Bob Dylan

Role Playing And Singing My Way Toward Emotional Acceptance

I want to say one more thing about my recent performance in the "Songs of Bob Dylan Concert." The lyric of one of the songs I chose, "It's a Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall," alternates between a parent asking questions and the son, now a young adult, answering the questions in profound, poetic detail. (Google it, if you don't know the song. I recommend reflecting on every single sentence.)

Keep in mind that I knew I would be performing this song on the night that my son left for college. So I practiced this (with a lump in my throat) every day for weeks. At the beginning of the five verses I sang questions from the point of view of the parent:
~ Where have you been, my blue-eyed son? Where have you been, my darling young one?
~ What did you see, my blue-eyed son? What did you see, my darling young one?
~ What did you hear, my blue-eyed son? What did you hear, my darling young one?
~ Who did you meet, my blue-eyed son? Who did you meet, my darling young one?
~ What'll you do now, my blue-eyed son? What'll you do now, my darling young one?

Two phrases into each verse, I sang from the point of view of the son to answer the questions. For example:
~ I've walked and I've crawled on six crooked highways.
~ I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it.
~ I heard the sound of a thunder that roared out a warning.
~ I met a white man who walked a black dog.
~ I'm a goin' back out 'fore the rain starts a-fallin'.

The rehearsals turned into music therapy for me. Eventually I got around my sadness to feel what it might be like for my son right now, going out into the big world on his own for the first time. When I sang from his voice, I felt strong, infused with a young man's energy and intensity and curiosity. When I sang from the parent's voice, I still felt sad, missing him, but not abandoned. The young adult in the song answers the parent's questions at great length and with great awareness about his travels. The relationship has changed, but still goes on.

I've heard that in some therapeutic techniques a person is asked to role play from another person's perspective. I'd have to say that
singing that perspective may be even more powerful!

The Times, They Are A-Changin'

"Come mothers and fathers throughout the land
And don't criticize what you can't understand.
Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command.
Your old road is rapidly aging.
Please get out of the new one if you can't lend your hand,
For the times, they are a-changin'."
Bob Dylan

When as a young adult I first heard this song, I was the misunderstood daughter. I wanted no judgment or criticism from my parents, whose social code was old-fashioned, in my view. I felt solidarity with my peers and with a movement to transform society with justice and freedom for all. Most older people were part of the problem, not the solution.

Now I am middle-aged. Last night while I was singing this song in concert, my youngest child, now 18 years old, was moving out of our house and into his own apartment. Even though we have a positive, loving relationship, there have been moments when I tried to tell him what to do and he would (respectfully) have none of it! Oh, I get it; he was beyond my command. Maybe when I was trying to shape his behavior, I wasn't understanding him. I do respect his strong sense of self. He stood his ground, while remaining polite, and that will serve him well out in the big world.

So it's time-travelling. I'm singing this as the daughter
and as the mother. And if I want to be part of the "new" road, then I must examine my thinking, and keep my eyes wide, and then lend my hand.