Lipstick Traces Pt. IX: Greil Marcus

September 11, 2007

A Review

Lipstick Traces:

Greil Marcus

Part IX

Into The Abyss

It sounded like a lot of fun wrecking the world.

It felt like freedom.

Greil Marcus: Lipstick Traces


     It is probably time to look a little into Mr. Marcus’ antecedents.  He was born in the summer of 1945 between VE and VJ day as he tells us.  He was ten, then, in 1954-55 when Rock and Roll came into existence.  He doesn’t seem to imply that he was particularly interested in records in the next decade that would have made him twenty in 1964-65.  He would have been 15 to 20  from 1960-65 during which time he would have listened to the radio.  He also seems to have been in Philadelphia at some time during that period when he attended a Bob Dylan concert. I haven’t read yet where he mentioned that he had a record collection during that period.  He doesn’t seem to recall much from memory before 1965 with the possible exception of Bob Dylan.

     One is forced to conclude then that most if not all his record lore was acquired between his twentieth and thirtieth years from 1965 to 1974-75.  He began his career as a critic in 1966 when he went to work for Rolling Stone.  He left that post a year later to write for Creem Magazine. His first book Mystery Train was published in 1975 so he should have acquired his lore over maybe eight years.

     He should have been a sophomore in ’64 which means he should have graduated in’66 so his real record education would have been from ’66 to ’74.  Not much time  for someone posing as an expert in ’75. 

     He says he was born in San Francisco moving into Menlo Park in 1955 so that he went to Menlo Park-Atherton High.  The area is one of the ritziest in the Bay Area.  Atherton is top of the line for the Bay so his step-father must have been doing pretty well.  In other words Mr. Marcus is a rich kid.  I haven’t read exactly where he lived between 1948 when his mother remarried and 1955.

     At any rate he comes from a very well to do background.  After graduating from MPA he went over to Berkeley to attend UC.  He was there for the whole Free Speech brouhaha.  At some time after graduation from UC he returned to Berkeley to live which is his home base at the present time.

     At the time he wrote Mystery Train I would question the depth and breadth of his knowledge.

     He published Mystery Train at the last possible moment such a book could be published.  From ’66 to ’75 those of us concerned with records were convinced that something monumental and earth shaking was happening.  Wonderful theories of the music’s importance were spun of which Mystery Train is one.  I think it probable that Mr. Marcus saw a string of such books rolling off his pen.  A funny thing happened on the way to the forum however.  Disco and Punk blew up the Rock monolith about the same year destroying the grandiose notions we were all believing in.  All of a sudden as Mr. Marcus points out confidence was destroyed and survival became the issue.  Mr. Marcus and his plans were thrown for a loop.

     Not until 1989 did he find another tack to try to get back on track.  In that year he published Lipstick Traces.  Feeling that his first career had been blown out of the water by Punk he paid homage to it by concentrating on Johnny Rotten and the Sex Pistols.  Broadening out some he incorporated the history of what he considered various Dada movements.  His concern with Dada had found expression in Mystery Train so it was only necessary to relate Dada to Punk with which he had no trouble.

     Since ’89 he has published a continuous series of books, the most recent being The Shape Of Things To Come.


     I hesitate to do this but I feel the reader should know something of my credentials to give some basis for judging my criticism and analysis.

     I’m about seven years older than Mr. Marcus having been born in 1938.  I was therefore sixteen in 1954 which is more or less the cut off date for the beginning of Rock and Roll.

     I grew up in Saginaw, Michigan.  We were apparently out of the mainstream of Rock development.  Even though we had a fairly large Black population there was no Rhythm And Blues or Black music on the local radio.  There were only traditional music shows on radio in 1954 when Top Forty was in embryo.  By ’55 and ’56 we had full fledged Top 40 and what a blast it was.

     With Top 40 came Black artists like Bill Doggett, Fats Domino and Little Richard but they were a Top 40 sound whether they called it Rhythm And Blues or not.  One could tune into Detroit for Black records but I didn’t know anyone who did.  I tuned in a couple times but Black music per se repelled me.

     I was in the class of ’56.  The class of ’55 knew nothing of Rock and Roll at the time and very little of Top 40 radio.  I was in a distinct minority in the class of ’56 who listened to Rock at all.  The class of ’57 was the first class attuned to the music.

     As to first R & R records, who knows?  The early and mid-fifties were a blend of musics so I heard a fair amount of Swing.  Anyone who traces Rock and Roll directly to Swing is dreaming.  I know Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa and the Swing drummers.  None of them had the R&R feel.  Swing rhythm sections were miniscule compared to Rock which to my mind is a singer, lead guitar and a two or three piece rhythm section.  Very faint resemblance to Swing.

     When it became financially impossible for Big Band to survive I suppose the instrumental quartet was the next logical step which led to the Big Beat.  Neither Elvis nor Sun had a Big Beat.  He had rhythm but no beat;  he was essentially a hillbilly singer doing fast songs which is how everyone thought of him.  That’s what I heard and none of the people I knew would listen to him because he was a hillbilly.  As far as I’m concerned the Big Beat was developed by Lonnie Donegan and that is where the English Beat groups come from.  Lonnie’s early stuff was as much Rock as anything else although he was primarily a terrific Folk and Blues singers.  Unparalleled.  He was as good as Elvis but somewhat more traditional sounding than Presley.  Elvis could really move you.

     Elvis was virtually unknown in Saginaw before Heartbreak Hotel.  I missed out on the Sun records by a day.  The record store had returned them the day before I got there so I have all RCAs.  I never knew anyone else who had heard of Elvis between the time I bought my 45s and Heartbreak Hotel.

     I never thought of Elvis as a Rock and Roller on those early records.  There really was no Rock and Roll except for Bill Haley And The Comets and that stuff was really leadfooted.  I didn’t really enjoy Rock Around The Clock and I never bought it. Elvis was just a hillbilly cat who could really sing a song.  I knew from reading the labels that Arthur Crudup wrote That’s All Right Mama but that meant nothing to me.  Who ever heard of Arthur Crudup? 

     I don’t understand why I don’t have Sun Presleys as I bought every Sun record as it came out.  I had to have them special ordered as nobody wanted them but I was very familiar with the Sun sound.  Not impossibly Sam Phillips had as much to do with Rock and Roll as anyone because all the records he produced had that forward leaning scudding way.  You could have substituted Elvis for Johnny Cash on Get Rhythm and there wouldn’t have been much difference.

     When Elvis left Sun his production values changed with the sound becoming flat footed and vertical rather than forward leaning.  Elvis was always Elvis for me but I never had the incentive to buy his RCA produced 45s.

     Some may say the music died with Buddy Holly’s plane crash but that is a gross exaggeration.  Holly’s career was virtually over by February ’59.  He was singing solo and fading fast.  The Big Bopper was a no one who had one trash talking record while Richie Valens was as close to a zero as you can get.

     Elvis was kept alive by RCA during his Army years but Little Richard was finished after Heebie Jeebies and Jerry Lee’s Rock career was stalled.  High School Confidential was so-so.  Jerry Lee’s marriage to his cousin may have put him in bad odor in some quarters but that was a fishing expedition to discredit him.  Might have hurt his personal appearances but not his record sales, they were already down.  To my mind Duane Eddy came out with Rebel Rouser on the heel of the plane crash and Rock and Roll bounced right along without missing a beat.  Apparently not too many people remember the effect of Eddy and Rebel Rouser but it was the second kick in the pants after Presley.  Kept us all going.

     The big problem for Rock and Roll was Organized Crime.  The Mafia and Chicago Outfit controlled Juke boxes.  Those idiots determined that only their acts got on the Juke boxes.  If you want a good representation of what the record industry was like check out the best Rock and Roll movie ever made- The Girl Can’t Help It.  If you watch closely and pay attention you are being told exactly how it was.

     An Outfit figure greatly resembling Al Capone, although the time period was long after Capone, controls the Juke boxes for the Outfit.  That means the Juke boxes at least West of the Appalachians to the Coast.  The Juke boxes in Saginaw were stocked by the Outfit that for all practical purposes controlled the town.  All towns.

     Girl Can’t Help It stars Jayne Mansfield and Tommy Ewell.  Mansfield is the Mafia figure’s moll.  He wants to make her a record star which he figures he can do because he controls the Juke boxes.  All of ’em.  But the Girl Can’t Sing.  The producers are at their wits ends because they have to do something with her.  They accidentally discover that she has this high pitched squeal.  So, a la Tequila in which periodically the instrumental music stops and someone announces ‘Tequila’, at certain points in the record the music stops and Mansfield squeals.  This is so captivating the record does become a hit.

     Now, the movie highlights several Mafia acts like Teddy Randazzo and the Gum Drops that would never draw anyone into the theatres.  Teddy didn’t even have an attractive high pitched squeal to go along with his great accordion playing.  But as is usual with non-record types the belief is that if you can expose non-talent acts to enough people they will sell.  So the Outfit did understand they needed some draws to get people in to expose the non-talent.  Who are you going to go to?  Well, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, Little Richard for starters.  I went because of Gene Vincent.

     The movie was released in ’58 so not many of us had ever actually seen any of these guys.  The Mob had their draws but they wanted to showcase the Italian acts which they did.  Gene Vincent was shot through the window of a recording studio for about half of Be Bop A Lula; Eddie Cochran did his Twenty Flight Rock shot off a TV set and Little Richard was shot through a crowd in a club about fifty feet away.

     As I say if you pay attention you can get a very good idea of what was going on.  Mansfield and Ewell were great but they were at the terminal point of their careers.

     The early sixties were pretty duddy as far as I was concerned, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I was right,  so I went back to my true love, Country and Western.  As I noted in Part One I was drawn back into pop by my brother-in -law.  As I said I then graduated from college in ’66 going up to Oregon from the Bay Area.  It was there in ’67 that I opened a record store.  From ’67 to ’80 I was a decent sized player in the record business.  I thought I heard everything but I am always amazed at the records for which I have no recollection even seeing. 

     I was there when the first Rolling Stone came out.  I don’t know where the magazine sold but it wasn’t Oregon.  Pretty boring actually.  Got worse as time went on and then it got Political. 

     I quit listening to records in 1980 when I closed my record store.  Punk was too ridiculous to waste your time on although I do have two or three Disco records I value.  Well, Rock and Roll was great while it lasted but it really did die in ’75.  Not only Punk and Disco but the untalented Epigone came along.  The splitting out of Heavy Metal as a genre didn’t help either.  God!  I know how Marcus felt.  Everything just crashed to the ground.


     Mr. Marcus’ themes and direction remain the same from Mystery Train to The Shape Of Things To Come.  His attitudes are controlled by his dual Israeli and American passports: his Semitism and anti-Semitism.  These two citizenships coincide in his psyche with his twin racial concerns.  The Israeli citizenship as Semitism and his American citizenship with anti-Semitism. Naturally his Israeli Semitism takes precedence in his loyalty over his American anti-Semitism.  Americans are Nazis in his mind.  As with Adam in the Garden of Paradise and God, the twin concepts exist side by side in his mind with Adam representing Semitism and God anti-Semitism.  Thus his Jewish/Adamic/Israeli identity represents his absolute purity in his mind while America/God represent his foul or Devil side.  He and his fellow Jews think that by trashing the Garden, Europe, Palestine, America or wherever they happen to reside that their ‘purity’ will triumph and they will be as they represent themselves: a Holy People suited to govern mankind, Judge-Penitents.  That is what the eighteenth century messiah, Jacob Frank, meant by saying that if the Jews commited all the evil in their minds then this ‘purity’ will shine to light the way for the peoples.  You don’t have to be Freud to know it ain’t going to work.  Thus Mr. Marcus’ subliminal message is all good comes from Jewish musicians and all evil from American musicians.  The Jewish Bob Dylan becomes his ultimate hero taking precedence over the American anti-hero, Elvis Presley.

     That’s why in Lipstick Traces he juxtaposes the anti-hero Presley and the Jewish hero Isidore Isou.

     Mr. Marcus scatters several clues throughout his work to hint at what he’s attempting.  He mentions John Ford’s movie The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence and one of its morals a couple times concentrating on the movie’s stated notion that once an event becomes legendary even though the received version may be untrue people prefer the myth to the fact.  There may be some truth to the notion although as Mr. Marcus explores the counter notion of detournement he gives us the means to strip such an ingrained notion from the story and turn it in any direction we want.  Thus in the twenties the Judaeo-Communists on the one hand debunked American heroes and myths while at the same time detourning them so that Jefferson and Lincoln become founding members of Communism as Communism in turn becomes Twentieth Century Americanism.  A neat trick that didn’t quite work.

     Actually the two practices denote the transition from one religion to another which also lays bare Mr. Marcus’ intent.  Thus in the first few centuries of the Piscean Age the Catholic Church detourned ancient Taurian and Arien religious sites by stripping them of their pagan connotations replacing the meaning with little balloons containing Christian messages.  Eventually they replaced Arien temples with Piscean churches.

      Jack Finney’s 1950’s novel The Invasion Of The Body Snatchers describes the same thing in which aliens while maintaining exact replicas of the bodies they take over inform the minds with entirely different content.  Finney understood detournement completely long before Guy Debord had it figured out.

     That is exactly what the Jews, who are attempting to replace Christianity are doing.  Mr. Marcus mentions Philip Roth’s The Plot To Destroy America approvingly.  Of course Mr. Marcus and Roth are both Jewish.  In Roth’s detournement of American history he portrays the Jewish rescue of the true America, which the Jews in their wisdom created, from the Weird Old Americans who are trying to twist the Promised Land into some Nazi hate filled paranoid perversion of what one is led to believe was the American paradise Jews had created.

      Roth chooses to recklessly defame Charles Lindhberg, a great and true American, but that is what detournement is all about.  Thus on the one hand Roth detournes ‘Weird Old American’ heroes into villains while at the same time creating the myth of the Jewish saviors a la Liberty Valence.

     The Jews then become the men who shot Liberty Valence thus destroying the Weird Old America while bringing into existence this Jewish paradise we enjoy today.  Shut your mouth, you anti-Semite.

     Why Liberty Valence?

     Well, Liberty is the opposite of collectivity or the Jewish Law.  He represents the sort of ‘rugged individualism’ that threatened Jewish collectivity or subordination to the Mosaic Law.  Valence means valour, courage or valiance.  That is, a man who has what it takes to stand out against the crowd or Mosaic Law.  I’m sure it was an unintended compliment.  No one of the collectivity has what it takes to stand up against him, not even the hero of the collectivity, John Wayne.

     The legend that is so hard to kill is that Jimmie Stewart shot Liberty Valance down in a fair and square man to man fight.  Actually Wayne is the agent of the collectivity who bushwhacked Liberty from a dark alley,  Wayne and his Negro servitor and alter ego who tossed his rifle to him.

     So this is the secret message of Lipstick Traces creating a legend and detourning existing beliefs that run counter to those of the collectivity.  For that reason the branch of academic history known as American Studies has been captured by Jews who stand up laughingly epatering the Americans, debunking and detourning as they go.  

     I see where Mr. Marcus and a yoyo by the name of Todd Gitlin are joining forces to epater the Americans together.  Ought to be funny if you’ve got the right sense of humor.


     All the seeds of Mr. Marcus later work are apparent in his 1975 Mystery Train.  One should examine Mr. Marcus construction of Train carefully.

     He examines six recording stars.  Two of which he calls ancestors and four ‘Inheritors.’  The six are Harmonica Frank, Robert Johnson, Dylan/The Band, Sly Stone, Randy Newman and Elvis Presley.

     Out of the period of 1950-75 Mr. Marcus chooses a very personal list of bands.  One would call the list debateable but there’s not much to debate.  Whether they are supposed to be important or influential isn’t clear.  Apart from Presley none of them were overwhelming important  or influential.  Pink Floyd, Grateful Dead, the Doors?  No, they aren’t on board Mr. Marcus’ Mystery Train.  So, what do we have? 

     The list is bracketed by two White performers, Harmonica Frank and Elvis Presley.  Robert Johnson and Sly Stone are Black.  Dylan/The Band are Jewish and Canadian while Robbie Robertson is mentioned as having a Jewish father.  Thus Dylan/The Band and Randy Newman are two Jewish outfits.  Two Whites, two Blacks, two Jews.  Obviously we have an agenda here.

     The two ancestors are questionable.  I may have a vague memory of having heard the name Harmonica Frank but the man influenced absolutely no one.  Technically he is no ancestor.  His only connection with, say, Elvis, is that both were produced by Sam Phillips at Sun records.  In that sense Harmonica Frank may be representative of what Phillips as a producer was trying to do but that represents Phillips and not Harmonica Frank.

     Thus when Phillips decided to produce Presley he used the same musical tenets or ‘ear.’ Elvis was very fortunate to have Phillips to hear his talent and draw him out.  Without Phillips there would never have been an Elvis Presley other than this guy driving a truck.

     As far as ‘White’ ancestors go Phillips would have been more appropriate than Frank.  I suppose what I am saying is that I find Mr. Marcus either too shallow or too tendentious.

     Mr. Marcus doesn’t use a Jewish ancestor but as a Black ancestor he chooses Robert Johnson.  As he states there were no Robert Johnson recordings available for anyone to hear before the 1960 Columbia release.  Huddie ‘Leadbelly’ Ledbettor would have been a much more influential ancestor.  Not only had his recordings been continuously available but his songs formed a staple for Folk artists from the post-war years on.  His Good Night Irene and Midnight Special were ten times more influential than anything Robert Johnson ever wrote, a hundred times…heck, a thousand times, more.  Johnson’s songs began to appear by other artists only in late sixties.

     Mr. Marcus’ enthusiasm for Johnson’s lyrics is absolutely inexplicable.  He quotes the following as an example of Johnson’s genius:


Me and the devil, was walking side by side

Oooo, me and the devil was walking side by side.

I’m going to beat my woman until I get satisfied.


     Pretty choice stuff, huh?  I’m surprised the ladies haven’t boycotted both Johnson and Mr. Marcus’ Mystery Train.

     Nevertheless his choice of Johnson seems arbitrary at the best and tendentious at the worst.

     I presume he chose the Band because of their association with Bob Dylan.  Mr. Marcus definitely sets Dylan up as the greatest of the era replacing Presley.  This is patently ridiculous.

     His final paragraph detournes Elvis in favor of Dylan.  Bear in mind that in 1975 Elvis still had two years to live so Mr. Marcus may be understood to be addressing Presley indirectly:


     All in all there is one remaining moment I want to see;  One epiphany that would somehow bring his (Elvis’) story home.  Elvis would take the stage as he always has; the roar of the audience would surround him, as it always will.  After a time, he would begin a song by Bob Dylan, singing slowly.  Elvis would give it everything he has.  “I must have been mad,” he would cry,  “I didn’t know what I had- until I threw it all away.”

     And then with love in his heart, he would laugh.


     That’s a pretty tale.  As a detournement the kingof rock n’ roll passes the scepter to Dylan.  While as a hypnotic suggestion to the living Elvis Mr. Marcus is attempting to bring his dream to come to pass.  We’ll never know if it would have worked but it was the traditional Judaeo-Freudian method.

     Thus the two sections on Harmonica Frank and Elvis are slurs on Mr. Marcus’ concept of The Weird Old America.  That title of another of his books is itself a detournement of America.

     For the last few years I have been wavering but after reading Mr. Marcus’ ideas on Dylan I have probably irrevocably turned against him.  To write of the Band is to write of Dylan.  Dylan would always have been Dylan but the Band would never have been anything without Dylan.  The Band probably stands to Dylan as Presley does to Sam Phillips.

     The first two Band LPs are the result of direct contact with Dylan in the sessions that resulted in the basement tapes.  With the separation from Dylan the effect wore off with the Band returning to their R & R roots.  At their peak they were no Doors or Led Zeppelin.  Like Dylan I find them unlistenable today.

     Mr. Marcus wrote a two or three hundred page essay on Dylan’s Like A Rolling Stone which he seems to consider the greatest song ever written.  He perversely refuses to accept the song for what it is- a hymn to ingratitude.  In the song Dylan clearly resents his dependence on Joan Baez for his early success.  He, in fact, used her but now in his pride of success he spurns her from him- with his foot so to speak.  A real ingrate as a matter of fact.

     Mr. Marcus reproduces the lyrics in their entirety as a preface to the book.  I’m not going to do the same here but Like A Rolling Stone is in a genre of Dylan songs that can be defined only as mocking or ‘hate songs.’  Along with Rolling Stone one can include Positively Fourth Street, Please, Crawl Out Your Window, Ballad Of A Thin Man, Desolation Row and any number of others.  Sooner Or Later, One Of Us Must Know.

     Again with Dylan the tone of his voice is more important than the words.  For me I responded to the pain and anger in his voice that seemed to reflect my own experiences and which I interpreted in my own way.  The same attitude would be reflected differently by the baby boomers born in the early fifties.  As noted they came along at the time of Mystery Train’s writing to shatter Mr. Marcus immediate dream of a Rock And Roll Czardom.

     One presumes that the song Mr. Marcus wanted Presley to sing in order to detourne himself in favor of Bob Dylan ‘with love in his heart and a laugh’ thus allowing one religious idol to replace another was ‘Like A Rolling Stone.’

     Unfortunately due to Mr. Marcus’ interpretation I now see ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ as an actual hymn of hate scorning and mocking Joan Baez.  Throughout Bob Dylan’s career he had the habit of purloining things of others…said the Joker to the Thief.  In Minneapolis and Colorado he actually stole records from other people.  His excuse was that he really needed them.  In New york he lifted the arrangement of a song of Dave Von Ronk’s and recorded it without permission.  He had a ‘good excuse’ for that too.  He needed it.

     Perhaps his greatest theft was of the career of Joan Baez.  Baez out of a generous heart used her influence and reputation to gain acceptance for the caterwauling Dylan.  He couldn’t admit this theft without exposing himself as an ingrate subject to the scorn of the Folk community of Greenwich Village.  This may possibly be the secret meaning of Positively Fourth Street in which he seems to heap scorn on the whole Folk community.

      Mr. Marcus is especially impressed with the disgustingly hateful lines:

Ain’t it hard

When you discover that

He really wasn’t

Where It’s at

After he took from you everything

He could steal?


How does it feel?

How does it feel to be on your own

No direction home

Like a complete unknown

Like a rolling stone.

     Dylan has identified the person he is speaking to as ‘Miss Lowly’ who went to a fine school and here he says that he has stolen everything from her that he can steal and then he taunts her as though he had reduced her to his condition when he first arrived in New York City.  ‘How does it feel to be on your own with no direction home like a complete unknown?’

     Yes.  It must have been terrifying for Dylan to arrive in New York City as a complete unknown with no understanding of how to get started, homeless and starving.  Dylan solved his problem by scrounging lodging and his next meal.  He just moved in on people, ate their food, read their books, listened to their records, picked their minds, stole from them everything he could steal and then turned his back on them.  Cut them cold.  Scorned them as in Positively Fourth St.  Well, all right. OK.  But I don’t find it as admirable as Mr. Marcus does.  As I say I never really thought of Like A Rolling Stone deeply before reading Bob Dylan At The Crossroads.  (Robert Johnson again.  Is Mr. Marcus suggesting that Dylan sold his soul to the Devil?) but now that I have I am appalled at the coarseness of actually composing a song about your perfidy and advertising it to the world.

     If Mr. Marcus had handed Presley the song saying this is going to be what you’ll sing next, Presley who had perfect musical sense would have said:  ‘Not on your life, Baby Blue.’

     No laugh and a shrug from the King.

     After Dylan/The Band Mr. Marcus moves on to Sly Stone.  Sly was not a major talent.  He had a couple fair R&B songs bordering on open racism.  Sinking rapidly beneath drugs Sly Stone rapidly sunk his career.

     Moving next to Randy Newman I must confess that Mr. Marcus has lost me.  Perhaps he is trying to help the career of a fellow Semite along.  Got me.  Newman’s songs were always repulsive to me and Mr. Marcus’ quotes merely make them more repellent.  Gee, I wonder why Elvis never sang ‘Short People?’

     And then of course we come to what Mr. Marcus intends as his piece de resistance of criticism, Elvis himself.  This piece is a regular tear down job.

     Mr. Marcus was a trifle too young during the late forties and first half of the fifties to understand the situation.  During those years the musical culture was in the hands of Jews and Italians.  New York’s Tin Pan Alley from the twenties on had controlled American popular music.  The clubs in which artists performed were all mobbed up as all the artists were mobbed up will they nil they.  Thus nobody got through who wasn’t thoroughly vetted.

     On the fringes one had areas of Black musicians who were outside the scope of popular music hence not worried about.  At the same time one had Hillbilly music that was so despised that proper Whites retched at the mere mention of it and that is no exaggeration.  Concomitant with Hillbilly although culturally acceptable was Folk music.  Postwar from 1946 to 1964 in my estimation Folk was the only listenable pop musical expression.  Unfortunately Folk music was in the hands of the Reds making it culturally suspect.

     During the twenties and thirties Tin Pan Alley songs were vital enough to satisfy the nation’s listening ear although there were those who complained about it.  Whatever had worked for Tin Pan Alley between the wars the ethic had worn too thin between ’46 and ’54.  The music was so godawful and stiff that few could listen to it especially the young.  Into the Jewish vacuum stepped the Black and Hillbilly songwriters and performers.  While Hank Williams may have slipped slightly over the line of pop his songs were welcomed with open arms by pop cover artists.  At that time there was no shame in covering a song made popular by another artist, even as the original version was still moving up the charts.

     A golden time was created for unvetted performers and songwriters to step into the vacuum.  While Eddie Fisher, Ezio Pinza and Mario Lanza  and a stable of Italian pop singers attempted to hold the Tin Pan Alley fort Black street singers were emerging as Doo Wop groups while in Memphis Sam Phillips was developing the distinctive Sun Sound of which Elvis was the cornerstone.  Elvis and his songs were completely unvetted by Tin Pan Alley and the Mob.  As far as I’m concerned Presley’s breakthrough was such a fortunate concatenation of circumstances as to be miraculous.  There are few times when things work out so perfectly for all concerned from Sam Phillips to Elvis to Colonel Parker and RCA.  While Elvis was the transcendant talent he was only a component in the Elvis Presley success story.  He had the good sense to stick to singing while he had the good fortune to be associated with managers of talent, circumspection, genius and above average integrity.  So rare as to be almost unbelievable.

      Phillips brought the talent to the surface that anyone else would have overlooked.  A shy retiring Elvis given the opportunity dug deep to release the inner singer to become a polished singer almost immediately- in fact immediately.  All of his Sun singles are absolutely stunning.  There was no reason not to be swept off your feet from the first note of That’s All Right Mama.

     Elvis’ genius was that he handled songs in a perfect blend of hillbilly and pop.  He may have used some songs written by Blacks but there was no Black singer that could possibly have made of those songs what Elvis did.

     Greil Marcus, Guralnick and others seem to be of the opinion that something went wrong with Elvis.  Nothing went wrong with Elvis; he had the perfect career from his first single to his death in 1977.  He was unable to withstand the pressures of his unparalled success.  Unable to move in public because of his fans he was virtually under house arrest.  For crying out loud, the guy couldn’t even go to McDonald’s.  On top of that he aroused the anger and enmity of the ‘greatest generation’, the Mob and if Mr. Marcus is any example, the Jews.  I’m sure he had difficulty just staying alive.

