I just got back from a wonderful vacation, except for my father dying at the end of it. The low point of my trip, Papa's passing, I won't much get into. But before the phone call from the nursing home at midnight we had 9 days in paradise, and after it we had a 9-hour drive to Buffalo, and my big brother Todd let me pick the music.

In Maine I stayed with Todd, his wife Judy and daughter Oa, and my other brother Clay. Todd & Co. have been renting a cabin on Salmon Lake in Maine for the first three weeks of August, every year since the seventies now. Todd went to M.I.T., met Judy on a cruise in Boston harbor, and they bought a house in Brookline. Since I lived in Boston for 8 years when I went to college, I got to know Todd, Judy and Oa pretty well. But I live in L.A. now, and haven't been to Maine with the family in years.

Here's how Maine was. In the mornings we cooked omelettes, French toast and blueberry pancakes, which we ate on the screened porch looking over the lake. After breakfast Oa would insist that we read the latest Harry Potter, so we would each read a few pages, then pass the book around. At 11 we'd go down along the cove and lie on the dock in the sun, reading Douglas Adams and Mark Twain (saving Harry Potter for together on the porch) and soaking up rays. Once we were cooked on both sides, we'd flop into the cool lake and swim out to the raft, where the whole gang played tag or keep-away (frisbee), sumo wrestling or king-of-the-raft. We had a canoe and a bicycle paddle-boat. There were also croquet and many indoor games: Jenga, Malarkey, Boggle and Heck. At night a dozen of us would play flashlight tag in the woods. If you were `it', you'd count to 50 while everyone else hid. Then you'd follow them into the woods, silently in darkness. The instant you heard anything - a twig snapping, a rock splashing in the lake - you'd turn on your flashlight and run for the perpetrator, trying to see their face. If you called out their name, then they became `it'. Also at night we told ghost stories and drank cocoa, then swam out to lie on the raft under a thousand stars.

But paradise, as Adam and Eve discovered, just wasn't meant to last. At midnight on Saturday night Judy's cell phone rang. The nurse said Papa had died peacefully in his sleep. 20 minutes later the funeral home called, needing details so they could file a death certificate.

In the morning we said goodbye to Judy and Oa, and left them at the lake. Todd drove, Clay sat in the back, and I navigated and deejayed. From Salmon Lake in Maine, down to Boston and across to Buffalo, is a 9 hour drive (at 70 miles an hour, with an EZPass, packed turkey sandwiches, and just one 15 minute gas and toilet stop. Yes, Todd is efficient like that in every aspect of his life.) Personally, I love music and have thousands of albums. Todd only has a couple of hundred. But he does have every album Bob Dylan ever released. So that's what I deejayed. Here are my favorite 9 hours of Dylan albums (except `Blood on the Tracks' which I skipped on our trip because we all know it too well, but which is my second-favorite  after Blonde on Blonde, and so pleasant I even play it for people who don't like Dylan):

May 63       The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan         50:08
Mar 65        Bringing It All Back Home           46:54
Aug 65        Highway 61 Revisited                48:49
May 66        Blonde on Blonde                    71:40
July 67        The Basement Tapes               76:41
Dec 67        John Wesley Harding                37:55
Apr 69        Nashville Skyline                     26:48
Oct 70        New Morning                           35:17
Jan 76        Desire                                    56:13
Jun 78        Street Legal                             49:26
Nov 83       Infidels                                    41:39

What favorite Dylan album of yours did I forget to play on our trip?

Originally posted to Brecht on Sun Aug 21, 2005 at 09:44 AM PDT.


What is Bob Dylan's 13th best album?

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