Sunday, August 26, 2007

You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go

Most of my good friends know that despite my obvious affection for 80s New Wave, Brit Pop and reggae, in my quiet times I listen to a lot of Bob Dylan. Along with Willie Nelson, Bob Marley and Stevie Wonder, I never tire of Bob. His music always reaches me in a fresh way as a lyric will suddenly make sense to me although I may have heard a song hundreds of times before. As the summer fades, I always feel nostalgic for my college days and vividly remembered a story today involving the music of Bob Dylan and my old friend G whom I met my first semester of college. G is very blonde, tall and WASPY. He also has a very dry sense of humor and he's smart. He also used to be kind of silly, but I don't think many people knew that about him. To impress me upon our first meeting, he invited me to his room at his fraternity house and played me his top 10 favorite Bob Dylan songs in descending order and we discussed each song. I remember that "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go" was his #1 although G will deny this today. After that year, G disappeared from school for some years. I think he went to Vietnam or somewhere like that. When he came back during my senior year, he lived downstairs from me. Most of his friends had since graduated and we resumed our casual friendship. He confided to me that he didn't have many friends left and that he "appreciated me." One night, G came knocking on my door at two in the morning. He appeared raw and exposed in a Holden Caulfield sort of way. He confessed that he had taken a train to the city to attend his grandfather's funeral. He then confessed he was wearing his dead grandfather's Brooks Brothers boxer shorts he had swiped after the funeral. He asked if he could spend the night with me in my room because he couldn't be alone. He was so visibly shaken and vulnerable, I said yes and over 6 feet of George slept with me in my tiny little single college bed. After that morning, G stopped talking to me but every morning I'd hear from my open window, Bob Dylan coming from his below and I convinced myself he was sending me Dylan messages rather than speaking to me in person. One morning, I remember hearing Like A Rolling Stone and the lyrics, "You never turned around to see the frowns on the jugglers and the clowns when they all come down and did tricks for you. You never understood that it ain't no good. You shouldn't let other people get your kicks for you." And at the time, that particular verse felt like a shot through the heart from G although today I understand the song on different level as a meditation on lonliness and success. I don't know why I'm writing this now, but as I was thinking about the Todd Haynes film, this memory came back to me. G and I have since made up (after graduation we started hanging out again) and we see each other every other year or so and he still denies that You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome was his favorite Bob Dylan Song.

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