     His goal was the movies.  Thus his singing style changed to fit the venue.  As much as I loved the Sun Elvis there is no possible way he could have continued in the same vein and sustained popularity  for twenty some odd years.  The new Elvis of Heartbreak Hotel and the early RCA years lost me as a record buyer.  Still, as Dr. Hook sang:  Elvis, he’s a hero, he’s a superstar…. as a hero Elvis always retained my loyalty.

     While the Army seemed a disaster, his tour of duty may have been fortuitous for his career.  The Army allowed the excitement to abate even as anticipation increased but when he returned it was as a return with a different feel.  His style once again changed from the early RCA years.  Listening to those old Mario Lanza and Ezio Pinza records inspired him to sing operatic C&W.  Rather startling to my ear but with sure musical sensibility it worked for Elvis.

     And then his popularity was so immense that he was able to star in two to three movies a year with all of them being money makers.  The songs may have been less than memorable but he had to reach a mass audience for which popular music allowed of no vocal eccentricities.  His fan base was strong enough and his talent great enough to sustain his popularity through a couple dozen movies that were frequently scorned and mocked but as Mr. Marcus generously points out they offered something that set them apart. 

     As all things must his movie career passed its ethic and cannily realizing it Elvis moved on.  Thus in 1968 he produced a special that catapulted him back to the top of the musical scene.  Even Mr. Marcus was overwhelmed by the ’68 transition from movie star back to recording master.

     Nor did Elvis stop there but went on to a musical triumph that dwarfed anything that had gone before it including Frank Sinatra’s whole career- that was the satellite transmission form Hawaii to the whole world, the entire planet, simultaneously.  The whole world tuned in to Elvis at one time.  The equivalent of several hundred Woodstocks and something that has never been equaled by any other performer or groups of performers.

     So, what did go wrong?  Elvis had an unimaginably perfect career.  The tragedy is that the enormous pressures were too great for this amazingly centered performer.  It took a lot to beat him down.

     Now, Elvis had a popularity that Bob Dylan couldn’t even dream about.  Dylan could sing cranky little songs of hatred and viciousness such as Like A Rolling Stone to the ‘abused, confused, misused strung out ones and worse’ but Elvis couldn’t sing such viciousness to a worldwide audience.  Imagine Elvis Live from Hawaii singing to a mob of adoring women lines like this:

Aw, you’ve

Gone to the finest school alright Miss Lowly but you know you only used to get

Juiced in it.

Nobody’s ever taught you to live out on the street

And now you’re gonna

Have to get

Used to it.

You say you never


With the mystery tramp but now you


He’s not selling any


As you stare into the vacuum

Of his eyes

And say:

Do you want to

Make a deal?

How  does it feel?

How does it feel?

To be on your own

With no direction home

A complete unknown…

      Pardon me, I’m laughing so hard at the image I’m falling out of my chair.  Oops, there I go.


     I’m back.  Didn’t hurt myself.

     So, anyway I consider Mr. Marcus’ whole critique so skewed as to be vitiated.  It would take a whole lot of love in Elvis heart to make such a musical gaffe, blowing his career in one misguided song and then say:  ‘I didn’t know what I had until I till I threw it all away.’  Sorry Greil, Bob Dylan is actually a minor talent.  Let us not forget that he once opened a show for the Rolling Stones.


     There was a long hiatus of fourteen years between Mystery Train and the appearance of Lipstick Traces in 1989.  During that period one assumes that Mr. Marcus had ‘no direction home.’  How the elements that make up Lipstick Traces formed is open to conjecture.  He attributes his direction to one John Rockwell on the dedication page.  His style was also apparently heavily influenced by the Firesign Theatre hence the herky jerky, jumpy non-sequitur style.  The Firesign Theatre was one of the great recording acts of the late 60s and the 70s, still going too.  They have continued to release CDs on into their old age, such as it is, but, as I say, I stopped listening to anything after 1980.

     As the Firesign is essential to Mr. Marcus I suspect there is loads of humor in Traces that I’m not getting.  Hard enough to make those difficult jumps.  Juxtaposing Presley and Isou wasn’t even a jump, it was a gap.

      John Rockwell was some sort of music critic at the NYT so not exactly the sort of influence one would want.  As Mr. Marcus would have been already familiar with the Frankfurt School of which he is a continuator and mentions Dada in Mystery Train one imagines that critic Rockwell pushed him in the direction of the Presley lookalike Isidore Isou and incidents like the rather obscure Invasion of Notre Dame.  Mr. Marcus was five at the time of the Invasion; one doubts he remembers it.  Thus, perhaps Mr. Rockwell directed his eyes to the morgue of intriguing but all but forgotten news clippings with which he would have been familiar.  Thus Mr. Marcus found the Lettrist/Situationist International.

     The Paris disturbance following on the heels of the Free Speech brouhaha  would then have given him a focal point.  It appears that at some point Mr. Marcus met Debord becoming very well acquainted with the old drunk and pervert, as it were, a disciple.  When Debord shot himself through the heart in 1994 as with Drs. Mabuse and Baum Debord’s soul apparently entered Mr. Marcus’ body so that he appears to have assumed leadership of the SI.

     Traumatized by the Punkers who he gives credit for bringing down Rock he also became fascinated with Johnny Rotten and the Sex Pistols as well as several other Punk units.  Personally I have always thought Punk was absolutely useless hence I find Mr. Marcus’ fascination with this sub-marginal trash actually objectionable.  While his subjects knew that they were nothing and sought to be everything the means they chose to raise their chances of becoming something were ill advised.

     However as Mr. Marcus integrates them into the Dada/Lettrist/Situationist program it may be worth considering at least Johnny Rotten and the Sex Pistols who according to Mr. Marcus are an outgrowth of the SI.

     After the failure of the 1968 disturbance in Paris Debord’s SI seems to have become truly international what with Greil Marcus in the US and people like Malcom McLaren and Jamie Reid in England.  God only knows how many covert cells there were and what looneys they were allied with.

     McLaren and Reid were casting about for some way to epater the bourgeois when McLaren had an interview with the New York Dolls.  From them he conceived the notion  that no talent was needed at all to become a rock band.  One only needed the ability to make noise.  Fortunately for Reid and McLaren there were myriads of young losers who felt the same way.  One only had to pick and choose the most likely candidates on a cosmetic basis and give their repertoire a Situationist slant.  You know, create a situation.

     Mr. Marcus wonders from where the musical infuences for the Punkers came.  I have to say that their inspiration was largely Bob Dylan.  Johnny Rotten (ne Lydon) was born in 1956 so in 1975 he was twenty years old.  The Punks then would have been eighteen to twenty-five.  A primary influence on them would have been Bob Dylan.  Dylan’s first records give the impression of an untutored musician.  The stuff was just noisy.  He could neither sing nor play.

     The mean streak that Mr. Marcus finds so attractive in Like A Rolling Stone runs throughout the corpus.  As much as I hate to admit it that hateful mocking derisive attitude is the essence of Dylan’s style.  After having Mr. Marcus point this out to me so unmistakably I’m having to rearrange my memories of Bob to change their faces and give them all brand new names.  I’m having to become a revisionist of my own history.

     While Dylan is a real cultural name dropper so that he gives the impression of being learned, he isn’t.  Chronicles proved that.  His criticisms of society are merely emotional rants rather than informed or intellectual critiques.  That he could wing tripe like Masters of War past what must have been a fairly sophisticated Folk crowd is truly phenomenal.  Or, maybe I was wrong about them too.

     At any rate the Punkers were merely unhappy with their teenage angst.  I can assure you that I and my age cohort were too.  If the right social environment had been provided perhaps we would have responded in the same way.

     Johnny Rotten could not have had many of the thoughts Mr. Marcus attributes to him, the kid was only nineteen, so one must believe that McLaren and Reid filled in the blanks with Situationese and Rotten rearranged the words.  While McLaren and Reid may have turned a few dollars from the act it is difficult to see what else they accomplished.

     Society was developing rapidly without their help.  The band Devo released their significant LP Are We Not Men? A. We Are Devo that quite clearly reflected the direction in which society was headed.

     The amazing thing is that Mr. Marcus can discuss these insignificant nits at such length and with such seriousness.  His long discussion of Johnathon Richman’s ‘Roadrunner’ was entirely uncalled for.  Neither Richman nor his song had any influence in record circles.  The record wasn’t even available for sale.

     As Mr. Marcus neither owns up to being in the SI or gives any idea of the direction of the SI and ‘revolutionary’ groups I find that his book while full of interesting details is pointless.  I have read the thing five or six times for this review.  I have given the book more thought than it deserves.  If the intent is a sly joke I don’t find it very funny.  If the intent is to recruit members for the SI I find nothing agreable in the organization.  I remain unrecruited.  As a collection of non-sequiturs I find the book actually unreadable.

     If Mr. Marcus modeled himself on the Firesign Theatre his choice was admirable but his execution was execrable.  As a historian I’m afraid I would have to grade him below a C.  Perhaps the quality of the book is best expressed by the cover.

Why is he nothing when he should be everything?

End Of Review




76 Responses to “Lipstick Traces Pt. IX: Greil Marcus”

  1. Thinker Says:

    Greil Marcus never worked “for” Creem. He didn’t live in Detroit. He wrote freelance stories for Creem, yes. Not for a long period of time though.

  2. reprindle Says:

    Perhaps I meant wrote for instead of worked for. They may not be one and the same but close. If he got paid the check came from Creme. At any rate Creem is a foundation for his reputation. I don’t see any reference to Detroit. Sorry for the loose terminology. Thanks for tuning in though.

  3. R M Says:

    Wow! I refer this “Wow” to your latest posts about Dylan’s scaryfying youth revisited.

    It’s too much. Too great. More later. In any case, You’re more pissed off at Marcus than I was before and when I wrote my dissertation!! God Gawd!!!!!!! And I am Jewish. A hell of a lot more than Elvis!!
    (Though several of the “Memphis Mafia” WERE Jewish, and Elvis wore stars of Davids, Chis, etc. He knew his history and put a Star of David on his mother’s grave (which his father later “revised,” you might say – gosh, what if somebody KNEW!).

    I was SO pissed at Marcus on reading an Artforum in ’84 that I almost walked out of the store in Penn Station without paying for the magazine!! I would have gone to Riker’s Island! Shit! I never stole nothin’ but some apples when I was 10, and never again!! I paid for for the magazine, sweating profusely, and still cursing Marcus even more furiously under my breath and in my mind!! HOW DARE HE?????? “Black Johnny Ray to Prince’s black ELVIS”????!!!!???????” You’re older; you don’t really remember what ’83-’84 was like to the younger people who actually missed Elvis, the Beatles, Dylan, etc. But it was an incredible time. It was GREAT!! It brought people together. I could go on. Besides, I’d been a fan since ’69 and the first TV appearance. (No, I can’t say “who.”) I am 3 and a half weeks younger!! (NOT PRINCE … he’s born earlier, in April, I think). I saw Prince as a kind of lower rent Dylan who talked dirty a lot. Yeah, last year’s Superbowl performance was outstanding, but hey, I was in the Meadowlands in the fall of ’88 and saw the other guy – the guy Marcus shredded and lied about, and I ain’t NEVER seen a show like that!! NEVER. The audience and performer were AS ONE. And the audience was completely and totally integrated in every possible way. And they knew exactly how to do a bizzare “call and response” with movement and silence. It was almost otherworldly!!!!!!! I earlier went to the Garden show right after the Grammys fiasco and some sadistic cameraman enjoying watching somebody cry. And Q saying “well, it was good for him.” Yeah, real good. He just almost got sent up to Corcoran state Pennitentiary, Goddammit!! (Excuse me.) Lord, I hope my friends don’t find this. I DON’T CARE WHAT THE HELL “HAPPENED” OR not. I am not a fool. I am not a “true believer.” But THERE ARE F****ING* reasons!! So, yeah, when I came to understand Bob Dylan more thoroughly, my heart began to break. But NO ONE seemed to see it at all. Except you. Except you.
    But he is no “minor talent,” despite all the crap he does. John Wesley Harding is still so incredible. And he WAS a “gentle” soul once. “Song to Woody” is sweet and beautiful (the rest of the album is kinda hilarious), and the rock is wild and crazy and genius. But as for the booing, he asked for it, and boy, did he get it. And, yet, he DID care. I saw tears at one point. And the scene from the rescued ’66 color film from Scotland with the “real” voice “carry my troubles . . .” OHHHH! There’s a real guy in there! With a real voice. Not like “Skyline” either. This is REAL. And it’s sweet and beautiful and touching. And by Harding, his singing is tremendously under much more control than as a youth. (If Bing Crosby ever saw a singer cup his hand around a microphone, he would have found that old studded belt that he used to torture his kids with and go chasing after the stupid ass kid who doesn’t know what a microphone is for!!!!!!!) I mean, those performances were wails and howls of pain. Out of control! But to open the Newport gig with a Keith Richards solo after watching poor Peter Yarrow sweatin’ and looking scared out of his mind?? That, was, of course, the most. He did this stupid thing, and then he was sitting back there “looking blue” according to Seeger, who after goin’ nuts, started to feel sorry for the dumb kid. How could you not? He really didn’t seem to understand what he had done or why he caused so much trouble FOR HIMSELF. Mulduar went over to give him a hug ’cause he looked like he needed one, and he said “I’d like to hug you, Maria, but my hands are on fire.” God knows what that means.
    Despite any of this, even the domestic violence (there are so many others who have done much worse – though I do not condone it at all) he’ll still an enormous genius . . . Jagger, in comparison, to quote Elvis really does “look like a chicken on acid.” (Elvis did windowpane acid at least 4 times, and possibly more, alone. I have counted each “group” episode as described. He hated pot, just like Joplin. It burned his throat and he wanted NOT to “feel.” Preferred downers and Dilauded.)
    But never forget that America IS kinda weird. Elvis really WAS JEWISH!! And he liked it!!!!!!!!!! And so did his mama.
    (And he broke into houses in high school and NEVER GOT CAUGHT! Did it as a star, too, at least 3 different times. One time the real estate lady didn’t show up, so, he jimmied the lock in some fashion. Jerry Schilling was with him, younger than him, and scared out of his mind as Elvis calmly went upstairs, checking out the house. The cops came. Jerry nearly died. “Uh, Elvis, uh ELLLLVISS, I think you need to come down, please!!!!!!!!” Within about 5-7 minutes, Elvis was arm in arm with the coppers, handing out film set passes and autographs for their kiddies. Jerry, on the other hand, took about a day to recover. Broke into June Carter’s house in the fifties. Melted her copper pots and slept in her bed. No, Johnny was not there; she was married to the other dude. And, oh, “Get Rhythm” was written for Elvis, who threw it back in his face and called it “racial.” [“Racist” really didn’t exist as a word, yet.] Said he’d lose Johnny Bragg and Phineas Newborn, and others as friends if he released that thing about the “little shoeshine boy.” This was after John turned Elvis in regarding the “legal diet pills.” But Elvis WAS right about “Get Rhythm.” I think.
    Hell, Greil Marcus is “racial” too!!
    All the best to a brave writer,
    P.S. — And heaven help me about those friends of mine. This is the Internet!! Now, they’ll know. Everybody’s got something they wanna “keep with mine,” I guess

  4. reprindle Says:

    Elvis had a crush on June Carter? Boy, I can understand that one. She had the whole notion of ‘woman’ bolted down with golden pegs. I would have done anything to just sit at her feet and look up at her for an hour or two. She and Cash came into the store once. I’ve got her autograph on a charge slip. Love! Man, a woman like that crosses your path only once or twice in your life. The Man Who Would Be King! Huh!

    My tongue was tripping over itself as I tried to complete the transaction. I didin’t think I was coming on to her, god only knows, maybe I was, but she flops her left hand on the counter with an uncut diamond of the first water as big as the Koh-i-noor on her finger as if to say: Whadya think, can you do that? No, I sure as hell couldn’t.

    Cash snuck in after her so I didn’t see him come in. He popped up on my left, said something to her and left before I even had a chance to recognize him. Just as well, I would have broken down completely with the goddess in front of me and a hero on the left.

    I probably liked Johnny Cash back then better than Elvis. It’s a shame Elvis didn’t take Get Rhythm if it was offered to him. The lyrics are rather personal to Cash apart from the mention of the Chattanooga Shoeshine Boy. Elvis could have edited that witout any problem. OK for a marginal country record that nobody but a few ever heard but not too apt for mainstream pop which is what Elvis always was no matter what he sang.

    Anyway racking up June Carter’s sale was a transcendent experience. What an image of woman! I’m sure I’ll never see her like again.

  5. R M Says:

    Well, maybe he DID have a “crush”: never thought of it that way!! She told him “drop by anytime”! So he did. But no one was home. He and Red West drove up to her (married) home, and found it vacant at the moment. But she DID say “anytime,” right? So, he quickly jimmied the lock and melted her pots and slept in her bed. She found them sleeping there!!!!! She was really pissed about the pots! As for “Get Rhythm,” Elvis had an axe to grind with Cash. To Elvis, he was the rat fink who made it so he couldn’t enter his own home safely. Had to take a drive for a while, and go in a back door and steal away inside until Gladys and her iron literally stopped burnin’. Burnning Love, indeed. As for break-in’s, he was way better at it than Dylan!! He never got caught. The Cash-Phillips incident was the only time he ever DIDN’T escape smoothly out of doing something really wrong. And Vernon never let him forget it, either. Every time the subject of drugs came up, and it was not a subject Elvis preferred, Vernon would sort of hint at the incident until one time he blew up and came out and said it. “Worried your Mama into her grave.” One time, when Elvis made his famous great Nixon “heist” of the “federal credentials,” it was because Vernon had lost control and was hysterically angry about the “B-12 shots.” Priscilla came in to see what the hell was going on, and why was Vernon all red in the face and freaking out, and then, to Elvis’s shock, backed him up!! (The official story is that it was “spending” more generally, but that’s just not true. The people who evesdropped said it was about drugs, period. The “B-12 shots.”)
    Elvis felt like a cornered animal, and told them he was leaving and never coming back. Took the very first plane out of Memphis. The sign said “Washington, D.C.” Elvis was ecstatic. He’d been wondering and planning on how on earth he would pull this off for at least months. And there it was, “Washington, D.C.” He practically ran onto the plane. God’s will, or something! He would show THEM who he was, dammit!! “I’m Elvis and even the U.S. President has to give me whatever I want!!” And by God, he did it. And let Vernon, especially, worry sick for about two days of absolutely no contact, until he finally gave permission for someone to call and say he’s safe. But no details. The badge HAD to be a surprise, because he might not be able to get it. But he got it all right. And his father was defeated. Can you imagine how he felt? How helpless? After that? And then when his son DIED? How utterlly powerless he felt?

    Never mind, you ever hear the story of “the funky angels”?? Kirk Kervorkian sold the damn hotel to Hilton after that! Nearly had total heart failure. It was REAL late: way past when the showroom was closed and locked up for the night. Elvis was prepared. Told Red and a couple other guys to get a bunch of big ladders and a lot of cans of paint: mostly a caramel brown or a little darker, and a few cans of black paint. They had NO IDEA what he had in mind . . . but what the hell, as Dylan wrote, “life is brief.” He broke in easily, and told them to set up the ladders near all the cherub angels on the wall, all of them pinkish with blond hair. Elvis said, ok guys, we’re gonna make some FUNKY ANGELS!! He painted ALL OF THE CHERUBS TO LOOK LIKE BLACK KIDS!!!!!! The black paint was for the formerly blond hair!! He hated blond hair. I read this in many different places, and met a couple guys near Graceland WHO WERE THERE! That night. (Ok, I spent entirely too much time going to Memphis when I was younger!! But hell, the place was always crawling with his guys and other Graceland people, and they’ll talk to you about anything! Just give ’em a couple bucks for their autograph and they’re happy, and some of ’em don’t even want that. You just ask about anything you’ve read, and they’ll tell you what they experienced. It’s usually spot on, except when drugs were involved; the books hedge a lot more on that. But not all of them, and I have all of them. I only found Charlie Hodge to be a real unsettling dude. Jealous and angry at Elvis. Won’t go into it.) Anyway, in the morning, Kervorkian’s “beautiful” showroom had the “funky angels” and he was calling the cops about “intruders” breaking in and vandalizing his place and all whatnot. Didn’t amount to nothin’ ’cause Elvis did it, of course. Within a few weeks, he found out about the wild prank, and he was trembling with rage on the phone with the Colnel. Parker told him that if “the Boy” is making him so much money, he shouldn’t complain about a little paint.
    And that was the coolest “freedom ride” I have ever heard about!!!!! In my life. Elvis performed there forever, and forever admired his improvement of the decor (which has now been trashed, of course, and changed).
    RM (Freewheelin’, but always corroborated by at least two solid sources, and usually more)

  6. reprindle Says:

    But it grieves my heart, love,
    To see you tryin’ to be a part of
    A world that just don’t exist.
    It’s all just a dream, babe,
    A vacuum, a scheme, babe,
    That sucks you into feelin’ like this…

    You shouldn’t take all this stuff so seriously, Robin, ‘…we are all Americans here…’, ‘…we are all human…’, so what, and or, precisely. You may be right on both points but we drop into Freudian group psychology. We’re talking cultures here which is group psychology. Each culture is pitted against all others. No matter what any individual may think, no matter what any group or organization says they’re working toward, group psychology will prevail. Good will, good intentions and love have nothing to do with it.

    So analyze cultures. See what their history is, what they have done and you will see what they will do. All else any spokespeople may say is bushwa and subterfuge.

    All you have to do is know who are and where you stand and keep on truckin’ down the line. You work toward your ends and things will fall out as they will.

    I posted last night and sat there and watched the post being censored before my eyes. It wasn’t WordPress either. It’s possible ‘they’ are watching me but more probably their search engines have certain items flagged and when they show up out they go. I mean, Robin, your whole history could disappear in a moment. You chould become a cipher with no past no identity. No home, no place in society. Think about it. …it’s all just a dream, babe, all just a scheme, babe… You could go into a place and they could take all your money away saying it’s counterfeit. Might even be, who knows?

    So don’t worry about any of this crap. Live, love, laugh and be happy. Bozo the Clown calls me Hitler. So what?

    And the riot squad they’re restless
    They need somewhere to go
    As Lady and I look out tonight
    From Desolation Row.

  7. R M Says:

    I guess it wasn’t that hard from my e-mail address (you can use it, ’cause I really want to get to know and understand where you’re coming from and how you got there – and, unlike others, I think I can see where you’re going — really. A great prophet or diety once said “judge not that ye be judged.” I also had to go to church in high school: every Wednesday night, and I took Bible classes even though my father objected on principle [heck, I WANTED to!!] — We are, after all “EXTREMELY REFORMED” and have a gorgeous 6 and a half foot Christmas Tree – no, not a “Channukkah Bush”; that’s a different holiday with a meaning that doesn’t particularly appeal to me as a person since I do not celebrate military victories with great joy, and there’s like one crummy little song about a stupid “top,” – you know those boring toys that spin, and . . . well, you can see where I’m coming from) My specialization in sociology IS “cultural studies,” but not “the history of Scadanavia” or like that. Real CS deals with the fringes of culture, where people simply refuse to be reduced to culture, but instead, metaphorically, “steal the street signs and point them in the wrong direction.” It’s about twisting cultures until they almost break. Why do some people get into t his weird field of study? Easy; it’s people like me, sort of, people whose early life really WAS a cipher, with no home and no identity. My father and my mother simply never fit in with their families at all. They were different; my dad’s people were somtimes the sort who always worried about what the neighbors would think if you did something brave that you believed in. He was never understood, and not even today. (That’s a long story . . . for an e-mail, not a post.) But even though he moved me around so much that I no longer had any identity but a unique one that I could make up myself, I have totally forgiven him and then some. I was ill in 2001; I had a horrible allergic side effect to savage medication the name of which I cannot mention because they’ll sue the site. No, nobody gets high on it. Hell, no. It simply swtiches off the pitutary gland, and as long as it stays in the bloodstream (three months per injection; the state of CA has labeled it a “toxin”), but some Beverly Hills ob-gyn gave it too me, forcing me to take it, really – saying I had “no choice.” It was for “women’s troubles,” but nothing malignant except for the pain. Several months later, I read in the paper about the largest criminal fine in United States history given to “XXX” [I cannot use their name without liability issues for you) Pharmaceuticals, and they banned it for men. (Medicare age; gives a whole new meaning to “women and children first!”) Anyway, it creats havoc with “smooth muscle fibers”; you get something like “restless legs” but “on steroids” — meaning multiplied exponentially, your heartrate jumps to tachy sinus rhythm and it beats on your inner chest like a gong; your stomach burns like your belly’s on fire, and you get rashes, blow up like with cortisone, except it’s not cortisone, and finally are left with brittle bones decades before you’re supposed to have them. I would love to skate and play football again with my students (another story, but super cool), but I will only get injured. So when I was at the peak of the sickness (threatened to come in to work OR ELSE . . . you do what you must), my father came to the sofa wher I lay “dyin'” – or so it felt, and said “OHHH! I have committed such terrible crimes against you; please forgive me!!!!!!!!” I was shaken out of my own suffering and said “WHAT?” What “crimes”? He never done nothin’ like that, but he meant the constant moving and bullying I suffered: my parents finally found out in 6th grade when I was being jumped and beaten several times a day by “gangs” of barefooted young girls who pummeled me every day. “Did you get into a *fight*?” My mom asked. And I was like “oh, no, this will only make things worse!” They tromped down to the school, very pissed off, and the principal said “let them fight it out on their own; it’s part of growing up.” But it was a half dozen against one! Every time! They took me out of school early that year, and I watched my dear Mets win the World Series that summer — but better yet, we were leaving Florida. I never wanted to return, but we did, later, then on to Atlanta (and I chose ‘Bama because it somehow felt like a “home” to me). Almost everywhere I went, from second grade until high school graduation, I was unmercifully bullied, attacked, and made to feel far worse than than the word “horrible” can convey. He finally realized, when he thought he might lose me forever (that I could die from this, as some people HAVE died from that medication, according to a site that was given a “cease and desist order” for merely publishing approved FDA info and medical journal articles), that his earlier “roaming around” left me without a home, without an identity, and I guess finally without “a culture.” I became “the stranger.” Sociology is logical, since I spent my life observing people who had homes and cultures.
    I can’t stand to see anyone suffer, whether they’re a singer or a factory worker, or anything in between. I have gotten suckered because of that, but I don’t regret trying to be a good person and trying to understand why fundamentally good people sometimes do wrong things. I remember standing in a hallway in grad school listening to some “hot air blower” using 10,000 dollar words ’cause maybe her dad was a professor or something (my dad built TV sets in the forties, never finish H.S., but went to an electrician’s school on the G.I. Bill) say that she “hates” Richard Pryor because he could be violent to women. Inside, I burned up: I knew more about his life than maybe he even did, and she knew NOTHING about it, and had the nerve to critize and judge someone she didn’t care to know or understand. Like I believe I said, I became an Elvis fan when that girl said “he got fat.” She was a bully, but this time, she picked on someone else, someone I didn’t know that much about, but now that would CHANGE. And he turned out to be a beautiful soul: mischeivous, “bad” sometimes, but treated with such cruelty by people who didn’t think he had feelings, much less a soul. So, of course, I bought every record, played them until they were practically worn out (I remember in college, soon after his death, the girls next door banging furiously on the wall, screaming “stop playing that same album over again; it’s driving us CRAZY.” And I was alone in there, and I muttered “f**k you.” And turned up the volume and played a few more times. But I had lots of albums; I was on two newspapers and it was easy to get records. I could trade new ones I didn’t like for Dylan, Beatles, Who, Stones, blues of kinds, country of kinds, Lois Armstrong when he was very young . . . it goes on forever. Yes, I had found “an identity” in that I could write very well, and I wanted to write about the music I so loved. I did NOT want hurt people with reviews; NEVER!! I thought Greil was that way, but I should have known from an old copy Rolling Stone I’d picked up at a sort of flea market and the headline roared at Bob Dylan “What is the Shit.” I didn’t know he was Jewish! No idea, yet. But I knew that Marcus was “close” in some sort of way, and that Bob Dylan actually, I thought, read Rolling Stone, and that Marcus knew this and I didn’t know he got his kicks inflicting pain. That’s not what I wanted to be when I wanted to be “a rock critic.” I didn’t understand. “I was so much older then; I’m younger than that now.”
    Maybe we ALL suffer in some ways from behind our own entrapment “on the grounds inside the Wall of Red Wing.” (Sarcasm, of course: “the ‘wall’ were barbed wire” he clearly states, but Baez could not bring herself to sing the verse about the “woodpile.” She had loved him once, and maybe still did because “she knows too much to argue or to judge” [“Love Minus Zero/No Limit”], and that line conjured up an image too horrific for her to bear, so she just couldn’t sing it. He did. I thought Dylan wrote those cryptic versus on the early “rock” albums ’cause it was just the cool thing to do. When I was a kid, anyway. When you’ve been through life’s toughest tests, though, you realize anew that every one of those “meaningless” stanzas, words, verses makes clear and obvious sense. Lennon made up nonesone for cool value, and are not the songs for which is beloved. But Dylan is because they are NOT “nonsense.” Lennon was beloved for “In My Life” and other real songs like “Julia” and suchlike. All except the most trul evil sociopaths (and hell, even they may have a story to tell: Elvis quotes Hank Williams “a guy, uh, a guy said once . . . so help your brother along the way, no matter where he starts/the same God who made him, made you, too, these men with broken hearts.”
    It’s serious, all right. Serious as cancer or your mother falling and banging her head on the floor and passing out, and then latter having what we found out TODAY was misdiagnosed as a “stoke,” when it was an INJURY that should have been treated with Dopamine. So my shoes are hard to walk a mile within, because there’s a lot of pain, but if I can reach out to *another* soul in pain and finally understand (be that soul Dylan or you, or Elvis, or a friend from back East who I miss, or . . .), I WILL. No matter where they start. Because I had to start somewhere, and I finally realized that a song can be both literal and figuartive at the same time. “From inside the grounds behind the Walls of Red Wing.” (I had never heard of a state that had ONE juvie! The judges have lists of “out-of-state placements, and those lists are publically available, so I know where Dylan’s mom came up with this “Deveraux” notion. It was undoutedly on a list. But it was no long up to them at the time; it was up to the judge. He stole so much in the Dinkytown days (“there’s about ten guys lookin’ for him!”) that clearly he had been in front that or another judge before. And from a song he wrote that Baez sang “You’re Not Gettin’ Out of There” . . . which includes the line “I don’t care how many letters they send” and a scarifying tale of a helpless person trapped on some kind of “grounds” and grabbing and pulling at the iron gate and being told that the winter has already started, so the gates are frozen shut! And then there’s a mad dash up a hill, but no luck, “you’re not gettin’ out of here.” Day by day, the helpless person waits for somone to come to fly them back home . . .
    Baez sang it with such warmth and empathy, I guess, “because she knows too much to argue or to judge.” (Love Minus Zero)

