Posted by: Sally Ingraham | February 11, 2008

Too Young for Dylan?

kate blanchettI don’t know why, but I find it annoying when people who are older than me do this:

Me (talking about the movie I’m Not There): I enjoyed it a lot, even though I watched it without knowing much about Bob Dylan.
Woman (with a short laugh): Well, I guess you’re a little young to know Dylan.
Me: *polite smile* There is that.

Why do people feel that it’s necessary to point out that I am “too young” to know Bob Dylan, but no one would ever say the same thing about Beethoven? I am constantly exploring and discovering new music (among many other things) and I have never cared what decade it comes from, or what century. If it sounds good, I like it, and I feel that it is as much my music as it is the music of the people who were alive when it was first written. If it moves me and challenges me and changes my view or simply pleases my ear, it is my music. I can identify with it, even if I wasn’t there to see it born.

What are people really saying to me when they make that face and say “Oh, but that was before your time”? Are they getting possessive about the music of their generation? Do I make them feel old? Do they think that because I am young I can’t appreciate the music and what it meant and how it changed their world?

I said that I didn’t care what decade or century music came from, but that is, on second thought, far from true. If some piece of music or artist especially captures my attention I will usually try to learn a little about the person and their time and what was going on and why they wrote what they did. Greater appreciation of the music prompts me to do so, and the satisfaction of my curiosity.

That is why, after watching I’m Not There, a fascinating look at the numerous lives and persons that make up the being that is Dylan, I went to my computer and to my library to find out more. I even rented and watched Martin Scorsese’s 3+ hours documentary titled No Direction Home. I am satisfied. I can now appreciate the music that I listen to and enjoy even more.*

dylan Maybe those people mean nothing by their comments. Maybe I am just getting hot and bothered for silly reasons having more to do with the fact that I AM so young, and often feel like I have a great deal of catching up to do. I want people to appreciate the fact that I am learning and am excited about the music they enjoyed when they were my age, instead of making me feel like I just missed out. It’s not my fault I wasn’t born until 1986. Give a girl a break!

*And I can further appreciate Cate Blanchett’s amazing performance as Dylan in I’m Not There. My eyes were riveted to her face in every scene she graced, and I knew she was great, even having never seen Dylan’s body language or heard his speaking voice for myself. Now that I have, I find myself even more astonished that anyone could so completely disappear into another person’s being as Blanchett did in this performance.


  1. I was much like you were when I was a teenager. I couldn’t stand what was popular at the time, but was fascinated by “older” music. I started my music collection then (and it still grows) and I still consider music my major passion. I saw Dylan at age 15 in 1990 in Tulsa, OK, where I lived at the time, and enjoyed the concert.

    Anyway, I ramble but I think the reason people act the way they do because they see so much in the media about “kids” liking Hannah Montana and High School Musical and rap and whatever else is popular they think that’s all youth listen to. Some people probably do mean it to be condescending, and some don’t.

    My parents, who were in their 40s at the time, thought it was pretty cool when I became obsessed with the Beatles as a teen because it was something we could share together. We even went to many rock concerts together, including Dylan, who my mother loved and father can’t stand.

    Anyway, keep discovering new music! There’s a lot of great stuff out there and I highly encourage you to continue your quest.

  2. What’s it like being 12 years old?

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