It’s All in the Timing (or How I Learned to Love Bob Dylan and Peter Rowan)
In my case, I have to say that one of the most important factors is timing. Not rhythmic timing, of course, put the timing in one’s life. One’s maturity, exposure to ideas, non-musical preoccupations, personal relationships, and general emotional state probably influence their tastes in music as much as any innate or cultural predisposition. While many from my generation (Gen. X) probably discovered Dylan sometime between the ages of fifteen and twenty, it took me until my early thirties to even own a Dylan album. I just didn’t care about the guy. I found him boring. I figured I’d heard enough Dylan through general pop culture that it wasn’t necessary to seek out more on my own. As a young person I preferred the snide weirdness of Frank Zappa, assertive political punk bands like Fugazi, or aggressive hip hop like Public Enemy. What the hell did I care about some nasally songwriter from the 60’s and 70’s playing folk music on an acoustic guitar? Just the idea put me to sleep. The timing was simply all wrong for me to appreciate Dylan.
Somehow or another, shortly after high school graduation in 1991, I attended a few Greatful Dead shows for my senior “trip” (pun intended). While I wasn’t really interested in the Dead, they did help me discover Phish. I really, really liked Phish and their debut album, Junta. (Though I don’t listen to Phish much these days, that album holds a special place in my heart.) Phish was a gateway drug for me. They taught me how to intently listen to the interplay between instruments, the beauty of improvisation, and an appreciation of music for music’s sake (as opposed to political and social identity with a good beat.) It wasn’t too long before I was getting into Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, and others. I was also getting into bluegrass, too, and appreciating the improvisation and interplay between the string instruments most familiar to my Nashville-bred ears. Somehow or another, Bill Monroe’s Bean Blossom compilation eventually made it’s way into my hands. I heard that, and suddenly everything came together. The country music heritage I grew up trying to shake off was now a source of pride. I was amazed at how easily the music came to me. I could dance better to this music (though still in a manner painful for onlookers to witness). As a mediocre amateur musician, the rhythms and melodies of this music came easier, even to the point of frustration when my intended jazz riffs came off more down home than uptown. I had been soaking this music up my entire life but the timing had not been right until early adulthood for me to appreciate it. The music of my roots had to be framed in the proper context, and I had to have a certain level of experience and maturity to embrace it.
Dustin Ogdin is a freelance writer and journalist based in Nashville, TN. His work has been featured by MTV News, the Associated Press, and various other stops in the vast environs of the world wide web. His personal blog and home base is Ear•Tyme Music. Click below to read more and network with Dustin.