    Robin (you caught me! {throwing back my head in a laugh})
    P.S. — As for Dylan’s one-time “conversion” to Christianity, when he said “it happened when Jesus made the room MOVE” –uh, Bob, you’ve taken so much dope that the room ALWAYS MOVES when you’re in one; Jesus doesn’t waste time moving rooms for folks, I figure. (Couldn’t help that; that quite detailed story is a hoot. Probably quite sad, though, as he must have been in a desperate frame of mind at that time. And I didn’t understand then enough to have the empathy I normally would. All I knew is that I paid a lot of money and put in a lot of effort to get a ride to Birmingham to see him, and he sings NONE of his great old songs!!!!!! I couldn’t believe that I had such lousy timing. But, for some reason, I never blamed him for. And I sure as hell would not “boo”!! I just couldn’t “get it.” I think I do, now, though. Life is a teacher, but often a mean one.)

  8. R M Says:

    Big OOPS!! I just went on memory. It’s “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere.” And “the Gate” gets open, but it freezes, and then he’s confronted and told about “wintertime” and the gate froze: “you ain’t goin’ nowhere.” It ends with Ghengis Khan not giving all his “kings” “sleep” — same thing again, no sleep as he describes in “Red Wing.” But his “bride’s gonna come” and “fly down in the easy chair.” Well, that’s a car! He’s waiting for “Echo” but of course, she never came. “Morning came and morning went – you ain’t goin’ nowhere.” No one came. Two LONG months.
    And especially, “I don’t care how many letters they sent.”
    That’s IT. He’s done with “them.”
    But to top it off, Echo, making a grand show of it, gives him back that friendship ring in public: “no, not in the HALL!” the humialiated 17-year-old begs! I don’t know what all went on in the summer, but I am getting the pieces together here: he lost his “pin” — an honor for honor roll-kids, he was ticked off at a Spanish teacher: “I can TALK SPANISH!” he wailed to his folks early in the year regarding this teacher (to which you wanna reply: “yeah, kid, but you cannot SPEAK ENGLISH YET!”)
    See, there were “no older than 17.” That got me to thinking and BOOM!, this other song is so clear. Winter just comes, but it’s the North Country, and it’s a COLD winter that’s coming, enough to freeze a heavy old gate that you’re struggling to open after getting the lock taken care of (easy) so you get caught with the gate partailly OPEN (solitary for that – a hole they don’t tell the public about), and also, in “Red Wing” a Hard Rain falling on the roof at night, when he pretends to sleep.
    How did this happen? Is it hard to figure? Nope.
    It’s relatively early or in the center of the school year. Grades coming due. No honor roll because of that damn teacher. What do kids do today? They hack into the computer system from home. Not back then. One would have to PHYSICALLY break in at night to try to change the grade, or just steal the spanish teacher’s grade submissions, plain and simple. Let’s see: that’s “breaking and entering,” “tresspassing on public property,” “theft,” “vandalism” . . . that kid, if he did that, WAS GOING DOWN! “On Highway 61!” Wanna bet who caught “them*? Probably Abe. You lift that kid up by his shirt and his feet would be kicking all the way out of the building. Drop off Echo, apologize to her family, and then call the cops and turn in your kid for what he did. And in the “Harding” album, he imagines an apology “we knew it was just a childish thing to do.” Not a real apology, just a wish that never came true.
    Then Echo gives him back the ring in front of EVERYONE. And he graduates without his “Pin.” And he wanted it. Humilated again. Sets him up for a lot of what came later that he made happen. And absolutely doesn’t want that damn fool “party” they throw for his graduation!!!!!!!
    And then he goes on a stealing rampage for the next couple of years, interupted by extreme drunkeness and a vain search for love, because the ones he trusted the most, the ones who sent “how many letters they sent,” left him alone and foresaken; it’s not quite winter, but it’s gettin’ there, gate froze unexpectedly (that’s how you get thrown in the hole he describes in “Red Wing”), the wind howls against the siding of the sleeping quarters, “making my ears ring,” “Morning comes and and morning went” . . .” No one comes . . . it seems so long. He thinks of Echo and they’re going to elope, on those sleepless nights. He keeps running all over the place, but “you ain’t goin’ nowhere.”
    God, when you really listen, it’s all so easy that it’s ridiculous.
    Robin (I’ve analyzed tougher lyrics than these, believe me you cannot imagine the hard exegisis my friends and I used to do! And it all came out in, uh, the wash . . . Dylan’s turning into an open book! Simple in comparison.)

  9. reprindle Says:

    Temporary like Ulysses. I think you may have found a key. I’ll be back.

  10. reprindle Says:

    R.M. I think you’ve got a valid reconstruction. Details might not be 100% but that’s just a matter of further research. Call up Echo or something.

    That has to be the case with Abe so that it’s a pretty secure interpretation of the first verse of Highway 61. That must have been when Abe gave Bob the defilement pitch.

    There still must be some earlier offences thoughs. Bob would have been 17 when he was caught making him more or less immune unless there were priors. I can’t see a judge of the period giving him time just for breaking into a school with no criminal intent, unless they trashed the place of course…starry eyed and laughing? That would have been the wild side of Echo though. Can’t see a boy who dressed like Bob doing senseless trashing.

    By ’59 in LA though they were wild in the streets. I forget the year of the TV show Bus Stop ’61 or ’62 but Fabian played a role I was familiar with. Check out my short story Highway 101 on Up in Hibbing though. Long, long way from NYC and LA.

  11. R M Says:

    Nothing just now, except that this is starting to feel like another “cultural archeological dig” a friend and I did with song lyrics and known incidents, and within just 3 years of our writings, everything AND MORE that we “worked out” spilled out of the screaming headlines and television “BREAKING NEWS!!!!!!” And I mean, this was truly shocking to most people, but not to US, because we were just sort of trembling at that point, waiting for that shoe to drop and hoping it wasn’t as bad as it got, and that Sweet Jesus, hoping that the OTHER SHOE would not drop in the future, which it did, with more helicopters hovering above. I think you know what I am talking about. This is music, still, not football. But really, despite all the sturm and drang over Simpson, what happened the previous year was MUCH more shocking and unsettling, especially to those who had not done the exegesis that we did. All we did was figure it out, listen to what people were saying (and the rumors started to BOIL in the year and months prior to it happening the first time), and to hope against hope that maybe there was some mistake not only in our thinking, but in what people were muttering. But, one horrible August afternoon (in Cali; evening in NY, but I was here), there’s this reporter standing there saying . . . well, you know what he was saying. I got sick to my stomach, literally. Like I said, you are a somewhat older than me, and you probably cannot know what it felt like to see someone grow up alongside you, singing the blues of your life in a way, and always there wherever you were: the same age, exactly, and then watch horror unfold before your eyes. (So, Dylan’s stuff seems to me, almost an open book.) And then, of course, more recently, it got worse, to the point where I know so much, I have to look away, almost. Being me, though, it’s “almost.” Americans must be the most “forgiving” people on the planet, but only if someone tells the truth. And, musicians, unlike almost any other kind of being, DO tell the truth . . . or they just hedge a wee bit, but mainly the truth. It’s in the songs, and then you get into a bit of archeology, and WHAM! It’s ALL there, all of it. You Tube is a weird thing, I think, but it is a treasure trove. There is bizarre “leaked” song several years ago callee “Xscape” and it’s a CONFESSION, and a tantrum, and a suicide threat. (And one weird bit: “YOU’RE NOT MY MOTHER.”) Anyway, I actually HEARD it a number of times when it was free, but was lazy and didn’t download over a slow connection. The lyrics are freely available, though, and You Tube has like everything, anyway. And who could forget something like that, in the middle of a criminal trial, and a song appears that is a confession (no, not Phil Spector . . . sorry, although I saw that one coming a LONG time ago; he was a REAL nutjob almost from the beginning – and I cannot see “forgiveness” at all) . . . musicians are just not like other people. That’s all can think.
    Meanwhile, I was listening to a very rare Elvis rehearsal tape, and there’s an hilarious moment on a Ray Charles song. He sings it normally a couple times, in his way, and then, all of a sudden, this weird moaning sound comes out and he sings the first verse or two that way, and the guys and the band are all laughing their asses off, because it’s “Elvis Sings Dylan Sings Ray Charles.” As bizarre an image as one can conjure. (Marcus could not possibly have the IMAGINATION to come up with something like that!) And then, after a beautiful gospel reinterpretation of a new song, he goes back into the Bee Gees’ “Words,” but he doesn’t have the lyric sheet or any music to go on, or anything, and he keeps forgetting the words, and the melody is getting lost and the key is always wrong, so what the hell, he just rewrites it!!! ON THE SPOT. And it’s fantastic! Way better than the doggone Bee Gees. And just as you’reabout to cheer or something at hearing Elvis write up a song, he says “ass” at the end and starts laughing maniacally. And it’s like, oh, crud! He just had NO faith in his talent! Kinda thing that makes you angry, even though it was long ago. What does “long ago” mean, anyhow: this, today will be “long ago” in the future, but it will still matter. That’s why they make you take history in school. So it mattered that Elvis rewrote the song splendidly, and then tossed it off as a big joke.
    A lot of people in the business, and even out of it, saw Elvis literally dying by the mid-seventies, so Marcus’s leap is not even imaginative, but it is cruel for the time. He’s relishing the coming death as if it’s just a fictional Italian opera where the girl dies of TB as a matter of course. But this WAS A REAL PERSON, DAMMIT!! Elvis himself, IN 1975, recorded “Pieces of My Life” as I said earlier, and it goes into a lot more gory detail than “I Threw It All Away.” After he died, the song kinda makes you shake.
    Why do I care about this? Because when people look back at this point in time, at these decades of recorded music, this will be THE TIME when the music mattered the most. I’m glad that some actual singing is returning, but I don’t see any young geniuses in the 21st century. I just don’t. I would hope so, but I don’t see any yet . . . and I’ve been waiting. If one comes along, you can bet he or she will have some HEAVY baggage on board. Unfortunately, that appears to come with the territory.
    P.S. — The old, shuttered Tower Records store in LA has put up a big sign: “WHERE THE MUSIC DIED.” I guess that just about says it. I can still see Elvis’s “Mojo Workin'” and Dylan gazing upon the chimes of freedom flashing, and Lennon remembering those people “In My Life” and in his, and a little kid in a lime green polyester suit belting out “It’s Your Thing, Do What You Wanna Do” in ’69, leaving my little kid eyes practically leaping out of my sockets because it’s a VOLCANIC performance, and I’m in shock that he’s obviously my age, and how is that possible??? And then the years move on, and I’m sitting in front of a TV, watching the now grown singer in handcuffs. And it sure does rain in my heart.
    This stuff is painful, you know. Painful. But, so was getting to the moon iin the sixties, but we where glad to be around to see it.

  12. reprindle Says:

    R.M. Just trying to piece together the possible meanings of some lines from Chimes of Freedom. See what you think.

    Far between sundown’s finish and Midnight’s broken toll…

    This is an odd but precise notion. Literally it means, depending on the time of year in Hibbing, between 5:00 PM and Midnight. Far between would indicate, say, 10:00 PM. Perhaps an approriate time to break into somewhere in a town where they roll up the sidewalks at sundown.

    This is followed by ‘we’ ducked inside the doorway. Not A doorway, but THE doorway. Alright? Who is ‘we’? Bob and Echo? All this noise and flashing would be the effect of hightened, tense sensibilities as they were committing an illegal act.

    The story continues with ‘we’ doing the acting. I would have to take the ‘we’ literally. As in Bob and someone else.

    Jumping ahead we have:

    As the ECHO of the wedding bells before the blowin’ rain
    Dissolved into the bells of lightning.

    Echo here may reflect the later Starry eyed and laughing, so that one has Echo Star (Helstrom), perhaps a covert message to let her know what he’s talking about. She and Bob may have been considering marriage but this incident cooled that and any notions of marriage (echo of the wedding bells) dissolved before the blowin’ rain. Rain as a symbol for the trouble to follow getting caught as in Here Come The Rain, It Looks Like Rain.

    The rest is imagery to describe the terror of getting caught and self-pity.

    So, Chimes of Freedom may probably be a description of that terrible time when ‘with faces hidden’ ‘the walls were tightening.’ In other words the authorities showed up and the walls came crashing in.

    Defintely a life changing moment for both Bob and Echo. It would be interesting to know what exactly were their reactions to each other especially as Bob went to jail and Echo apparently escaped unscathed.

    Sound plausible?

  13. R M Says:

    Yes, indeed. In a moment, I’ll give a little more, but I would like to apologize for my absence; I have the worst flu since I was about nine years old! Very high fever, and now I cannot speak: laryingitis, and still fever. Too much looking back, I guess.
    Anyway, with Chimes of Freedom, it works on two levels: personal (and you are spot ON), and the general (the early sixties “New Frontier” replaced by the fat, bald guy [LBJ]). People, young people, related to the song (his greates, in my opnion), on BOTH levels, even if they did not know it. Any great song, I believe, has to begin with personal experience to make it REAL (method acting!!!), and then one can layer on whatever meaning fits the times – today, the “outer layer” could mean something else completely, and still be a great song! If a song means nothing to a writer or interpreter on a private, personal level [even unconsciously], then it will NOT REACH LISTENERS. I listen to “All Along the Watchtower” today, and it seems to have been written yesterday about TODAY, but it was not. In fact, it goes right back, AGAIN, to Red Wing. “Watchtower” . . . jokers, thieves . . . “let us not talk falsely now; the hour is getting late!” Chew on that one a while!!!
    Anyway, as for “the biggie,” check this out, and tell me I’m not dreamin’!! “YOU’RE INVISIBLE NOW; YOU GOT NO SECRETS TO CONCEAEAEALLLLLLL!!!!!!!!” This is not about any girlfriend or ex, or any of that . . . the only people he made brutally and utterly “invisible” were his OWN PARENTS, who he rather chllingly declared DEAD in his early “tall tales.” He “disapeared” them as they say in central America. If you are “invisible,” then all the secrets disappear, as well, huh? If there is no Abe Zimmerman, then there can be no Robert Allen Zimmerman who ever did time in Red Wing!!! Had to be a “friend” or something, the writers figure. He told Baez that people will try to figure this stuff out, but he DOESN’T KNOW WHAT IT MEANS!!! Echo’s tale to Shelton is senseless. The dates are all mixed up in that they are both expanded and compressed (like all traumatic memories can be), and the inconsistencies would rattle even a rookie detective!! If Bob’s father gave him virtually NO spending money, then how the heck is he messing around with so many “other girls”? She had to buy him lots of hot dogs, ’cause he had no normal teen spending money. Then, quite truthfully, it seems to me, says that really, he only had two friends, that kid John (the follower!) and Echo. And that’s all. So, where are all these other girls??? “St. Paul Girls”?? Wait a minute! In his yearbook, he declares her “second to NONE.” It think that’s pretty straightforward, and NO reason for her to have dumped him. The Shelton account says it lasted a year, and then shortens it to just a few months, which is ridiculous. She describes some very happy summertime moments there! What with the hot dogs and the porch swing, and him sitting on the porch singing to her, and then plans of marriage, with both in agreement, (“my bride’s gonna come”), just hanging around her place most of the time, and sneaking out of both places when the dads arrived! At first, Abe didn’t think Echo “good enough” for his son; later on, Echo’s dad was after him in hot pursuit, hearing crunching sounds on the LEAVES (AUTUMN!!!!!!), hoping to get rid of that little “monster” as he must have seen “Bobby The Kid” with his Bob Dillon persona as the baddest kid in town, and by God, he would prove it!! I doubt he had much time to meet her dad! And “Robert’s” dad was a freakin’ ROTARIAN!!!!!! Can you believe that? I was once invited to “speak” to a small group of ’em, and boy, what a surprise. (I’d really not rather go into it, but let’s just say that my academic paper on adolescent brain development was tossed by me, after I checked out the “audience.”) In any case, it’s damn clear that while Echo’s family may have been poor, and that didn’t bother Bob Dillon at all, they had pride, and did not wish their daughter involved with a “tough” who was also a juvenile delinquent. (Along with a hanger-on who really didn’t seem to want to hang on after a bit. Not once “the game got rough.”) So you can imagine her father’s rage when she was dropped off after an “incident” with terrrible consequences.
    I do not remember when the “Gault” case came before the Supreme Court, but it was either ’55 or ’65. Before “Gault,” Juvenile records are available, unless they’ve been destroyed on purpose (and trust me, this DOES happen . . . I was trying to research, and found missing records . . . that sort of thing really is annoying, but it’s just the way things are). After Gault, they are sealed, and upon reaching 18 or 21, destroyed. Well, not anymore, of course. The game has changed. And unfairly, I think. But that’s just my view. Not of consequence here. I do not believe we would find any records unless they were very lazy, and judging by their actions even recently, they are NOT being lazy regarding this matter. The state has ONE boy’s juvenile hall. ONE. And they wish to protect it. With lies and prevarications. Dylan’s folks really HAVE disappeared by now, and I don’t think he cares anymore. And if his mom prevaricated or lied (maybe he went to the other one LATER??? ALSO?) More likely they just got the name from the lists because there seems to be no mention of it in any of his work that I know of. Let me know of any Pennsylvania references. I know of none.
    Highway 61 is NEAR where he was born, but not “out on” it. Red Wing is ON IT. The university is some distance, not in St. Paul, but in Minneapolis. Just get a map! You’ll see. And look at those old pictures. Some dude, a long, long time ago wanted the kid’s prison to look like a “private school.” Except for the details, of course. “The Walls are Barbed Wire.” So, the walls are not concrete or brick. But you better believe there was a tower!! A “watchtower.” It might have “stung,” but I can think of one kid who tried it out. This is NOT Parchman Farm . . . they had to keep these kids inside; they’re next to a major interstate and the Missipippi River!!!!!! Parchmas has natural barricades. It’s completely different.
    As I said, listen to or just read the lyrics to “Like a Rolling” and think about who he’s REALLY singing to. And not to mention most of the “hate” songs.
    If it means nothing to the singer, it will mean nothing to the audience and thus have not larger meaning at all.
    Now, do you think Greil Marcus has either the imagination or the compassion to even try to figure any of this out? Gimme a break. I gave up on him a long, long time ago. Sadly, bitterly, but I did “not give damn.” He was just no good, and I had been taken in by some pretty prose. And because I thought he dug Elvis. All he liked was the “Greek Tragedy” of it — not only that he seeemed doomed, but that the critics could help push him into the grave. And with Dylan, it wasn’t all that different. Adoration, and then “WHAT IS THIS SHIT?” I was shocked the first time I saw that review headline, but thought that Dylan would take it in good humor

  14. R M Says:


    that Dylan would take it in good humor, but I doubt it. Marcus wanted to draw him in, like a fake in football, and then pound the crap out of him if he didn’t play by Marcus’s rules.

    I’ve got a terrible flu,
    So, g’night,

  15. reprindle Says:

    Take care of your health, RM. Best luck in shaking the flu.

    You raise some interesting points in your delirium. So let’s say the background for Dylan’s writing through Blonde On Blonde is dominated by these events from the break-in to his time in Red Wing. As you say, there seems to be no reference to any other insititution and we know there was an institution.

    Highway 61 is at the center his big three following Bringing It All Back Home, a sinisterly significant sounding title, and Blonde On Blonde. So one has Bringing It All Back Home-Highway 61 Revisited-Blonde On Blonde. Echo was a blonde, perhaps Sara may be considered a blonde. Thus what? One blonde negates the other?

    Just as Bob I died at Red Wing being replaced by Bob II so his past disappeared to be replaced by the fantasy he told in New York. He becomes an orphan without parents because they deserted him ‘in his hour of darkness, in his hour of need.’

    His parents impressed their shame on him by telling him that no one must ever know that he was in jail. While at the same time telling him that it is possible for a son to so defile himself that his parents would disown him.

    At that point Bob reacts taking defensive measures. While as a high schooler he seems to have been well dressed and cleanly, at this point he rejects all hygiene becoming noticeably unhygienic or in other words, defiled.

    He tells people in New York his parents are dead. The idea that Red Wing must be absolutely concealed gnaws at him. He has to tell people. He does tell Aronowitz. He writes Walls of Red Wing which while not confessing his secret allows him to talk about it in disguised form.

    Then, as you say, he screams out at his parents in song ‘you’re invisible now, you’ve got no secrets to conceal.’ Thus he has resolved that problem by denying his parents making them invisible.

    About the same time he wrote Red Wing he also wrote Mixed Up Confusion. So, Another Side, Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde On Blonde are an attempt to work out that confusion or order his thinking.

    Somehow Sara fits in here. He meets her with the idea that this is the kind of woman he would want if he resolved his confusion. He keeps her secret in the background until he feels his confusion is resolved. He marries her returning for a couple years to the well dressed cleanly Bob he had been until his parents defiled him.

    But his feeling is only temporary. Gradually his sense of defilement gains the upper hand resulting in the disgusting Rolling Thunder Tour and his subsequent degradation.

    Thus Bob Zimmerman whose life was messed up over a few months during his senior year and the subsequent summer changes his name to Bob Dylan when he leaves home in a desperate attempt to escape the humiliation of his ‘hour of darkness, of his hour of need.’

    This is the story, the general outline fits the facts we have now the details have to be made as accurate as possible.

    Tell me, what.

  16. R M Says:

    My reply got eaten. I swear! And it was good! Oh, well. Another time.

    G’night or morning, or whatever it is,
    P.S. — We’ve got the key, so we go inside and take a look around at the mess, and try to make order. Why would someone his age in 2003, sing a song called “Cold Irons Bound”? Wow! What the heck happened in there? Why won’t it go away? Ever?
    And there’s more . . .

  17. reprindle Says:

    I read the song Cold Irons Bound and it’s not bad as a song-poem. I can emphathize with Dylan’s hurt. You know, ‘Young lovers love with pure devotion…’ R.M. I’ve got my own memories from when I was fifteen and she was thirteen that won’t go away. You know, ‘I think about her every day…’ I’ve rationalized the matter a hundred different multiple ways from Sunday but ‘it just keeps right on a hurtin’ every day in every way…’

    I wish life didn’t have to be lived that way but ‘love is a hurtin’ thing.’

    I kind of liked:

    I’m beginning to hear voices and there’s no one around… and
    I went to church on Sunday and she passed me by
    My love for her is taking such a long time to die…

    What did George Jones sing:

    He stopped loving her today…when the hearse drove him away.’

    If it was like that between Bob and Echo I have to at least honor his sorrow.

    Certainly the first refrain would confirm the notion that he was sent to Red Wing:

    I’m waist deep, waist deep in the mist
    It’s almost like, almost like, I don’t exist.
    I’m twenty miles out of town, in cold irons bound.

    So they either put him on a prison bus or drove him down to Red Wing manacled in a car. Boy, there’s some hurt. The double stammer is really effective.

    The lyric itself is almost as good as:

    I turned twenty-one in prison doin’ life without parole
    There wasn’t nobody that could tell me but Mama tried…

    I forget the lyric but it’s something like that.

    The following lyric is pretty naked:

    I tried to love and protect you because I cared
    I’m gonna remember forever the joy that we shared.

