Saturday, December 2, 2017

Dylan Medley 1960s

The Times They Are A-Changin' 
Talking World War III Blues 
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll 
Girl From The North Country
A Hard Rain's a Gonna Fall
Restless Farewell

Monday, November 20, 2017

T.C. Boyle Jonathan Swift Award

Monday, October 23, 2017

Friday, October 20, 2017

Old Rock 'n' Roller

Bob Dylan - Old Rock 'n' Roller - Hamburg, Germany, 3 July 1990
Only live performance (Bob Dylan Official Website)
Written by Charlie Daniels, Jack Gavin, Charlie Hayward & Taz DiGregorio

Performed by Bob Dylan at Stadtpark, Hamburg, D, July 3, 1990, 
and Sporthalle, Linz, A, Jun 15, 1991
Bob Dylan Roots

Dylan's version introduced by him with the words: 
“In case you're wondering what happens to people like me, here's a song to tell about it”.
Eyolf Østrem, Dylan Chords

He's just an old rock 'n' roller playing music in a backstreet bar.
He sings a little flat and he never learned to play the guitar.
But he keeps on belting out them rhythm and blues,
"Long Tall Sally" and "Blue Suede Shoes".
He's just an old rock 'n' roller playing music in a backstreet bar.
He never faced the fact that he's never gonna be a star
He's just an old rock 'n' roller playing music in a backstreet bar.

He had a record in the sixties, it was big enough to go Top Ten.
And though he tried and he tried he never could make it happen again.
He's been living twenty years on bourbon and pride.
Jerry Lee went crazy and Elvis died.
Then his third wife left him but he never really thought it would last.
And now she ain't nothing but another little blast from the past.

But sometimes at night when the music and crowd's having fun,
He steps up on the mike with a gleam in his eye and once again he's twenty-one.
And then it's "Be-Bop-A-Lula" and "Heartbreak Hotel" and "That'll Be The Day"
Then the Sweet Bird of Youth just flies away.

He's an earthbound eagle that never did learn to fly.
He ain't never gonna make it but he sure did give it a try.
So go dye your hair and turn the music up loud,
And when it's time to go at least you'll go down proud.
You ain't never gonna be nothing but what you are --
Just an old rock 'n' roller playing music in a backstreet bar,
Just an old rock 'n' roller playing music in a backstreet bar.

Also from the July 3rd, 1990 concert: No More One More Time

Friday, October 13, 2017

Trouble No More ~ Making a Liar Out of Me

I tell people, you just going through changes
And that you're acquainted both with night and day
That your money's good and you just being courageous
On them burning bridges knowing your feet are made of clay
Well I say you won't be destroyed by your inventions
That you brought it all under captivity
And that you really do have all the best intentions
But you're making a liar out of me

Well I say that you're just young and self-tormented
But that deep down you understand
The hopes and fears and dreams of the discontented
That threaten now to overtake your promised land
Well I say you'd not sow discord among brothers
Nor drain a man of his integrity
That you remember the cries of the orphans and their mothers
But you're making a liar out of me
But you're making a liar out of me

Well I say that, that ain't flesh and blood you're drinking
In the wounded empire of your fool's paradise
With a light above your head forever blinking
Turning virgins into merchandise
That you must have been beautiful when you were living
You remind me of some old-time used-to-be
I say you can be trusted with the power you been given
But you're making a liar out of me

So many things so hard to say as you stumble
To take refuge in your offices of shame
As the earth beneath my feet begins to rumble
And your young men die for nothin', not even fame
I say that someday you'll begin to trust us
And that your conscience has not been slain by conformity
That you stand up unafraid to believe in justice
But you're making a liar out of me
You're making a liar out of me

Well I can hear the sound of distant thunder
From an open window at the end of every hall
Now that you're gone I got to wonder
If you ever were here at all
I say you never sacrificed my children
To some false god of infidelity
And that it's not the Tower of Babel that you're building
But you're making a liar out of me
You're making a liar out of me
Well you're making a liar out of me

Dylan is talking to God (The King), saying: “I can tell the World this and I can tell the World that, I can tell the World all that you’ve told me. But the way this World of Yours is going discredits all those words and tries to make a liar out of me.” “In the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his mind was TROUBLED and he could not sleep. So the king summoned the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers to tell him what he had dreamed. When they came in and stood before the king, he said to them, “I have had a dream that TROUBLES me and I want to know what it means.” (Notice the caps – (Trouble No More) I think these lyrics reflect the plight of Daniel called upon to interpret the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon. Certainly, the imagery is thickly compatible with the imagery of Daniel chapters 2 & 3. Dylan believes he was called upon by God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, to spread the Gospel and Christianity, and he backs it up in these lyrics with the Old Testament of Daniel. He identifies with Daniel whose words and actions changed the mind of Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel urges his friends to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery of the King’s dream, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon (the World). During the night the mystery is revealed to Daniel in a vision and he praises the God of heaven saying: “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him. I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors: You have given me wisdom and power, you have made known to me what we asked of you, you have made known to us the dream of the king.” King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, sixty cubits high and six cubits wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. He then summoned the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials to come to the dedication of the image he had set up. So the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials assembled for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, and they stood before it. Then the herald loudly proclaimed, “Nations and peoples of every language, this is what you are commanded to do: As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace." Daniel was called upon by God to save the people of Babylon (The World). Dylan, during his Gospel years, was impassioned to SAVE the World from the fiery furnace of Hell. Daniel Interprets Nebuchadnezzar's Dream

