Monday, November 14, 2005

Herr Schneider

It was almost a decade ago(!?) that my ex-friend Jennie Haire and I went down to Mankato to see Bob Dylan. I remember two things from that evening- 1) Bob did this goofy harmonica solo during "Tangled Up in Blue" that was as mesmerizing as it was eccentric and 2) that Jennie and I got lost somewhere in Eden Prairie as both of us needed a restroom BADLY.

It was Jennie's first Dylan show and I would love to know if she remembers that evening at all. Unfortunately I guess I'll never know that.

The plan was Jennie was going to move in and we were going to expand my house by fixing up the attic into an upper wing of my house. She wasn't much of a cat person but she had met Mr. Max and she liked him well enough, and just importantly he seemed to like her too.

The day we were hammering out the details we were walking near the fairgrounds and Como Park and Jennie was worried about meeting my best friend at the time, my favorite mother of two, the three of us had tickets to see Dylan play a show at nearby Midway Stadium- but for whatever reason Jennie walked right on out of my life never to utter another word to me.

Hurt? Um yes. This time beyond repair. Bitter? Nope, I made a conscious effort I wouldn't let that be the case.

A year or so later as I was reading the latest rantings of all those on the Internet Dylan newsgroup I was subscribed to another Jennifer (who had a University of Minnesota email address) posted a message saying she was a new Dylan fan and she was looking for help in starting her collection of live recordings.

I emailed this Jennifer and ended up sending her some shows I had. I didn't mention that if her first name had been different I probably would have ignored her posting and gone my merry way just like a little rabbit hopping away.

So do I find it at all ironic that as most of you are reading this that I'm walking around London with the second Jennifer as I'm wearing the first Jennifer's sneakers- with each and every step a reminder of all that has gone wrong since that fateful day? And of course the very reason I'm in this whole other place is to once again see Bob Dylan?

It's been a lifelong affliction that I have a tendency to connect the dots that otherwise have no other connection than the little that goes on inside my noggin but if there is one thing I won't forget, one thing I can't overcome it's that within days of when Jennie Haire walked away Dylan's brilliant Time Out of Mind came out, with all its depressing imagery of walking and walking away and more than any other music I've ever known or experienced, the songs spoke volumes to me.

Just like the time my best friend at the time, former Cheapo employee John Baynes and I were shopping at the Golden Valley Down in the Valley when the record store clerks selected Dylan's not yet released Down in the Groove for the in-store play and it was the CD I was holding out for before I did whatever I decided to do next and then Bob's voice was singing "When you sad and your lonely and you haven't got a friend, just remember that death is not the end..." Johnny B. turned to me and told me to stop listening.

But I haven't been to do that. No matter what else has gone haywire in my life I still find myself listening to others, and for better or worse, listening to Bob Dylan. Yes I still wonder what Jennie Haire, now Jennie Johnson, is up to, long after the expiration date of our friendship came and went, and yes I'm now probably wandering around some distance street with another Jennifer as we bide time between Bob Dylan shows, but if I know one thing I know this: that voices, steps, walking and walking away, time, and confusion will some day cease to confuse me. And then sadly it will be too late.

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