“Don’t just chase your dreams, catch them.” — Annette White, travel writer, author, serial adventurer, and creator of the travel blog, “Bucket List Journey.”
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Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman’s hilarious movie by the same name aside, I’m not fond of the term ‘bucket list.’ My list is more about chasing dreams and making memories. I call it my someday list.
I’ve been blessed. I am thankful to have seen, done, and accomplished many things I never dreamed of experiencing. And what is life without dreams? To be sure, dreams remain on my list waiting to be checked off … someday.
That is probably why I was super excited about a someday list “double play” last Friday.
Hard to imagine, but I had never laid eyes on Shreveport’s Municipal Auditorium before last Friday night. The historical contributions to music by the Art Deco venue near downtown Shreveport has earned it a spot on the National Register of Historic Places and designation as a National Historic Landmark. Dreaming of seeing it lingered on my list for years. Mostly because it was the home of Frank Page’s KWKH Louisiana Hayride radio show that helped launch the careers of many aspiring singers. In addition to Elvis Presley, other regular performers who jump-started their notoriety there include Hank Williams, Slim Whitman, Jim Reeves, Johnny Cash, and Johnny Horton.
Not that many years after Elvis sang “That’s All Right Mama” on the “stage of stars” in the mid-50s, I was in junior high school and enjoying a variety of music including what has become known as contemporary folk music. The genre was peaking by 1960 with songs and artists like “This Land Is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie, “We’ll Sing in the Sunshine” by Gale Garnett, “Tom Dooley” by The Kingston Trio, and “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,” by Bob Dylan.
Much of Bob Dylan’s most celebrated songs in the 1960s followed the beginnings of social unrest and storytelling that became anthems for the civil rights and anti-war movements. But it was his base in American folk music that spoke to me at the time. Songs like “Blowin’ In The Wind,” “Highway 61 Revisited,” and “It Ain’t Me Babe” still live in my record collection and in my memories.
That love for music at an early age planted dreams of experiencing in-person, people places and things that have shaped American music: dreams that became my someday list.
I’ve checked a few off the list over the years. Once, sitting at B.B. King’s feet when I could have literally reached up and touched his shoes. Two hours of the legendary blues master playing his guitar he called “Lucille” and singing songs like, “The Thrill is Gone.”
Or the time I stood at the edge of another stage, this time with a camera in hand and press credentials around my neck to watch Ricky Nelson perform songs like “Hello Mary Lou.” Memories of watching Chuck Berry do his signature “duck walk” across the stage while playing and singing “Johnny B. Goode.” The afternoon spent sitting and talking one-on-one to 50s and 60s crooner Fabian and Paul Revere of “Paul Revere and the Raiders” about their influence on American music.
All heady stuff for a lifetime music lover.
Last weekend, watching one of the biggest influences on American music take the same stage on which Elvis Presley and many others started was no less exhilarating.
At 80, Bob Dylan’s movement about the stage appeared frail as he was aided by those around him. But his performance, voice, and timeless music were as inspiring as they were 60 years ago.
Six decades of music and more than 125 million records (making him one of the best-selling musicians of all time) has earned Dylan the Presidential Medal of Freedom, ten Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe Award, and an Academy Award. He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 2008, the Pulitzer Prize Board awarded him a special citation for “his profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power.” And in 2016, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”
Seeing Bob Dylan in person and feeling the magic of Shreveport’s Municipal Auditorium are two dreams I’ve chased for too many years. The stars aligned with an approaching equinox sun and moon when I caught them both in one night.
(Photo at top of the page: Shreveport’s Municipal Auditorium where Elvis Presley and many others launched a career in music in the 1950s, and where Bob Dylan added to a six-decade long career in music March 18, 2022. Photo by the author.)
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