I Believe In You

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute, Washington, DC January 20, 1986

Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute, Washington, DC January 20, 1986
I Shall Be Released  & Blowin' In the Wind 
I Shall Be Released - Alternate Lyrics:
They say every man needs protection
They say that every man must fall
I swear I see my own reflection
Somewhere so high above this wall
I see my light come shinin'
I don't need no doctor or no priest
Any day now, any day now
I shall be released
It don't take much to be a criminal
One wrong move and they'll turn you into one
At first decay is just subliminal
To protect yourself and your forever on the run
I see my light come shinin'
I don't need no doctor or no priest
Any day now, any day now
I shall be released
He will find you where your stayin'
Even in the arms of somebody elses wife
Your laughin' now, you should be prayin'
To be in the midnight hour of your life
I see my light come shinin'
I don't need no doctor or no priest
Any day now, any day now
I shall be released

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Festival Express

On a train feelin' no pain, headed for Clavary, Alberta with friends.
Festival Express is a 2003 documentary film about the 1970 train tour of the same name across Canada taken by some of North America's most popular rock bands, including Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, The Band, Buddy Guy, Flying Burrito Bros, and Delaney & Bonnie & Friends.The film combines live footage shot during the 1970 concerts, as well as footage aboard the train itself, interspersed with present-day interviews with tour participants sharing their often humorous recollections of the events

Had to include this.  A rather long and far out "comment" beneath the video on youtube:

I'm here Kell, ma dorothys crying man cause you sent her us! She said farout WOW. Hurricane Harvey was Mr Rogers and Patrick Swayze. IRMA was ma dorothys late husband Wild Bill O'Gwynn Jr from Jackson Alabama. Jose is ma dorothys Son Elijah. Katia is ma dorothys Son Zeus. Max is ma dorothys late Navy Seal husband. Matthew was his too. I made Hurricane Patricia. Mexican gorilla soldiers are searching for victims from IRMA aftermath with 8 foot Billie clubs man. In a short while JJ is deploing 144,000 Army's to Sea. A hurricane pow wow. JJ is gonna blow blow Seminole winds on Texas Arizona New Mexico man. Trump's a NAZI. Kell ma dorothy said your cute ! ma dorothys smiling at us all ! She is so cry man for you ALL. She prays for us all constantly man. I've been with her since jimmi killed me. Jesus Christ brought my souls to her. He she is Angry at. But that's common for ma dorothy. ma dorothy thinks Jesus can kill bad people. He can't. HURRICANES just make a mess. Ebola virus is growing in AMERICA man. Obama sailed immigrants ashore infected. LOVE is only one way to HEAL. To marry LOVE Angels is easy. Say out loud..LOVE ME NUMBER ONE COME...LOVE ME NUMBER ONE COME... LOVE ME NUMBER ONE COME...AMAN ! 7 TIMES NOW KELL. Then tiny white and gold orb spirits will find your body, and enter it. In five days you'll feel better.

Hurricane and Simple Twist of Fate

Monday, September 18, 2017

Dead Leaves - Ben Holland

Dead Leaves.

See the man standing on the platform
On his way back home from a war
He sees her there through the smoke of his breath
Sees her standing alone in the door

She was just a girl maybe seventeen
Shivering in the winter cold
With hair like the leaves that blew around her feet
Auburn dipped in gold

Sister Mary threw those petals high up in the air
As we read our wedding vow
I will love you for a lifetime at least
Forever just as now

He cupped his hand around her cigarette
She smiled and bowed her head
'Are you waiting for a train or for someone?'
She sighed 'My someone's dead'

They talked for hours till his train came
They kiss and then they part
He dreamed as the tracks took him homeward
And listened to the beat of his heart

Sister Mary threw those petals high up in the air
As we read our wedding vow
I will love you for a lifetime at least
Forever just as now

His wife came and met him at the station
Five long years he'd been away
She told him how their children both had grown
Neither had very much to say

They walked alone by the river
She was scared to hold his hand
He'd already seen what she tried to hide
She'd sold her golden wedding band

Sister Mary threw those petals high up in the air
As we read our wedding vow
I will love you for a lifetime at least
Forever just as now

He told her that she was looking older
She told him 'Well that's what time will do'
'Every day's been a battle since you've been away'
He said 'I've had my battles too'

His children they met him in the hallway
A soldier and a stranger in their home
She said 'I thought our Daddy was a baker'
The only man they'd ever known

