Photo: Annie Leibovitz

Hunter S. Thompson, the wild, mad mind behind ‘gonzo journalism‘ was born on this day in 1937.

A notorious devourer of life at a rapid pace, Thompson was just about the most reflective man that ascribed to the “better to burn out than to fade away” philosophy. And music was a huge part of it, influencing the innovating scribe in many ways, from rhythm to philosophy.

Bob Dylan took the respect prize, chiefly, Thompson at one point calling him “a goddamn phenomenon, pure gold, and as mean as a snake.” While Thompson’s novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas refined it further in its dedication page — “To Bob Geiger, for reasons that need not be explained here — and to Bob Dylan, for Mister Tambourine Man.” And the ultimate dedication on Thompson’s funeral day, when his wish that the song be played during his final send-off rightly was carried out by friends and family.

Why “Mr. Tambourine Man?” Many a reason: Its celebration of madness, art, life, cryptic musings — Dylan wrapped infinitely interpretable puzzles around his songs like none other. Thompson loved trying to parse through them. And quite simply, as Dylan did so well, to sing the damn thing sweetly like the timeless pop song in disguise it is.

So here’s to you Thompson, via Dylan, and this stunning final verse-chorus:

Then take me disappearin’ through the smoke rings of my mind
Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves
The haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow
Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free
Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands
With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves
Let me forget about today until tomorrow

Hey! Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
I’m not sleepy and there is no place I’m going to
Hey ! Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
In the jingle jangle morning I’ll come followin’ you