It Ain’t Me Babe

She often felt like she was from another time, or should have been, such was the sensation of subluxation from her schoolmates. They loved Madonna and Bon Jovi: their wrists encircled in rubber bracelets, their fists aloft and clenching to ‘Living on a Prayer / Like a Prayer’.  She only wanted to listen to bands that were dead or should have been.  They only wanted to listen to songs bursting with life and promise.

And then she found Dylan.

He was squashed flat between Duran Duran and Electric Light Orchestra in the woodgrain-finish Pioneer stereo cabinet. A thin film of dust gave cover-art Bob a hazy look, yet something about his arrogant profile made her take that record out of its sleeve and place the needle in the groove.

The next five hours were lost to her.

She listened to that nasal whine and that keening harmonica over and over until she felt the thin membranes of her ears might burst with the pain and the burden of the poetry, of a society past.  Passed and past, yet somehow matching everything she sensed was right and wrong with the society of now.  And once she knew these things she could not unknown them.  Subluxation became dislocation.  And so it goes.

It was 1985, and in that when, context could not be gleaned with the whizz of a mouse, so she had gather background and perspective from people of actual flesh.  Their memories were unreliable and insufficient for the immersion she required.  She wanted to be subterranean, not sprinkled.  She wanted to feel it all.

She longed to stand, shoulders strong, singing ‘I Shall Be Released’ or ‘Masters of War’ and force her voice to be heard.

She longed to lie, bodies supple, serenaded by ‘If Not For You; or ‘Just Like A Woman’, and allow her heart to be heard.

The years rolled by, and Ah-Ha were replaced Wa Wa Nee, and still nobody was listening, nobody noticed. She screeched ‘A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall’ at the top of her lungs as they danced on the ceiling, followed by the Locomotion.

Every dribble of drivel propelled her further into earnest righteousness, until she thought she could never love the world again. Bob joined in on ‘We are the World’ and she wished the Cold War would end, and end it all.

Then one day she met a melancholy boy. They united, in Dylan, and in all ways. They slept on the cold city concrete to get the best seats possible. Someone bought a guitar, and someone else a blues harp, and the eerie sounds bounced off their urban campground as they pretended they were disenfranchised, bundled as they were, in duck-down sleeping bags from Paddy Palin and Ray’s Tent City.  They were in love with ideology and each other, in that order.

By the time the tour started, there were cracks in their philosophy, and by the night of the show, they were chasms. They were as interested in each other, as Dylan was in his audience.  He looked at his boots and his guitar as if they fascinated him. They looked at each other as if they didn’t.

And when she said to the man on her right, “Aren’t you Mark Seymour” he despised her for not knowing it was his brother Nick.  “Still trying to be indi”, he said.  She looked at him blankly.  He wanted to slap the blankness away.

Dylan finished his droning, and stumbled off.

He handed her a book and strode off.

It was a book of Dylan lyrics and she knew the song he meant for her. It Ain’t Me Babe



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