Sister Mary threw those petals high up in the air
As we read our wedding vow
I will love you for a lifetime at least
Forever just as now

'My dear, five years is a long time
I did some things I didn't want to do
But please don't hate me for surviving
Our children needed clothing and food'

He flew into a rage and left them shaking
He ran back and boarded the train
With that young girl he'd left at the station
And hot blood pounding in his brain

Sister Mary threw those petals high up in the air
As we read our wedding vow
I will love you for a lifetime at least
Forever just as now

The train took him back to that station
He stood where he'd stood years before
And through the smoke of his cigarette
Again, he saw her standing in the door

Now just a little older than seventeen
Still shivering in the winter cold
With hair like the leaves that blew around her feet
Silver where once was gold

They talked for hours till the moon rose
Then in the twilight they both began to cry
Then all went quiet in the station
And the dead leaves danced across the sky

Sister Mary threw those petals high up in the air
As we read our wedding vow
I will love you for a lifetime at least
Forever just as now.


Ben Holland: Guitar and Vocal.
Written and recorded by Ben Holland.


Friday, September 15, 2017

As Long As I Deliver ~ Ben Holland

Monday, July 31, 2017

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Day of the Locusts

"I was glad to get the degree, though. I could use it. The very look and touch and scent of it spelled respectability and had something of the spirit of the universe in it. After whispering and mumbling my way through the ceremony, I was handed the scroll. We piled back into the big Buick and drove away."  Chronicles BD 

Oh, the benches were stained with tears and perspiration
The birdies were flying from tree to tree
There was little to say, there was no conversation
As I stepped to the stage to pick up my degree
And the locusts sang off in the distance
Yeah, the locusts sang such a sweet melody
Oh, the locusts sang off in the distance
Yeah, the locusts sang and they were singing for me

I glanced into the chamber where the judges were talking
Darkness was everywhere, it smelled like a tomb
I was ready to leave, I was already walkin’
But the next time I looked there was light in the room
And the locusts sang, yeah, it give me a chill
Oh, the locusts sang such a sweet melody
Oh, the locusts sang their high whining trill
Yeah, the locusts sang and they were singing for me

Outside of the gates the trucks were unloadin’
The weather was hot, a-nearly 90 degrees
The man standin’ next to me, his head was exploding
Well, I was prayin’ the pieces wouldn’t fall on me
Yeah, the locusts sang off in the distance
Yeah, the locusts sang such a sweet melody
Oh, the locusts sang off in the distance
And the locusts sang and they were singing for me

I put down my robe, picked up my diploma
Took hold of my sweetheart and away we did drive
Straight for the hills, the black hills of Dakota
Sure was glad to get out of there alive
And the locusts sang, well, it give me a chill
Yeah, the locusts sang such a sweet melody
And the locusts sang with a high whinin’ trill
Yeah, the locusts sang and they was singing for me
Singing for me, well, singing for me

This is a rare Tuli track, released only on the 1989 Shimmy Disc LP & cassette "Tuli & Friends" but not included on the CD of that name or digitized before. It recalls June 9, 1970, when the University of Minnesota's most celebrated dropout, Bob Dylan, received an honorary doctorate degree from Princeton.  The tune is taken from Dylan's "With God on Our Side," a parasong to Dominic Behan's "The Patriot Game."
As David Crosby later recalled, "When we arrived at Princeton they took us straight into a little room and Bob was asked to wear a cap and gown. He refused outright. They said, 'We won't give you a degree if you don't wear this.' Dylan said, 'Fine, I didn't ask for it in the first place.'"

Although they finally convinced him to wear the gown, Dylan still refused to don the cap, opting instead, like the rest of the 1,200 graduates, to toss on a white armband which bore a peace symbol and the number 70, designating the graduating class. From "Bob Dylan, Ph.D. by Ben Corbett

Dylan wrote in "Day of the Locusts"
"I put down my robe, picked up my diploma,
Took hold of my sweetheart and away we did drive,
Straight for the hills, the black hills of Dakota,
Sure was glad to get out of there alive."
My name is Bob Dylan
From Woodstock that's West
Jack Eliot Woody Guthrie
Sang the songs I love best
Went down to Folklore Center
Seeking fortune or fame
End as a pawn in
The Doctorate Game
The kids they all bug me
It's answers they want
Don't have any answers
I know what I want
Just leave me be quiet
I got fields of my own
And pleasant old Woodstock
Will be my new home.
What a man owes another
That's hard for to know
There's con men and traitors
To bring the heart low
Opportunists and gangsters
Who know that they lie
And fools crying "Love"
With "Killl " in their eyes.
If you think you know better
Then go right on ahead.
Half- assed poets and prophets
End up dumb and dead
I don't feel too good now
I think I'll go hide.
And take some small comfort
With Princeton on my side.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Live at Portland, Oregon, Civic Stadium - 1986-07-29

Petty & Dylan by Robert Matheu

Live in Australia 1986- HARD TO HANDLE- with Tom Petty and The heartbreakers

Bob Dylan performing at the Metrodome on June 26, 1986. His backing band was Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Tom Petty plays behind Dylan in this photo.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

