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Dylan was the soundtrack for a nation

November 4, 2016 - 12:05am

This is Hawaii, I could write about Don Ho and his tiny bubbles, Gabby and Brudda IZ, Jake and his wonderful ukulele. I could even write about Elvis and his famous Oahu concert beamed around the world.

But Bob Dylan? That would be a stretch. Wild and scraggly, poetic genius, legendary songwriter Dylan? He’s about as Hawaiian as a New Jersey turnip.

I could never write about Bobby, until now. Now that he is the Nobel Prize winner in Literature. The highest prize in the world given to the finest writers in history. Our little folksinger is now on the level of Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, T.S. Eliot and even Shakespeare, if they had the prize back then.

They got it right this time.

Sure I can write about Bobby, Hawaii is more than Hawaiians, it’s everybody.

And everybody has a little Dylan fan in them.

Old-timers remember through the purple haze of the ’60s how the revolution was real and flowers fell out of the sky. Those were the days of pot and roses and daisies in your hair. Hippies dancing in flowing white shirts in the parks, and Bob singing, “to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free.”

He sang the ’60s in one line. Or maybe a few more.

“Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command, the times they are a’changin’,” “The hung down, brung down, strung out ones and worse.” “We’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls.”

He has songs with words that will melt your heart down to butter, “She breaks like a little girl,” “You’re gonna make me lonesome when you go”, “My love she laughs like the flowers.” How about, “into your eyes where the moonlight swims.” He’s a poet all right.

It is the easy wisdom in his scratchy voice that reaches right down into you, and makes you listen till he is done talking to your heart and higher self.

Other singers sing you songs, Bob Dylan’s songs sing you.

He is powerful, he weaves a spell, he is a rock to cling to. He got us through the ’60s as sure as any lifeboat. Too much was going on, we were kids, surfers, college guys, nervous about Vietnam yanking us all off to some faraway jungle to fight some wacky war. The world was coming apart, and blowin’ in the wind.

And there was Dylan with that voice of iron singing protest songs, love songs whatever songs, it wasn’t what he sang but how he sang it, his voice was a beacon guiding us through that crazy storm we call the ’60s. We hung on every word.

You had to be there. I was.

Does he deserve that Nobel Prize? Darn right he does.

You see, it is not just the poetry, there are a hundred poets that look good on the page, it is how a writer and singer affects the heart of a nation, how his words change the world. How he makes a difference.

And Bob Dylan did exactly that. He deserves to stand tall with all the Nobel winners who shook the windows and rattled the walls of this world.

He shows that a kid from a small town like Hibbing, Minnesota, or Kona, Hawaii, can pack up his or her things and walk out the door following a dream, and with enough gumption get the highest dream of all.

Dennis Gregory is a writer, artist, singer, teacher and Kailua-Kona resident who mixes truth, humor and aloha in his biweekly column. He can be reached at

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