Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Uncle Irving Meets Bob Dylan
It’s Friday, the day which always brought Uncle Irving; Uncle “I” to me and my brother; to our house. Although I think of him every day, there is still something special about Fridays. This story takes place on one of those days and one of his weekly visits, which are still among my most cherished of memories. I truly loved that man.
The intersection of Uncle Irving and Bob Dylan occurred while I was doing my homework at the round kitchen table and listening to WMCA 560 AM. They played a “double header”, or whatever they called it when they played 2 songs in a row without a commercial break. The 2 songs in this story were both on the charts at about the same time in 1965 and, together, they showcase the diversity in popular music as it was being created at the time, as well as the cultural divide which existed between the younger and older generations.
I was working some multiplication and Uncle “I” was thumbing through the evening’s New York Post; he would lick his finger for traction before turning the page. The radio was doing its job, wailing out Bob Dylan’s nasal rendition of his hit single “Positively 4th Street”, with its deep and meaningful lyrics. For example;
“No, I do not feel that good when I see the heartbreaks you embrace
If I was a master thief perhaps I'd rob them
And now I know you're dissatisfied with your position and your place
Don't you understand, it's not my problem.”
So, that song ends and the deejay piggybacks that song with the Turtles doing “Happy Together”, which go something like this;
“Me and you and you and me
No matter how they toss the dice, it has to be
The only one for me is you, and you for me
So happy together.
Ba-ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba-ba
Ba-ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba-ba.”
Well, the first song ends and the Turtles are midway through their song when Uncle “I” looks up from the paper and says, “So, they still write a few good songs nowadays!” I swear, there was triumph in his voice and tears of mirth in my eyes. No doubt about it, I really loved that man.
Note: The photo above was taken by my Mom in 1941. She was 12 years old at the time. Irving was already 46 years of age. By the time I was born he was old enough to be retired- but he worked until the day he died when he was about 81 years old.