    Here Dylan admits he sacrificed himself for Echo and then we have these lines from You Ain’t Goin Nowhere that you pointed out:

    Tomorrow’s the day my bride’s gonna come…
    I don’t care how many letters they sent
    Morning came and morning went…

    And Echo didn’t even have the decency to ease Bob’s pain a little by paying him a visit. I can understand why Dylan went off the rails and I can even understand why he would have punished Echo’s ‘substitute’ Sara but it’s hard to forgive it. Not that I’m called on to forgive it.

    Life’s just like that some times; there’s no other way to learn than the hard way. But:

    The walls of pride are high and wide
    Can’t see over to the other side.
    It’s such a sad thing to see beauty decay
    It’s sadder still, to feel your heart torn away.

    Bob’s right there.

    I’ve never been the forgiving kind either.

  18. reprindle Says:

    To get back to Greil Marcus. We have an interesting situation here between Marcus, David Lynch, Sarkozy and France. I don’t suppose there is any difficulty in recognizing Sarkozy as a Hungarian Jew. That he’s from Hungary is important unless we want to forget Bela Kun. Thus we have a Jewish takeover of the French government in 2007.

    If you ask does this discussion involve ‘race’, of course it does. The whole world situation today is involved with ‘race.’ And a monstrous accusation of ‘racism’ is merely a Liberal ploy to deflect attention from the issue. I scorn Liberals as charlatans and Liberalism as a fraud.

    So, as of 2007 we have a Jewish government in at least Israel, Hungary, France and the United States. Sarkozy while making no effort to stop African immigration into France is now going to send French- not Jewish- but French White boys at French expense into Chad to prop up a tribal dictator. Some say to guarantee an oil supply to the Jews of Israel. Thus Sarkozy manipulates White boys for Jewish ends.

    A couple of the first things Sarkozy did after usurping the French government was to call Marcus and David Lynch to Paris to receive awards. Are you astonished at the top priority, I am. Of course Marcus is Jewish while I don’t know about Lynch. Ask yourself, R.M., what do we know of these two men that would merit immediate special awards from a Jewish French government?

    Mystery Train and Lipstick Traces of Marcus are marginal books at best although the Jewish establishment has promoted him into some sort of an academic phenomenon but I imagine he is far less than a house hold word.

    I hope I’m not alone in saying that if I hadn’t been one of the few to buy and read Marcus’ incomprehensible Shape Of Things To Come I would never have heard of David Lynch. According to Marcus he had a brief TV series Twin Peaks that few watched and an insignificant movie Fire Walk With Me that even fewer saw.

    How does this merit an award from the Jewish government of France?

    Obviously there is something happening here and we don’t know what it is, do we?

    As Marcus’ books consistently promote the Jewish cause consciously attempted to detourne the R&R mentality toward Judaeophilia while denigrating gentile mores and according to Marcus, Lynch’s filming tends to detourne Americanism from the positive to the negative one gains the impression that Sarkozy’s awards were recognition for furthering what it is forbidden to be said, the International Jewish Conspiracy.

    Thus we have White Americans, their money and resources fighting a Jewish War in Iraq, this can’t be gainsaid, and White Frenchmen, money and resources fighting a Jewish war in Chad. I find Marcus interesting, perverted and actually dangerous. Is race involved? You bet. Do Liberals cry racism? Liberals don’t bother me. They’re idiots anyway.

    Say what.

  19. R M Says:

    Ok, I believe we’ve moved into territory that I am not very comfortable with, since I, myself, have not been invited to the International Conspiracy, and would not pay my member dues were I invited. It being being the U.S. of A., and the Internet, though, it’s my duty to fight for anyone’s right to say it. (As for Judeaophilia, well, I sure hope it’s not like pedophilia!! Bad Thing. BAD THING!! ) What I do see here is a generational thing. (Aside from the fact that Dick Cheney is NOT Jewish . . . plus, the amusement of telling my young students about Dick Nixon and Dick Cheney and hearing them say “What was WRONG with parents, back then????!!???!!!! Why would they name their kids something like THAT??! ) I do believe that “conspiracies” do take place, because generally, when two or more people act together, by golly, it’s a conspiracy. But they are generally not what most people think: they are usually loose affairs of like-minded people with the same axes to grind finding one another. As for the war in Iraq, etc., I think most people of any number of backgrounds are now hip to the fact that they’ve been taken, and they want to reclaim the “values’ (if you will) that the USA once stood for: 1) no suprise attacks – no Pearl Harbors by US, no “shock and awe.” We now know that is what one writer called Elvis in the ’50s: “morally insane. And most of the country agrees. 2) Why did the Dubya govt. allow the perpertrator of 9/11 to run free without any LAW ENFORCEMENT action, but rather use it to create a “promised” war somewhere else? <strictly a rhetorical question; doesn’t need an answer 3) Evil comes in all manner of human form: name your “race,” and I will show you evil, and I will show you good. As for “liberalism”: I despise labels. And I don’t appreciate ANYONE slapping a label on my forehead. I just “calls ’em as I sees ’em.”
    Right now, we are at a crucial juncture in worldwide geopolitics, and we cannot afford to “talk falsely now.” So, I would drop all of the labels, cliches, old-style chatter, and try to find a sane way out of this damn fine mess we’re into. I would love for you to read some June Jordan prose . . . particularly her musing on her friendship with Danny Pearl’s widow and how ALL truths must be admitted before they can return to the friendship they once shared. Let’s just say June Jordan is not a zionist, ok? And guess what, after the events of the past 5-7 years, neither am I. (I prefer Micheal Moore’s solution: if Jewish people MUST have their own homeland, then it should be in an obscure portion of the Alps! It’s real pretty there, not many people live there (except for those dudes in the “Ricola” commercials!), and besides, the nation that did them dirty should be the nation that offers them sanctuary! Seems reasonble and fair enough for me. And while he surrounds his “wacky” ideas with humor, I actually DO have close friends who live near there, one who lived in the Black Forest most of her life. It IS beautiful there, and there are some very desolute, yet lovely areas. Depiste his “jokiness,” this actually makes sense. Get some bricks from the Wailing Wall, make sure the Amermenian people have a safe homeland, too (not well known, but the one REALLY good thing Isreal has EVER done is to remember this century’s FIRST holocaust: the heartless and beyong cruel destruction of the Armenian people. I know Armenians here in L.A., and they are aware of their heritage and history, and do not shrink from it. The kids hang with the black gangs (??), and generally pick battles with Latnos. But in one of my classes around the turn of the century, I had Armenian and black making tight friendships with Latinos and “whites’ (whatever they hell that means any more), and friendships with Asians, who were encouraged to share there side of the Latasha Harlans story, along with the other side, and I made a rule out of that: NO ONE MAY EXCLUDE THE VALIDITY OF ANOTHER’S VIEW. And this was not terribly long after the L.A. “Come Visit Our Museum” riots, and I wanted my little classroom, especially on Monday nights (when a lot of the oldy-moldy professors had gone home!), to be a special space of freedom where everyone and anyone could feel free to speak, as long as their speech did not silence others. Somehow, despite the tinderbox nature of the diversity sitting in there, no one was silence, and there was plenty to say. One Amermenian kid (well, ok, young man — even though, to me, he was still a kid) absolutely refuse to read any Turkish history that his history teacher was forcing him to read. 20th century stuff, too! And the teacher acted, honestly, like there was NOTHING to say about the genocide of the Armenians. Same as in Turkey, where they have truly pullled a “1984”-style history effacement. The kid was PISSED. I told him that he did have an option to drop the class, but he was way passed that! He wanted to file a grievance. I told him that was all well and good, and maybe he’d even “win,” but in the end, the professor would still have his f–kin’ damn tenure, and he might lose his education and his promise. In other words, do you wanna be like those Buddist Monks who set themselves on fire in Vietnam until Diem was dispatched (for the record, and it IS on an audio recording!!, no cabinet meetings had ever been held, nor was ANY cabinet member even informed, including the Atty. General; JFK just made an off-hand remark to Henry Cabot Lodge [then Ambassador to South Vietnam], and “Large” – as Kennedy mis-pronounced it – took it as an “A-OK” to get the CIA moving with an assination plan – that worked. After he was dead, and his widow was screaming on TV [the dude really was a sonofabitch, and JFK didn’t really give a rip if he happened to be a fellow Catholic or not], JFK found out what “Large” When you’re in front of an audience, big or small, and I have done both, you gotta find a connecting thread btw. the audience and you, and once you’ve found it, hold on and don’t let go. They did not applaud his “democracy this . . . democracy that” message, so much as the attempt to build some kind of a rickety bridge btw. them. And that’s why they applauded – plus, he was never a “speechifier”: loud and overwhelming; instead, he spoke quietly, and almost conversationally with any size group of people: from one to 10,000 or more. [I was raised down south from when I was about 12 or 13 to almost 22, and I’m a barn-burner: I love to stalk a room like a Panther, but if I “Speechify,” I have the goods to back it up, not like that damn fool Barack, whose only substance “vote for change!” From what to what? Don’t mention this again, but you are the only person with whom I am sharing this: I did a write in. As is my right, I am not telling who I wrote. But I did. My head kept rattling “LET US NOT TALK FALSELY NOW; THE HOUR IS GETTING LATE!!!!!!!!” and I said, SHIT, I’m going to DO IT! I may not have the physical ability to risk getting hauled away – it would be THE END of my spine: I have numerous bulging discs, and 2 that are herniated and which require those creepy shots in the spine . . . another thank you from the State U. system, where they tell you to get your own damn desk, if you don’t have one. Hauled a VERRRRRY heavy desk across a huge lawn, TWICE [the first one was stolen, of course], and within a week, was unable to move my head – the pain consolidated by the shoulder blade, but the MRI showed the upper spinal damage. More recently, I injured my lower back, and have additional problem discs, but not totally herniated. And still I RISE!!]. So, no, I’m not going to get tied up and hauled away at the demo’s nat. convention. I figure my message got to the person to which it was aimed. The repubs did the wise thing, of course, and the demos behaved like toddlers arguing over a cool toy. Don’t tell ME that women are any more mature than men!! Both of them are jerks. No way, NO WAY, that “Mr. Jones” or “Mrs. Jones” for that matter, is gonna vote for either one of them “when the deal goes down” in November. Hey, what WAS wrong with those older people that so bewilders my kids???])
    Anyway, to return, I fought and won to bring that particular Monday night class together. It just felt like it needed to be done, and if I wasn’t gonna to then, then who was? So I did. The Armenian kid, who grew up hanging out with black erzatz “O.G.s,” made a best friend (platonic, but absolutely BEST) out of a wonderul, loving Latino girl. Both in their 20s. Both in the “senior” “year’ (or status, really . . . they all spend like 7 years or more trying to get the hell out of a place with no classes, no room, no heart . . . ) And the second to the last regular Monday, the girl discovers a severe illness: broke out in a bloom of bruises all over her body. Was admitted immediately, even though they had no health insurance for her: NONE. They diagnosed it “Leukemia.” (Sounded a lot more like Leucopenia to me, but let’s not go there presently, becausse that’s a damn serious thing to charge since she was given unwanted scripts from DSS for seven years. . . like I said, too many powerful feathers to ruffle there, but these are the DEAD SERIOUS issues young people face today: and the adults simply just don’t seem to even want to know about such things: like how these kids suffer mercilessly from those scripts, how they yearn for sleep, but cannot . . . and so much more and more and more . . . kids are made to suffer, and the adults stay with the status quo and “not give a damn.”) Anyway, on the very last day of class, which was my absolute BEST and most joyful, this wonderful exemplar of humanity, died. I was lied to, to get me into class that night. They said “life support” — and I was like, ok, but she’ll be ok, right????? No real answers. But I had already bought a GIANT card: almost 4 feet tall, and about 2.75 feet wide, for the whole class to sign. By the time they got the card in their hands, before they’d lifed a pen to it, she was dead. Her friends spoke to me, and asked for my home number. They called and asked if I could spread the word of the time and place of her funeral, which I did. Right in front of the secretary, and the “two chairs,” one of whom did come, but the other was PISSED OFF! DURING THE ACTUAL FUNERAL, she was dashing off e-mails insisting that we have “an exam or activity” in the classroom. For her, even death did not take a holiday. (And, no she was NOT Jewish, although our class had a couple of ’em too, not including myself. One was a GEN_U_INE OKIE!!!!!! Or the direct granddaughter of one, from the actual dustbowl migration. Blew my mind, but she had a wonderful and odd story to tell about her family. And no, they weren’t “reds” in either sense. Nobody who ended up in Lakewood ever was, I do believe. You gotta know Lakewood, and it’s poorer cousin, Stanton – that has more trailer dealers than any place I have ever seen in my life, and I have seen plenty: we almost bought a “double-wide” when I was barely 13, but we slipped the noose. Being a child, I had no idea how humiliated my father must have felt at the time, and none of what got us to that point was his fault! But, no matter, there we were, talking to a salesman. I had no idea, and it still kills me deep inside, how much that sojourn must have killed my father, who, ALL his life, worked “from kin t’ cain’t” and then ended up in no man’s land, until somehow, the winds kicked up, and we landed in Atlanta, GA.)
    In any case, my point was that, at one time, it may have seemed like “race” among those who liked to think of themselves as white, instead of “passing, ” which is what we are, that race meant a lot to the generations up to the Vietnam geration, but today, the battlefield is really, REALLY generational. I figure that when I really have troublel understanding someone’s point of view, I now chalk it up to a gereraional “wall.” And you cannot see through this one. Those of us too young to have actually experiences the sixties (for real, not as little, bitty kids) can be expected to even see the huge, gaping, gulf between the generations. I have NOTHING in common, generaltionally (among other things, but let’s let that go) with someone Bill Clinton’s or Greil Marcus’s age. There is NO common ground at all. Because my particular little generation could only look back at the sixties (and fifties, and beyond), well, that’s what we did. How would you like to grow up with John Denver, and Kansas, and Air Supply as the soundtrack of YOUR youth?!???????!!!!!?????? I mean, c’mom! It was horrendous. “Afternoon Delight” Finding something worthwhile in Karen Carpenter’s voice (instead of just her life)? The Captain and Tenille???????!???!!!!???? BARRY MANILOW!!!! Oh, good gawd!! The hall of shame list just goes on!!!!! And that was the music of the age until Punk and Disco truly emerged, and one was creepy and spiteful and had no poetry or beauty or SOUL to it, and the other foundered under both the hatred of people like Marcus (hell, ask him; he HATED IT!), and under the weight of its own cliches. We waited desperately for the ’80s, and while not very disappointed (although that’s a whole other story), and sometimes very pumped, well, it was still slim pickings. Basically, especially in the ’70s, we had little or nothing. A little Marvin, a little J-5 (but so young, they got bubble-gummmed to death), a bit of Stevie (and only a sliver of his work ever had any value), and that’s just about it!
    Just try to imagine being a kid/adolescent from that time!! And trying to forge a point of view, a culture, a politics, out of THAT?? Maybe, then, you’ll know why Mystery Train was such “big deal.” Because, sad to say, it was the ONLY deal. We all listened to 10-year-old records (or maybe 5, if we were lucky), and just like older kids – the ones “from the sixites (it was a PLACE to us, not a time . . . try to imagine THAT!) – had fun with the lyrics “you see, I’m on a losing streak” and we would giggle and say “he got away, in the mid sixties, with saying a girl was on her period!” And we’d cover our mouths and giggle some more. But it was not OUR culture; it belonged to other people who came of age in way more interesting times. We drifted like those people on psudo-rafts after the Titanic went down.
    But some of us actually saw the lie in people like Marcus because we were paying attention (I confronted him LIVE once: I told him a story in the news at the time, and said that if the woman had actually DONE THE RIGHT THING, no one would know of her extraordinary act of courage, and YOU certainly never would have been able, or even wished to be able to write about it in your book (Lipstick, of course, which was about these supposed “courageous” acts that really meant nothing to nobody. I was’n’t about saving lives or souls, it wasn’t about “free speech” in its real sense anymore; actually, all this SI crap was about NOTHING. I told him that the REAL courage happens silently and without fanfare, and that I cannot imagine anyone who would write stuff about the SI, would even care.
    Ever see Dylan’s interviews AFTER the “What Is This Shit?” draw play? He absolutely despises all the critics, and I am sure he’s glad they mean nothing today. Because after getting caught like a fish, and then feeling the “whom” of the fish beng pounded to death, he had said a damn pleasant farewell to the whole damn bunch of them. Can you imagine Marcus’s sheer gall (chutzpah is actually a mixture of admiration and affection, so it does NOT apply) when interviewing the director of I’m Not There (the weird multi-actor’ed biopic out now), and tossing the word “queer” around 1) as though he had a right (hell, I don’t think ANYBODY should validate any slurs, ever . . . but that’s my own humble opinion) as a straight man to even use it, and 2) to use it to refer to a teenager literall 1000 miles from home, in a huge city that boggled his mind, and through precious little change into his guitar case OR basket. Scaduto said that people, during the first few week, gave him a place and food about, oh, half the time, and I thought: WAIT a MINUTE: people have to eat eVERY DAY! And more than once, at that! Sheesh, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out why the kid HATED “ball men in ties”: these were the middle-class, middle-aged stockbrokers and all whatnot who’d go trolling for “chicken,” while telling their wives they were “working late.” They act like the kid was ahead of his time: that it was a “cool” thing to do! And this from a freakin’ RICH KID from the Bay Area who had NO IDEA what the hell that kid went through at ALL. He’s got a lotta nerve.
    Sure, Dylan did rotten stuff as an adult, but he also, remember “worked at out play.” We owe him nothing, course, but he owes US nothing, either. And the same goes for all the others.
    As for trying to tie this to whatever brand of global geo-politics you subscribe, well, I don’t see the point. You want REAL plantation owners in the music business? Then check out “the suits.” This of how many artists, HUGE Stars, and little bits of stardust, who they’ve cruelly destroyed. Everybody laughed in 2002 when a certain pop/r&B star said what you were NEVER supposed to say aloud; “Maria Carey was a victim,” — he meant of Mottola’s casting couch. But people told me this a LONG, LONG time ago. You just weren’t supposed to ever say it. Sony fired that guy’s ass because, damn, they undoudtedly did a little investigation of their own, and well, hell! What else COULD they do?
    The stories, as they pile up, get a lot worse. But worst to me is the rank coldness of the one-time “critic” intimating that Dylan was pulling some kind of “art project” out of trying to get enough bucks together to eat for the day! Yes, often, the women would want to take him in, but he WAS undernourished, and he WAS getting nothing in the damn basket or his street singing, and hell, it got around that he was a pain in the ass, and he had sticky fingers and took things, and he stank and had green teeth, and . . . well, you can imagine that after a few encounters with strangers, until h met Suze, he did the only thing that was a sure thing. Gosh, look at him then! He looked no older that 13 or 14 years old!! He knew what he could do, and what he sometimes had to do to make enough to survive and still keep singing and learning. It was no freakin’ art project, or however they see it! ‘Cause now THEY are the old, fat bald guys in suits (or sort of), and simply cannot see it through the eyes of kid who would not go back to a home he realized he never had – maybe stop off there briefly – but never to return, who was never a “real” criminal (and Joan Baez knew that and KNOWS that, even today, as she speaks with an amazing warmth, some confusion as to what went on his mind, but absolutely NO bitterness. And I have heard women so bitter they’d bit a guys head off if they could. And understandably so! But most of the ones he loved so dearly, really loved, speak with warmth. They come from an emotional place that Greil Marcus has never even visisted in his charmed life.)

    Ah, enough.

  20. R M Says:

    There’s still more to the Red Wing story. See, we do not know the dates, and without them, cannot know how long it was, what he did, how caught, and a lot of other details.
    Which matter because they help you understand how someone could be SO pissed off that he declared his parents DEAD. Or that, as he said “that I was born to the wrong parents or something.” I watched that over the holidays with my dad, who was absolutely flabbergasted (and he’s heard A LOT over the years). It like shook him to the core; he said he NEVER heard anyone EVER say something like that before. And he hung around a lot of bad kids in the bad old days. And, my specialty being what it has been, he’s heard a lot of interviews of this kind, and this was . . . different.
    I mean, I didn’t find it all THAT chilling, because I already knew, but when you see someone else, way older than you, get blown away by something like that, it hits you hard.
    See, when my cousin was a teen, his father wouldn’t let him have a motorcycle. So, my cousin said he’d buy it himself, pay for everything, move away, whatever . . . so my uncle said, with finality, “I’ll break it.” And he meant it, too.
    That’s the sort of thing my dad can understand – at its best – but he’s seen people at their worst: beating up old ladies when they had no where to go, bashing their kids on the back of the head . . . oh and lots more.
    But this remark just TOOK THE CAKE. To him, no matter what, it seemed unimaginable.
    Like I said, this was old news to me. But once I found someone who saw RIGHT THROUGH his mother’s nonesense as I did, I figured, here a person who has working bullshit meter. And I hate hypocrisy. And having worked with older adolescents for so long, I knew SOMETHING awful had happened, but I did not think it was “the usual.” And it wasn’t.
    There was “a killn’ done” “out on Highway 61.” And once I looked at for what it was, many of the puzzle pieces begain to fit together, to make some sense. Not all of them, by no means, but some.
    I am amazed, that even though Echo and that other kid (Buckely was his name?) seemed to have worked to get their stories lined up straight, they start falling apart. Memories and feelings get in the way.
    Like “gravel” generally doesn’t go right up to porch: usually it’s there for cars and the like. Near the house would be dirt, maybe some grass, weeds, and if her dad “heard something,” he would have had to have heard LEAVES, not “gravel.” Shoot, I lived on a gravel road in the early ’90s. But it had its place. And the walks were not one of them!! Who was gonna pay to keep replacing it? Think about that? Roads were gravel, but not much more. Why does logic fly out the window for some of these so-called biographers?
    LEAVES means autum, and she remembers following him around his musical jaunts IN THE SUMMER. And then claims she felt “alone” that summer. Bullcrap, I say, or at least partly. She was lonely for a long time, but it was not in the summer, and she did not return that bracelet or whatever it was until forced, and forced to do so IN PUBLIC. It had to be known, IN SCHOOL, that she had nothing more to do with him. And the other kid just dispears out of his life, too, because Bobby was “bad news.” Every high school has such kids. So alone, and so yearning to be “respected” that they’d damn near get their girlfriend in trouble (especially if she thought it was fun, too), so they could be “admired” for their derring-do. Except that it didn’t work out that way at all. He was thrown into a kiddie prison (many of which can be as bad or worse than the men’s variety), and then on his return, everyone deserted him. He lost everything. His “bride” (they gleefully discussed not only marriage, but the name of the baby!), a friend, an honor, all respect, including, most of all, that of his own parents who found him to be “defiled” and cast “East of Eden.” (Something to which he could well relate.)
    He started drinking right then. That much is clear. Pretty heavily if it is still remembered. And that got much worse. And once he “made it,” nothing really changed. (And, hey there kids: it never really does!) Song after song about death. Interviews dominated by talk of suicide.
    Well, there are some things we will not know, but the more we put this back together, the better equipped we’ll be when that next young genius, whoever they might be, does eventually come along. The warning lights will blaze, and maybe somehow, things will be better?
    For now, the story is not finished.
    P.S. — For the moment, I’m sticking with my gut: “Spanish Boots of Spanish Leather.” The girl asks if there’s anything at all she can give him as he leaves. Nope. Nothin.’ Then, near the end, he tells her she already KNOWS what he wants: “Spanish Boots of Spanish Leather.” It’s a rough enough song to make that Spanish teacher, even now, but expecially then, literally ‘quake in his boots.’ Just a title, and “bam!” ending.

    Can you think of something else that might work out in this fashion?
    Robin (it is ALWAYS, all in the songs)

  21. R M Says:

    Oh, just ’cause you asked, why would ANY head of state want honor both Greil Marcus and David Lynch?
    Oh, man . . . I spent YEARS with “hot air blowers” getting my Ph.D. . . . I never fit in because I had no “legacy”: my father never graduated high school, nor his brothers, no his parents . . . my mom made it to graduation, I think, but was then forced to work and abandon an art scholarship. So, there I am, in fancy pants “Manhattan” (and believe me, there are New Yorkers, and then there are “Mahattanites!”: I knew a family of a mother and a daughter, last name “Wakely” who were REAL Manhatannites: the mom would flounce in wearing some dead animal skin on her shoulders: always white fur, and the daughter, oh Lordy!, one time she accidentally bumped into ME, and she fell down crying and screaming that I had knocked her down . . . it was horrble. They all fussed over her “oh, you poor thing . . .” And I was left on the side, 10 years old, and treated like some rotten criminal for even touching the dear one.
    So, as I said, there I am, in New York Town, just in from ‘Bama, and I did not belong with these people. Lynch was the Big Deal then. Super Cool. Intellectual. Smart. You get the picture.
    And Marcus, who IS a rich kid who went to Berkeley, is also Super Cool, Intellectual, Smart!
    You think they’re gonna give some fancy award to Dolly Parton? Or maybe, a truly smart dude, who is Jewish, Kinky Friedman!!! Hahahahahaha. NO WAY, MAN. No Way.
    People think that if you surround yourself with the really cool people, you’ll be cool yourself. It’s a self-esteem trip. And a bad one. Because the very guys they think are hot s–t are nothin’ at all. And they’ve been kiddin’ themselves’ all along. I LIVED this, remember. Everybody blowin’ hot air, using 10,000 words that mean nothing at all, except to tell some people that they are NOTHING, all of that is based on people who want to be oh so cool and intellectual and smart. Remember, some of these dude grew up on this stuff!! I was a kid when I first read Mystery Train.
    I was so much older then; I’m younger than that now.

  22. R M Says:

    Confession time: Sorry for my messy posts. Still have a fever. Your Dylan post about Echo was very, very moving. Just cut right through to the core.

    By the way, I told a night DJ on the phone (we talked A LOT) that “He Stopped Loving Her Today” was going to be a GIANT number 1 hit. And FAST. Didn’t explain, but I knew why.

    Soon enough, it was. He was kinda flabbergasted, because he played it once, the first day out, and I predicted it. “HOW??” he demanded? I kinda rolled my eyes at that one. I asked him: “this IS the south, isn’t it?” He agreed. And just a little while ago, the biggest musical hero the south had ever or EVER WILL (likely) produced, died, still “mourning” getting dumped by his wife, right? And he admitted, “well, yeah . . .” “But how did YOU know??” he wanted to know. How did I know how a million or so many people were going to hear that? BECAUSE WHEN I HEARD THE SONG, THE FIRST TIME, I HEARD THAT. And nothing else. I heard nothing else. It was too near, too close. People talked about it, argued about it . . . (“don’t you think it’s Priscilla’s FAULT?” . . .) all the time. I KNEW WHAT THEY WERE THINKING, ‘CAUSE I WAS THINKING IT, and I could see that white hearse, and I sorta knew George Jones did, too. So I knew the record would go flying up the charts to number 1. And it did.
    The DJ said he’d rather have me as his program director. I said that I’d rather do that than be in school, but life is tough all over.
    True fact. We used to talk all night. Long into the west Alabama night. I loved it. I’d go to sleep when the Southern Belles got those hair dryers blowing, and at 7 am, would hop into my old jeans, etc., and go to my 8 o’clock class, and come back to eat the best southern breakfast you can even imagine, cooked to order (!), and then sleep for a few hours with the phone buried under towels in my desk, so as not to be annoyed by anyone. Then I go to a couple more classes, and check out football practice. At night, my boyfriend and a friend might go to a “coffeehouse” at the student union to torture some doofus singing “Feelings.” We’d be the Pips, or whatever. I only got “drunk” on co-cola!
    I trade my life now for those days.

