A group of friends, on the verge of leaving school, has come together for a barbeque at a campsite on the edge of town. It’s a significant time, for they are poised on the brink of independent adult life, ready to create their own identities and shape the world around them. Someone has brought a tape recorder, and as they stand around the fire they hear a nasal voice that never seems to hit quite the right note singing about an old order rapidly fadin’ as times are a’changin’. Senators and congressmen who don’t heed the call had better get out of the way, and the same goes for the mothers and fathers whose children are beyond their command. The consonance between the time of life of those at the barbeque and the moment in history evoked by the song is perfect. The hairs of at least one person present stood on end.
It would take fifty years for those of us who were at the barbeque that evening to meet again. Some were perhaps a bit the worse for wear, and doubtless there have been compromises and unexpected losses along the way, but how wonderful to be able to reach back and touch that time of life when all seemed possible. For members of our generation Bob Dylan is an ongoing presence, something against which our own lives can be measured.
Whether this is worth a Nobel Prize for Literature is another matter.