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Bruce "Mouse" Strauss
You can learn a lot about a guy's character from boxing him every day. Bob had a lot of heart. If I hurt him he'd fight harder, but if he hurt me, he'd take it down a notch and let me back into the fight, so that was pretty cool. A lot of fighters ask for quarter, but don't give quarter. He actually didn't ask for any quarter — he'd get mad if I would not jump on him when he got hurt.
And he's got a lot of nerve. One time we were lost in the Amazonian rain forest on a side trip we made during one of his South American tours. It was me and Bob and our friend Mitch. We went out on our own and got lost. Bob doesn't take precautions but I was supposed to, he was on my watch. I was worried but he made jokes. He's the type of guy that finds humor anywhere. He's a calm character. I guess if you're on the road that long, a lot of funny things happen and you've got to have nerve.
Happy birthday, Bob, I hope you live another 70 years.
If, as the poet says, "The purpose of art is to stop time," then Dylan has stopped more time, at least for me, than anyone living or gone. Dylan is a man out of time, belongs to the ages, ages well, is no age at all. So what if 70 years have now accrued to the animal body our bard, our Blake, happens to cart around? He was older than that before, and he's younger than that now.
And, most fortunately, his relationship to "retirement" seems to be weird too. Take a day off, Mr. Dylan, and blow out as many candles as you like. But just a day, okay?
The first Bob Dylan album I heard was Highway 61 Revisited. It was 1965. I was almost 13 and had just started guitar lessons. We were living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and my dad was teaching at LSU. One of his writing students came over to the house one day with this album. He was raving about it. My dad wasn't particularly interested but I was. His student left it at the house and I listened to it. Even though I was barely 13, I got it.
From the time I was a small child, I had been influenced by southern poets and folk, blues, jazz and country music. Here was a guy who was putting it all together, for the first time. At the time, I didn't get all of the in-depth meaning of the songs but that didn't matter. I decided, right then and there, that I would learn how to do what he was doing. I wanted to be as good as he was and I have been learning how to do it, ever since.
I met Dylan originally because I was a good friend of Albert Grossman, who was his manager and his mentor. Columbia, Dylan's record company, put out a greatest hits album. I did the poster for it. They had gotten control over the editing and they put that album together using material that perhaps Dylan might not have used. Dylan hated everything about that album. But the poster proliferated.
You do things and you have no idea of why they enter the public consciousness and this is one of those things because it represents an entire generation's interests and it's Dylan, who is a compelling figure.
I never did hear his reaction to it. I always assumed he just wanted to forget about it.
Bob's a rock star, a world icon, a songwriter and performer who has influenced and inspired millions and affected our music and our world in a profound way. But at heart, I believe, if someone asked him how he thinks of himself, he would say he's only a minstrel boy. I say, long may he wander in the raw poetry of time! Happy Birthday, Bob.