I always like hearing old sound clips of Frank Rizzo because he sounds exactly like a favorite uncle of mine from long ago. They were both from South Philly with strong South Philly accents. I can’t describe it, but I know it when I hear it. Hearing Rizzo is just like hearing Uncle John.
I recently heard another voice from the past. A PBS special on Bob Dylan showed him giving background commentary on his life and performances. It sounded familiar. Who else talks like that?
Then it came to me. Dave Hall, who stayed with us for a few days before the reunion, has the same speech mannerisms as Dylan. This should have been obvious because Dave is a big fan of Dylan. He can—and will, without provocation or warning— recite many Dylan lyrics from memory.
Like Dylan, Dave’s words fall out in little chunks with long pauses between, often dropped with eyes averted and a chuckle of absurdity, but a chuckle that leaves the listener with the odd feeling of eavesdropping on another group’s inside joke. His laugh seems to be shared with someone inside his head who understands the joke much better than you do. Dave has always talked this way, so it is Dylan, being younger, who talks like Dave.
This speech mannerism is characteristic of Dave—curious, but in no way unpleasant. It was good to hear it again in Dylan, even if it wasn’t Dave.