The Dream Curtain of Song
It’s a weekday morning, I’m 16, maybe 17 years old, listening to the radio, getting dressed for school. The radio is on, of course. Music is the constant of my world. KLOL, FM 101, the only station worth tuning into in Houston, TX in the late 70’s. Dylan’s ‘Simple Twist Of Fate’ comes on. I stop, mesmerized. Just the bass line is enough to pull me in. I sit there, dazed, on the edge of my bed, one shoe on, one shoe off, staring at the stereo. I listen, trying to figure the song out. I can’t. What’s he singing about? The song comes at me as if from another world, someplace hidden. And wherever it’s coming from, I want to go there.
I’d been writing songs since I was 10. Guy Clark, John Prine, Jerry Jeff Walker records, those were my guides. Willie Nelson. Pretty straight ahead. Deep, good, the classic story telling line of thought. Folk songs. Country songs. I wasn’t into Townes yet. And here comes Dylan, knocking the legs out from under all that I knew, telling the story backwards, if at all. Starting at the end, then jumping to the beginning, the details filled in as if they’re an afterthought. I listened hard, thinking, how did he do that? How do I get what he has?
That moment was an invitation into the mystery. The song itself called out, “Follow me.” And from that day on I did, down into the swirl of words and melody, behind the dream curtain of song.