  23. reprindle Says:

    And there’s no use in tryin’
    To deal with the dyin’
    But I cannot explain that in lines.

    RM. I’m a History major and you’re a Sociology major. Individuals mean something in Sociology, in History they don’t.

    You think people have to eat everyday, they don’t. Not necessary at all. In my life I have often not eaten for a day or even several. When I was in the Orphanage meal times were so unpleasant that if I didn’t skip them I was unable to eat much. I’m sure it cost four inches in height.

    In the Navy the food was so rotten that I ate very little. For months I had a couple pieces of bread, butter and mustard until the mustard made me sick. As rotten as I thought the food was there were White guys from the South who thought it was the best they’d ever eaten. Poor bastards.

    I seldom ate when I was on the road. I once hitchhiked crosscountry without eating for six days. The only fluids I had were four 7 oz. bottles of Coke I slugged on the fifth day. I’m not bragging, I didn’t even realized I’d done it until I began to write novels of the period. The more I delve into it the more I blow my mind. I can’t believe I did those things.

    I consider these things normal nonetheless. If Dylan didn’t eat everyday it kept him slim and trim. In none of his pictures is he emaciated. I wasn’t emaciated either.

    On that trip across country I didn’t sleep for the six days. True, by the time I reached my destination I was ready to lay down and die but I recovered the next day. It was nothing. A lot of things cause me pain but I cherish the memory of that trip. If you read about it you might think- the Horror. Yes. There were scary moments. I’m actually lucky to be here but I was young and dumb. I survived and the memory exists as high adventure. There I was in wildest America and it was plenty wild.

    After I got out of the Navy living in the Bay Area life had its moments not dissimilar to Dylan’s. I wasn’t immediately rewarded with millions like he was but such is life. There’s absolutely no justice at all. He wrote his songs and I didn’t write mine.

    Don’t think I was any more popular than Dylan was either. People didn’t exactly smile when they saw me bopping up. I’ve always had my probems but then I endured their nonsense too.

    But what’s that got to do with fixtures and forces, or in other words, History? Nothing. You say you are a Jew but you don’t share the Jewish outlook. Then why be a Jew. I stopped sharing the Christian outlook and I stopped being a ‘Christian.’ The Jewish and Christian porgrams continue unabated without us. Next year in Jerusalem, right? Not free to desist and other poppycock. Gotcha. So you and I dont count unless we’ve got ‘our queer shoulder to the wheel’ as Allen Ginsberg so charmingly put it. Allen really did have his queer shoulder to the wheel too, moving things right along on the road to Jerusalem.

    All this bullroar about ‘anti-Semitism’ is mere religious rhetoric too. Who can take it seriously? Fixtures and forces. Goals and ambitions. Reds, Liberals whatever. Marcus at least has some grip on the notion of fixtures and forces in Lipstick Traces. He never makes himself clear but as a Jew he has his queer shoulder to the wheel too moving the car toward Jerusalem. That’s why he got the Sarkozy award.

    The fun thing is we’re all good people until they fire up Auschwitz again and you can be sure they will. Not the Germans this time; Nazis still, but not the Germans.

    I’ve heard you say many times
    That you’re better’n no one
    And no one is better’n you.
    If you really believe that,
    You know that you got
    Nothing to win and nothing to lose.
    From fixtures and forces and friends,
    Your sorrow does stem,
    That hype you and type you
    Making you feel
    That you must be exactly like them.

    So, I mean, keep your head up with a clear mind. Don’t be hurried and don’t be pushed.

    The past has to be dealth with psychoanalytically but in the end the past is the past and can’t jurt you unless you let it. Like Bob is still doing and like I did until I integrated my personality. Nobody is ever free from the past but you can control it rather then letting it control you.

    If you can get a copy of Emile Coue’s short book My Method read it and get back to me. Maybe I can show you a few exits, maybe not. Won’t be a real quick fix though. Takes a little time but there might be relief along the way.

  24. R M Says:

    Intriguing . . . first all, you’re correct: people do not “have” to eat everyday, but it is certainly a VERY motivating factor. I guess it’s because of the weird situation in which I found myself when I was 12. I returned to school I had left when I was ten (my dad went down to Fla. the first go-’round), and I returned to this school when I was 12. Because we were moving from one county to another, I stayed in the dorms, but it was not the joyful childhood adventure it had once been. Desisto hurtled further and further into madness. It seemed to me that it was only a matter of time ’till he’d leave. (I didn’t know until recently that the school would be crushed to ashes when he left to create his own “school-lockdowns” so popular in the ’80s, and for which he had used us as an experiment. Anyway, in October, I caught the flu — not a real bad one, I guess, but under the circumstances, well, things got bad. I couldn’t go to school — too sick for that, and my folks were moving. The didn’t feed me. Well, now and then, but basically, I was 12 years old, and they didn’t feed me. Both DeSisto and his sister (she ran the girls’ dorm . . . and some bad stuff was going down that I’d rather not put on the ‘net . . . in any case THAT didn’t involve me, thank God — but the two of them were nutso, that’s all I’ll say) both of them enjoyed trapping kids, “locking them down” and keeping them from their parents. My parents would call and say I was “fine.” And I would beg her to let me go to the pay phone, but she said NO. I was out of contact and getting more and more afraid. One night, they completely forgot about me, and then Desisto comes by my room and says “oh! Yeah, uh, we’ll pick you some Wetson’s (burgers) and cokes after the soccer game.” Sure enough, they forgot that too. I had reached a point of actual hunger, the kind that literally “burns” inside a child . . . it actually does. Soon I was out of bed, and they took us Trick or Treating, and woudn’t you know it? My parents had stopped by! But I missed them! I was able to eat again, but once you’ve been actually starved (while ill, no less), you kind of lose your normal appetite, plus I didn’t know if I’d ever find a way out of this place. My folks were deep in their moving, and I couldn’t find enough dimes to call them. They were busy, thought I was happy and did not call. (There were no “cell phones” then, except on Star Trek rerums [thanks, Gene! Finally!]) Then one night, Desisto announced to the cafeteria that my dad was waiting for me right outside. So I eat real quick, and HE’S NOT THERE! NOT ANYWHERE! I am frantic, and am running all around the entire old campus trying desperately to find him. I remember asking an elderly black custodian, cleaning up the “high school” (it was a large campus, small school — and in those days, private schools usually didn’t cost very much . . . normal ones, anyway — it’s not at all like today, not at all) “did you see a man with glasses??” I begged. “Nope.” “Are you SURE??” “Yeah.” I looked everwhere, and kept running around a dark campus at night, a 12-year-old-girls. It was after 9:30, maybe after 10, when I spotted his car hitting the gravel parking lot (another reason I know that gravel goes where the cars are), and I was in a terrible sweat. I HONESTLY THOUGHT MY OWN PARENTS HAD FORGOTTEN ALL ABOUT ME!! I know you were in an orphanage (so was my mom: from infancy to 6 years, when here mom came and got her . . . within 2 years, she put her to work, and not kid’s work either: she’s the only so-called grandparent I remember, ’cause I met her once: it was my birthday and she brought me no present, did not hug me, even when my parents sent me over to hug her, which I tried to do, and spoke not a single word to me). But for some people, Bobby Zimmerman is just one example: I could tell you more, and much worse from other kids: you cannot imagine what kids go through. So do necessarily pine for having no parents; my mom had “one” parent, and it was the worst thing that could have happened to her. Her eldest sister told her not to be angry or upset at her father, that her mother made it very clear that if he came around, she would kill him! My mom says her sister was damn serious. But there’s always got to be a yearning. A terrible, gaping hole in one’s life, either way. I got lucky, for a long time . . . this summer my mom got real sick, and she still is. She would undoutedly be getting better by now, but the insurance companies, I swear to God Almighty, they’re trying to kill her!! I am not bull-s—-ing you! You cannot imagine what it is like. The cruelty and coldness of people. My mom’s birthday is Christmas Day, which has always been especially special to me. Last July, the doc instisted she most likely wouldn’t make it, even through the night, or maybe for just a few days. I said, “Christmas is her birthday.” I was in unimaginable sorrow and terror, screaming at her “c’mon mom!!!!” He shrugged and muttered “such emotionality.” His retort? “So what if it was tommorow?” Finally, I begged him to give me the odds of her making it to this passed Christmas. He said “one in a million.” Well, Christmas came and went,” and she’s still hanging in there, not getting better miraculously quickly, but hanging in there, and slowly making progress in various areas. The new neuro we got doesn’t really think it’s a “stroke” at all! He thinks it’s the culmination of two bad head injuries in recent years: once, when she fell on marble, running for the UPS guy, and another when she pulled on door (what do they call those things that men put their clothes in? The tall ones? I forget.) She didn’t realize it was already open; we rushed up the step at the noise, and my dad said he could swear she had “gone out” for a bit. The neuro believes that some sort of damage was done, both times, and that it built up. He said that she sould have been given dopamine immediately, no matter what it was. He told us that it was difinetely not too late. But every day, I live in a sort of suspended state between terror and total aloneness. I would go through this for her, if I cold, and I mean it. We talked about this “directive” they keep shoving at us, and we keep telling them that we had discussed it, and that she wants everything that can be done, to BE done. As do I, and my dad. That’s just the way we are. I know other people do what is expected of them, but as I said, my little family has always been different. (One time my uncle was shocked that my dad had a year’s pass to Disneyland [when those were affordable], and even hinted that he’d help him with the dues to a country club. This time my dad wanted to barf. He tried to explain how Disneyland made him forget his toubles of the everyday, and he just loved it, but my uncle couldn’t understand. [Yes, there are Jewish country clubs, and they generally admit all: catholics, black people, Latinos, etc., but who the hell would want to go to one of ’em?????] Anyway, he was always different, and always will be different. And I was raised to be different, and to fight for my dreams.
    But on that night when I was 12, I felt as though I had been totally forgotten. That I was just extremely low on anyone’s priority list. Maybe it was the slow recovery from starvation (they literally, over two weeks, slowly, but surely starved me, until I just wan’t eating anything at all — it’s amazing I got back up all; I was only just 12, and also had the flu – it would have been a minor one if they hadn’t deliberately starved me! Desisto’s sistero seemed to enjoy torturing kids, one way or another [12 was too young for her . . . I will stop, or be sued, so I will stop, but I know what I saw, and what my mother saw once, and, that’s enough]. That night, my dad drove me home [I have never been able to remember the ride home, just the darkness of the road, and then it’s a blank until I entered the door of the house they’d moved into – rented due to future “plans,” of course]. When I came on, my mom’s eyes just got HUGE as she eye’d me up and down. HAVEN’T THEY BEEN FEEDING YOU?!?! And I told her, “actually, not really.” She tried to make me something, but I had sort of lost my hunger . . . that happens, especially with children. So she made some soup and some Cream of Wheat. And remember, I no longer had the flu! I was just in some stage or other of pediatric starvation.
    Interesting that you noticed that Dylan, or Dillon, or whatever the hell he was calling himself was NOT emaciated. Well, that was my point. He DID eat. It was just “how” he did it that’s at issue. He was used to a home where he was told “eat, eat.” You know the type, I guess. And when one is hungry, perhaps for the first real time, they FEEL it much more than if they had been starved for a while. And so it’s still a powerful motivator. I’d bet he got however much money he could and ate as much as he could, when he could. In any case, this kid was NOT used to genuine hunger, and didn’t like it one bit. I guess maybe he loved Suze, but, really, she and family were more like a meal ticket. And she probably knows this by now, and having seen a recent interview, she seems to harbor absolutely no bitterness. Sara did not speak, nor did Echo (’cause she might slip and say something that she had trained herself never to say — may not even have known he wrote several songs about it, including one that’s clear as a bell, or two actully), but as for most of the others, they speak with kindness, warmth, and even some understanding. Baez, in interviews I’ve seen, and in print interviews, keeps no malice for him. In fact, there’s one song, “Farewell Angelina” that she had called “a stream of unconsciousness.” “The Sky is Embarrassed.” in one line that just doesn’t leave you. EVER. But she’s mystified because while she may know WHAT happened, there’s no way she could know how he felt, “20 miles out of town and cold irons bound.” It seems clear to me, but she just could make that leap back to a teenager’s terror playing second fiddle to “embarassment.” I figure you gotta listen to these songs through the eyes of a high school kid. And those are very different eyes. Kids that age have no past they care about, or future. Only a ever-present present. For teens, NOW is all that exists. And for those who are given “short, sharp, shocks” (called “trauma,” in the trade) that last the rest of their lives. There’s a part of him that will ALWAYS be 17. (And after seeing the bloated, unrecognizable form of Jerry Lee Lewis on the Grammys last night, I can see how a rotten youth can turn a man into misshapen zombie during what should be the late autumn of his life (with Tony Bennett looking pretty good!). I swear, I was so shocked at his appearance that I damn near screamed on realizing it was him! Enough to make a tee-totaller start drinking! It was certain a shock, I’ll tell you that. I always felt that if Elvis had survived the horror of seventies, that he’d dry out, see a shrink about his other problems, and would be looking as good or better than Dick Van Dyke (who is more than ten years older! Or thereabouts.) Or that’s what I assumed. But there he was: “Last Man Standing.” And it was HORRIBLE! But Jerry never stopped the dope and all what-not. It was only a decade or so ago (if that) that Dr. Nick finally lost his liscence, forever. So, after seeing that, left, right, up, down, port, stern . . . nothing makes sense at all anymore. But I will try, anyway.
    About sociology, well, what we generally do, if we do it right, is to look at both individuals and groups, and figure out how one influences the other. Yeah, there are the dogmatists “Next Year in Jerusalem” as if all the water that has gone under the bridge just doesn’t matter. That’s selfishness, and foolishness. I know people like that quite well, and just avoid the subject because it’s pointless. I only discuss it with people who I feel have maintain open minds: ABOUT EVERYTHING. Those with closed minds – well, why waste one’s breath. It a long, difficult story, too much for this venue (and I’d rather not tackle on my web site since there’s too much in the world that needs tacklin’). But, music, my dear sweet, music, MUSIC will tell us everything we every need to know about anyone or anything. And that’s one of the reasons I didn’t audibly complain about my one Dylan concert with the “Slow Train ONLY” stuff, after I’d struggled so to get over there to see him. Because I knew that this dude is NOT PLAYING A GAME. He’s serious about this, so his mind must have a whole war going on inside of it. I knew he would not want my pity, but I also figured that he looked like he needed someone to really talk to who DIDN’T have one or another axe to grind. And they were nowhere. I got the feeling, and I know the feeling (I am an only child, so I know the feeling quite well), that he was brutally lonesome, and reaching out to whatever seemed available, whatever seemed REAL. He may have been wrong, we’ll find out, won’t we? But he needed a genuine, sincere life preserver thrown his way, but the music business being what it has always been, couldn’t give a rip. And no, I was not a “sociology major.” In college, I took only two courses in that, and got “C”s in both (very rare, but I got the same teacher: he happened to be blind, but handicaps do not automatically confer nobility, I’ll put it that way). But something happened on my way to “Newsday.” 1) My parents insisted I get an M.A. (back in the ’80s, it was a fraction of what it costs now, so they could do that and not laugh), and I had to pick one, so I wanted to know one thing, and ONLY one thing: why did all those people die in the FIRST MGM Grand’s gigantic fire, when it would have cost only $50,000 to pay for a sprinkler system in a multi-million dollar project? I could comprehend Mark David Chapman’s madness, because it WAS madness, but this I could not comprehend. I need a sugject area that could explain to me ANYONE could ever committ an act of serious ommission like that. I would ask my teachers, and they would come back with circular reasoning “because that’s the kind of sociey we live in.” Yeah, yeah, but WHY? Why do we live in it? How could we? I later read Max Weber’s the Protestant Ethic . . . which explains predistination and how profit was not made to ENJOY; instead, it was created because it was necessary to those who believed that if they failed in commerce, they would burn in hell. It would be a “sign” that they were not among the elect, and so life had no more meaning for them. But that was a long time ago, and few believe in predestination now . . . so? Well, Weber reasoned, quite clearly I think, that once a cultual value with the power of a “moré” is loose in the world, or rather, a specific world such as America, the genie cannot be stuffed back into the bottle. In other words: those who nixed the sprinkler system, causing the deaths of so many, simply did as they thought was expected of them. When I finally discovered that, I did a number of things: 1) Do not label people, especially myself, 2) Do not “write people off” because you might disagree, or you do not care for the lingo they use, and 3) HAVE NOTHING WHATEVER TO DO WITH ORGANIZED RELIGION FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE
    Now, recall I said “organized.” As I have travelled down the bumpy roads of life, some VERY bumpy, some blowouts, some spinning out on ice after being slammed . . ., etc., I had no choice but to believe in . . . a notion of God that has to be the very best in all of us who call our selves human. It is important to be gererous, and gentle, and understanding even when sense tells you to look away, and if some one wants your forgiveness, by God, you give it them. And live a decent life, so that when this brief “gaze upon the chimes of freedom flashing” is over and done, and I can look back and say the only thing I truly regret is not taking better care of my teeth. (An oldie but a goodie). Seriously, when my times comes, or I can hear the rumbling on the tracks I want to be able to say what I heard Martin Luther King, Jr. “say” on tape at his OWN funeral (really freaked me out as a little kid; we watched it live: had to go find a television somwhere, but we watched it, transfixed at the dead man talking), “don’t tell ’em about (his awards, etc.), tell them that [I] tried to . . . help somebody.” And that’s all you needed to know for the rest of your life, I figured. At that moment, all the stuff I was learning in school just didn’t seem to matter anymore. What mattered was that you tried to life you could “live with.” That you had a real purpose and tried, and never quit trying to fulfull it. Us little kids that day, when they sat us down on the floor in front of that TV, will, I think, never quite be the same again. Like “Oh, Holy NIght” (possibly my favorite Christmas song, along with “Silent NIght”), at that moment “the soul felt its worth.” And that’s all there was to it. Remeber, in everything you do and say, remember to make sure that your “sould felt it’s worth.” You cannot go wrong if you do that. You just canot.

    That’s it for tonight as I still am fighting the aftermath of
    this nasty flu (much worse than the one when I was 12!),
    So, g’night my friend,

  25. R M Says:

    ONE MAJOR TYPO: it’s “the soul felt its worth.” Messes up the meaning. And I always seem to misspell remember. If I had a nickel for every time . . . well, I would it to good use.


  26. R M Says:

    Aw, gee, I forgot. Being Jewish has two distinct meanings: one racial (and any group that exchanges genes often, IS a race . . . there are no human subspecies . . . and I know “exchange genes often” really means f— often,” I am used to the “nice” way of putting it. The second meaning is religious. And as I said, I do not subscribe to ANY organized faither of any kind. I just check to see if “my soul felt its worth.” And that’s all i need.
    Hey, as for religion, have you read “Jesus as Mother.” A fairly compelling hypothesis, especially since I come from the south. Yankees ) including out here in Cali, so not comphrehend the southern type of belief system. You see, in most of the country (world, maybe), God, or Jesus, or Whomever is a very distant sort of being. Not down south. In the south, it’s very, very, very personal. Jesus will “carry you.” He’ll hold you in your most tormented times, he’ll dry your tears, never abandon you, be right by your side, arm-in-arm . . . I could go on. They call it a “personal relationship.” And unless you’ve spent time there while growing up, it’s very difficult for others to completely understand what southerners just take for granted.
    I wish I could convey it better, ’cause no book does it justice: you have to go to church down there, and have heart-to-heart talks, and more. It’s the air you breathe, almost in the food you eat, prepared with such lovingness. I’m glad I spent almost half my growing up in the deep south, because it is so often misunderstood, especically from the ’70s onward. I don’t mean they gave up their lowdown ways (another time), but if I could only convey the love and concern I experienced. I almost cannot be put into words.

  27. reprindle Says:

    I see that Suze Rotolo is going to give a somewhat caustic appraisal of His Bobship in her autobiography. Hard to get more than a flavor from what I read but she apparently found him a poseur. Couldn’t exactly read the attitude from the cover of Freewheelin’ but that’s how she’s quoted.

    R.M.: His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.
    Consider the lilies of the field, they spin not neither do they weave…
    The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not wont.
    The Lord helps those who help themselves. Etc., Etc.

    I have always been sustained by sentiments like these and kept of good courage and cheer no matter how dour my expression. You don’t have to be from Dixie.

    However a careful reading of the scriptures will indicate de good lawd created three human species that he imparted to the Hebrew brethren reserving the other two to his own special knowledge apparently. I guess the ancient Hebrews didn’t have a need to know. The Bible , or God, as it were, then goes on to designate several races within the Semitic species. Yes sir, it’s right there in the Good Book.

    I will give joy to the Bible Thumpers when I say it seems remarkable how the thought of the ancients coincides with modern science.

    I usually have no trouble developing concordances. By ancients, of course, I refer to the Sumerians and Egyptians and their obvious predecessors although there is very strong evidence that in very ancient times before the climate change the Arabian peninsula was much more highly developed than a bunch of mere sheepherders.

    The story on that level has barely been scratched. Very emabarrassing when everything you know turns out to be wrong. I really just learned of the ancient desert cities. Well, not everything was wrong but decidedly incomplete.

    I am a Southerner by sentiment (That’s What I Like About The South) (Phil Harris, another Jew) while having little sympathy for the Negro problem. Obama’s going to bring that to a head in short order. Read his ridiculous Dreams FROM My Father. A father he never knew. That’s the dangerous part.

    Now, here comes the tricky part. One of my favorite songs has always been Are You From Dixie. It expresses the Southern ethos so perfectly. It was written by Jack Yellen. Yellen wrote more significant songs and more of them than his contemporary, Irving Berlin. Like Berlin Yellen was a Jew. Even born in Poland. Didn’t arrive till he was five but he was such a quick study that he was turning out reams of stuff like Dixie.

    Everytime I turn around I find this stuff is written by Jews. They even wrote a batch of those Irish songs we know and love. So in many more subtle ways than we may realize Jews have interpreted the country for the gentiles and shaped their understanding of it while forming their character. Even mocking Americans as Adam Sandler does so effectively.

    So as a Sociologist I think you’ve got a mojor study cut out for you. I offer you this gratis. I don’t have the time although every time I say that I end up moving in that direction.

    Think about it.

  28. R M Says:

    Well, I hope that’s not true about Suze Rotolo, becauses in “No Direction Home” (the documentary), she was totally without bitterness and most supportive. Sometimes publishers hype books that way, and then they don’t turn out to be as advertised. We’ll see, I’d be interested. I remember in Scaduto, her mother called him “hey, twerp.” Scaduto admits that he WAS a twerp, after all, then. (And Dylan himself said that, oddly, he LIKED Scaduto’s book!). I have been wondering about the young Dylan we see from the early New York Town days, and it keeps pecking at me. Despite his obvious manic-depression (which can involve stealing . . . ), he was a bright kid, going way back. And without patience (goes with the territory, I reckon). So, looking at him, so young, looking at that face on even Freewhelin’, I’ll bet he got “skipped” in school, somwhere along the line. I know a lot of kids who got skipped a grade (and I did once too, but in Florida, they put me back where I was “supposed” to be). If that’s the case, and it sure looks like it, then no wonder the Gleason lady said “that child needed a bath.” And “that child this,” and “that child that” and so on. Supposedly he graduated after just turning 18. But what if he had been skipped (and Echo’s memory is that she was older that him! “I was 17 and he was 16,” I believe she said. I’ll check it to be sure, but I am pretty sure. That means that when they met in junior year, she is speaking of there ages in senior year! And that would make him 15 in Jr. year (when he couldn’t dance at the Jr. prom!), and she, properly, 16. And 17 when she through the bracelet back! Next fall.

    I don’t think I made my self too clear about southern religion, because today it’s all warped. But back in the day, in the ’70s, there was a different theology that people accepted without even thinking about it: and this was that Jesus had a PERSONAL relationship with each person. That’s what stayed with me (that and the fluffy eggs. country ham, and buscuits!). I hadn’t seen this anywhere else. It wasn’t “the Bible” at all! Oh, no. The bible can be interpreted however one likes. And preachers and others wave it around like a sledgehammer. That’s not what I was talking about. It was this “personal” thing that struck me. Like if you were at your lowest, there He would be, ready to carry you if you couldn’t quite walk. Like I said, it’s hard to put into words, and crosses dominational barriers. Catholics, Presbyterians, Jews, etc. have a very, kind-of “up-tight” authoritarian type idea of God, in my view. And that’s why I dug this “personal relationship” notion: what I found appealing. Not that I have “converted” or anything; the first “birth” was tought enough! But I hope you can see what I mean. Very maternal in attitude. I guess maybe that’s all gone now. And as for Barack, he’s a jerk. Why would someone want to pull apart a nation for his own selfish desires? But people just either do not “know” this, or they do not wish to know this. Eventually, it will come through. Anyway, there will be at least one old-fashioned convention. I think a “draft” would be cool! Certainly not something I have ever seen, but many in the media know what “Super-Delagates” are, and they KNOW, that in their freedom, they will not go for either one of them. And then, well, then it gets interesting.