And though her eyes are fixed upon Noah’s great rainbow she spends her time peeking Into Desolation Row

They’re selling postcards of the hanging
They’re painting the passports brown
The beauty parlor is filled with sailors
The circus is in town
Here comes the blind commissioner
They’ve got him in a trance
One hand is tied to the tight-rope walker
The other is in his pants
And the riot squad they’re restless
They need somewhere to go
As Lady and I look out tonight
From Desolation Row

Cinderella, she seems so easy
“It takes one to know one,” she smiles
And puts her hands in her back pockets
Bette Davis style
And in comes Romeo, he’s moaning
“You Belong to Me I Believe”
And someone says, “You’re in the wrong place my friend
You better leave”
And the only sound that’s left
After the ambulances go
Is Cinderella sweeping up
On Desolation Row

Now the moon is almost hidden
The stars are beginning to hide
The fortune-telling lady
Has even taken all her things inside
All except for Cain and Abel
And the hunchback of Notre Dame
Everybody is making love
Or else expecting rain
And the Good Samaritan, he’s dressing
He’s getting ready for the show
He’s going to the carnival tonight
On Desolation Row

Now Ophelia, she’s ’neath the window
For her I feel so afraid
On her twenty-second birthday
She already is an old maid
To her, death is quite romantic
She wears an iron vest
Her profession’s her religion
Her sin is her lifelessness
And though her eyes are fixed upon
Noah’s great rainbow
She spends her time peeking
Into Desolation Row

Einstein, disguised as Robin Hood
With his memories in a trunk
Passed this way an hour ago
With his friend, a jealous monk
He looked so immaculately frightful
As he bummed a cigarette
Then he went off sniffing drainpipes
And reciting the alphabet
Now you would not think to look at him
But he was famous long ago
For playing the electric violin
On Desolation Row

Dr. Filth, he keeps his world
Inside of a leather cup
But all his sexless patients
They’re trying to blow it up
Now his nurse, some local loser
She’s in charge of the cyanide hole
And she also keeps the cards that read
“Have Mercy on His Soul”
They all play on pennywhistles
You can hear them blow
If you lean your head out far enough
From Desolation Row

Across the street they’ve nailed the curtains
They’re getting ready for the feast
The Phantom of the Opera
A perfect image of a priest
They’re spoonfeeding Casanova
To get him to feel more assured
Then they’ll kill him with self-confidence
After poisoning him with words
And the Phantom’s shouting to skinny girls
“Get Outa Here If You Don’t Know
Casanova is just being punished for going
To Desolation Row”

Now at midnight all the agents
And the superhuman crew
Come out and round up everyone
That knows more than they do
Then they bring them to the factory
Where the heart-attack machine
Is strapped across their shoulders
And then the kerosene
Is brought down from the castles
By insurance men who go
Check to see that nobody is escaping
To Desolation Row

Praise be to Nero’s Neptune
The Titanic sails at dawn
And everybody’s shouting
“Which Side Are You On?”
And Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot
Fighting in the captain’s tower
While calypso singers laugh at them
And fishermen hold flowers
Between the windows of the sea
Where lovely mermaids flow
And nobody has to think too much
About Desolation Row

Yes, I received your letter yesterday
(About the time the doorknob broke)
When you asked how I was doing
Was that some kind of joke?
All these people that you mention
Yes, I know them, they’re quite lame
I had to rearrange their faces
And give them all another name
Right now I can’t read too good
Don’t send me no more letters, no
Not unless you mail them
From Desolation Row

Copyright © 1965 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1993 by Special Rider Music

Sing in me, oh Muse, and through me tell the story.

When I first received this Nobel Prize for Literature, I got to wondering exactly how my songs related to literature. I wanted to reflect on it and see where the connection was. I'm going to try to articulate that to you. And most likely it will go in a roundabout way, but I hope what I say will be worthwhile and purposeful.

If I was to go back to the dawning of it all, I guess I'd have to start with Buddy Holly. Buddy died when I was about eighteen and he was twenty-two. From the moment I first heard him, I felt akin. I felt related, like he was an older brother. I even thought I resembled him. Buddy played the music that I loved – the music I grew up on: country western, rock ‘n' roll, and rhythm and blues. Three separate strands of music that he intertwined and infused into one genre. One brand. And Buddy wrote songs – songs that had beautiful melodies and imaginative verses. And he sang great – sang in more than a few voices. He was the archetype. Everything I wasn't and wanted to be. I saw him only but once, and that was a few days before he was gone. I had to travel a hundred miles to get to see him play, and I wasn't disappointed.

He was powerful and electrifying and had a commanding presence. I was only six feet away. He was mesmerizing. I watched his face, his hands, the way he tapped his foot, his big black glasses, the eyes behind the glasses, the way he held his guitar, the way he stood, his neat suit. Everything about him. He looked older than twenty-two. Something about him seemed permanent, and he filled me with conviction. Then, out of the blue, the most uncanny thing happened. He looked me right straight dead in the eye, and he transmitted something. Something I didn't know what. And it gave me the chills.

