How a Bob Dylan Road Trip Cured a Broken Heart
Hal and Alan at the gates of Graceland (Photo: Alan Light)
It was 2001 and my best friend was bummed out. He had just broken up with his girlfriend — and she was one we all liked, the one he had brought to my wedding the previous year, where he served as my best man.
Hal and I had met in college. It was a friendship with a good arc: Though we were both within the same tight-knit social circle, we weren’t that close in the first year or two, but we connected more and more as graduation grew closer. It felt as though our attachment would grow into the future, and after he’d lived on the West Coast for a while, he came to New York and we shared a weird, magical apartment in the East Village with pink-and-black floor tiles.
Bob Dylan 1961 (Photo: Getty Images)
So watching him suffer through this break-up, I knew I had to do something. One thing we shared was a passion, bordering on obsession, with the music of Bob Dylan. Having turned this kind of mania into a career as a music journalist, I was able to attend numerous Dylan shows once he started his “Never Ending Tour” in 1988 — performances that could be transcendent or awful — with Hal often coming along.
I had an inspiration and checked the tour schedule. Jackpot! Dylan was playing three shows over an upcoming weekend, in Atlanta, Nashville, and Memphis. What could be a more perfect antidote to heartbreak than a music-intensive sprint through the American South, the birthplace of so many drinking-and-crying songs?
I laid out the plan to Hal, who quickly agreed. When I told my wife, Suzanne, about this idea, though, her response was immediate — she wouldn’t miss out on this. (Fortunately, not only did she and Hal get along but they had actually worked together a few years earlier, which was the catalyst for our first date.) So we booked the flights, hotels, and rental car for the three of us. I set up the tickets for all three stops and, soon enough, the Odd Trio was on its way.
Atlanta, Georgia (Photo: Terence S. Jones/Flickr)