    I hope Suze hasn’t gotten her knickers in a twist; after all, it has been a long time. But really, I think Baez was his only true love after Echo. When she sings “Love Minus Zero/No Limit,” she’s singing “him singing to her.” Odd, but true. And she DOES NOT, to my knowledge, sing “Girl from the North Country.” That’s Echo, that’s the girl he seranaded, ladder propped up by her window.
    But think abou this: Echo says he never got ANY spending money from his dad, and that’s why she was the one paying for those hot dogs. And forced him to sweep up even though he didn’t want to, and clearly wasn’t even paid for it. So he buys him A CAR!? Wait a minute! Something’s very wrong here. I doubt at that juncture, that he would buy him a car. The kid was kind of wild, and he was trying to control him. Buying him a car makes no sense. She does not describe it by model, year, or make. (Maybe it was just old, but that’s not the point; he didn’t have the bucks to save for an old car like teens often do.) So Abe would have to buy him one. But it wasn’t like him to do that, so where the hell did this car come from?
    All I am saying is that I believe she was told he was given a car, and she saw it, but I trouble believing that his father would actually do it. But I do believe he had one. So, this is just kind of arithmatic and logic: Dad doesn’t buy you a car, and your girlfriend is blonde and desireble and you want to keep her, so BINGO!, you have a car. But where or how would a kid with NO spending money, and his father forcing him to do work he hated and apparently didn’t even pay him for (heck, he really wanted a damn piano!), where or how would this kid show up with a car that was bought for him? I’m not buying the official story. Because BOOM!, why didn’t he “play at hitchiking” if he really had a car of his own? Why was the trip to New York, and thereabouts, so difficult, and so fraught with hitching? Hey, if want to impress a girl, even briefly, you get yourself a CAR! She remember good times from the summer, so it didn’t end there, as it would if his yearbook signing wasn’t quite what she wanted to hear (and I don’t see that at all “second to NONE”). And he had only a girlfriend and a sort of hanger-on kid (all schools have those). And then, either in very late summer (summer officially ends in September!), something happens. It’s all there in the official version (probably written and sung first with Baez at her place in California, where she learned of things that made her “know too much to argue or to judge.”) That crazy zig-zag song “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” (check out Dylan lyric sites: it’s there, including “I don’t care how many letters they sent(d)” which can only mean ONE thing, and the time of year is spelled out “gate won’t close, railin’s froze – you ain’t goin’ nowhere.” Beaz heard his life pouring out, and like a lot of women, even young ones, they get this maternal feeling, and think they can bind up wounds in young men (boys), and find out that band-aids just won’t cut it and and end up getting hurt themselves because the wound spreads a kind of “virus” (metaphorically), and they feel themselves getting in too deep. I wonder if he started hanging around Sara because Baez really did start to “know too much” and he started to feel like bolting. A lot of bad stuff started happening, even though he was clearly in love (check out the Newport duet from ’64!”), I think it was just too much to handle too soon. I think he was indeed having a “mixed up confusion” (you can see it at Newport ’64, when you young man looks kind of haggard and tired, and sings sort of tired, not to mention on the ’66 tour where he looks stoned out of his skull), and then just losing it! The songs get really weird, way beond “stream of unconsciousness,” and they’re not for “cool factor” at all (not like the Beatles, etc.): they mean business, these songs. His youth starts backing up on him like a bad meal, and perhaps what he called “pure vomit” can be taken quite seriously. You can see it, hear it, the walls are tightening, and then on a summer’s day in ’66, after an argument at Grossman’s house up there in Woodstock, where Grossman is demanding that they do 64 more tour dates of catcalls, booing, heckling, and all the rest of the crap, even the good stuff — right after that argument, he goes to where he’d been storing the bike, and (perhaps know there was something wrong with the brakes, because it WAS in storage!), gets on it, and weirdly, miraculously, one or two women (one of whom may have been Sara, the other a friend, if it was two of them, which I think makes sense since he was lifted by the women and put into the car. They take a long drive to an “on the QT” clinic in NYC to avoid the Zimmermans (who call a writer frantically asking about their son), and he ends up with a serious injury that (as in many, if not most cases) does not result in any kind of permanent paralysis. (Ever seen what they do today? They put people in those new “halo” devices, which keeps the head still until it heals. But they can go anywhere, do what they want . . . having a “broken neck” does not necessarily man the worst. I had an injury last year on my lower back, and there was bone involved, but except for one sore spot, I only spent a about a week in a lot of pain, and that’s all. The neck would be more serious, but if the nerves were never severed, and threre was only swelling, he could wear a hard-shell neck brace and be up and around quite quickly. Spending months in bed would not even be appropriate treatment.) And if you look closely at Scorcece’s documentary, he puts a bizarre, unrelated phot in “Masters of War.” At the end, when he’s yowling about “I’ll watch while you’re lowered . . .” etc., Scorcece, a natural storyteller by trade and talent, smacks a photo of bob on his bike! Almost a sumliminal thing the filmmaker’s trying to do. Almost, except that if you’re into Dylan, you’ll definitely watch it more than once, and think, “damn! Scorcese is making a CLEAR and sure connection between death and the motorcycle accident,” even though he didn’t even come close to death, not in reality, but for the filmmaker, in INTENT. And isn’t that what matters? Dylan’s walls were tightening THEN alright, and when he went looking for the not-so-perfect bike, I think he acted on sheer emotion. Feeling trapped by his “dear Landlord,” he takes the bike from ALBERT’S GARAGE (just in case things went as badly as he may have hoped at that moment), and got on it. For reasons that remain uttlerly unclear, Grossman calls at least one woman, probably Sara, who may have taken a friend along. And they give chase! Just picture it. There were no cell phones then. It was not like Dylan could grab his phone and call her . . . because, of course, he didn’t have one. If he was conscious. There is some substantial debate as to that, though it wouldn’t matter now, since somehow they knew where he was, where he got the bike, and where to find him.
    And I thought of it this way before Scorcese’s film! And damn if there isn’t a picture of Bob on a speeding motorbike right at the end of a brutal song about death. (Not to mention his recent interviews just at that time!) The point was that even after this happened, Grossman was still bitching about the “64 tour dates.” And Dylan seems pissed at this knowledge. Hates the dude’s guts. (Now says he was “a Col. Parker type figure, which is about the worst thing you can say about a manager, of course. But that’s another story . . . a good one too. for another time.)
    All I know is that my take on the real “Motorpsycho Nightmare” is the same as a most noted filmmaker. Maybe we’re both wrong. Or Dylan just has “9 lives” and got lucky. Because I think he had HAD IT by the time their argument ended with Bob going after the bike in Albert’s garage, and Albert’s call to “one or two women” to follow him.
    Vehicles enter this story a lot. And I wonder about that “car” in high school. I wonder what the offense was that got him sent down river?? That might do it. We do not know. But one of these days, a piece of information is going to come sailing through, and we’ll know. We’ll know.

    All the best,
    P.S. — You do know that Sandler’s song is supposed to be a hoot. It’s okay, but I never bought it, or downloaded it, or whatever. I’m just glad I’m one of those kids who were never deprived of Christmas for no reason. And I feel terrible that you grew up in a orphanage and probably never had too many merry Christmases. The people who hurl epithets at you should walk a mile or two in your shoes before they name-call (since I was bullied as a kid, I do not like to see people do that to others when it would be much easier to just LISTEN, and to share. You say you “don’t care” what those people say . . . but I would.” ‘Cause hey, it’s a free country, and you are trying to understand things in a “macro” perspective, and hey, if they call Jimmy Carter an “anti-Semite,” remember, you’re in pretty cool company. He just spoke the truth that you’re not supposed to say in “polite society.” But hell, he’s pushing ’90, and he doesn’t want to leave this world until peace reigns, at least there.
    And what I truly believe you are trying to say is that two many groups tend to “group themselves.” And you mentioned one. And you’d rather a different kind of world. I, too, would rather a world where people didn’t make any big deal about “who” they are (in the sense of race, ethnicity, culture, etc.), but right now, everybody’s divided, and I sometimes wonder if we humans have proved ourselves fit to save for a better day. I hope so, but with recent events, I have my doubts. And I wish I didn’t. Oh, and that was kind cool “I offer you this gratis,” but I’m not doing a Dylan study. Thanks, anyhow. I just want to know about certain things. Like I said, when I was a teen, we didn’t have our own culture, so we borrowed “yours.” You know, the culture of people “from the sixties.” We really had nothing else. So, many more thanks, because when I was a kid, I had no idea those songs meant anything at all. Like he said “it’s just a matter of time.”

  29. reprindle Says:

    Ah ha! Now we’re getting down to it. Bob and his girls. Well, that essentially means Echo. The first verse of You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere is confusing but as I understand it now, today, it sounds as though a guy in prison in the summer is dreaming of the winter when his time is over and he’ll be a free man again. That’s all that I can make of it now.

    Couple that song with Nothing was Delivered. This song may be based on the Cowboy Copas song Signed, Sealed and Delivered (A package containing my heart) which I’m sure Bob knows.

    You’ll notice that Bob does a C&W package. Harry Smith’s collection represents his Hillbilly or Country side while he is now living out his Cowboy or Western fantasy. (Christianity then Judaism, split personality, split by Echo?) There is a certain ilk of us that were attracted to the same songs in those days. Bob’s tastes are of this ilk, paralleling mine so I am sure SS&D was a significant song for him as it is with me.

    Thus Nothing Was Delivered was probably a response to Signed, Sealed and Delivered. Echo got a package containing Bob’s heart while nothing was delviered to Bob. ‘And I tell this truth to you not in spite or in anger but simply ’cause it’s true.’ That line is a midwest cliche, may even have been cribbed from another C&W song. So these two songs can be added to the Echo Constellation. All the Echo songs arranged in sequence will probably tell the whole story or at least a terrific story. Good novel.

    The car and motorcycle stories bother me too. You don’t get your driver’s license until you’re sixteen. If you’re right that Bob turned 17 on 5/23/59 then he had only one year for his motorcycle and car adventure not to mention Bobby Vee. Otherwise give him two or three months to get his license and the car and motorcycle. However RM if you subtract 41 from 59 you get eighteen.

    Bucklen makes it sound like Bob was riding a Harley for Chrissakes and hanging tough. Clashes with his pictures. Bob certainly couldn’t have been doing much riding from, say, October to May so that’s a pretty narrow window. The car story clashes with the general history in which Bob seems to be a pedestrian walking out to Echo’s house in the woods. Haven’t thought about this much though.

    Scorcese may have more or less given Suze a script to follow. The movie and TV people have a way of directing you and not recording if you don’t follow their script. Besides she was in a movie where she would want to be seen at her best. The publishers want just the opposite. ‘Give us something’juicy.” they say. God, ;how I hate that word juicy. May be the most obscene word in the language.

    Besides her family did hustle her off to Italy to get her away from Bob where she wasted no time in finding another boy friend. Couldn’t get together again when she got back. Bob just wasn’t the guy no matter how much he ‘loved’ her. Echo ruined him. After her he was going to punish all women by being unfaithful. ‘Nothing was delivered.’

    Baez has made more than a few caustic remarks about Bob. Baez doesn’t photograph well. My wife and I were in the San Francisco Tiffany store in 1964 once when Baez came in. She was striking, miles ahead of her photographs. Quite a beautiful woman. Made a very positive impression. Wish I’d had my song written and ready to present to her. ‘Joannie listen to this.’

  30. R M Says:

    Yeah, I think the “car” thing is really messed up, and offers an entryway into whatever happened around that time. We really do not KNOW how long he was at Red Wing; it could have been the “two months,” but that is NOT what Bob told Aronowitz. He just said he “did time.” I will take another look at “Nothing Was Delivered.” And the country tune you mentioned, ’cause he was totally into that music then. Both the Opry and the Hayride had very long range antennae at the time, and I’d imagine other radio programs, as well. It was such a different time, that kids today probably could never begin to understand it. But I do. I had a “shortwave” option on a radio of mine duing the seventies to catch prizefights, games, whatever, and it was kind of an adventure in iteself trying to find a station that could tell you more; gosh, on Sundays, you could pull in football games that way – I was a maniacal Jets fan as a teen because of “Broadway Joe” who I had a crush on, and who also taught me a valuable lesson: do not fall victim to hypocrisy, and learn to know it when you see it. It’s one of the reasons I am writing to you now. It’s those people who want to string you up for saying things that are not “supposed” to be said. Hell, even if you’re completely wrong saying certain things, you should have the right to constitutionally protected speech! If you’re not “crying ‘fire’ in a crowded theater,” in the U.S. of A., you’re supposed to be able to say whatever you want. Especially in today’s climate, I feel it absolutely necessary to support free, if not pleasant speech. Dylan did a whole trip on that a long time ago, and he was right. What good is an award from anything calling itself a “civil liberties” organization if he cannot express himself? Ok, so he was drunk, and didn’t quite say what he meant. (Actually, he looked like the only person there who appeared depressed: the others didn’t really seem to care – but about their own little image.) But if they were too stupid to understand what he meant, then they were just too stupid to live! Gosh, Bill Clinton’s idol was JFK (the other Boys Nation fellas are STILL annoyed out how he physically shoved them out of the way to get the handshake . . . but those who do not shove their way to the top will never MAKE it to the top. And that’s the truth. He knew exactly where he was going and what he was going to do, at 16, and if it ruffled the feathers of the more timid, that’s their problem (and I have learned that if you pass up significant opportunites, you’ll always regret it). Anyway, he was his idol (perhaps in more ways than one , and if Bill thought FOR AN INSTANT that Dylan somehow “condoned” the murder of his idol, he would NOT have been on that stage during the Q-produced outdoor concert. You’d have to be dumb as a box of rocks not to understand what he meant! I imagine that even young Bill at 16 (precisely for whom the remarks were intended: teens!) probably totally understood what he meant. The pathetic, used, abused, and confused little “twerp” (Oswald, who was NEVER indicted, tried or convicted of anything, by the way, and even the JKK library has, as far as I know – and I keep up with it – no longer uses his name, and I think this is because Caroline figures she’s “invisible now; you got no secrets to conceal!” etc.) was a sort of mirror image of the young Dylan, hauled away for for reasons he did not even begin to understand. And then he’s swiftly killed in police custody. I can truly imagine the young Dylan identifying with that image . . . it reminded him of something.

    As to that something, he makes this clear in song after song. “Drifter’s Escape” is noteworthy: the judge gets a tear in his eye, removes his robe, and says to the “defendent” that he, the defendent, would never understand what he did wrong, so “why should you even try?” God, I can see the picture of a very sad, small-town juvie judge, confronted AGAIN with the pouty, confused little “twerp,” finally realizing that his choices had run out. He had to send him down river, but he felt really bummed about it, knowing the kid would be thrown in with “the big boys,” and be hurt, and that there was “a hole” there for solitary (check out It’s All Right, Ma (I’m only bleeding) because when you hear the lyrics now, they do not sound like “nonesense verse” (as other rock bands tried to copy and just ended up with, well, nonsense) at all. “Darkness at the break of noon.” That’s the first one, and it’s a KAPOW! It’s dark at high noon: now where would THAT be? (farewell, he sings, “to the deep dark dungeon.”) “A handmade blade.” (WHO makes handmade blades? I only know of one type of person who does that . . . an inmate. “A child’s balloon eclipses both the sun and moon.” The interjection of “childhood” – but inside out and upside down. Children, of course, should never – in a better world – be thrown anywhere we they cannot tell night from day. And the title, the sarcastic title, says it all, I think. A bitterness that would last forever. He would never forgive, even if they ask. (On the “Harding” album, “Tears of Rage” (sung with stunning beauty by Baez, by the way: do you have her CD, “Baez Sings Dylan” which was originally “Any Day Now.” It covers both his most recent material at the time (the best of the “Harding” material), and songs related to their relationship, his “distant” past (meaning high school . . . or in “Tears of Rage,” his whole life – oddly, as sung from the point of view of his parents [excepting, I think, “why must I always be the thief?”), and then a bit of lighter stuff about his supposed present contentment. (Which, if you listen to Frankie Lee and Judas Priest” doesn’t sound so happy at all. All these women have faces in the window of the “house,” which we are told “is not a house; it’s a HOME.” But quite a haunted one, indeed. And his arm is grabbed, and there’s a chance at getting away, but he’s told that settling down in this “home” is really the right thing to do, so tells how he “secretly” does it. I absolutely do not believe the “secrecy” of the first wedding was the typical secrecy of a pop/rock/whatever wedding, but was because he made a “mistake” (and he blames the woman! As is usual in pop songs . . . I could make a list, but it’s a little long.) And now, in November, she’s 7 months on, and getting closer and closer, so even if no one put a “shotgun” to his head, even symbolically (advice, etc.), he felt it there, and had been exposed to an older generation’s ways, where people stayed married FOREVER, even if they weren’t happy. They pushed themselves to be happy in those days, and I guess if really was good “for the children,” ’cause divorce is like a death to kids. (That’s documented psych stats. as well as using interview data, and other methods: kids would rather endure their parents bad marriage than divorce. And some researchers have oddly found that even “grown” kids [meaning in their 20’s, mostly], get very upset when hearing of their parents impending divorce. I have seen it, too, and probably would have felt the same way, myself.) I know your history a little, so you probably don’t give a rip about the “heartache” of divorce on lucky kids, but with what I am going through now: with my mom’s life and potential recovery hanging in limbo, sometimes I wish I WERE an orphan. Either have a bunch of butt-kicking, protective older brothers, or better, just be an orphan – ’cause there’s none of this unbearable pain.
    Don’t believe that tripe about “it’s better to have loved and lost, than never to have . . .” Bulls–t!! It’s not. Believe it!! I remember a night last July when I thought I’d lose my mind when that neuro told me she definitely wasn’t going to make it. Not even to Christmas, maybe not even ’till morning. One moment, when my dad had to use the restroom (we had gone home, even though I wanted to stay), and jumped from my chair and violently threw myself upon my knees and both prayed and begged at the same time – it didn’t matter what religion! I was absolutely deperate. Sheer hysteria. Hell, even if I was married with 5 kids, it wouldn’t have been any different: we share a relationship that is irreplaceable. And it’s the little things! That green coated Santa that she bought for me when my arm had been broken and was STILL in rehab from it (she never is into buying Christmas ornaments [which is why it means so much to me] ’cause it reminds her of when she was happy in the ophanage in New Jersey — they were in the countryside, and they cooled pies on the windowsill, and Christmas, especially since it was her birthday, was a very, very big deal, with lots of donated presents for the kids [it was probably a group home type set up, actually, but she calls it an orphanage], and Santa’s all dressed up, handing out presents for the kids. Fireplaces going the night before, the poem “The Night Before Chri . . .” being read along with liquor-free eggnog on Christmas Eve. And being told to be asleep by midnight ’cause “Santa” delivers ALL of the toys to boys and girls ALL OVER THE WORLD at exactly that moment, buy you’d better be sound asleep ’cause he knows! She passed that legend down to me. I asked “how” (and instead of explaining the quantumn physics explanation, as described the 1935 EPR paper, she just said “it’s magic!” And it was.) But now, things do not seem quite so magical. I used to feel so safe on Christmas Eve: all three of us under the same roof that night, and all three of us safe . . . we’d watch George Bailey discover that it really was “a wonderful life,” after all, and I’d make scratch eggnog with rum, or hot mulled wine (I like plum wine), or hot mulled cider with brandy – just a little), and the fireplace would be on, and the presents would be placed around for all of us (I wasn’t a kid anymore, so I didn’t need to wait ’till midnight to see the packages), and . . . all was right with the world.

    It’s amazing how such a state of grace can be destroyed as if with a giant wrecking ball in an instant. But we just keep our fingers tightly crossed, deal with work as much as is possible, and feel so lonesome. More lonesome than, I think, that Hank Williams could ever imagine. At least that’s how it feels.
    So, look, instead of being an orphan, you would have to suffer through this, or maybe you’d be one of those kids with a “Cobra” father who has like 8 kids and coils himself around them, never letting them our of his world, and abusing them horrifically in every conceivable way. Or maybe your mom would be schizophrenic and do horrible things to you! (You’ve heard those stories.) Or there’s an infinite amount and kinds of things you might have had to go through, or if it was good, you’d have to go through the unimaginably excruciating pain of losing them . . . either slowly, or in an accident or something. And then blaming yourself for what you MAY have done wrong. You don’t know, but still, you blame yourself. Just never belive that hype about it being better to have love and lost . . . ” Just remember that it’s b–s–t.
    Anyhow, back to Dylan’s “mistake” and his insistance that divorce just couldn’t happen, and his begging her “Oh Sara, please staaaayyyyy.” Not that he really wanted the situation in the first place, guys do this: they tell the one they truly love that “it didn’t mean anything, really — I love YOU,” but the woman ain’t goin’ for that, and then the other chick gets preggo, and he’s totally stuck, he feels (which is better than some guys, I guess), and he’s left with nothing more than “Visions of Johanna” that keep him “up past the dawn.”
    So, yeah, I guess there must have been times of extreme anger from Baez, but when I see and hear her, she seems a little bewildered by his conduct, but at the same time, you feel the warmth and yearning. One reviewer said “you can tell she’s still got it bad for the guy.” No, she wouldn’t pull a Cher and have a nervous breakdown on TV when Sonny’s “deal went down,” but she would be quite stricken. And Scorcese made that film over a LONG period of years, and yeah, there’s editing, of course, but there’s no mistaking it: the women who spoke did so with love in their hearts. Listen, I have heard others, and so the difference is quite clear.
    I hope Suze’s memoirs were not edited with a meat axe to stress the (sorry) “juicy” parts, or that she’s angry again . . . because the guy’s been through a lot of crap — from the world, not the women — and I hope they can find it in their hearts to understand, if not quite forgive.
    I cannot speak for such people, because they lived it, but if what we’ve come up with is true (especially about the age), then he should get a break — just a bit. We’re talking about a kid, 1000 miles from home, selling whatever he’s got to survive (and he didn’t have much except, well, himself), and trying to forge relationships and realizing that he’s screwed them up royally (“lucky I didn’t get my nose broke” on some of those occassions). Why? Because maybe he WAS younger than they thought. (That can be manipulated. I know of such cases.)
    If I didn’t feel it myself, it just would not have hit me kinda hard. But I just knew that something went terribly wrong somewhere, and it’s still not clear, perhaps most of all to him.

    In any case, I found the manufacturer and type of car: a Ford convertable (would a father give a kid that sort of car??? A dream car? That’s just too much to be asked to believe.) And he’s hitching, hitching, hitching, not long after “getting’ this car. It so easy, it’s ridiculous. You need to show the girl that you’ve got a car. So, growing up in an electrical shop (partly), it would be easy to hotwire, and you jump in and GO! No need to even struggle to get in, if the hood were left open.

    Ah, but not for long. All of a sudden, there’s no more talk of “car.” I suppose it could have started in the summer, and the “two months” comes from Heylin’s interview with mom, I believe. Dylan just told the guy “did some time at Red Wing.” It seems quite casual, actually, but clearly Dylan wanted this out finally. (And as for Minnesota, well, as you pointed out .”Bob Dylan” DEFINITELY did not do time thier; as for Robert Allen Zimmerman, who knows. I’d bet for sure that any records have been destroyed.) Knew a book was being written by Shelton (who does NOT include it).

    And for reason that are uttlerly amorphous (that he probably was with other girls, etc. — even after admitting that he was quite alone and tried to get with the greaser crowd, ANY crowd, but couldn’t (which, if was skipped a grade of two, would surely explain a certain degree of social isolation) plus the adoption of a “cool” persona adapted from mixture of James Dean, and Matt Dillon (which pissed off her father BIG TIME; acted like a real juv. delinquent). It was only in Dinkytown that he was told that Dylan works better.
    Abe and Beaty’s house sounds like the type that didn’t have many books around. Echo’s home also doesn’t sound very bookish. So the learning would commence later on. But as a teen, he was clearly in the throes of romance (ladder outside window and all). And all of a sudden a car pops in, seems to be used for the abortive foray to Fargo, and then where’s the car?? (No mention of the car in the film!)
    “Get your mind of wintertime/you ain’t goin’ nowhere.” She remembers going to some talent contests in summer . . . things like that, but then seemingly not much contact later on. Asks Buckley if he knows about other girls and he says he DOESN’T know, but probably. You dump someone in front of everyone on a “probably”?
    Something is definitely missing. Lemme tell you something: that something always appears. Just does.
    It’s a matter of patience, and looking at lyrics.
    All the best,

  31. reprindle Says:

    Wow! I always have difficulty picking out a strand to talk about. I think what is necessary is to create a Field within which to place our particpants. How does Abraham Zimmerman, who appears to be one of those semi-Rabbi know-it-all Jews, fit into his Hibbing environment. How did his physical crippling affect his mind? Why did Bob tremble when he thought of his father? Beatings strike me as implausible.

    Which summers did Bob go to this Zionist summer camp?

    I think I will move those attempts at reconstruction above the line to Exhuming Bob VI

    As to myself, RM, you know I married Jewish forty-five years ago. All my wife’s relations are Jewish going so far as to naming their kids Jael and such. I was married in an Oakland synagogue by the only Rabbi who would officiate at this abomination and he cursed me as a gentile. But, he did what he was paid to do.

    I, of course, don’t attend regularly but when in the Bay area I have to sit through services. My wife’s cousin attends a matriarchal edition of Judaism so I have to sit and listen to a female Rabbi. She is not even learned in that fraudulent Rabbinical ‘wisdom’ way.

    I have a complete and total contempt for the ilk of ministers be they Jewish, Christian or Moslem. Jim Jones is the very model of the type, socked out crazy. It’s psychology, they’re all the same only the religious manifestations are different. Come the Revolution these people are going in the first batch whether by guillotine, gulag or oven. Don’t ever give me this Hitler stuff. Liberals are the true mass murderers. Liberalism is a religion derived from Semitic religious models and Semitic religion believes in exterminating the unbeliever. You can’t deny it. Just a little historical fact religious types find unpleasant.

    I am an unbeliever so attach whatever religious label you use to that. All three defamations apply to me.

    Don’t mean to get heavy but bigotry lies on the side of religion.

    As Freud understood but refused to act upon, the conflict is always between objective reality and the world of inner wishful thinking. In other words, science versus religion. I’m on the side of science no matter how contrary to inner wishful thinking it may be. One must adjust to reality and not try to adjust reality to one’s inner wishful thinking.

    That’s why Liberals must always be criminally viciious, read Liberal as religious.

    Well, enough of this.

    I’m sorry about yur mother and I’m sure the loss will be painful. The only consolation is that we were born to die. ‘If you’re not busy being born you’re busy dying.’ After a while the wires get crossed and the electricity ceases to flow. But, you should realize that when your mother does go you will be born again. Through the shimmer into the parallel universe as a new person. ‘Take what you think will last’ of your mother’s teaching and let the rest go. You will have to develop independently on your own, that’s all.

    Get a copy of Emile Coue’s, My Method. I’ll help you deal with suggestion and auto-suggestion. That’s all pyschology is, you know.

