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If Not For Bob Dylan ...

If Not For Bob Dylan ...

“Wherever I am, I’m a ’60s troubadour, a folk-rock relic, a wordsmith from bygone days, a fictitious head of state from a place nobody knows. I’m in the bottomless pit of cultural oblivion.” – Bob Dylan, Chronicles: Volume One

The Beatles, who notoriously proclaimed themselves to be bigger than Jesus, considered this man their inspiration. Robert Allen Zimmerman, born May 24, 1941, or better known as Bob Dylan, is an American singer-songwriter, artist and writer.

His works, spanning five decades, have produced 500 songs in 40 albums. Rolling Stone magazine dubbed him the most influential man in pop culture. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s when his songs, such as Blowin in the Wind and The Times Are a-Changin, chronicled social issues like war and civil rights, earning him yet another label –which he abhors – “The Spokesman for his Generation”. 

His accomplishments as a recording artist and performer have been central to his career and his list of accolades are nothing short of phenomenal. Adding to that remarkable list is the 2016 Nobel Prize award for Literature, which he reluctantly acknowledges with much apathy.

Wait, what? Literature?

Van Morrison once famously called him the greatest living poet and many music experts agree that Dylan’s lyrics and theme was well in the realm of great literature. Bob Dylan's first published book Tarantula, in 1971, was a collection of experimental prose poetry. In 2004, Dylan released part one of his memoir, Chronicles, Volume One. In addition, several of Dylan's songs have been adapted into children's picture books. The latest adaptation, based on the lyrics from the song of the same title, If Not For You, was released just a few months ago. Reimagined by David Walker in acrylic illustrations, If Not For You depicts the loving relationship between parent and child as portrayed by dogs.

Searching for early review on the Internet I found one on Kirkus Review that describes the book as such.

“Over three pages, the text reads, “If not for you // Babe, I couldn’t find the door / Couldn’t even see the floor / I’d be sad and blue / If not for you,” while the pictures show a game of hide-and-seek, the parent with paws over eyes, then seeking, and finally joyously finding the pup. Indeed, the parent’s life would not be the same without the little one’s exuberance: waking the older dog up with a trumpet, jumping in rain puddles, catching butterflies, watching the clouds and birds in the sky, and taking imaginary journeys together. And as if those weren’t enough, the final two spreads spell it out: the parent sits forlornly on one swing, the adjacent one empty. A turn of the page reveals parent and child gleefully sailing through the air together with the titular phrase underneath.”

If you’re a fan like me, getting a piece of the music legend and recent Nobel Laureate’s lyrics in illustrated children’s book format is a matter of collection. I will even go as far as to purchase two copies – one to read, one to keep wrapped in pristine condition.

Written by Eugene Tay, founder of Brain & Butter and Monsters Under the Bed.

When Eugene was a young boy, he wanted to be an astronaut. When that didn't take off, he decided that he was going to be like Indiana Jones and explore the world as an archaeologist. Eventually, he figured out how he can do both. That's when he became a writer.

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