Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Has Anyone Checked on the '39 Time Capsule Lately ?


The above article truly shows the innocence of America in times past. To think people of this country or any existing and respectable country should be around in this distance future is a remarkable point to imagine.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Hillary or Bust !

If I were Carl Rove, I’d give Hillary Clinton and the dems all the money in the world to put her on the DCN ticket, then sit back and let the games begin.  Nothing could guarantee defeat more for the Dems than going down that road. I thought we were trying to diffuse and disarm hubris, not seed it.  
JMP

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Who Really Owns Bob Dylan ?

(OCT 2005 - repost)
Who
Really

Owns

Bob Dylan ?


The sixties? The generation he inspired and granted him passage? The history books? CBS? Does the artist know himself? May we just as well be asking who owns "Beethoven?" Martin Scorsese's American Masters PBS documentary "No Direction Home," (September 2005) is a colorful and cultural bouquet of popular American history when a nation was turning a corner, breaking from the shadows of JFK's burning flame at Arlington and Vietnam a matchbox away.

One can't help but feel like being a third eye, fly on the wall, positioned on Dylan's shoulder and taken down the most vivid paths the subject finds along the way in this American Master series. I sensed the setting all so vividly and what he faced first hand. Crowded open mikes, tuning guitar strings where the beats took their stand to the ringing of folding chairs in all night cafes. He faced and tasted them all. Then, a divided nation longed for something during those "transitional" years, and, like the Beatles, Dylan's idealism served to fill the vacuum in the quiet of a cold war and a cloud of uncertainty looming in all.

Everyone claimed a part of Dylan, from the folkies to the more eclectic readily accepting of his move to the electric. His folk ways, folk lore, and where he was going in this genre, put him in question with his public when he picked up an electric guitar or included drums on stage. It unsettled many. It was a time when a culture was seeking change, but didn't want their popular "folk" changing too fast. And nothing could stop Dylan from change. Like in all great artists there resides also a great leader. If you were going to follow Bob, you were going to have to pick up and move over. He wasn't about to wait for you.

In "No Direction Home" the affirmed light of a generation blooms in those blue eyes. (As a songwriter put it back then, "bluer than robbin's eggs") One walks along side him through the early years in Greenwich Village where footage of accounts and interviews from various club owners and contemporaries along the way illuminate the 60's Folk circuit, Bob getting attention, practicing and improving his guitar skills to configuring a harmonica rack for soloing. You are able to revisit the priceless moments he occupied while breaking in the local scene to visiting Woody Guthrie, the crossroads, Joan Baez, Ginsberg's validation to his CBS record contract.

But as I have come to understand this great figure in history, and as I hear him through the course of his narrative adding invaluable context and comments to the years and years of clips and stills, I learn so much more through the distant prism of the time and a nation on the move. I can't help but feel Bobby was a fortunate "messenger" and I get the sense he "wanted" to deliver a message. In the documentary, he mentions how it never occurred to him "Blowin in the Wind" was anything other than just a song among songs on the pile, clearly innocent to the purpose it would soon serve abroad. Nonetheless, a stage door was waiting for the very sentiment found in the chorus of that song, and the timing clearly and literally "on the money." Dylan found the voice, the missing pieces on the map, and whether he particularly thought "Blowin in the Wind" was or wasn't that special, wasn't his call. That was the public's duty.

In watching "No Direction," one gets the impression Bob himself felt he was a fortunate "messenger," and his own doing the service of a master safecracker. As the documentary shows us, he worked hard to see inside the various cracks of the canvas exposed. He listened and he sought out. How Dylan describes these broken lines is where his hard work really delivers and the master in him arrive. His words are the words of that culture reflected in song. If it wasn't for that culture and the objects available, what story would there be? Notwithstanding my deep admiration for Elvis, the "Fifties" had him, but he was limited to deliver, or serve, across the wide plate of growing interest and diversity abound. (I believe he came to know this of himself by the mid 70's) Dylan's coming, in the procession of change, was as much inevitable as it was an eventuality.

In the mid "70's" I was awed by a published "unofficial" Dylan biography I read. I found it all too curious and the images resonating within me not short lived. It inspired me to cross the great plains and play the "Village," coffee houses, clubs, The Dugout, Folk City and other places of interest. It was the late 70's and many venues Dylan played years earlier were still open for business. When I finally did play "Folk City" in its last days, a haunting MC by the name of "Lynn Samuels," who I didn't know, was running the show and some funky looking beatnik was the sound engineer. (Later I learned he was the lead singer, Pat DiNizio, of the Smithereens) I had all of three people show up to hear me play that afternoon. I was in NY just a few short weeks and was invited back to their Sunday songwriter's showcase.

Hardly did I feel the inspiration Dylan found some 20 years earlier, and if I did it clearly escaped any words I might have been able to craft. But then, there wasn't as much a cultural hunger emerging other than what Bruce, or others, penned so exceptionally during that post Dylan boom era.

As with Dylan, and Springsteen to some degree, the making of the fabric manifests itself in the demand for the seeds to be planted, no different than how farmers and their crops depend on seasonal rain. The demand and hunger in the heart needs a seat in the audience. If we're not asking, or none feel or sense a need or desire to "plant," then nothing's on the order. As for Bob, he carried a generation through a door. One has to posit in hindsight whether Bob got what he bargained for at the "crossroads." The 'times that were a changing' rests in that period and Dylan was a prosperous voice, architect, for change. The order was clearly there, on the spindle, waiting for the cook to attend. Like the crop that needs seasonal rain, or be it culture a change, Scorsese similarly advances his insight to the current times, giving us all something to ponder a moment at this page in time. That we should consider Dylan's "early years" now couldn't be more deserving, when times now exhibit a country all that much more in need of - something. So, if anyone out there claims to "own" any part of Dylan now, like many did back then, we sure could use a "little this" or "little that" back in the pot (as in "on the stove!"). There's only one Dylan, but the times couldn't be more ready for another shoulder or, oh well, "jingle jangle morning to come following you."

October 2005