  32. R M Says:

    I’ll start at the end and work upwards. First of all, I’m not writing her off just yet. You had to know her: she has such a will and core of iron. She had to, to even survive as a kid. I have talked to a lot of people, and some want to shove that “let the insurance companies kill her off” paper at us, and others who have a different view, and say they’ve seen people older than her work their way back. One shoved med. journal at us and said READ IT! He said the brain is just so mysterious and impenatrable that no one can predict anything. So, for now, I’ll go for that. But yeah, when you’re scared, you do pray. I guess it’s like “I don’t believe in ghosts, but I sure am scared of ’em!”
    Doesn’t mean I am “religious.” That’s ridiculous. But I do believe in a kind of spirituality. Not formal “secular humanism.” Hell, it’s too “formal” for me! I just kida go with my gut at any particular moment. I’m glad I was exposed to this stuff as a kid, so I know what I am not missing, but that’s about it. Think of all the troubles in the world, going back, oh, 10,000 years or so: and religion usually has a large role. And then patriarchal “law of the father” religions came on board, and boy, we were all in for it. They GREW, sprouting new versions as the centuries went on.
    Like I said, I came, I saw, and I made my own way.
    But culture is a lot more complex than just religion. Like with Bobby Zimmerman (or whatever the hell he was calling himself at any given time); a lot of the college crowd felt there was something nasty about the “air” (yoiu might call it) in HIbbing that made it a place unfit for man or beast. It was a strip mining town, for chissakes! Lake Superior is still suffering from the way they polluted it. I watch a small documentary on it the other day. Those “pellets of poison” he speaks of are NOT nuclear fallout! It’s part of the ore mining process, apparently. I don’t understand it fully, but there is some sort of husk or something that they have to get rid of before delivering the ore. And in the towns closest to Lake Superior, they just dumped it in the lake, poisoning it forever! I watched it. Hard Rain has a lot in it, obviously. Too much, almost. (But when I hear “Walls of Red Wing” and listen to the part about the “rain” pounding “heavy on the bunkhouse” shingles, it’s like “wow”! Har Rain! I wonder why you find it “implausible” for a kid who first feared and then despised his father to think the his ole man hit him? Especiallly back THEN! It was normal if you had a pretty wild kid. He knew he was causing annoyance and trouble at the camps — at one point they were calling with threats to send him home. Do you think he just said “oh, Bobby, let’s just sit down and have a little talk.” I mean, c’mon, Pancake had no problems getting physical with him. In Shelton’s book, there’s no mention of a bowling pin (I somehow think there were two incidents involved right there, but I dunno), but he said he put him up against the wall and start slapping him. Whereupon he started telling absurd lies out of pure fear. Seems like an instinctive reaction. I studied so much about abused kids for my dissertation, and in preparation (talked to ’em, the whole bit), that it jumps out at me. He was not the “Cobra” type who usually is a maniac with like 8 kids who he tortures forever. But he’s another type; that’s all. In those days, it would be highly unusual if he DIDN’T hit a kid like that. Bobby wasn’t even very careful, ever, about getting caught! And as for stealing, he never seemed to have remorse about it, but there is a slyness that you cannot miss. But he’s like “gee, I got kicked out of Denver just for robbing a guy’s house!” He seems annoyed and sort of mystified. And you know Shelton covered for him a lot. As far as I know, the records were not returned, but I don’t really know. I do know he was scared, but it is in the quality of physically abused kids NOT to give a damn about the things they do, because all they have to worry about is the mood of the person they are afraid of, not what THEY did. Think about this for a minute. They are taught not to connect their actions with consequences! Just to duck trouble, however possible. Seems VERY plausible to me, especially because he absolutely, especially at that age, could not connect his actions with consequences (or later, for that matter). That’s a BRIGHT RED FLAG that indicates that the kid’s actions did not matter all that much, but the Abe’s mood most certainly did. A kid like that will grow up to engage in bad, even criminal behavior. In Shelton’s book, Pankake says he slapped him; why wouldn’t Abe? He seemed like the type of guy who was pissed off at his life, and why not take it out on the kid who had some troubles. (And I think some of those troubles stemmed from the fact that he was a bright kid, which is why I think all the evidence points to his being skipped a grade or two. It would explain a lot, especially regarding his appearance.
    The reason I no longer have much doubt about Red Wing is that there are TOO MANY reasons! Song lyrics that fit and fit, and fit again, and his ease with stealing and not understanding that it is not acceptable. (I think after the motorcycle whatever that happened to him, on the Harding album, he starts to really understand what a mess he had made of things earlier. The most moving song there is “Tears of Rage.” The song, except for the one line (“why must I always be the theif?”) is sung completely from his parents’ perspective. I just wonder whether “Independence Day” is the day he was born, or when he was released from that horrible place. Maybe its either. That would make more sense in his style of songwriting. Like I said, I no longer think it was only two months. Clearly something happened in summer, and he was to be let out just as “wintertime” was approaching. And I think it’s brilliant of you to realize that the “gate won’t close railin’s froze” is just a dream, and “get your mind off wintertime; you ain’t goin’ nowhere.” It’s his “mind” — his wish for this thing to END that has him down. It seems so very, very long. So yeah, it wasn’t a petty anything. That damn car is annoying. Like it just disappeared! I guess it did.
    It’s said his folks drove him down to college. So, right there, where’s the car? This seems simple enough for me.
    He definitely had a real problem with his dad; when his father unexpectedly died young, Bob was the only one who kind of “lost it,” and celebrities generally try to keep it together because they’re always being watched. (Well, Elvis is the MAJOR exception: he went completely NUTS on August 16, 1958, and had to be physically restrained. He was screaming and just completely uncontrollable. When I read of it; it’s scary. He absolutely didn’t care that he was a “celebrity”; Bob at least pulled himself together enough to go into a sort of trance-like “I’m not really having this experience” state. But he had a lot of things, I guess that he wanted to say. Or wanted to HEAR. That imagined “apology” “Tears of Rage” is extremely moving. And it never came.
    Oh, and listen closely to “I Pity the Poor Immigrant” and remember who it was who went “away” and trudged around, and . . . tried to make it in the big city (and did). And then listen to Elvis’s “Long Black Limosine.” It’s sung from the perspective of a first girlfriend, left behind by the small-town boy gone to the big city for fame and fortune (which he got). To me, they’re the same song, pretty much.
    I guess that’s why, when asked which artists Dylan would like to sing his material, he immediately said “Elvis Presley. Elvis Presley recorded a song of mine. It’s the recording I treasure the most.” He remarked that he had not recorded it. Some moron at RCA stuck it on the Spinout album, and deprived Elvis of a big hit, the world of a great recording (only fans really have heard it), and Dylan of immense joy. Bet they would have had some nice talks; I think Elvis would have recommended Chips’ Moman’s American Sound Studios instead of the the typical Nashville contingent. And that would have been SOMETHING! Oh, well. (I wonder if they did speak, privately. We’ll never know. It’s just that I have a hunch, somehow.)

    “Implausible.” Odd way of putting it. You find it “implausible that the kid’s trembling was fear of actual physical harm. (I don’t mean “harm, harm” — just what was normal in the late ’50s). What would make him so different than other kids, especially kids who did bad things a lot? I don’t get that. The thing is that I don’t think Dillon (or whatever) gave a damn when it came to doing stuff. YOU, being a rational person, would have behaved yourself in that settting. But that kid was not you or me, or a lot of others. He figured his ole man had it in for him, so what the hell. See, that’s the attitude they get. They figure it won’t make any difference. And usually they’re right. When the law has something to say about it, they tend to be stunned. Or surprised. Or it doesn’t make sense to them. And that’s him. That’s why I see it. He can tremble, while at the same time, do very provocative things. In fact, they want the attention. Ever read one of the better biographies of Marvin Gaye? He was abused very, very badly, but the worse it got, the more he provoked.
    And Dylan was defintely a kid who provoked trouble. Whatever happened to those records, that Pakake guy was taking NO PRISONERS. In the most gentle account, he put him up against the wall, and started slapping him. Dylan was pretty scared. But he kept stealing! Not from him, maybe (or who knows), but he kept it up.
    (No, I don’t think the summer camp got him sent “down river.” He was more a pest than anything else. But his father probably was quite annoyed. Like I said, he seemed like a guy, barely middle class, trying to be a “somebody” [a Rotarian!], and hated his life. He was probably moody as hell. So it really didn’t matter what young Bob actually “did,” as much as if his dad was in a good or bad mood.)
    I got lucky, my folks always gave me the love of life I have now. I know A LOT of kids who were very unlucky.
    Clearly, to me, Bobby Zimmerman was not one of the luckier ones.
    And despite whatever money he’s accrued over the years, it doesn’t make up for any of it. It can’t. And he knows it.
    All the best,
    RM (so, ok, you won’t be saying “I’ll be praying for your mom” ’cause that’s what everybody says — hell, last week it was the daily double! I was sick as a dog myself all week and into this one, so people were praying their asses off for the both of us!! Prayer jackpot!)

  33. R M Says:

    OK! Math “mistake” was actually no mistake at all. I know I’m math-phobic, but not THAT much. Please follow this, as it explains much that seems out-of-whack.

    The Zimmermans lived in Duluth when the 1946 polio epidemic struck Abe Zimmerman. Also, David was born in February, 1946, when Shelton says (in concert with his other dates: all of them, as I can see, so we’ll stick with that for now). He was only hospitalized for about a week, but he was crippled for a good time thereafter, when they had to move in with relatives in Hibbing. In the 1945-1946 school year, when Bobby WAS IN KINDERGARTEN (there was no “pre-K” in the public schools in those days – anywhere, I am quite sure, because the concept didn’t exist even when I was that age. I was born in September, and went to summer camp, while still 4 going on 5. But Bobby Zimmerman’s birthday was on May 24, which means that he should NOT have STARTED kindergarten until fall, 1946, when he was five years old, for virtually the entire school year. NO district would have it any differently.)

    So, while some kids who turned 6 later in the midst of kindergarten because of their birthdays, Bobby did not turn 6 years old until May 24, 1947. Add 13 years to that and what do you get? 1960. How can we confirm this. In this case, fate intervenes . . .

    Now, it gets interesting, so go with me. Abe Zimmerman remembers his embarrassment at having to take Bobby to Kindergarten on his first day (in fall, 1945, BEFORE the 1946 polio epidemic, which would have made this impossible for him, because he had been crippled by it for quite a while and would not have been able to take him) amid a sea of MOTHERS. Bobby wanted his father there, perhaps because perhaps the other kids seemed larger and intimidating, or for whatever reason. In any case, he was only 4 years old, and would remain so for almost the entire school year until May 24, 1946, when he turned 5.

    (And you are right that it is clear that Abe would never have been physically rough with “little” Bobby, who he enjoyed showing off for his cute blond curls and striking singing voice. It was, though, when the boy was about Bar Mitzvah age that he started to become “trouble.” And there was some problem with THAT, in Heylin’s account, in that his preparation was rushed and they had to get somebody in, and fast. Shelton reports it all as if it went off without a hitch, but apparently, on further review, there was some sort of problem. (The camps are said to be ’54 to ’57. For a few weeks each summer. 13, 14, 15, 16)

    My point is that if you substract (May 1 numbers, which account for almost the whole academic year) 1945 from 1958 (not the graduation date; that would not have come until June, 1959, when he officially graduated – at 17, after virtually a whole year of being SIXTEEN in his senior year), you get 13 years. Which is 12 years of school plus Kindergarten. So, he had to have entered college at 17 years old, turning 18 on May 24, 1959 when most colleges are already done with the year! I am pretty sure he did a year and a half.

    So, even if the high school yearbook called itself “1959,” for Robert Allen Zimmerman, he would only have been 17 for a few weeks before graduation if he began kindergarten in 1945 and ended Kindergarten in 1946, when he had only been five years old for a few weeks, if at all. The math says “13 years” which is as it must be. It would be interesting to check out the college yearbook, to see what year they called it. Doesn’t matter in any case. These are the facts as they are known. Even the names of the Duluth kindergarten is mentioned. He certainly didn’t spend 2 years in Kindergarten (well, nowadays they do that, but not then). And, in any case, they couldn’t because they had to move to Hibbing because of his father’s polio in the 1946 epidemic.

    As for driving, well, you could not drive alone at 15 (May 24, 1956), but you could at 16 (May 24, 1957), and Echo says she was 17 when they met, and he was 16 (which I admittedly goofed up at first because it did not look right, but now it looks quite right. It was so odd that I assumed the schools skipped him, but clearly they did not. His mother and/or father did so from kindergarten, clearly because they felt he was smarter than the other kids . . . parents usually do think that, but the schools usually prevent that sort of thing. In this case, there was a lot of stuff going on: the Iron Range needed workers and others to work the towns and Abe needed family for a while. And one supposes that houses were cheaper in Hibbing than in Duluth. )

    I am not trying to prove myself right, because of the error in Echo’s age in meeting him, which, at least for him, is utterly incorrect (In late winter of 1957, she says she was 16, he 17 — in his case, that is false: he may have fibbed. Big surprise there. But it’s no big deal because he should have been 16 going on 17, anyway . . . but because of his early entrance, he was only 15 going on 16, which would be a problem for relationships, obviously). I am saying that there WAS something wrong with his age. He simply looked younger than he should have, and he was. When he showed up in New York in the Winter of 1961, he was NOT 19 years old, as is always reported. He was only 18, when he would should have been a college freshman. This means something far more important.

    Thus, the original notion that he could have been sent to Red Wing (or wherever) at 17 does not present any problem, age-wise. The only question is the first one: did he do the time in his homestate, or did they ship him to Pennsylvania. Again, since we see virtually NO references to Pennsylvania his lyrics, titles, poems, etc. (unless you know of some I do not), it just doesn’t make sense. He wrote everything down! So many notebooks . . . and no Deveraux in Pennsylvania? And yes, the following year, he would have been of age, and so any illegal acts would have quite different consequences as you originally pointed out.

    This because, for whatever reason, his mother (and/or father) decided he was “ready” to begin Kindergarten at only 4 years old. My mistake was in thinking that the SCHOOL skipped him, which would have created an error. But if his parent or parents decided to start him early, this would at least partially account for how young he looked. It would also explain his total inability to tolerate liquor, etc. And it would help explain those photos where he just looks too young.

    If you have the DVD of “No Direction Home,” you’ll see an interviewer say “you must be 20?” And he replies, as I recall: ‘I must be.’ But he was not. He entered school a year earlier than he was “supposed to.”

    Ok, so it’s “only” a year, but at that time in life, one year makes a BIG difference, especially when you consider the fine messes he got himself into.

    His curfew was 9:30 for a senior. Weird.
    He started with girls in 1957 (where Shelton forgets when and where he went to Kindergarten), and one of the FIRST was Barbara Hewitt (presumably before May 24, 1957, when he would turn 16, he was 15). But it sounds like a crush and nothing more; her family moved away before there was any real contact. Or any contact at all. Which makes sense under the circumstances.

    But the age attributed to Bob in 1957 just cannot be correct.

    Still, why they started him in Kindergarten in 1945, no one can say.

  34. R M Says:

    Ok, one mistake, and it’s not mine. In Shelton’s book, Shelton, following Echo, I suppose, said that she was 16, he 17. That’s impossible, since that makes him born in 1940. Undoubtedly a nice little fib for a kid who didn’t want to be younger than his girlfriend, who if she was 17 when they met, was about one of those kids with the late birthdays and spend most of their senior year as 18. Bob was just not one of those, and his mother (I’m just guessing) was not happy about the “glitch” of his being born about 7 months or so too late, and thus spending his senior year at age 18, but appearing in the yearbook to be a dumb kid who graduated at 19, which wouldn’t be true, but which is what it would have looked like because of the few weeks. The rule is virtually ALWAYS that when a birthday is that late, the kid waits until the following fall, but they felt he got gipped out of his rightful year. (Heck, I entered at 4, but turned 5 in September. He entered at 4, but didn’t turn five until over 8 months after the beginning of school. That does seem unfair, but it eliminates the problem of graduating a college-bound kid who would spend his Freshman year in college a bit too young — almost a year too young. Technically, if you turn 5 during the school year, that should be your Kindergarten year, but they put in protections for just these sorts of glitches. A kid can spend the summer at 17, and enter at 17, but it should resolve within 2-4 months, tops. Unless a mother (or father) feels “cheated” and decides to “cheat back.” Which is what I think happened here. You’re not supposed to be 18 as a senior; you’re supposed to turn 18 at the end of summer. But we’re not computers, and he had a May 24 birthday. And so, the way I figure it, they made the most of it, I guess. But the system’s rules are for the kids’ own well-being down the road. A kid should not turn 18 at the very end of the academic year (or in college, even past it!). That’s the reason for the date “blockages” that are installed to prevent this. “cause every mom thinks their kids’ a genius in every way — and the schools know differently. Hell, he WAS a genius in many ways, but emotionally, he was clearly not ready for that first year.
    Now, I am all numbered out. I hope this makes sense concerning the summer (and I think it does, because I graduated “correctly” and still spent the whole summer being 17.
    But not much longer than the summer.
    See what I mean. He could have spent the whole summer being 17, but was supposed to turn 18 swiftly after that. In either case, he was eligible for Red Wing according the ages he gives in the song: “no younger than 12, no older ‘n 17.” Which would definitely include many high school graduates. Just generally not those with May birthdays.
    And if this is wrong, I quit!! I never did like numbers. (Hey, if it was the summer before, so what? But I just thought I’d look a little more closely at it, and discovered the Kindergarten thing which is very clear.)
    P.S. — He also consults a doctor and asks abut his glandular profile! Shelton is also confused, because he looks so young, lotta “baby fat,” etc. The real problem, I think, is if he actually hit New York a year earlier, which would make him appear even younger and thus more vulnerable. That bugs me. The whole so-called “hustling” thing bugs me because I can see how easily that could happen, and frankly, it pisses me off thinking of some suburban married creep in a suit, claiming to be working late, and crusining for “chicken,” for which the young singer could easily be taken. It pisses me off that the media draw an “innocence line” between the “innocent victims” of priests, scouts, family friends, etc, and the street kids who somehow do not deserve the same protection and attention. (Yeah, I know he was of age, but that’s not the point at all: most of them really are much younger, and they are treated as though they deserve it. Hell, he didn’t even deserve it, even though he “met” the age for being exploited by hypocritical creeps. Pisses me off! They are ALL “innocent,” dammit, when it comes to this.) I figure that, in addition to whatever happened when he was sent away (wherever, although, I feel sure that it was indeed in Minnesota, because his mother seemed so well-rehearsed and ready for when the question would come.) Interestingly, it was not his friend who asked. But Dylan knew the Shelton was writing a book, and that it would get right back to him. I think at that time in his life, he might have thought he’d actually be believed. Shoot, he admitted to lots of thievery (everybody beleived that, didn’t they?), recently to selling himself (hell, they believe that!), so why wouldn’t they believe he did time in juvie; after all, he was an admitted thief? Because the State of Minn. does NOT want it, that’s why. And neither did his mom, and who wouldn’t believe a mom, right? It’s built into our society. “It’s alright, MA (I’m Only Bleeding)” the song goes . . . early on, he wanted them to KNOW why he had “erased” them from his life . . . but later, in “Tears of Rage,” you can see that this erasure wasn’t easy at all. As to this matter, in journalism-speak, -30-

  35. reprindle Says:

    R.M.: I’m afraid I’m even more worried about my arithmetic than you are. I always hate to deal in numbers. Especially if you really know arithmetic it can be the greatest shell game and con act going.

    However, Bob had to be 18 on 5/24/59. My birth date is two days after Bob’s so I am almost exactly three years older.
    I was born in ’38, graduated in ’56. 38 from 56 = 18. 41 from 59 = 18.

    Bob went to an all white school as thankfully did i although I beat integration by one year. Brown vs. The Board Of Education ruined the school system. We condemn the Russians for bringing in the Army and tanks in Czechoslovakia and Hungary yet we placidly accept the Army being used to subvert the will of the people in Little Rock and tanks in Waco to murder some religious nerds who weren’t hurting anybody.

    Was sex involved? Oh gosh! Isn’t it a crime in our Multi-Cultural Wonderland for a girl not so spread and for a boy not to devote his life to his dick? I abolsolutely loath Liberal hypocrisy. Clinton and Reno should both burn in hell for eternity.

    I don’t know what the above has to do with Dylan’s age but there you have it. Must be that Barry Dunham’s installation in the White House is irritating me. I don’t have to tell you what a disaster that’s going to be.

    Anyway Bob must have committed his crime at seventeen, been sentenced as a minor and served his term in Juvenile Hall while technically an adult.

    If you haven’t watched The Ballad Of Jack Elliott yet, do so. It will put a lot of what happened in ’61 and ’62 in the New York Folk scene into perspective. Adnopoz is really angry with Zimmerman.

  36. reprindle Says:

    RM: You’ve made some remarks in the past to indicate that you think this period is a kinder gentler one as compared to the foties and fifties. It seems to me that the attitude is a popular delusion. Men and women have always been approximately the same. It would be very difficult to pinpoint any one era as more gentle and kind than another.

    The recent era is definitely not it. Cannibalism was unheard of in the forties and fifties. Serial killers while ever present in any society were nevertheless unknown in the fotties and fifties although one or two may have slipped under the radar. It was only beginning with Whitman and Speck in the sixties that the really horrendous Auschwitz style serial killer became an everyday phenomenon.

    The ubiquity of sex crimes against boys, girls, men and women is a recent occurence. It shouldn’t surprise you that so many are race based, especially sex crimes of Blacks against Whites. When integration began the prediction was that such crimes would become common but as usual Liberals pooh poohed the obvious group psychology involved. One can always count on Liberals to ignore reality in favor of inner wishful thinking.

    A major step in that direction was Brown vs. The Board of Education. That a period of turmoil was in store for us was obvious to the most ignorant. Innumerable crimes were committed against Whites to enforce integrated schools against the wishes of the majority. Eisenhower’s use of the Army was a breath taking breach of American morality.

    Today of course Blacks are calling for all Black, which is say segragated, schools again. I’m not going to call up scientific information to justify their demands, I am sure you are familiar with it.

    Now, the only way to elevate Blacks is to deny Whites and this began very early and was systematically and criminally practiced.

    For instance, in 1960 I once received a 77 score and was given a C while the Black man sitting next to me scored a 64 and received a B. When I quietly, even apologetically, complained I was told that I had been the beneficiary of White Skin Privilege for too long and it was now time for Blacks to enjoy some Black Skin Immunity.

    How do people deal with injustice and emasculation of this sort? I was clearly more capable but yet I was told that that capability was not greater ability but ‘White Skin Privilege.’ I didn’t go off the deep end and become a child molester which is a very common response but quite obviously a vast number of White men have.

    So, the more iniquities of this nature are practised against White men the more sex crimes are going to be perpetrated. On the other hand Blacks who either know or should know that they have Black Skin Immunity are going to commit more and greater sexual offenses against Whties. I shouldn’t have to mention the Knoxville Horror.

    As a sociologist you should be aware of social responses of this nature. I am really almost offended that you would think that we were more unkind than the terrible results of more than fifty years of Liberal misrule.

    I personally never knew of physical abuse in my teen years although I’m sure some went on. Psychological abuse was much more common and, indeed, is unavoidable. With Dylan I’m sure that psychological difficulties were caused in his relationship with his parents as well as with Hibbing society. There are class, religious and personality difficulties that are clear in Dylan’s behavior but it would even be unusual for him to have to fight in his all White environment uncomplicated by racial issues, in small town Hibbing. there would certainly be face downs but no one would carry knives to school let alone automatic rifles or hand grenades.

    It is not impossible that Echo was part of an elaborate setup to humiliate Dylan whose personality must have offended and annoyed a number of people. The manner in which Echo returned his ring is indicative of spite or malice of grand order. Did she return it after or before ‘laughing and starry eyed’ they were arrested?

    Going steady was a big thing in those days. Wearing a guy’s ring ‘up around your neck’ was an honor to the girl who wore it and a pride to the boy who gave it. For Echo to return the ring in public was a horrible, horrible betrayal of her ‘vows.’

    Why did she do that?

  37. R M Says:

    OK, before we do the math (actually, we are both right! The rules, as they are set up, are intended to see that a kid does not graduate at age 19, but they seem to have ignored those born in late spring or early summer, or right before graduation, which creates chaos, especially in his case. So his mother tried to cheat the “rules” and allow him an early graduation, but what happened was their misfortune in having to move to Hibbing because of his Dad’s polio and the birth of his little brother when she put Bobby in Kindergarten, EARLY. I do not believe he actually did “EXTRA” time in school; I think they just didn’t enroll him until the following year in Hibbing, and that makes everything come out right. But she was, as mothers will do, to give him a graduation at 17, but fate intervened.
    And that’s that. He entered college at 18, and yes, spent that summer, from May 24 on, at 18, yet spending almost the entire senior year (as I did, since I had a September birthday) at 17. This abruptly ended on May 24. It’s a little weird, which confused me. Especially since he looked “too” young and other factors. But, no. He may have spent either more or less time in Kingergarten than most, but that’s all. After that, it seems to go smoothly (except in Scaduto’s book, when he gets two different versions of when 9th grade took place. This is irrelevant, and a mistake on somebody’s part. And that’s it. So, whatever happened, happened prior to May 24, 1959. Period.

