We just had a near-miss with an asteroid and I got to thinking about that horrible movie Deep Impact, whose only good idea was making Morgan Freeman the President of the United States. The premise of this idiotic movie was that an asteroid was going to smash into the earth, destroying the bulk of civilization and killing most of the population. The president made a concerted effort to usher the best and brightest minds into the limited number of safe areas and bunkers in order to recreate and rebuild what is about to be destroyed. If that sounds interesting to you, I hope we never meet. Trust me when I say the execution of the idea is even worse than the idea itself.
Here's where I contradict myself just a little. I wasn't thinking of Deep Impact when I started thinking about the sum total of human knowledge and achievement and what it would take to preserve it. There are a few chapters we all wish would disintegrate in a cosmic collision but no matter what scientists and theologians say, we've come a long way from standing naked in the wilderness and shitting behind trees. It seems our only hope in the event of such a farfetched scenario is to prioritize and condense and for that we turn to the great Bob Dylan, who may have told us everything we need to know in five minutes and 382 words. "Things Have Changed" is a stunning achievement and if I were asked to put one object in our time capsule for future generations, it would be this song.
I could write about this song every day for the next six months and still wouldn't run out of things to say about it and not just say about it- learn from it! Just about every thought I've managed – and granted that's not an impressive total but I'm only 37 years into this and my moment could still come – and feeling I've ever felt is probably expressed and explained in this song. If my final chapter comes via "Choose Your Own Adventure" styled options, this will be the last song I hear before I head for the exits. I may not even finish it, stopping at the line "Don't get up, gentlemen, I'm only passing through."
The video version of the song trims it just a little but this nugget right here is one you should commit to memory not because of asteroids or Armageddons but because your life will be fuller and richer and your understanding of the world deeper. That, and it's just a hell of a tune. Dylan is playing chess and we're all playing checkers at the kids' table. Things Have Changed is 382 words. This post is 460.