Bob Dylan, The Monkees, and The Beatles; A Love Story
I grew up in Woodstock in the 60’s and 70’s. In grade school, I broke my leg in a skiing accident. Because I had a tendency to go flying down the halls on my crutches at ungodly speeds, I was assigned a caretaker. She and I became fast friends. I loved her at once. She was adorable, cute as a button. I suppose I was too. But I fell in love with the girl who ran behind me carrying my belongings and trying to keep up as I flew through the halls.
She also happened to be the oldest daughter of Bob Dylan. This didn’t mean much to me, because in those days, Bob was around town quite a bit. He played often at the Espresso, at the Sled Hill Cafe, and other local venues. Anyhow, I was a kid, in Woodstock. You couldn’t throw a rock without hitting groups of very famous musicians jamming together. The Stones, Paul Butterfield, The Band, Jimi Hendrix, John Sebastian, Happy and Artie Traum, Maria Muldaur, just to name a few.
I loved going to my friend’s house. It was huge, and she had Sasha dolls. Anyone my age will remember how beautiful they were. Coolest of all, her younger brother had a small electric car that he would let us, or maybe we made him let us, drive around the halls of the house. I schooled her on a few things rock and roll as well. When I played Janis Joplin from my parents record collection, she was sure she was listening to a guy. I showed her the album cover, which didn’t really change her mind, but eventually she came around.
I don’t remember her Mom being there that much, although she must have been. I remember Bob though, he made dinner, he ate with us. I liked him a bunch. He was my friends Dad and he seemed like a good Dad.
But that’s not why I’m telling this story. I’m telling this story because I loved The Monkees, and Bob thought this was hilarious. He teased me about how much I loved them, and this bothered me to no end. I was fiercely protective of my Monkees. Bob would play the Beatles, and told me I should like the Beatles, they were a real band. I jammed my fingers into my ears. The Beatles were stupid. The Monkees made funny faces and I knew all of their music by heart.
That was the only thing I didn’t like about Bob Dylan.
One day, I had slept over at my friend’s house, and we were in the kitchen rustling up something for breakfast. Bob was there with a friend. And then, it started, he began telling his friend about how I LOVED the Monkees, and I HATED the Beatles. The men laughed. I remember feeling irritated. Bob’s friend asked me how could I possibly hate the Beatles. He had a British accent. I went through my usual spiel. The Beatles were not funny, or cute, and I didn’t like their music. I don’t remember the whole conversation, but I do remember my friend and I moving into the other room to eat our breakfast in peace. Later I found out the visitor was George Harrison.
My life changed when my friend and I saw (likely against my will) YELLOW SUBMARINE at Tinker Street Cinema. I couldn’t take a deep breath. I couldn’t eat. I was IN LOVE. IN LOVE HARD. When my mother tucked me in, I tried to explain to her that I was in love with The Beatles, and my life would never be the same. I asked her, how can I talk to them? How could I let them know how much I cared? How was I supposed to ever breathe, live, or eat again? She didn’t know what to say to me, of course. I had lost my mind. All she could do was kiss me good night and hope I would sleep it off.
But I didn’t. I bought all the Beatles albums I could get my hands on, and hung the Fab Four’s head shots on my wall. I listened to them constantly, Bob was right. They were pretty darned fantastic.
My beloved friend moved back to Los Angeles, and we lost touch for some years. Later, I moved to California and we happened to meet out of the blue at a mutual friends party. I was thrilled, she was thrilled, and we picked up where we had left off. The Sasha dolls were replaced by our real children, babies, husbands, and dogs.
At one of her kids birthday parties, I saw Bob. I wasn’t going to bother him, it was so many years ago that I knew him, and I had been so young. At some point, he came up to me and said, “You look exactly the same as you did when you were a kid.”
I laughed, because it was true. Except that I was enormously pregnant with my son Sam, I have always looked exactly the same.
I caught him up on Woodstock, he asked about Clarence Schmidt, and the Traums, and my parents. I asked him if remembered how nuts he used to make me about the Monkees, and we chuckled, a good belly laugh, because he did remember. I told him that although I’d seen the light and gone Beatle, I still held a tiny tender place in my heart for the Monkees.
I’ve seen him several times since, at Bar mitzvahs, and other birthdays, but we haven’t really ever spoken again. Although I’ve moved back to New York after twenty-five years in California, my friend and I are still connected by strong heartstrings. As time passes we talk less, but we check up on each other if one gets a vibe or a word that something might be up. If someone needs love or attention, we are there for each other, speaking in the shorthand that good friends always have. We are sisters from another mister, forever family.
I still think of Bob working to turn me every time I hear the Monkees. I am grateful for his efforts.
Drawing Credit: Moi