Bob Dylan: 70 years on the lost highway
Everybody knows Bob Dylan. And pretty much everybody knows that today marks his 70th birthday.
Dylan has sung countless acoustic tunes about life and love. But he's also followed his weaving thread down a decades-long path of road songs and gritty Americana. Not only has he literally toured throughout the U.S., but he's sung many, many songs about highways and bridges.
Here's a thought to ponder: when Dylan burst on the scene 50 years ago, the U.S. was just building a network of interstate highways and bridges. In the decades since, how many of those bridges, toll roads, and on-ramps have been repaired, retrofitted, or serviced?
The answer is a bit unsettling because the truth is that the U.S. has fallen far behind in maintaining crucial infrastructure. A 2009 Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) report describes the ongoing deterioration of various parts of the nation’s public infrastructure. It reads almost like a Dylan song, offering a litany of "crumbling roads and bridges, antiquated and unsafe schools...a vast infrastructure deficit."
AAM has polled American voters and found that they favor investments to repair the nation's infrastructure. Such retrofitting and repair work could provide a real boon for U.S. manufacturers and their workers.
On the subject of infrastructure, though, and the long, lonesome highway, we thought we'd link to a piece this morning by The Infrastructurist's Eric Jaffe. He listed "Bob Dylan’s 10 Best Infrastructure Songs":
10. Down the Highway (The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan)
9. Highway 61 Revisited (Highway 61 Revisited)
8. The Levee’s Gonna Break (Modern Times)
7. From a Buick 6 (Highway 61 Revisited)
6. Marchin’ to the City (Tell Tale Signs – Disc 1 version)
5. Crash on the Levee (Down in the Flood) (Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits, vol. 2)
4. Dirt Road Blues (Time Out of Mind)
3. High Water (for Charlie Patton) (Love and Theft)
2. Highway 51 (Bob Dylan)
1. It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry (Highway 61 Revisited)
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