and crueler things, but one day they're going to be slain, too." It's a familiar story and a metaphor that captured something of Dylan's appeal in the Sixties.

Where did this attitude and sensibility come from?

It's well-known that young Bob Dylan identified with the folk roots of his hero Woody Guthrie. Guthrie's story goes like this:

"At the age of just 14, Guthrie and his siblings were left to fend for themselves while their father worked in Texas to repay his debts. As a teenager, Guthrie turned to busking in the streets for food or money, honing his skills as a musician while developing the keen social conscience that would later be so integral to his legendary music.

"Guthrie left his family in 1935 to join the thousands of "Okies" who were migrating West in search of work. Like many other "Dust Bowl refugees," Guthrie spent his time hitchhiking, riding freight trains, and when he could, quite literally singing for his supper.

"In 1937, Guthrie arrived in California, where he landed a job with partner Maxine "Lefty Lou" Crissman as a radio performer of traditional folk music on KFVD in Los Angeles. The duo soon garnered a loyal following from the disenfranchised "Okies" living in migrant camps across California and it wasn't long before Guthrie's populist sentiments found their way into his songs."*

Four times in the 1940s American author John Steinbeck was nominated for a Nobel Prize in Literature before achieving it in 1962 "for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception." His novel The Grapes of Wrath poignantly tells the story of the disenfranchised for whom Woody Guthrie labored.

This mix of ingredients along with lessons learned growing up on the Iron Range permeated Dylan's early sensibilities. I think here of Hollis Brown, who "lived on the outside of town."

Even though a majority of the Boomer generation grew up in suburbia, which was supposed to be "the good life," many of the youth of that time felt an emptiness and confusion about the times they inhabited.

Early on Dylan keyed in to this generational angst in songs like "Hard Rain" and "The Times They Are A-Changin'," at a time with others were singing "He's So Fine" and "I Wanna Hold Your Hand." His music performed a role similar to the icebreakers on the great Northern Lake that was hugged by the port city where he was born. Carrying a torch that had been lit by his hero Woody Guthrie, his songs lit many other torches and in a few years we had "For What It's Worth" (Buffalo Springfield), "Ball of Confusion" (The Temptations), "Eve of Destruction" (Barry Maguire),  "Fortunate Son" (CCR) and more. By the early 1970s everyone was wondering "What's Goin' On?"

* * * *
Longtime fans and followers of Dylan's music and performances have commented to me that they're seeing a resurgence of interest in Dylan by growing numbers of young people attending his concerts in recent years. Some have wondered if it's simply a response to his "celebrity status," especially now having won the Nobel Prize. But there are others who have suggested that it's not that at all, rather that having grown up in homes where their parents listened to Dylan, they've now themselves begun to understand what he was singing about, and the lyrics are beginning to connect.

After a lifetime of hearing about the massive growth of our national debt, there's an unreality about it all for most Boomers. But there's no unreality for our young people about the high cost of health care, dental care, housing, taxes and even death (for those left behind) And then there's all that unpaid college debt, while being perpetually reminded that you're never too young to start saving for retirement.

The themes in It's Alright, Ma are as relevant to today's young people as when they were penned more than 50 years ago.

So don’t fear if you hear
A foreign sound to your ear
It’s alright, Ma, I’m only sighing

And so it goes.

*Biography