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One Road


Bob Dylan and Pope John Paul II, Bologna, September 27, 1997

The answer is blowing in the wind, it’s true, but not in the wind which disperses everything into the swirls of nothingness, but in the wind that is the breath and voice of the Spirit, a voice that calls and says: “Come.” You have asked how many roads must a man walk down before he can recognise himself as a man. I answer: one. Man’s road is one only and that road is Christ, who said: “I am the way.”

Comments

  1. Bob Dylan says

    That show was one of the best I have ever played and enjoyed in my whole life.

  2. Anonymous says

    Finally, a concert that truly was a religious experience. In an effort to connect with Catholic youth, Pope John Paul II topped off a weeklong religious congress with a Mass featuring a performance by rock icon Bob Dylan. Before the show began, the 77-year-old pope proved he was a closet Dylan fan when he quoted “Blowin’ in the Wind” to a crowd of more than 300,000: “‘How many roads must a man walk down before he becomes a man?’ I answer you: one.There is only one road for man, and it is Christ.”

  3. Anonymous says

    Dylan, in a black cowboy suit and beige Stetson, appeared moved as he clasped hands onstage with the 77-year-old ailing Pontiff and accepted a gift of a mother-of-pearl rosary. After renditions of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” and “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” Dylan sang a reverential “Forever Young” as the Pope made his exit, soon followed by the singer.

  4. Conan O'Brien says

    In Italy, Bob Dylan sang for Pope John Paul II and had a private audience with him. The pope said, “I speak eight different languages, and I still have no idea what he was saying

  5. Anonymous says

    Dylan sang his famous “Blowin’ in the Wind” and the pope did the exegesis: The answer that’s blowing is the message of Jesus. John Paul went on to say that Christianity was basically anticonformist, inspiring people to reach for something better than the easy life, which can be spiritually suffocating – a beguiling brand of Christianity, not prohibitive and dour but graceful and welcoming.

    Dylan also sang “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” and later “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” a ballad warning against injustice in the world. Then the singer removed his cowboy hat and walked to the front row for a hearty old handshake with the pope. The crowd, not surprisingly, roared

  6. John Beifuss says

    The Associated Press labeled it “the stuff of which legends are made” and “one of the most unlikely encounters of modern times.”

    The meeting took place Saturday night at the end of a religious congress for young people in Bologna, Italy, when Bob Dylan performed for Pope John Paul II (and about 200,000 others).

    The former Robert Zimmerman, 56, (about the age John Paul was when he was elected Pope), opened the concert with Knocking on Heaven’s Door. The former Karol Wojtyla, 77, for his part, quoted Dylan song lyrics in his sermon.

    Said the Pope: “You’ve asked me: `How many roads must a man walk down before he becomes a man?’ ” The answer, he said, was blowin’ in the wind – “the wind that is the breath and life of the Holy Spirit.”

    All that is part of the public record. What hasn’t been reported – until now – is the backstage meeting between the Pope and the pop bard.

    Here’s the inside scoop:

    Dylan arrives, in cowboy hat, boots, and trademark jawline furze. After introductions, the men begin their discussion.

    The Pope: “The young are searching for God, they are searching for the meaning of life, they are searching for definitive answers.”

    Dylan: “Of war and peace the truth just twists, its curfew gull just glides; upon four-legged forest clouds the cowboy angel rides.”

    The Pope: “Aristotle and Plato follow this same path, but in a different manner.”

    Dylan: “Ain’t it just like the night to play tricks when you’re tryin’ to be so quiet? We sit here stranded, though we’re all doin’ our best to deny it.”

    The Pope: “Your question ultimately concerns Pascal’s distinction between the Absolute . . . and the God of the Patriarchs – from Abraham to Moses.”

    Dylan: “God said to Abraham, `Kill me a son,’ Abe said, `Man, you must puttin’ me on.’ “

    The Pope: “You observe that contemporary man finds it hard to return to faith because he is afraid of the moral demands that faith makes upon him.”

    Dylan: “The motorcycle black madonna two-wheeled gypsy queen and her silver-studded phantom cause the gray flannel dwarf to scream.”

    The Pope: “God is always on the side of the suffering.”

    Dylan: “Grandpa died last week, and he’s buried in the rocks, but everybody still talks about how badly they were shocked.”

    The Pope: “The father-son paradigm is ageless.”

    Dylan: “Get born, keep warm, short pants, romance, learn to dance, get dressed, get blessed, try to be a success. Twenty years of schoolin’ and they put you on the day shift.”

    The Pope: “All the same, it is difficult to say that the young have rejected traditional values.”

    Dylan: “Even the president of the United States sometimes must have to stand naked.”

    The Pope: “God’s plans are often inscrutable.”

    Dylan leaves.

    The Pope (musing): “Today’s young people certainly grow up in a different context.”

    All dialog from Crossing the Threshold of Hope by His Holiness John Paul II and Lyrics, 1962-1985 by Bob Dylan (both published by Alfred A. Knopf).

  7. Philip Willan says

    Before Dylan’s appearance, a group of young actors, accompanied by an acoustic guitar, recited words from his song Blowin’ in the Wind.

    John Paul ventured an answer in his own address to the crowd: “The answer is blowing in the wind, it’s true, but not in the wind which disperses everything into the swirls of nothingness, but in the wind that is the breath and voice of the Spirit, a voice that calls and says: ‘Come.’ You have asked how many roads must a man walk down before he can recognise himself as a man. I answer: one. Man’s road is one only and that road is Christ, who said: ‘I am the way’.”

  8. Der Spiegel says

    Q: How was it for you to be playing for the Pope in Bologna a few weeks ago?

    A: A great show.

    Q: Why?

    A: It just was.

    Q: Isn’t it strange that a great enemy of the establishment suddenly performs for the Pope?

    A: Why? It’s not the same Pope as back then. Part II

    Q: So, in your view of the world there is still a past and a future?

    A: Yes, but actually people haven’t changed since Moses. Feelings don’t change.

    Q: Before the Pope you played your songs honestly and pure like on the record. Normally the audience should be aware that you might massacre your own songs. Are you bored to play your songs as close to the original as possible? Or do you want to punish your audience?

    A: Above all, the critics are the problem. They come with ears that are tuned to 1975 or even more back. And then, my songs lead their own lives, they have an inner truth which is changed from evening to evening. That’s why people don’t recognise all of the songs. I have recorded my albums at various points of my life, with various musicians using various instruments. If I was to replicate all of that in the original way, I had to drag onehundred people up on the stage.

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