A Cloud of Smoke (My interpretation of one of the most influential people i

By , Warren, NJ
I once heard a great noise. You can definitely say that it was not something people usually come across. Now, I only look back on the recordings of where the sound was produced, but I always thought it was far too immense or great for human senses to cope. Yet this sound still managed to burn brightly for years and was heard by many. Receiving glory and success, it didn’t make sense all the time and sparked controversy. It was occasionally adored and occasionally ridiculed. But before anything else is explained, you must know it all started with a cloud of smoke.


This happened, years before I was born, in a small town. A young boy living there hoped to find a way out from the drab of the entire community. He was a fairly good-looking person with very fair and soft traits, such as dark eyes, thick, curly hair, but also a slightly odd, curled nose. The boy was a simple dresser, often opting for a plaid shirt and jeans. This look created an innocence about him, harmless and sanguine to change the world, yet rather scraggly and awkward, which only made him look even more virtuous. But in order to escape, he simply hopped onto a ratty cargo train with only his harmonica one day, leaving not a single trace to prove he ever lived there. I imagine he then sat quietly playing his harmonica, slow and sad, as his feet dangled out from the train. When the train eventually stopped, it arrived at a farm, as barren as his hometown, and the boy quickly walked miles over to the east from his disgust that he had spent so much time to go to a place that was nearly a twin of his original town. He found each day passing and regretful until he found hundreds of cars rushing forward. They sped ahead, and the boy saw an enormous civilisation in front of him, exactly what he had been searching for. The cement streets were filled with hundreds of people, all blowing forward too, and the boy gladly joined in. His physical being was content as he settled down into his new home, purchasing a modest apartment among a block of chain stores. However he still felt a hunger to release himself from his previous small town life. His very soul was aching for him to fill this deep void, and he knew something needed to be done. He could have gone to find some work as an assistant or kept it simple as a waiter, but his fate had other plans. The young boy sat, surrounded by the smoke from his cigarette, in his dingy apartment, and wrote his best words. They flowed together eloquently, as natural as how water flows downstream, and promised a new possibility for him. He wanted to tell everyone what he had just wrote, and one day took his sheets of words to perform for the world.

The boy went around everywhere, asking for a chance to listen to him at least once, but I will skip over this section because it is not the most important part of the story. What is important was when a man heard the boy’s words and harmonica. The man thought he was listening to the Sirens the Greeks had spoken of, so pure and unpolluted from the cruelty of the world at that time. The boy’s fate was finally beginning to unravel while he continued to write even more beautiful words and melodies. He found it nerve wracking from the immediate success, and felt it the most when he did perform in front of a crowd, all propped down in front of him. The light glared right into his eyes and the intense heat and anxiousness made him become weary, too tired to lift up his harmonica or open his mouth to produce a sound. The boy swayed back and forth, causing some impatience among the crowd, but did manage to collect himself. He lifted his harmonica and began so that the entire crowd felt what the man had felt. They were happy, sad, and surprised at the truthfulness of his words, which seemed to stand up for their ideals that others had continuously tried to suppress. He became a prophet that could give them guidance, nearly a part of their existence and being. The demand grew quickly with everyone wanting a piece of the young boy.

His words expressed the world’s problems more frequently, and an acoustic guitar was also thrown into the mix. It would strum along, and he was still innocent at this time because, to his audience, he spoke the truth. The truth was an answer to the abominations in the world, declarations of love, or whatever else the human heart feels, all onto a sheet of words. His ballads and songs were so often praised by everyone, and his performances (especially his performances!) were so immaculate since it seemed he was alone on stage all the time, playing whatever his heart had. There was only a guitar, harmonica, and poetry. History was being made right before their eyes. When I saw this about 45 years later, I too found nothing more perfect. There was so much emotion the boy had poured into his words! And so, this is why I found it shocking for the people to heckle the boy when he chose a new musical direction.

They covered their ears and booed from the unfamiliar noise, which screeched like...... I’m not sure exactly, but, this noise was the greatest sound in the world to me, far superior than what the boy wrote before. The source was from an electric guitar, not an acoustic one. It was truly magnificent as it blasted proudly despite jeers in the background. I always feel as if something is fluttering in my stomach when listening to its beauty. In fact, I am furious today how those people could not appreciate the beauty. What were they thinking to hate such a glorious sound! His words, lovely as ever, were ignored too! Back on the stage, the electric guitar winded over and over again, and the people did not like how something had changed. They missed the simpleness the boy used to have, and thought he sold out to the abominations of the world that he used to protest. Perhaps the boy had grown up, now truly as his own individual. One of the young boy’s own crew was backstage, being restrained by everyone, trying to cut the wire, which powered the guitar, with an ax. On the other hand, I have not eaten or thought anything else for days, and I don’t ever want to part from the sound. I only smile like some madman, people unaware of the love I found. The people continued to deem him a traitor for selling out, but he still held strong and resumed playing, which I am glad for. What does it even mean to sell out anyway?

For the next year, I think, the boos went on until they seemed to be a vital part of his tours. However the boy was still a definite power among his audiences, and he proved to the world that he existed with his electric guitar. He did do this with his acoustic guitar before, but now he was ensuring that everyone would know for good. I think the boy was also very content like this while feeling very isolated. He must have felt that he was fighting everyone at that point, battling to just express himself. I also have to tell you that he purchased a motorcycle one day, due to his love for motorcycles. Purchasing a motorcycle may be a very minute detail, but it was actually a life changing decision. You have to remember first though how great he was, a god for blessing the world with his music. He made history that sparked a generation and generations after that, including myself. So it is with great displeasure to tell you that he crashed on the highway into a green field with his motorcycle.

He crashed straight down, barely recognisable when the police came, and didn’t do anything else as they lifted him onto the gurney. His face was black and bloody, much like a Jackson Pollack painting. Smoke surrounded his motorcycle, which was still left mangled and tossed over on the grass. He laid very still, motionless, except his chest went up and down as his lungs clawed through for air. There must have been a sense of confusion, wondering what exactly happened as he rewinded the event in his head over and over again. The boy had been invincible at one point, and now he was so fragile and at the mercy of others. He blinked a little bit, contemplating on the fickleness of the universe. But he passed out quickly after that, and it seemed that the end of this period in his life ended in a cloud of smoke as well.

I don’t know what exactly happened next, but I know this young boy had changed, as his audience suspected before. His outlook was different after approximately five years had passed ever since he arrived as the prophet and then a traitor to his audiences. Traces of the person he was when he was escaping from his hometown were hardly there, but they are still definitely there today. Anyone can see this if they observe and think hard enough. You must look past his face, and scan his words carefully. Unfortunately many people cannot, and have abandoned him, the very person they had worshipped like a god earlier. You know they are not true friends for forsaking him and thinking the truths he said before were no longer in him. This is wrong because they are still there! Look at the penitentiaries, 4th Street in the Village, the watchtower, Vietnam, the farm, and most importantly, the sky above. However, a cloud of smoke often engulfs the sky, and the answers he says today are hard to understand. In this case, you have the one option to just assume that the answer is blowin’ in the wind.




This was Bob Dylan.





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