Thursday, March 16, 2023

Throwback Thursday: Dreaming of Dylan

Two nights ago I met Bob Dylan. The meeting took place in a dream, so it was not a real encounter with the legendary singer/songwriter. I'm not sure how old I was in the dream, but he seemed to be somewhere in his fifties or sixties.

In the dream we were standing in a room with rather dim lighting, talking. It was a very normal conversation. He didn't smile much but he wasn't cold or aloof. Unfortunately, when I woke I didn't write down any of its details. We met and we talked, like people do sometimes. 

What it made me think of, though, was Mary Lee Kortes' book Dreaming of Dylan, which I wrote about in April of 2019. The book was definitely a fun read. Here are a few excerpts and my review from that time.

* * * * *

Dream 103 / Dylan Vs. Paulsen
I am sitting at the kitchen table with my parents. I’m very young in the dream, only seven or eight years old, and the presidential election is coming. My parents are fighting about who to vote for: Bob Dylan or Pat Paulsen.

* * * *
Dreams are one of those amazing phenomenon that fall into that area of mystery as regards what it means to be human. Studied by psychologists and now the domain or neuroscience, who can definitively say where they come from or what they mean. One thing for certain, our minds produce pretty wild stories sometimes.

What is is that makes our dreams so vivid? The fun part, though, is sharing those dream anecdotes and stories with others, in part because often there doesn't seem to be any kind of logic to the dream at all. It just goes where it wants and you go with it.

And that's what makes these 115 dreams so much fun. Even if you're not a Dylan fan, you'll enjoy these stories because after a lifetime living in this world you will undoubtedly have formed a certain kind of image of the Nobel Laureate so that when he appears in dreams, he's often the caricature of his persona. Or not.

The book, published by BMG Books, is titled Dreaming of Dylan: 115 Dreams About Bob. The author is Mary Lee Kortes, a recording artist and performer who has actually opened for Bob, so in a sense she's already had a dream come true, I suspect.

I don't know how long it took to assemble this collection of dreams, but the final outcome is a totally first rate execution of concept. It's a beautiful book as well as totally entertaining, especially if you're a fan. The contributors come from all over the world, from painters to poets to Patti Smith.

If you're a Dylan fan, you already know where the title of the book comes from, the title of a song on Bringing It All Back Home. The spirit of the book itself is in alignment with another familiar song, Talkin' World War III Blues, which ends with this famous stanza:

Well, now time passed and now it seems
Everybody’s having them dreams
Everybody sees themselves
Walkin’ around with no one else
Half of the people can be part right all of the time
Some of the people can be all right part of the time
But all of the people can’t be all right all of the time
I think Abraham Lincoln said that
“I’ll let you be in my dreams if I can be in yours”
I said that

* * * *
One other feature of the book that is somewhat amusing is the irregular structure. That is, the dreams all have numbers but they are not in the order of the numbers. You might expect 1 to be first and 115 to be the last dream in the book, but then again, tell me a dream in which the story makes sense and I will tell you 50 where it's a jumble of unexpected juxtapositions. I think the absence of a table of contents and the jumbled structure just makes it all that much more fun.

Here's the author's dream, which she shares at the beginning of the book.

Dream 106 / Wrong Key
I was rehearsing for a Losers Lounge show (an NYC series that takes place at Joe’s Pub). I was scheduled to sing Townes Van Zandt's "No Place To Fall" and was rehearsing with the guy who is going to accompany me--Bob Dylan.

We were in a dark dirty white room, just the two of us. He was sitting on the floor strumming a lute and playing the song in a weird key.

"That’s the wrong key," I told him. "I sing it in D. What key are you playing it in?"

He looked up at me. "The key if I"

I was so annoyed. "There’s no such thing," I said.

“That’s the key I play it in,” said Bob.

--Marie Lee Kortes
Musician, Author / Brooklyn

Some of the dreams are more developed and more detailed, stretching two to four pages. Others are brief, and hilarious like this one.

61 / Space Visionary
I have had many dreams about Dylan, and he has never spoken to me in them until recently when he named a hill near where I grew up. “You can see the city from there," he said. But you can’t.

--Jeff Ward
Writer, Singer/Song Writer / Ireland

* * * *

Illustration for Dream 103 / Dylan vs. Paulsen
The titles alone are worth the read... Or, you can skip the words altogether and enjoy the illustrations, photos and design. Yes, Dreaming Of Dylan is an enjoyable experience any way you choose to engage it.

Here are some of the titles of the various dreams...

Desk Set
What's In Your Freezer
Duet With Dog
Meet Me In The Morning
It'll Cost You
Walking The Room
I Dreamed Bob Dylan Had A Crush On My Mom
Time Traveler
O Captain
Not Alone

You can find the book here at Amazon. Dreaming of Dylan. I am confident it would make a great gift for any Dylan fan, including the Dylan fan in your life.

Related Links
For more about the author, visit
Schedule for Duluth Dylan Fest 2023 

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