I think it was a day or two after that that his plane went down. And somebody – somebody I'd never seen before – handed me a Leadbelly record with the song "Cottonfields" on it. And that record changed my life right then and there. Transported me into a world I'd never known. It was like an explosion went off. Like I'd been walking in darkness and all of the sudden the darkness was illuminated. It was like somebody laid hands on me. I must have played that record a hundred times.

It was on a label I'd never heard of with a booklet inside with advertisements for other artists on the label: Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, the New Lost City Ramblers, Jean Ritchie, string bands. I'd never heard of any of them. But I reckoned if they were on this label with Leadbelly, they had to be good, so I needed to hear them. I wanted to know all about it and play that kind of music. I still had a feeling for the music I'd grown up with, but for right now, I forgot about it. Didn't even think about it. For the time being, it was long gone.

I hadn't left home yet, but I couldn't wait to. I wanted to learn this music and meet the people who played it. Eventually, I did leave, and I did learn to play those songs. They were different than the radio songs that I'd been listening to all along. They were more vibrant and truthful to life. With radio songs, a performer might get a hit with a roll of the dice or a fall of the cards, but that didn't matter in the folk world. Everything was a hit. All you had to do was be well versed and be able to play the melody. Some of these songs were easy, some not. I had a natural feeling for the ancient ballads and country blues, but everything else I had to learn from scratch. I was playing for small crowds, sometimes no more than four or five people in a room or on a street corner. You had to have a wide repertoire, and you had to know what to play and when. Some songs were intimate, some you had to shout to be heard.

By listening to all the early folk artists and singing the songs yourself, you pick up the vernacular. You internalize it. You sing it in the ragtime blues, work songs, Georgia sea shanties, Appalachian ballads and cowboy songs. You hear all the finer points, and you learn the details.

You know what it's all about. Takin' the pistol out and puttin' it back in your pocket. Whippin' your way through traffic, talkin' in the dark. You know that Stagger Lee was a bad man and that Frankie was a good girl. You know that Washington is a bourgeois town and you've heard the deep-pitched voice of John the Revelator and you saw the Titanic sink in a boggy creek. And you're pals with the wild Irish rover and the wild colonial boy. You heard the muffled drums and the fifes that played lowly. You've seen the lusty Lord Donald stick a knife in his wife, and a lot of your comrades have been wrapped in white linen.

I had all the vernacular all down. I knew the rhetoric. None of it went over my head – the devices, the techniques, the secrets, the mysteries – and I knew all the deserted roads that it traveled on, too. I could make it all connect and move with the current of the day. When I started writing my own songs, the folk lingo was the only vocabulary that I knew, and I used it.

But I had something else as well. I had principals and sensibilities and an informed view of the world. And I had had that for a while. Learned it all in grammar school. Don Quixote, Ivanhoe, Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver's Travels, Tale of Two Cities, all the rest – typical grammar school reading that gave you a way of looking at life, an understanding of human nature, and a standard to measure things by. I took all that with me when I started composing lyrics. And the themes from those books worked their way into many of my songs, either knowingly or unintentionally. I wanted to write songs unlike anything anybody ever heard, and these themes were fundamental.

Specific books that have stuck with me ever since I read them way back in grammar school – I want to tell you about three of them: Moby Dick, All Quiet on the Western Front and The Odyssey.
Moby Dick is a fascinating book, a book that's filled with scenes of high drama and dramatic dialogue. The book makes demands on you. The plot is straightforward. The mysterious Captain Ahab – captain of a ship called the Pequod – an egomaniac with a peg leg pursuing his nemesis, the great white whale Moby Dick who took his leg. And he pursues him all the way from the Atlantic around the tip of Africa and into the Indian Ocean. He pursues the whale around both sides of the earth. It's an abstract goal, nothing concrete or definite. He calls Moby the emperor, sees him as the embodiment of evil. Ahab's got a wife and child back in Nantucket that he reminisces about now and again. You can anticipate what will happen.

The ship's crew is made up of men of different races, and any one of them who sights the whale will be given the reward of a gold coin. A lot of Zodiac symbols, religious allegory, stereotypes. Ahab encounters other whaling vessels, presses the captains for details about Moby. Have they seen him? There's a crazy prophet, Gabriel, on one of the vessels, and he predicts Ahab's doom. Says Moby is the incarnate of a Shaker god, and that any dealings with him will lead to disaster. He says that to Captain Ahab. Another ship's captain – Captain Boomer – he lost an arm to Moby. But he tolerates that, and he's happy to have survived. He can't accept Ahab's lust for vengeance.

