We’re sitting at the airport. I don’t know about you, but I am very sleepy. I’ve claimed a corner of this huge sprawling proof of civilization and filled it with jasmine tea and Bob Dylan songs. As close to heaven as we can be, right?
I am flying away from London and I don’t think I’ll be returning for a long time. It’s been fun, interesting and above all.. sad. Not bad-sad, just a bit stupid-sad. Like eating cake, .. or giving away your cat.
I bet Bob never gave his cats away. Whatever happened, he always had his cats. Let’s talk about him.
This post is going to heavily feature cats, dedicated to Darklord Dante Cola Alighieri – The Cat That Got Away.
I first arrived to Bob in the summer of 2006. I remember listening to to “The Times They Are A-Changing” in my summer house. It was nighttime and I gripped my tiny mp3 player hard, eyes wide open to darkness. It felt like hearing a sermon or discovering a religion. I know, it sounds stupid, but that’s what I remember. It was almost like a door had been kicked down in my mind – I had never THOUGHT to think that way. Somehow his raspy voice and the poetry-like lyrics injected a truth to an art form I hadn’t thought much of. And gosh, do I love truth.
Down the street the dogs are barkin’
And the day is a-gettin’ dark
As the night comes in a-fallin’
The dogs’ll lose their bark
An’ the silent night will shatter
From the sounds inside my minds
For I’m one too many mornings
And a thousand miles behind.
Reads a bit like a poem, doesn’t it? It’s very easy to get lost into this song. We’re standing, looking out of the window as snow falls on a slowly darkening street. The dogs bark throws us stumbling out of the dream, but we slowly fade back into it. That’s what snowfall can do to a person, you start to think. And thinking on the outskirts of this town is a recipe for trouble.
I’m not gonna talk lot’s about where Bob came from, since there’s been way too many books trying to analyze his life anyway. I’m gonna talk about how he matters to me, and what I feel when I listen to him.
Hey, it’s my blog and my corner of the airport!
Still with me? Here, have some jasmine tea.
Bobby has two very cool superpowers – his voice and his writing. Now many say something like “Dylan writes great, but can’t sing and I’m dumb” Well, I’ve never gotten that. Sure he’s not Sinatra or… Barbara Streisand?, but I’ve always found that Bob can extremely versatile with his voice. Go listen to Lay Lady Lay and then Ballad of a Thin Man – Dylan jumps from velvet to sandpaper! He knows how to put emotion into his voice, a 20 year old white dude singing about slavery, but somehow he manages to make it truthful. This is a skill that many musicians of today unfortunately lack.
His writing is something else entirely. I think this song of his “It’s alright, Ma (I’m only bleeding)” is a great one to read. Contrary to his earlier “protest” songs, this one never showed any optimism, this was a turning point for Dylan, paving a way for the mercury-thin stuff he’d go to write afterwards (we’ll talk about that a bit later).
In this song Dylan examines the hypocrisy and commercialism of the modern world. He does this with anger and contempt, using sharp lyrics as weapons and pinpointing problems with contrast.
Darkness at the break of noon
Shadows even the silver spoon
The handmade blade, the child’s balloon
Eclipses both the sun and moon
To understand you know too soon
There is no sense in trying
The opening lines conjures an almost apocalyptic image of this world Dylan presents to us. He sings as a prophet, a style that was new to him, but which he’d use on later songs often. Many of his most quoted lyrics come from this song.
But even the president of the United States
Sometimes must have to stand naked
Money doesn’t talk, it swears.
Unfortunately I can’t get into this song too much, because this would take the whole night, rest assured you should listen to it. Let’s jump on to The Thin Wild Mercury music Dylan cultivated in the late 60’s
Ahh… and one of my favorite albums of all time: Blonde on Blonde. Hey, that spells BOB! I know! Don’t yell in the airport though, here, have some hot jasmine tea.
By this point Bob Dylan was quite fucked. He had “betrayed” his folk roots and was facing wild hatred from his most loving fans. He was also heavily on drugs.
I’ve talked about Visions of Johanna before. But here’s Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands
Blonde on Blonde brought about a wilder, more lucid style than anything Dylan had done before. This album is considered one of the best ever made for it’s stark imagery and theme. It’s grand on its scale, drifting from feeling to an image to emotion from song to song. Dylan is someone who combined two art forms – the written word and music.
Sad Eyed Lady of The Lowlands is Dylan being most romantic. It has a rhythm of funeral trail, flowing through 10 minutes of playtime. Dylan has an amazing ability for finding a connection with the listener
With your mercury mouth in the missionary times
And your eyes like smoke and your prayers like rhymes
And your silver cross, and your voice like chimes
Oh, who do they think could bury you ?
This is stretching too long and our plane is departing soon. Hear that? They’re calling our names! We should hurry, leave the tea you can always come back to it. What? Don’t you know that these things stay with you forever? Jasmine tea in an airport while discussing music and philosophy will never fade.
I’ll see you next week, okay?