Forever Young

Rest Day Read (SR-27)

Forever Young lyrics by Bob Dylan

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

Bob Dylan’s 69th birthday. Yes, it’s true. Almost 70 and still on tour, currently in Europe. Forever Young is a great song. (Pepsi used it in a commercial, so then it must be great…right?).  I have a Bob Dylan story, well kind of a Bob Dylan story. He was actually there when this happened, so that counts in my book. Back in the summer of 1985/1986 (I can’t really remember for sure without using Google because I am also getting up there in years), I worked “crowd control”, a.k.a security, at Sandstone Amphitheater in KCK.
One of my favorite shows ever was Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers opening up and playing back-up behind the headliner, Bob Dylan. It was as good as you could imagine. At Sandstone there was a section of ~3000 reserved seats right off the stage, which was set at the bottom of a big grassy hill. There was a fence around the reserved area, then the general admission folks, all 10,000+ of them, would sit on the grass hill. It was beautiful. But the GA people on the hill could not, I repeat, could not get past the fence and “crowd control” into the reserved area. Every show had GA people hanging out at the gates of the fence always trying to get past to the shrine of the stage. I had been cursed, spit on, offered bribes and threatened for not allowing GA folks to cross the line. Guess where I “got” to work for the Bob Dylan show…
So, I am working, getting the usual amount of caca from the crowd and the Bob Dylan’s set starts. Things quiet down a bit, but I notice this character standing right at the GA side of the gate who had sifted his way through the throng. He was skin and bones, scraggly, long, gray hair, dressed in ragged jeans and sleeveless white T-shirt. He was old, looked maybe sixty, but the obvious roughness to his life could have easily added 20 years to that face. I wondered how he afforded the ticket to get in, but that was and still is a great mystery. I sauntered over to where he was watching the show, the stage lights illuminated the joy on his face, transfixed on the man onstage.
Between songs, I say, “Like Dylan?”
“Oh, yeah, man.”
“Seen him before, then?” I asked, figuring he had probably seen Dylan dozens of times.
“Never. Only time. Always wanted to, but…you know, never had.”
I sat there a minute. Here we had 3000 reserved seat people, 2990 of them probably really don’t give a mouse’s behind about Bob Dylan. They got free tickets or just wanted to check it out or needed something to do that night. Then you got this one guy, who probably sold a kidney or something to get this one moment added to his life.
“Hey, mister. When I count three, climb through the fence here and calmly walk to that guy in the blue shirt down at front stage.”
“Wha…”
“One, two” I moved right in front of him to cover his escape. He realizes what I told him and smiles. “three!” The little guy shoots through the fence and almost skips on air down to the front stage. I signal to the guy working front stage and he allows the old guy to stand there and watch the show.
He looked happy and content the last time I saw him down by the stage. Well worth all the crap I then received from the other yahoos standing at the gate trying to jump to the promised land. Perfect.  Forever Young.

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