This book tells how different men react in different ways to the same experience. A lot of Old Testament, biblical allegory: Gabriel, Rachel, Jeroboam, Bildah, Elijah. Pagan names as well: Tashtego, Flask, Daggoo, Fleece, Starbuck, Stubb, Martha's Vineyard. The Pagans are idol worshippers. Some worship little wax figures, some wooden figures. Some worship fire. The Pequod is the name of an Indian tribe.

Moby Dick is a seafaring tale. One of the men, the narrator, says, "Call me Ishmael." Somebody asks him where he's from, and he says, "It's not down on any map. True places never are." Stubb gives no significance to anything, says everything is predestined. Ishmael's been on a sailing ship his entire life. Calls the sailing ships his Harvard and Yale. He keeps his distance from people.

A typhoon hits the Pequod. Captain Ahab thinks it's a good omen. Starbuck thinks it's a bad omen, considers killing Ahab. As soon as the storm ends, a crewmember falls from the ship's mast and drowns, foreshadowing what's to come. A Quaker pacifist priest, who is actually a bloodthirsty businessman, tells Flask, "Some men who receive injuries are led to God, others are led to bitterness."

Everything is mixed in. All the myths: the Judeo Christian bible, Hindu myths, British legends, Saint George, Perseus, Hercules – they're all whalers. Greek mythology, the gory business of cutting up a whale. Lots of facts in this book, geographical knowledge, whale oil – good for coronation of royalty – noble families in the whaling industry. Whale oil is used to anoint the kings. History of the whale, phrenology, classical philosophy, pseudo-scientific theories, justification for discrimination – everything thrown in and none of it hardly rational. Highbrow, lowbrow, chasing illusion, chasing death, the great white whale, white as polar bear, white as a white man, the emperor, the nemesis, the embodiment of evil. The demented captain who actually lost his leg years ago trying to attack Moby with a knife.

We see only the surface of things. We can interpret what lies below any way we see fit. Crewmen walk around on deck listening for mermaids, and sharks and vultures follow the ship. Reading skulls and faces like you read a book. Here's a face. I'll put it in front of you. Read it if you can.

Tashtego says that he died and was reborn. His extra days are a gift. He wasn't saved by Christ, though, he says he was saved by a fellow man and a non-Christian at that. He parodies the resurrection.

When Starbuck tells Ahab that he should let bygones be bygones, the angry captain snaps back, "Speak not to me of blasphemy, man, I'd strike the sun if it insulted me." Ahab, too, is a poet of eloquence. He says, "The path to my fixed purpose is laid with iron rails whereon my soul is grooved to run." Or these lines, "All visible objects are but pasteboard masks." Quotable poetic phrases that can't be beat.

Finally, Ahab spots Moby, and the harpoons come out. Boats are lowered. Ahab's harpoon has been baptized in blood. Moby attacks Ahab's boat and destroys it. Next day, he sights Moby again. Boats are lowered again. Moby attacks Ahab's boat again. On the third day, another boat goes in. More religious allegory. He has risen. Moby attacks one more time, ramming the Pequod and sinking it. Ahab gets tangled up in the harpoon lines and is thrown out of his boat into a watery grave.

Ishmael survives. He's in the sea floating on a coffin. And that's about it. That's the whole story. That theme and all that it implies would work its way into more than a few of my songs.
All Quiet on the Western Front was another book that did. All Quiet on the Western Front is a horror story. This is a book where you lose your childhood, your faith in a meaningful world, and your concern for individuals. You're stuck in a nightmare. Sucked up into a mysterious whirlpool of death and pain. You're defending yourself from elimination. You're being wiped off the face of the map. Once upon a time you were an innocent youth with big dreams about being a concert pianist. Once you loved life and the world, and now you're shooting it to pieces.

Day after day, the hornets bite you and worms lap your blood. You're a cornered animal. You don't fit anywhere. The falling rain is monotonous. There's endless assaults, poison gas, nerve gas, morphine, burning streams of gasoline, scavenging and scabbing for food, influenza, typhus, dysentery. Life is breaking down all around you, and the shells are whistling. This is the lower region of hell. Mud, barbed wire, rat-filled trenches, rats eating the intestines of dead men, trenches filled with filth and excrement. Someone shouts, "Hey, you there. Stand and fight."

Who knows how long this mess will go on? Warfare has no limits. You're being annihilated, and that leg of yours is bleeding too much. You killed a man yesterday, and you spoke to his corpse. You told him after this is over, you'll spend the rest of your life looking after his family. Who's profiting here? The leaders and the generals gain fame, and many others profit financially. But you're doing the dirty work. One of your comrades says, "Wait a minute, where are you going?" And you say, "Leave me alone, I'll be back in a minute." Then you walk out into the woods of death hunting for a piece of sausage. You can't see how anybody in civilian life has any kind of purpose at all. All their worries, all their desires – you can't comprehend it.

More machine guns rattle, more parts of bodies hanging from wires, more pieces of arms and legs and skulls where butterflies perch on teeth, more hideous wounds, pus coming out of every pore, lung wounds, wounds too big for the body, gas-blowing cadavers, and dead bodies making retching noises. Death is everywhere. Nothing else is possible. Someone will kill you and use your dead body for target practice. Boots, too. They're your prized possession. But soon they'll be on somebody else's feet.

