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Bob Dylan and Wendell Berry: An Imaginary Conversation

Wendell Berry: What? What'd you say, Bob? I can't hear you. That annoying high-pitched screech, that loathsome drone.

Bob Dylan: Ha, jeez. From you, too? Yeah, I get that all the time. My voice, or what's left of it. I don't try to make it sound like this, like a scratchy, squealing.

Berry: No, no, my friend. That's not (he pauses, raises his voice) what I'm talking about. I love your voice — it's so pure, so ... Dylan. I love its gravel-road gravity, its tenacity. Your vocal cords are like these here hands (shows his huge, wrinkled hands) out digging in the fields. When you sing, it's like a hard-honed tool, a work instrument — there's beauty in its cragginess, its rough edges. No, my friend, it's those damn leaf blowers I'm talking about. I can't hear you over that goddamn gas-guzzling leaf blower brigade over at the Gaillard Center grounds. What were you saying? 

Dylan (waiting for the blowers to abate, for a quick interlude): Ah, yes, the gas-guzzling locusts. And it's doing nothing but just blowing in the wind. The dust, the leaves, the Starbucks trash tossed on the street. What's wrong with a rake? A broom? 

Berry: I've used the same broom for the last 25 years. The handle is worn so it fits my hands just right. Handmade corn broom, people think it's made from corn, but the fibers actually come from sorghum grown on a nearby organic farm. 

Dylan: My granddad Zimmerman had a cousin who made brooms. Hadn't thought of that in years. The times, they are a changin', and my voice, well, yeah, it's sure as hell changing too. People think I do it on purpose, exaggerate its eccentricity. Shit, I'm ragtag enough. Glad you like it, Wendell. I wish I had your Southern pipes. I've heard you give readings on YouTube. Your voice is like an audio version of George Clooney's looks — gilded, sexy — even for an old man.

Read more at Charleston City Paper


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