Colac High School, April 1966
As always, Form 4B were ready and attentive for Mr Moore when he arrived for class. Mr Moore was our favourite teacher. A groovy with it guy, up to date with all the latest trends; wearing smart, trendy and stylish clothes, a modish haircut modelled on the new “frenchie” cut as worn by Norm Willison on Kommotion, and he was such a handsome man, even the guys agreed with that! And to top it all off, he drove a red MGB. Understandably he made quite an impact on the impressionable teenagers in 4B, unlike our older fuddy duddy teachers.
On this April day Mr Moore walked into our classroom with a portable record player under one arm and half a dozen LPs under the other. After setting the player up and plugging it in he withdrew a record from its sleeve and placed it on the turntable. Without a word he held the cover up, which for most of us, was unfamiliar. We mainly bought 45s not LPs. Then he played the record: that opening whipcrack snap of the drum, the raw, nasally voice drawling out of the speaker, and that wailing harmonica were all completely new sounds to me……Once upon a time you dressed so fine, threw the bums a dime in your prime……….
I was hooked. Bob Dylan was to change my musical tastes forever.
The class listened intently to a couple more tracks until Mr Moore lifted the arm and turned the player off. He asked for our thoughts and opinions but few were forthcoming, our reluctance due to the fact we were completely stunned by what we had just heard. So different to the music we listened to on Top 40 radio, we did not know how to respond to the music of Dylan.
Explaining that Highway 61 Revisited was the recent album from Bob Dylan, Mr Moore gave reasons why he liked the record and why he was a fan of Dylan, then he told us he would not be taking our class the next day. He had tickets for the Dylan concert that night at Festival Hall and would be staying in Melbourne overnight.
A teacher taking the day off from school to see a music concert! That was outlandish! I wondered what reason he gave old BAP (Bloody Awful Person), the headmaster, for his prospective absence the next day. Whatever his reason we held Mr Moore in awe. Not only were students afraid of BAP but many teachers were submissive to him as well. But in our eyes Mr Moore truly was not one of them.
Straight after school I sat down with mum and convinced her to order Highway 61 Revisited from the Australian Record Club for me. It cost me extra chores around the house over the next month or so but it was well worth it. Impatiently I waited for the record to arrive; it seemed to take an eternity but the wait was worthwhile. That mono recording (our family had not at that stage graduated from a radiogram to a sterogram) was played over and over again in our household as my passion for Dylan became increasingly entrenched. My family must have been driven mad.
Recently my 88 year old father told me he had bought a Dylan compilation CD (I can just imagine the face on the salesperson as dad shuffled to counter to pay for it!) to help him reminisce about memories of living in Colac. As Dylan was always on in the background he thought the best way to help him remember was through Bob’s music. I never thought my dad took any notice of the music I played all those years ago but there you go!
Our next class with Mr Moore commenced with a review of the Dylan concert but I do not remember a great deal about what he actually said, except that it was delivered in a most eloquent and passionate manner. By then I was converted. Then it was on with the lesson.
To this day, whenever I hear Like a Rolling Stone I smile, remembering with fond memories Mr Moore, our groovy teacher in 4B and my introduction to Bob Dylan.
© Colin Ritchie.
P.S Of all Bob’s Australian tours the only one I have missed was the 1966 one!