There's Froggies coming through the trees. Merciless bastards. Your shells are running out. "It's not fair to come at us again so soon," you say. One of your companions is laying in the dirt, and you want to take him to the field hospital. Someone else says, "You might save yourself a trip." "What do you mean?" "Turn him over, you'll see what I mean."

You wait to hear the news. You don't understand why the war isn't over. The army is so strapped for replacement troops that they're drafting young boys who are of little military use, but they're draftin' ‘em anyway because they're running out of men. Sickness and humiliation have broken your heart. You were betrayed by your parents, your schoolmasters, your ministers, and even your own government.

The general with the slowly smoked cigar betrayed you too – turned you into a thug and a murderer. If you could, you'd put a bullet in his face. The commander as well. You fantasize that if you had the money, you'd put up a reward for any man who would take his life by any means necessary. And if he should lose his life by doing that, then let the money go to his heirs. The colonel, too, with his caviar and his coffee – he's another one. Spends all his time in the officers' brothel. You'd like to see him stoned dead too. More Tommies and Johnnies with their whack fo' me daddy-o and their whiskey in the jars. You kill twenty of ‘em and twenty more will spring up in their place. It just stinks in your nostrils.

You've come to despise that older generation that sent you out into this madness, into this torture chamber. All around you, your comrades are dying. Dying from abdominal wounds, double amputations, shattered hipbones, and you think, "I'm only twenty years old, but I'm capable of killing anybody. Even my father if he came at me."

Yesterday, you tried to save a wounded messenger dog, and somebody shouted, "Don't be a fool." One Froggy is laying gurgling at your feet. You stuck him with a dagger in his stomach, but the man still lives. You know you should finish the job, but you can't. You're on the real iron cross, and a Roman soldier's putting a sponge of vinegar to your lips.

Months pass by. You go home on leave. You can't communicate with your father. He said, "You'd be a coward if you don't enlist." Your mother, too, on your way back out the door, she says, "You be careful of those French girls now." More madness. You fight for a week or a month, and you gain ten yards. And then the next month it gets taken back.

All that culture from a thousand years ago, that philosophy, that wisdom – Plato, Aristotle, Socrates – what happened to it? It should have prevented this. Your thoughts turn homeward. And once again you're a schoolboy walking through the tall poplar trees. It's a pleasant memory. More bombs dropping on you from blimps. You got to get it together now. You can't even look at anybody for fear of some miscalculable thing that might happen. The common grave. There are no other possibilities.

Then you notice the cherry blossoms, and you see that nature is unaffected by all this. Poplar trees, the red butterflies, the fragile beauty of flowers, the sun – you see how nature is indifferent to it all. All the violence and suffering of all mankind. Nature doesn't even notice it.

You're so alone. Then a piece of shrapnel hits the side of your head and you're dead.

You've been ruled out, crossed out. You've been exterminated. I put this book down and closed it up. I never wanted to read another war novel again, and I never did.

Charlie Poole from North Carolina had a song that connected to all this. It's called "You Ain't Talkin' to Me," and the lyrics go like this:

I saw a sign in a window walking up town one day.
Join the army, see the world is what it had to say.
You'll see exciting places with a jolly crew,
You'll meet interesting people, and learn to kill them too.
Oh you ain't talkin' to me, you ain't talking to me.
I may be crazy and all that, but I got good sense you see.
You ain't talkin' to me, you ain't talkin' to me.
Killin' with a gun don't sound like fun.
You ain't talkin' to me.
The Odyssey is a great book whose themes have worked its way into the ballads of a lot of songwriters: "Homeward Bound, "Green, Green Grass of Home," "Home on the Range," and my songs as well.

The Odyssey is a strange, adventurous tale of a grown man trying to get home after fighting in a war. He's on that long journey home, and it's filled with traps and pitfalls. He's cursed to wander. He's always getting carried out to sea, always having close calls. Huge chunks of boulders rock his boat. He angers people he shouldn't. There's troublemakers in his crew. Treachery. His men are turned into pigs and then are turned back into younger, more handsome men. He's always trying to rescue somebody. He's a travelin' man, but he's making a lot of stops.

He's stranded on a desert island. He finds deserted caves, and he hides in them. He meets giants that say, "I'll eat you last." And he escapes from giants. He's trying to get back home, but he's tossed and turned by the winds. Restless winds, chilly winds, unfriendly winds. He travels far, and then he gets blown back.

He's always being warned of things to come. Touching things he's told not to. There's two roads to take, and they're both bad. Both hazardous. On one you could drown and on the other you could starve. He goes into the narrow straits with foaming whirlpools that swallow him. Meets six-headed monsters with sharp fangs. Thunderbolts strike at him. Overhanging branches that he makes a leap to reach for to save himself from a raging river. Goddesses and gods protect him, but some others want to kill him. He changes identities. He's exhausted. He falls asleep, and he's woken up by the sound of laughter. He tells his story to strangers. He's been gone twenty years. He was carried off somewhere and left there. Drugs have been dropped into his wine. It's been a hard road to travel.

