I was in a hermetically sealed world when I was MM’s man in New York, going to gigs three or four nights a week, writing all hours of the day, mixing only with fellow music writers, musicians and industry types. In NY I really didn’t know anyone outside the music industry. I didn’t think much about the weather, the fuel crisis or the Irish troubles, I thought about the new Dylan album or whether the Faces were going to split or who was going to replace Mick Taylor in the Stones. This was my world; this was all that was important to me, what really mattered.
It came as something of a shock, therefore, when one day in New York the phone rang and the girl from IPC whose task it was to relay telex messages informed me that MM editor Ray Coleman wanted me to cover the ‘Bob Die Lon’ tour – the Rolling Thunder Revue as it turned out.
“Who?” I asked.
“Bob Die Lon.”
“Never heard of him.”
So immersed in rock was I that it never occurred to me in my wildest dreams that an American not much younger than me could be so unfamiliar with Bob Dylan as to be unable to pronounce his name correctly, as if it rhymed with ‘nylon’. To me this was like being unable to count to ten, or recite the alphabet. Never having previously heard Dylan’s name pronounced in this fashion, I was genuinely mystified as to the identity of the artist whose tour Ray wanted me to cover.
“Can you spell it?” I asked.
“You mean Dylan,” I responded incredulously, pronouncing it correctly.
“Oh, that’s how you say it,” she replied. “Who is he?”
“Well,” I began, amazed that this young woman had never even heard of Bob Dylan, “he’s a songwriter and singer and he’s written some of the greatest, most famous songs in rock and he’s a legend because of his lyrics and…”
“Is he any good?” she interrupted.
The hermetic seal was momentarily broken. So there were people out there who didn’t give a fig about rock. Interesting…