In Tune with June

Making a name for himself

It was a happy day when my son Andy gifted me with Bob Dylan’s Shadows in the Night. It was especially interesting after I listened and found that I was familiar with many of the songs: “I’m a Fool to Want You” and “Some Enchanted Evening.” So then Andy followed up with a full album of 29 songs, some more recognizable, and many were not.

But Bob Dylan was even more interesting than the albums about him. He was born Robert Allen Zimmerman in Deluth, Minnesota, and his major residence was Malibu, California. But here’s what I found especially interesting:  Dylan went through 11 names. When he unexpectedly saw poems by Dylan Thomas, he explained his change of name.  He said, “You’re born, you know, the wrong name, wrong parents. I mean, that happens. You call yourself what you want to call yourself. This is the land of the free.” Dylan’s father, an electric appliance shop owner, and his mother were part of a small close-knit Jewish community. In his early years, Dylan listened to the radio – first to blues and country stations and later, when he was a teenager, to rock and roll. The singer, songwriter, and author finally settled in 1965 with his lyrics incorporating a wide range of political, social, philosophical, and literary information. Dylan has amplified and personalized musical
genres. I had to read about his musical career and found myself in awe. His genres included folk, blues, rock, gospel, country, and pop standards. His instruments included vocals, guitar, keyboard, and harmonica.  His abilities leave me breathless. He has sold more than one hundred million records, making him one of the bestselling musical artists of all time. He has also received numerous awards including eleven Grammys, a Golden Globe, and an Academy Award.  Dylan has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Song Writer’s Hall of Fame, plus others. The Pulitzer Prize jury in 2008 awarded him a special citation for his “profound impact on popular music and American culture marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power.” In May 2012, Dylan received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama, and in 2016, he was awarded the Nobel prize in literature “for having created new poetic expressions within the great song tradition.”

Here’s a quote from this extraordinary man. “The thing about rock and roll is that for me, anyway, it wasn’t enough. They were great catch phrases and driving pulse rhythms but the songs weren’t serious or didn’t reflect life in a realistic way.” He came to be seen as more than a songwriter.  One critic wrote, “These were the songs that
established him as the voice of a generation.” Even though the rough edges of Dylan’s singing is unsettling to me, it didn’t take long before I realized he was pretty damn special. Dylan’s 1965 hit single, “Like a Rolling Stone,” was selected as the greatest song of all time. Dylan said of “The Times They are a Changin’,””It is definitely a song with a purpose.” The Civil Rights Movement and the Folk Music Movement were allied at that time. Dylan’s advocate, as well as his lover, was Joan Baez.  She was influential in bringing Dylan to prominence.

I don’t really care what name the gifted man took. He’s explored so many areas of music, too long to list.  His music helps me sleep at night.

Leaving me breathless

I went to see A Star Is Born with mixed feelings.  It didn’t excite me to see a remake of a film I clearly remembered from the past.  And, I was not familiar with Bradley Cooper who was playing the part of a country-rock singer on his way down.  However, I didn’t reckon with Bradley Charles Cooper. Cooper was born in January, 1975, in Philadelphia, and grew up in the nearby communities of Jenkintown and Rydal. His mother worked for the local NBC affiliate.  His father worked as a stockbroker for Merrill Lynch. Cooper’s father was of Irish descent, while his mother is of Italian ancestry.

At an early age, Mr. Cooper introduced his son to films which inspired him to become an actor.  His early roles were mixed but the actor-filmmaker finally found success directing his first film with the musical romantic drama A Star is Born, in which he also starred.  But there’s more. Cooper also contributed to the film’s writing, production, and soundtrack.  The actor-filmmaker has been nominated for many awards including four Academy Awards and two Golden Globes.  He’s been listed on Time’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world, and he was named one of the world’s highest-paid actors for three years.

People warned Cooper against directing a third remake of A Star is Born. In the film, Cooper plays an established singer who becomes romantically involved with a woman, played by a marvelous Lady Gaga (that’s for another story!). So, it leaves me breathless to learn that in the movie, Cooper directed, starred in (looking handsome and sounding
great), co-produced, co-wrote, and contributed to its soundtrack. WOW! Cooper and Gaga co-wrote and produced most of the songs for A Star is Born. They recorded an album which contains elements of blues, rock, country, and bubblegum pop. Its lyrics are about wanting change, its struggles, love, romance, and bonding. Both stars are outstanding and look good, too!

You can e-mail June Sturz at intunejune@optonline.net.