In a lot of ways, some of these same things have happened to you. You too have had drugs dropped into your wine. You too have shared a bed with the wrong woman. You too have been spellbound by magical voices, sweet voices with strange melodies. You too have come so far and have been so far blown back. And you've had close calls as well. You have angered people you should not have. And you too have rambled this country all around. And you've also felt that ill wind, the one that blows you no good. And that's still not all of it.

When he gets back home, things aren't any better. Scoundrels have moved in and are taking advantage of his wife's hospitality. And there's too many of ‘em. And though he's greater than them all and the best at everything – best carpenter, best hunter, best expert on animals, best seaman – his courage won't save him, but his trickery will.

All these stragglers will have to pay for desecrating his palace. He'll disguise himself as a filthy beggar, and a lowly servant kicks him down the steps with arrogance and stupidity. The servant's arrogance revolts him, but he controls his anger. He's one against a hundred, but they'll all fall, even the strongest. He was nobody. And when it's all said and done, when he's home at last, he sits with his wife, and he tells her the stories.
So what does it all mean? Myself and a lot of other songwriters have been influenced by these very same themes. And they can mean a lot of different things. If a song moves you, that's all that's important. I don't have to know what a song means. I've written all kinds of things into my songs. And I'm not going to worry about it – what it all means. When Melville put all his old testament, biblical references, scientific theories, Protestant doctrines, and all that knowledge of the sea and sailing ships and whales into one story, I don't think he would have worried about it either – what it all means.

John Donne as well, the poet-priest who lived in the time of Shakespeare, wrote these words, "The Sestos and Abydos of her breasts. Not of two lovers, but two loves, the nests." I don't know what it means, either. But it sounds good. And you want your songs to sound good.

When Odysseus in The Odyssey visits the famed warrior Achilles in the underworld – Achilles, who traded a long life full of peace and contentment for a short one full of honor and glory – tells Odysseus it was all a mistake. "I just died, that's all." There was no honor. No immortality. And that if he could, he would choose to go back and be a lowly slave to a tenant farmer on Earth rather than be what he is – a king in the land of the dead – that whatever his struggles of life were, they were preferable to being here in this dead place.

That's what songs are too. Our songs are alive in the land of the living. But songs are unlike literature. They're meant to be sung, not read. The words in Shakespeare's plays were meant to be acted on the stage. Just as lyrics in songs are meant to be sung, not read on a page. And I hope some of you get the chance to listen to these lyrics the way they were intended to be heard: in concert or on record or however people are listening to songs these days. I return once again to Homer, who says, "Sing in me, oh Muse, and through me tell the story."

~Bob Dylan

Monday, May 29, 2017

HTL Dylan

Johnny I Hardly Knew You

From the Minneapolis Party Tapes, recorded in the Fall of 1960 in Dylan's Minneapolis apartment.
The song is "traditional" arrangement credited to Dylan.

Sunday, May 28, 2017


But ye have an Unction from the Holy One
and ye know all things. 
Two boy babies, one lost, the other not ~ a dream last night:

I was in a hospital, in a long empty hallway. Everything in the hallway was white. Light was shining through the windows that lined the outer left wall. I saw a baby sitting on the floor playing with another baby. Both were boys, each had blonde hair and looked identical to each other. Both were smiling, both wearing light blue pajamas, both turning the pages of little golden books.  A doctor in a long white coat entered the scene.  I explained to him that one of the babies was lost and I wanted to return him.  I was on a mission to reunite the lost baby with his mother. 

 When I awoke I wondered about that strange dream, and quickly realized that it must have something to do with the still born baby boy I gave birth(?) to in late May of 1967. Sometime around Memorial Day.  I looked at the calendar on the desktop screen of my laptop computer to find that it was the 28th and that the next day, Monday, would be the official Memorial Day holiday. I did a Google search for "Memorial Day 1967" and found that the calendar page for May of 1967 is identical to the current calendar page for May of 2017.  And then I went a step further, a metaphysical step further, to be struck by a flash of insight informing me that my still born baby was delivered on this very day, May 28th, fifty years ago.  When I awoke from the anesthesia the doctor told me that my baby was a perfectly formed little boy who had been strangled by the umbilical cord. I remember the doctor's exact words: " Your baby was a perfectly formed little boy with the cord wrapped around his neck."  I never saw my baby, I never got to hold him.  I don't know what they did with him, with his little blue body.  I've been thinking about him a lot lately, wondering if he would have looked like his brother born a year and a half later.  How wonderful it would have been to have two sons, for our living son to have a brother.  I intend to go to the hospital where he was born and request all records concerning his birth, but most of all I want to know what they did with his little body.  It was a Catholic hospital, so I would imagine that they performed the sacrament of Extreme Unction on him.  

There is more to this story.  I will continue and finish later.