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Bob Dylan


The late 1960’s was America’s revolution of peace that flourished and spread through the rest of the world, even though we were trapped in a grueling war. The children of the revolution were commonly known as hippies, a term many say now with a lick of disdain. It was happy, free, rebellious, and any other term with positive meaning behind it.  For myself, being too young, I did not get to experience this era.

And quite oddly enough, the idea I associate most with the love, peace, freedom movement is Donovan--the boy that everyone accused to be a Dylan imitator, and later, to the British government, a leading figure in drug use. But in most households today, as I’ve observed, Donovan is a forgotten legend.

young donovan leach playing guitar
When I first discovered Donovan (my interest spiked after I saw 200 Motels where they mentioned him and associated him with the hippies), my dad regarded my interest as dumb since Donovan was a man of few hits. How could you aspire to make it in music if your idol was barely successful in music himself?

My dad made the bold mistake of reducing the man to a no-name (such as The Starfires, who mysteriously fell off of the Earth after a 45 that everyone searches and pays large sums of money for).  In reality, though, Donovan has made hundreds of great songs, has had his run with the best of the bests, and can probably be given partial credit to bringing Led Zeppelin together [Page, Jonesy, and Bonzo played together on “Hurdy Gurdy Man.”  Later Plant would appear on “Barabajagal” with the Jeff Beck Group, but this didn’t happen until 2 years after the formation of Zeppelin.]


Old? Than the hills. Cagey? Could give Dick Cheney a run. Torn and frayed? Like a beaten up circus dog. Moves left? Bill Belichick couldn’t come up with a defense. Our collective (and still surviving) cultural bellwether Bobby D, Mr. Tambourine Man, Huckleberry Zimmerman has hooked left, faded right, gone up the middle,  scrambled around, thrown to the sidelines, flee-flickered, even tossed a few away while always mutating and forever changing from poet provocateur to white-faced song and dance man, from fresh-faced cowpoke to the ghost of Hank Snow, from lingerie salesman to wheezy-voiced carnival barker, with enough sideways traipsing and off-route detouring to last a bunch of careers. And now, Bob Dylan’s got a Christmas album.
bob dylan wearing santa hat
   Makes perfect sense, really. Yet another almost straight-faced exploration of pop songwriting roots with the attendant wrinkles emanating from that old weird America, yet another idiom accessed, yet another mixed-up, shook-up persona (Bing Crosby meets Doug Sahm over cocktails with Sammy Cahn).