Happy Birthday Mr. Dylan


I don’t know why it always bothers me. When I’m giving my name for a reservation or checking in on a list somewhere all too often people ask, “And how do you spell that?” To me, there is only one way to spell it and it seems stupid to ruin this with an “I” or a double “L”. It just looks gross: Dillon. Ugh. It will always and forever be: Dylan.  

I wasn’t always happy with my name. Growing up with the name Dylan has its highs and lows, the high being that you may be the only Dylan in your class and somehow make yourself memorable. Ultimately though, kids are the worst and it didn’t take long before I graduated from being called the lighthearted ‘Dyl pickle’ to the much more malicious ‘Dyl-do’.

Named after my parents favorite artist, Bob Dylan I have definitely received the best name out of my siblings. A Bob Dylan song was my parents wedding song and the guy is a legend - I was destined to be the favorite child. I’m sure now that Steven is on American Idol and slowly becoming a parody of himself my parents may be regretting to name my brother after the fish-lipped front man of Aerosmith. My sister was named after someone from Happy Days, so the story goes. I won the battle of the names in theory but on the playground, I lost. Even as a grown man I am having a hard time coming up with a punny putdown name for Ashley or Tyler. Luckily for all of us my sister has crashed several cars in her life earning her the moniker of ‘Smashley’. We’re all still waiting for my brother Tyler to give us something to change his name to something dumb.

Around the 5th grade I started listening to real music. When you’re young you don’t listen to real music. I was growing up and my tastes were changing. I realized this the day my mother brought home a cassette for me called “Garfield Sings The Blues”, which is exactly what it sounds like. A cartoon cat sings about how he hates Mondays and wished he had more lasagna, I felt too old for it. I began actually listening to music instead of just consuming it. I would try to pay attention to the bass and drums of Prince songs my Dad would blast in his beat up white truck – he always turned down the sound when the swears came up. I would listen and try to count how many voices I heard in a Queen track; the answer is a fucking lot. I would try to understand firstly what Bob Dylan was saying and second what Bob Dylan was saying.

My first concert was a Bob Dylan concert. My entire family sat on the lawn at the Blossom Music Center as Phil Lesh bored us to tears for an hour and a half. Smelling something I had never smelled before, marijuana. I didn't care for it. My brother and I pointed out how many gross white people with dreadlocks we saw. Eventually Bob Dylan made his way to the stage and it was... uneventful. He was kind of playing songs that sort of sounded like songs I had heard before. At the time it made a very small impression on me and I wondered if I hadn't given up on Garfield too soon.

After the show my Dad let us kids pick out something from the merch stand. My sister got a tour shirt, my brother got some sort of dumb glow stick hat and I went for the silver CD holder stamped in black with the head of a lion and the name “DYLAN” scrawled across the front. I felt like the king of the bus the next day with my new CD holder. That was until a kid named Kevin suggested he and his friends take a permanent marker to it and the rest of the school year I was forced to carry my CDs around in a “DYL-DO” case.

When I got to high school I decided I needed to own a record player. For my 16th birthday my parents bought me a brand new SONY turntable and the first record I bought was Bob Dylan’s “Blood on the Tracks”.  My Dad helped me set up the turntable in my bedroom and we listened to that album together. He told me about all the times him and my Mom saw him live, when he was good, when he got bad and when he got good again. He told me about when he first heard Dylan and how it changed his life, it was great to hear my Dad talk passionately about something he loved. Towards the end of the album the whole family had migrated into my bedroom. My parents sitting on the fouton and my brother and I on the floor (Ashley may have been out smashing a car) listening to "Idiot Wind". 

The second year of college I moved off campus to temporary housing in a Marriot. The school had run out of dorms and my roommate ‘Skippo’ and I shared a suite with two members of the college football team. It had two rooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen and room service. It was ridiculous. The record player came with Skip and I to the hotel. We’d play “Hurricane” over and over and watch YouTube clips of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter – wishing we were the fighting type. One of the perks of living off campus was the ability to have parties. However, the fact that we lived in a hotel became a bit of a complication. Instead of dealing with campus police (a joke) or an overly ambitious RA we had hotel security (a joke) and other hotel guests. Our parties always started off innocent enough – a couple friends playing a board game listen to some music then the other football players would catch wind of this and it would turn into a frenzy.

One night in November we were doing just that. Way too many people being way too loud. It wasn't long before hotel security came knocking and pulled us out into the hall to tell us that one of the guests had complained that we were being too loud. The party disbanded and the next morning while I was getting a free complimentary continental breakfast the security guard caught up to Skip and I to tell us that the man who broke up our get together the night before, the person that couldn’t handle how “rock and roll” we were was Bob Dylan. It blew our minds. Apparently he had just played the Mid Hudson Civic Center and we were being too loud for the old man. 


Happy Birthday Old Man.