The concert was scheduled to start at 8:00pm. It was the second time I was going to see Bob Dylan within a year, and I wanted my $30 standing-only ticket to get me as close to the stage as possible. As usual , I had already been standing in line from 6 pm , and as usual, none of my Iranian friends had come with me. As usual , I felt lonely.
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone? (1)
My Iranian friends had either never heard of Bob Dylan, or thought that he was way past his prime, or couldn't understand what he was mumbling! Besides, Leila Forouhar was playing the next night, so why waste their hard earned money on a grumbling old warrior poet when they could pay $40 to “Gher-ind” (gher + grind) and show off their behinds all night long dancing to “Joonee Joonom”?
Couldn't blame them for wanting to have fun and forget about their troubles for a few hours, could I? Hell, even Andys' voice sounds heavenly to me when I feel homesick or the need to mingle with my “hamvatans”!
Sometimes I feel so low-down and disgusted
Can't help but wonder what's happenin' to my companions,
Are they lost or are they found,
have they counted the cost it'll take to bring down
All their earthly principles they're gonna have to abandon?
There's a slow, slow train comin' up around the bend. (2)
But Dylan is in his late 60's. This could very well have been the last chance for anyone to see this living legend before he started Knockin' on Heaven's Door. And possibly his last chance to blast the Masters of War from his Watchtower.
“Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside
And it is ragin'.
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'” (3)
But a few days ago , an Iranian friend “Maryam” had shocked me…again. I learned that not only had she been a long time Dylan fan , but she was also going to the concert all by herself. An Iranian girl, raised in Iran…who actually knows and enjoys all of Dylan's songs? How serendipitous!
You're gonna make me wonder what I'm doin',
Stayin' far behind without you.
You're gonna make me wonder what I'm sayin',
You're gonna make me give myself a good talkin' to. (4)
I stood there in the packed standing-room-only section waiting for Maryam to show up. I started remembering my friends in Iran , and how we would spend hours and hours reading and discussing and interpreting Dylan's lyrics, how we would learn the capo guitar positions , the simple chord changes and the subtle hammer-ons, and yet marvel at his profound arrangements, and how we would dream together of a moment like this.
I see my light come shining
From the west unto the east.
Any day now, any day now,
I shall be released. (5)
But now that I was here I had to enjoy these moments all by myself. Not a single Iranian in the crowd except me.
A couple moved towards the front, parting the sea of eager faces as they found their way through. The man was handicapped, seated in an electric wheelchair and apparently could only move a few of his hand fingers and his neck. His fingers were somehow wired to the wheelchair and with great difficulty he controlled the steering, yet his huge smile stood out among his American features.
An elegant, Middle-Eastern looking woman was helping him steer his wheelchair through the crowd to get him closer to the stage. As they passed me, her ticket receipt fell out of her bag and landed in front of my feet, but she ignored it so I didn't bother picking it up.
Once they found a good spot for the wheelchair, the woman began caressing and stroking the man like a mother does a child. She showered him with kisses and tended to the disabled man with a level of affection I had seldom seen two people express to one another in public.
But, oh, what a wonderful feeling
Just to know that you are near,
Sets my a heart a-reeling
From my toes up to my ears.
The man in me will hide sometimes to keep from bein' seen,
But that's just because he doesn't want to turn into some machine.
Took a woman like you
To get through to the man in me. (6)
I watched them from a distance, full of respect and admiration for the woman, and full of happiness for the man. Ironically, I also felt a deep sense of envy towards the man for being so lucky in love, and having this angel by his side when he needed her the most. I was pulled back into reality when I realized someone beside me had picked up the woman's fallen ticket receipt and was tapping on my shoulder.
“Is this yours?”, he asked.
I read the name on the receipt : “Parvin Mehrjooee.”
Maryam made it to the concert just in time. She joined me just as the lights were beginning to dim for the show to start. Bob Dylan glided onto the stage in all his living glory. I stepped out of my first dream and into a new one, and started basking my soul in the emotional energy in the air. I did not feel alone anymore, now there were three of us in the crowd.
Now, Maryam…well, that's a whole different story!
People tell me it's a sin
To know and feel too much within.
I still believe she was my twin, but I lost the ring.
She was born in spring, but I was born too late
Blame it on a simple twist of fate. (7)
Like a Rolling Stone, 1965
Slow Train Coming, 1979
Times they are a-changin, 1963
You're gonna make me lonesome when you go, 1974
I shall be released, 1967
The man in me, 1970
Simple twist of fate, 1974
Names have been changed out of respect for people's privacy. — Babak
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