    Now, PULEEZE, lets NOT get into a black and white thing!! Good gawd!!!!! I can’t imagine anyone wants or needs to go in that direction, but if you’re interested, it seems clear that Greil Marcus has no love lost for black people, no matter WHAT he says. It’s all in Lipstick Traces. He puts an ancient blues singer, and an odd, *integrated* rock group in Mystery Train to appear “fair.” Now, this is no knock on Elvis, who actually walked the walk, not just talked some talk. Most people do not know who Phineas Newborn is; he didn’t hang out with black guys (or, undoubtedly, girls — I mean, more or less of AGE) to impress anyone, because I’m betting that if you took any kind of poll, virtually no one would have heard of this guy, and quite a few others. Oh, yeah, he also was friends with B.B. King (very much so), James Brown (who, as privately as was possible, comforted Vernon Presley in the time before the funeral: unlike most celebrities, he flew right down to Memphis), Jackie Wilson (who he once promised, on a signed souvenier of some sort after a show, “Jackie, you got you a friend for life” — he made good on this, paying Jackie Wilson’s hospital bills for the long time he spent comatose after his on-stage heart-attack in the ’70s), and Johnny Bragg of the Prisonnaires, who were very dear friends to each other . . . he was the guy who actually “pushed” Elvis to sing better because he kept trying to outdo that demo that Sam had. Later, they met and became lifelong friends. And there were many more — most touchingly, a young college girl who was always at the gate around, I think, the early ’70’s. She was a fan, and though Elvis had many black fans, they tended to keep it quiet (too complicated to go into here), but she was always at the gate. Elvis took notice of her (as he did ALL the gate regulars, it should be pointed out), and while chatting with the gals, he wondered if they had jobs (since they spent so much time at the damn gate). Most did, but she did not. So, he thought about it, realized he really didn’t have a need for a young college girl to do anything at the time, but said she could answer the phone inside the house. I must have sensed she could use a job. And, indeed, she could. Elvis had this thing where he could sense people’s problems: he was very attuned to other people. And he always wanted to be the one to solve the problem, of course. Now, that’s ego, but what the hell. He saw her looking very blue one day and asked if she had a problem (he had pretty much figured out what it was: probably from the additive nature of idle conversation). And yeah, there was a problem: one that could wreck her school plans. Well, that can only be one thing (as a teacher at the college level for so many years, I could guess that one). So he said: “do you want it?” And she was like “huh? How did you know?” And he played his “Karnac the Magnificent” routine, of course, but gentlly offered to give her the bucks to end the problem. She could graduate, get married, and have lots of kids later. All of this without either one actually saying it. I forget exactly how it turned out, but it was solved, and she continued to work their throughout college. And stayed a fan/friend ’till he died, and a fan forever.
    So, yeah, c’mon, you MUST know that I am in favor, in theory of “Brown,” but I also was in Jr. High when they were attempting to finally implement with all deliberate sloth. Well, let’s just say that I saw a lot of blood spilled, all of it from the black kids. The white kids would climb up in the trees and, it being where it was, throw very hard objects down on the black kids EVERY DAY. A number of while girls (and only girls, oddly), tried to help, but not to much avail. More significantly, the Klan repeatedly phoned in bomb threats, dragging our folks from work or whatever and having to come and get us early. My parents tried to stick it out, but did not want to play politics with my life after a bit. And that’s the only kick about it is I cannot understand how Ruby Bridges’s parents let her go through that hell at SIX YEARS OLD! Yes, she had master child psych.’s and all that, but still. She has spent her whole life tagged as “the little girl in the Norman Rockwell painting.” And that’s too much baggage for anyone. The older kids, whatever. But that one is hard to contemplate. Especially since the situation is now back to square one, for the most part. I will not argue something that would go on forever, but since you offered your opinion, I’ll state mine, and be done with it. I think integration is the only way to go, but “school” integration only will never work. It’s the tail wagging the dog. Clearly, people do not get along in this country. “We” are not going to elect either a black or a woman president. Bill Clinton made the mistake of saying so, and calling his candidacy a “fairy tale.” Well it is, but so is hers. She has a somewhat better shot, but not much. I believe there will be a draft — if they have any sense at all (and that may be asking too much).
    And far as sex crimes, the REPORTING has increased (and now decreased, but as for the actual numbers, we cannot know for a variety of variables). I can tell you, without any doubt, that the VAST majority of child molesters and sex criminals offend against people in their own communities, of their own ethnic background. Look it up. It’s the one clear thing that we know. Cross-cultural sex crimes do occur, but are relatively rare. Usually, it is a person the child knows well, or is related to, or a “family friend.” Check out the Boston scandals! I think that ought to be clear. I don’t know where you got those other stats, but that’s not how it goes down. Oh, yeah, it happens. But the vast majority of the time (much more than just “statistcally” — much more), it happens within a child’s nearest community. Trust is already “pre-established,” and then more trust is gained, until there is total trust, and a crime takes place — or many crimes. Now, of course, there are always exceptions that prove the rule, but this is the way it has been and continues to be.
    No, of course I do not think these area “kindler or gentler” times!! Good lord! The whole freakin’ world seems to be blowing up around us! I got up one morning in 2001, and saw ONE twin tower standing! It was already about 7 am Pacific, give or take. And I screamed! And then, unbelievably, the other one went down. It looked wierdly like one of those planned implosions, but there were airplanes involved, and I’d rather not get into any conspiracy theories there. (And if there are conscpiracies, they always reveal themselves, anyway. So why flail away at it? What would be the point?)
    And then we send troops to a country that, despite what they DID do, on this occassion, they did NOT do this crime, but what the hell, let’s have a war! Everybody loves a good war, right?
    Well, no, but only after a while.
    Meanwhile, I believe it will continue for a long, long time no matter who is elected.
    And how the hell did we get HERE??????????
    I still want to know what I originally wanted to know. What happened between 1958 and 1959 regarding a youthful Bobby Dylan?!
    That’s a helluva story! And the more deeply I listen, the more I hear that makes it all so clear. Maybe not dates, but it makes it so clear.
    So, sticking to that, yeah, there was a “conspiracy” with the thing in the hallway, alright: I guess between her and her familiy: make sure everyone knows that you have nothing to do with the “little criminal”! She had to be under tremendous pressure. So, I’m guessing the summer before senior year. It’s pretty well ignored by most of the books . . . if not ignored, then danced around. And there are glaring inconsistencies. And hell, he said it! He was in his forties by then, and there was no reason to lie at all. He told somebody who he knew would get it back to his family. And if they denied it, and the whole damn state of Minnesota denied it (which they did, with a flourish!), then alls the better! I found a site that gives you interior look at Red Wing!! Yeah. And in one room, they teach “trades” or whatever: they build stuff for the place, actually. And what do I see but a small “house” (like a bunkhouse), with some kind of siding (you cannot tell the materal), and shingled roof of some kind. Almost EXACTLY as described. A lot has been painted over frequently, but it really does look a lot like the song! There are barbed wire walls of every shape all OVER the place!! It looks just as you would expect it to look. Even after all these years. Some modernization, but there are “day rooms” where you can see doors that have no windows, or doors that are only partial, but the interior is very, very dark. So doors are tall; some are small. It’s pretty scary, if you ask me. There are ancient-looking appliances being used for different purposes. But all iin all, it does not look like the “old-fashioned private school” as they described!! Hell, no. It looks like a damn prison. Nowadays, it’s reserved for very serious offenders, but back then, it was not too difficult to get in. What gets you, what really gets you is the darkness of those rooms, and the knowledge that it’s for kids. It is definitely a somewhat on the chilling side.
    There are so MANY songs!! Farwell, Angelina, that’s a scary one. Even “Tommorow Is a Long Time”! “I can’t hear the echo of my footsteps; I can’t remember the sound of my own name.” Now, I think the “echo” is just unconsciously there, but it is there, as in so many songs. There are a lot of freakin’ scary songs! Songs that depict darkness and loss of identity, and basically all of the things that would result from what he told the guy. Look, this much is plain: this man knew him for a long time. If he thought he was lying or embellishing, he would have known so! And would have not repeated it. But clearly he seemed to believe him. Hell, even the boy who cried wolf, finally DID see a WOLF!!!!!!!!! And this fellow, who knew him for a long, long time saw a damn wolf! Hell, what else, other than something so catastrophic could have caused a rupture so proround between him and his family? I mean, c’mom! So, a kid lies for some good reasons. Believe the man, though.
    More later.

  38. R M Says:

    Oh, uh, I wanted to make some things clear. First of all, a stupid typo. I meant to say “he” when refering to Elvis, and, typing much too quickly, said “I.” Sorry.

    Next, I wish “blogging” could be more like Usenet used to be. A community of people interested in a topic, but who did not always agree, but always respected one another in the newsgroup. There was a sense of community feeling, and it was good. I met a good friend there a while back (actually, he’s just a year younger than you! Why do I meet guys who are a lot older than me, and married to boot? Or when I was younger in New York, they’d be gay, and EVERYONE WOULD KNOW IT except for ME! God, if I had a buck for every time I made a complete fool of myself. Oh, well.
    Anyway, it doesn’t matter whether we agree or not; what matters is that we CAN disagree and still respect each other and fight for the other person’s right to their opinion. Without that, we’re gone. And blogging has gotten, in some places, really “ugly” as we used to say down south. I mean, first of all, people writing like Prince’s song lyrics “luv U 2 Dud. I assume that means “love you, too, dude.” But they don’t actually WRITE anymore, and we used to! On usenet, people wrote! They did. People now can’t even bother to insult someone properly. “dud” What the hell is that???? If it’s a long “u,” you gotta make the heavy effort to tag on the silent “e.” Sheesh. Mostly, when people disagree, they go “get help dud.” I would say to them, “get HELP WITH YOUR WRITING FIRST, DUDE!” Why call someone insane just because you disagree with them? I mean, the ‘net is supposed to be here so people can talk, and opinions can be aired, and maybe I can learn from your years and your perspective, and you can learn from whatever I might have to offer. THAT is what it is supposed to be like! Not just telling people that they’re insane and dumping everything they have to say! People have had interesting lives and experiences, which has shaped the way they see things, and if you want to understand other people (and if you don’t, why ARE you in an interactive forum in the first place: just to insult people?), then, well, listen to their story, and offer your take on it.
    For example: I’ll let you in on something regarding that grade thing with the “guilty white liberal”: black kids routinely call that “the pity points” from those “guilty white liberals” and they HATE IT!! If you have any respect for someone, you tell them the truth! Hell, I’m not a “liberal” in that sense, anyway. I don’t like ANY labeling. Like I said earlier: I just calls ’em as I sees ’em. I let some of my students read some of my professional papers before presenting them, and sometimes a black kid will go: “how the hell do YOU know that? How can ANY white person know that feeling?” And I say, well, first of all, I don’t know the answer to your question exactly, but I do know that I have a pretty rough road myself, and when I was a kid, it was usually black kids who came to my aid: I’ll never, EVER forget a kid named “Irving.” No way to every find the “dud” -uh, dude, (see, it’s not that hard, ‘netters!), so all I can do is tell the story. I was in Atlanta for the first time, and the kids were typically brutal (didn’t matter whether they were Jewish or Gentile, or whatever . . . I was going be their victim . . . one girl said it was because I walked with my head down, so they thought I was “weird” and “stuck up.” Hell, stuck up?? Quite the opposite! But whatever their reason, they had no right to keep on attacking and attacking and attacking with such vitriol.) I pisses me off that the adult community (who have conveniently forgotten their youth as tormentors) only caught on to bullying when THEIR OWN kids were in danger because the victims fought back with deadly weapons. I would never have done that, of course, but their are millions of kids who also never do that, but who are suffering, dammit! Some of them use drugs. Some of them contemplate suicide. And some of them just sort of curl up into themselves and start flunking out. In high school, another one, I had one teacher who seemed to give a damn. Gave me a book intended to give me “self-esteem.” It didn’t, but the gesture meant a lot. And she said I should be on the “drill team.” I thought she was crazy: that was for all the “cute girls.” In other words, she was saying I was one of the cute girls, but I didn’t believe HER; I believed the little creeps. That’s what kids do. It’s why when I hear of a horror story involving a kid (even if it happened in ’58-59 or whatever), I cannot help but want to know what happened, who hurt him the worst (his folks, it turns out — and a girl he thought actually loved him, but took off “when the game got rough”), and even today, behind the craggy face, worn down by liquor, cigarettes, bad trips, and all whatnot (that literal nervous breakdown for a week in ’77 that he admits he had when Elvis died, and he spoke to NO ONE for an entire week . . . Greil Marcus claimed to be very upset: yeah, his Hawaiin vacation was interrupted!! I’m not kidding. I swear to you, I am not making this up. He was on vacation in Hawaii, while Elvis was in Memphis, awaiting the first tour since “that book” came out and contemplating suicide [did a helluva job of it, too: took ALL the codein pills the dentist gave him, and an overdose of Placidyl on top of that, plus a bunch of other stuff for frosting on the cake . . . syringes still on the floor after they “cleaned up” . . . yeah, he really went at it that night . . . not considering fans like Bob, who would have nervous breakdowns, or kids like me, who would have decades of nightmares of banging on locked glass arena doors, unable to get in to see him live . . . and kids like Eddie Murphy, who being black, had to suffer in tortured silence ’cause being an Elvis fan wasn’t considered cool among his friends . . . until he finally told somebody — happened to be Spike Lee — to put a sock in it, and when Spike said “you don’t know Elvis . . .” Eddie told him, pretty much “YOU don’t know Elvis.” In nice way, but he let him know that he’d better shut the fuck up or else he’d end up not only looking like Disney’s Jimeny Cricket character, but he’d look like a SQUASHED cricket, at that. I mean, it was quite easy to read between the lines, especially since Spike did shut the fuck up after he said too much. Eddie loved Elvis since he was a very little kid, he knew about the “rumor” (that JET MAGAZINE debunked back in the 1950 after a thorough investigation, and found NO truth to it whatsoever. I know that it was a deliberate plant, because, at exactly the same time, two OTHER rumors came out (1957), one about Mexicans (hell, in ’57, I don’t think Elvis even knew what or who a “Mexican” was!! Sheesh. He was from Missippippi and Tennessee!, and a third, actually violent rumor that said he hated anyone in the “Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marines.” This came out after the Jet investigation cleared him of the first one, but more kept coming, and now he was getting PUNCHED BY BIG DUDES IN UNIFORM!! He’d had it, and sent telegrams to all the media outlets saying that these rumors were all plants, and he “believe(s) God created everybody equal” (all right, so he wasn’t an anthropologist and so didn’t know that this state of complete equality of all people is impossible [we wouldn’t even be able to procreate if this were true!] – but it is true that there are more differences between people in the same ethnic group [race, if you will], than between races . . . and I believe that is what he meant . . . and he also meant: WHOEVER IS DOING THIS TO ME, PLEASE STOP, FOR CHRISSAKES! I’M GETTING CLOCKED WHEREVER I GO, NOW!)
    So, where was I? Irving. A stand-up guy, uh, kid. Sat behind me in biology, where the teacher never showed up. (This was in 9th grade, not in the high school I finished, but I had my problems, there, too.) He didn’t know me at all (hell, it was such a huge room, with few kids, that not many people knew other people: huge school . . . but no learning ever went on their then). But he had been watching, quietly – from the sidelines, you might say. And he got up his nerve, and leaned forward and said “I’ll take care of the little bastards for you.” I said “what?” He replied that he’d been observing what they were constantly doing to me: not letting me just LIVE, for even a few minutes on any day, and he said he wished to personally beat the crap out of the main offenders, and he was big for his age (he was 14, like me, but way taller), and he could really mess them up and make them stop. I said “NO! You’ll be the one who gets in trouble.” And he said he wasn’t afraid of those kids, ’cause he’s got his own group of people, and siblings who were even bigger, and it would be ok. I said that I didn’t mean that he’d get in trouble with the kids. I meant the administration. I told him “you know they’ll come down super hard on you because of . . . well, you know why.” And he said he didn’t care. And I’ll never forget what he finally said. “It’s just that I have people to protect me, and you don’t to have anybody.” He asked if I had a big brother. I told him I had no brothers or sisters, and that I had just come up south from Miami Beach (actually Hollywood, Florida, but since they’re so close and almost identical, explaining it always required too much time and unnecessary effort: Hollywood was, after all, just an extention of Miami Beach), where I was glad to leave because some kid was always trying to break my instep. Bought special boots and everything. I was glad to leave Floriday, so yeah, this was bad, but it wasn’t the worst. He said it looked bad enough, and would I please give him my blessing to do this thing, and to let them know WHY he was doing it so they’ll learn not to do this to kids. He said he wouldn’t use my name (there were several other victims, so they wouldn’t know). He just wanted them to know that they couldn’t get away with torturing someone. I told him that I couldn’t stop him, but I said I would be very upset if he got in trouble, and would he please NOT do it? “Why?” “Why not do it?” he wanted to know. I said, well, my first little boyfriend was black-Puerto Rican: an adorable kid named “Michael Pagan” who I knew I’d never see again, and who I already missed so much. We had a little “gang” (in a woodsy little private school on Long Island with lots of scholarships — only place I ever had a real “childhood” with adventures, and the woods, and an old haunted dormitory foundation [a boy was said to haunt the grounds at night] and “spin the bottle” – I got Mike! and though he tried to pretend, I suspected he liked me, and found out for sure from what his mom told my mom at a big assembly. When I left the first time, in 5th grade, I wrote the class a letter about Miami Beach [the real one], and each kid wrote back a letter. Mike’s said “I’m glad you don’t love me anymore.” P.S. — Next time, write me back, PERSONALLY [yes, all caps! Printed in ink pen.]. So my mom, right then, grabbed my hand and we headed for the elevators. I didn’t know what she had in mind. We went looking for the prettiest seashells we could find. She had been an artist, and helped me make the plaster of paris, arranged the shells, sign it “Love, Robin” and then put a, uh, glaze [I forget the name of the stuff] on it to make it permanent. We sent it to him, PERSONALLY, and his mom told my mom about what a CRUSH her son had on “that little Robin.” She said if anybody so much as *touched* “Robin’s shells,” he’d have a tantrum! I remember being embarrassed when I returned at 12, but the boys (Mike, Kerry [Irish Catholic from the former “Westies” gang area of NYC], and Carlos [light Puerto Rican, but older than us]) all jumped out of their chairs in the cafeteria and swarmed around me. I couldn’t believe it. And Mike seemed happiest of all. And then there was the incident where they didn’t feed me, and then we moved back to Florida, and I never saw him ever again, for the rest of my life ’till this moment . . . ’till the twelth of never, I guess.) So, I said I had this crush on that kid (without the story), and my aunt had married two black guys, one of whom was very dear to her, but they didn’t have kids ’cause she got sick and died of cancer, and well, it would hurt me for him to get in trouble on my account. That’s “why” I begged him not to do it. He looked sad.
    I guess he felt sorta helpless. But I had to stop him; he would have caught hell in that school. It WAS the south, after all. He seemed like he didn’t care about getting in trouble, but I cared. I didn’t want to walk around with that. So, I said “Please, please don’t do it.”
    All I remmeber after that is he looked sad.
    And I never saw him again after I left that school that year.
    See, everybody has their reasons for everything. But, seriously, black kids do NOT like “the pity points.” If they’re hard workers, they want to improve, and you can’t improve if the teachers are practicing affirmative action before the kids have a chance to grow up. Certainly, if an industry is currently of a racist sensibility, it really is the only enforcement tool. But no one should get cheated, of course. It’s more like you have to force certain industries to give people an even break EVEN IF THEY DON’T WANT TO. That’s what it’s supposed to be about. That, and that alone.
    You’re teacher with the “brain cloudy blues” just didn’t get it. If he did something that stupid, then he doesn’t even know what “white privilege” is. It has to do with mortgage lending (and they did tests with really wealthy blacks, and the whites with lousy credit histories still got the loans, and the blacks tended not to get them! These were not entertainment types; they were in finance, law, M.D., etc.; they wanted to account for as many variables as possible. These tests have been repeated in many locales. L.A./O.C. is one of the worst. Hell, my folks, in the early ’90s were looking for a house in a prodominently Asian neighborhood, and I tagged along, just curious ’cause a friend was doing a dissertation about model homes, so I wanted to see some in Cali. And they walked in, took a self-tour of the models, and the lady comes over [Asian lady], and says “do YOU really want to buy a house here? My folks, and I, were flabbergasted. Never heard THAT before. California was rich with such surprises in the future. But I’ll never forget that one. Oh, and property values DO go UP when neighborhoods integrate. Stone fact. But “just school” integration can never work unless the society as a whole has gotten its act together. But you try, anyway. You try to make it at least like that little school on Long Island before that Desisto creep [may God NOT rest his soul – sorry] destroyed the school.)
    But, you see, we are actually writing and talking. It’s typical blog-speak. It’s not “C U 2morow”. Or other spendid examples of people explaining themselves fully. I may make mistakes from typing too fast, but at least you can see I am trying to actually write (and so are you). These kids have found a shorthand that has REPLACED writing. It’s a bear to teach ’em. They can read well, do beautiful jobs reading and working with Walt Whitman, etc., and most are generally bright. And they can learn advanced math very quickly (our school — well, the one I founded) has proven that we can teach 12 and 13 year-olds advanced mathematics (even college level for some!), difficult physics and chemistry, and they can read and interpret poetry and prose (I even played Bob Dylan’s “Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie,” explain that this is a kid not much older than you, and he’s terrified, and it was his first and only “poetry reading” — a way of explaining what that is — and they have absolutely NO IDEA WHO BOB DYLAN is! They don’t even remember Jakob Dylan and the Wallflowers (what a lousy name for a rock band; who wants to be a Wallflower?) Which automatically makes him cool all over again! This I like! In the eighties, you had to be a moron to play Dylan in class. You’d be lucky to escape with your life. But today, all of that has changed. They never heard of him; the films are all cool, and the girls think he’s “hot.” And “I feel so bad about them boo’ing him. That’s really mean to buy a ticket to a concert just to boo somebody.” I asked them, at one point “why do you think he told them to turn off the lights for the camera (after he yelled at the people outside the car “don’t boo me! don’t boo me, man!” And then he says he can’t get in tune when they boo, “I don’t even WANNA get in tune!” And the girls get misty eyed.)?
    “Why did he not want the lights on him right then?” And all the girls, as one, say “’cause he was gonna cry!” Kids are emotionally keyed in, much more than adults. Especially today. Things are very plain to them. And, sadly, they HAVE learned from the school shootings that people do have feelings. I do point out that the VAST, VAST majority of kids who are bullied hurt no one but themselves. So don’t think a victim is gonne blow you away, ’cause they’re not. Be nice to people because they’re people, not because you’re afraid of them. But it has had its effect, and they are key’d in to people’s emotions. I don’t want to say that’s good, because it is not: not the way that it happened. You only wish they would have cared about other people without the “fear motive.” That’s not good. But it’s the world we live in.
    At least, they go into things with minds a lot more open than when I was a kid. I just wish it didn’t have to happen the way that it did.
    God, can you imagine if Bobby Dillon was a kid TODAY? Gawd! That high school would have been turned into hamburger meat. “Gentle soul” that part of him was, he was also a time bomb. He was hungry for love, and got dumped by his girl AND his parents (clearly). And he wanted to be seen as a “tough”: as James Dean, as “Bob Dillon” based on a TV cowboy with two 6-shooters on his hip. He carried a knife beneath his belt as a matter of course. Today, he’d carry more than that. He was a boy (which automatically ups the ante on this type of kid), he was rejected by almost everyone, he wanted both love AND attention, and get rejected at every turn. One time, the pulled the curtain down on him! His father told him that no one “raises their voice in THIS house” and had a ridiculouly early curfew that I am sure he blew plenty of times. Gave him no spending money, but he found other kids – one or two who could get into a movie, buy some hot dogs. And then, the topper: the girl throws his friendship bracelet in his face in front of the whole school (who he was desperately trying to impress!), and at some point, before or after that — it doesn’t matter, he turned to some sort of crime. What do you think his next step that year would have been TODAY??? I can just hear the newscasters “a history of problems . . . ” “Try him as an adult!” Etc.
    And we all would have lost a great, great artistic talent. Think about what we may be losing today. Right now. With kids who have accesss to incredible danger — dangers that really didn’t exist back then, as bad as it was for that kid. It would be so much worse today. And everyone would know his name, and his parents, and no one would ever know or care about him.
    Well, kids TODAY have to face such tough choices. And a kid like that: that would be one who would blow. And I think of the ones who have blown, and what we may have lost.
    Someone has got to do something to help these kids learn about other’s feelings. I think they are starting, but just starting. It’s still might tough out there for kids. I can only hope it will get better if people in the field would pay more attention than they were ever expected to. Maybe more “Miss Skukan”s who was the teacher who said I should be on the “drill team” and seemed to just care. But they are not only rare; they are almost unheard of. I would never, even today been one of THOSE kids: the kids who completely lose it. But when you think back, imagine the ones who hung by a thread to . . . . sanity. Like Bobby Dillon. How many of them went down? How many of them took the road to nowhere? How many did we already lose?
    No wonder I keep looking for a young genius to make his advent in the early 21st century, but there’s no one. They have a lot of ways other than music to unleash their pain and anger.
    I’ll stop for today. I just wanted to make two little points. Oh, well. Remember what that “guy” said (Hank Williams) “so help your brother along the way, no matter where he starts/the same God that made you, made him too, these men with broken hearts.”
    I just try to do that as best I can.

  39. R M Says:

    Take a look INSIDE Red Wing. 360 degree virtual tour. It’s at the end of this post. Open to the public.

    Take a look at that “day room” and those rooms. Those dark rooms. And the ones with the openings on top and bottom are weird, ’cause you can get out of them, unless you were cuffed and “bound” in some manner.
    Hey, I’ve been in a lot of schools: and this ain’t no normal school! Maybe from the road . . . which is all they cared about. And they make it presentable for guests. No people in any of the pictures. Plus there is an article calle “the Wall of Red Wing,” with a history of the place (whitewashed carefully: just like all that painted-over stuff you see in the “virtual tours”), and all for the purpose of saying “Bob Dylan” never did time here! Well, of course not. He was, legally, Robert Allen Zimmerman at the time. But we ought not say too much, lest they shred more records of all of this. Hey, if you were in charge, wouldn’t you want any evidence of this to be eliminated?

    As to posting, I think I might have given offense. If so, I apologize if it were taken personally. I just enjoy a good discussion, and think we should be free with our thoughts. I feel that’s what the ‘net has always been about. If we agreed about everything, it would make things awful dull. Seriously, thought, see below. I hope I didn’t hurt your feelings. That was not my intent at all. I think we come to our worldviews through experience, and we cannot all have the same experiences. (That’s why I said, despite the good intentions . . . everyone “cannot” be “created equal” — not literally, because we would face extinction! I think that’s why it’s illegal to marry your cousin (first, Jerry Lee, ok?!). Too much sameness and there are problems, which is why we are talking at all, and posting. Because in the disagreements is where we really learn stuff: about each other, the world, whatever. It’s important to be different, to think differently, and to disagree. And no offense intended. If you were offended by anything I said, my apologies. The idea is to speak freely, respectfully, but definitely freely. How else can we figure stuff out? Heck, the math thing was bugging me, ’cause I didn’t want to look stupid. And then I remembered the weird rules that the school systems make. I suppose it would have caused some chaos, but then again, I figure his mom (when he was 4) wanted to give him a graduation day at age 17. Didn’t work out because of the move. Otherwise, it would have. And his life would have been even more of a mess. There is a good reason why they don’t want kids to go to college or leave school too early. They aren’t ready. Heck, they aren’t ready as it is, let alone too early. I can understand this. I think. I mean, our school has the “Early College” component,” but the kids are under supervision, of course.
    And I figure any mom who tried this, would have the guts to try to pretty up his “youthful indiscretion.” Hey, maybe the shrink is telling the truth, but he could not do so unless he was given a signed waiver! So, no matter what, it is ABSOLUTELY clear that, from the beginning of his public career, they regarded this as a problem, even seeking out a shrink, who would be legally permitted to say who his patient was (normally illegal), so that people would believe Bob did the time in Pennsylvania, not Minnesota. And to go to all that trouble . . . and then he says he did time at Red Wing. That is WEIRD. I don’t see any other explanation. Except perhaps that his mom was shocked that HE was the one who said it.\
    Now, to what I wanted to say, first — so we’re not on bad terms just because we don’t agree about everything. Like I said, that would be boring . . . and so on.


    You stopped; I hope it wasn’t because we merely disagreed! Gosh, if people agreed about everything, especially the important things, nobody would ever have worthwhile discussion about . . . anything. You also said you were “almost offended.” Hey, go ahead be OFFENDED! It’s OK!! There are two parts to what is now called “Political Correctness” (and which used to be just called “walking on eggshells,” which no one should ever be afraid to do on the Internet — it is what the ‘net is really here for in the first place . . . a truly free place where people can open up in a small space of freedom of expression and not have somebody pop up and rudely question their sanity. That REALLY makes me angry: not disagreement, but that some people do not either know how to reply, or simply enjoy hurling insults rather than well-thought out replies. It makes me mad when someone “writes” ‘get help dud” — one, showing their inability and unwillingness to actually write, and two, seeming to enjoy reading blogs so as to insult people. I could tell you were NOT in that catagory. I could tell that you really wanted to try to understand, and these days, you do not see very much of that. I liked it. I had hoped more people would jump in, but if not, so what. We were “on the hunt,” you might say, not in the crude, disresptful manner of that guy who used to plunder Dylan’s actual garbage (that still blows my mind: 1) because it’s to pointless, and 2) because, believe it or not, the tabloids now do that with some regularity with all kinds of people. I mean, if people REALLY had something to hide, they wouldn’t throw it in the trash, in the open! Unless, of course, they wanted somebody to find it, and that seems silly nowadays ’cause all you gotta do is go on some “talk” show and show all the garbage you want.
    Anyway, that is NOT what we are doing here (in case you’re evesdropping, Bob, which I doubt). I feel we’re really taking a person seriously in what they said (clearly for the public to know), when in the past, they pretty much did a lot to tell as many “tall tales” as possible, so no one would believe ANYTHING he would sooner or later say, one way or another. Hey, if ANY other artist had written that song (“Red Wing”), and later backed it up by saying he did, indeed, do time there, I do not believe that any writer would feel the need to “check the story out” with HIS MOTHER! I mean, c’mon, a mother is going to try to put THAT brushfire out big-time! She’s his MOTHER! That would be the LEAST reliable source because she would not want the world to know that her son did get into that sort of trouble. So, whatever she says, you must allow for the fact that she’s going to play it down. The fact that she admitted to “some” of it is absolutely stunning (but not so much, because they had an “at-the-ready” head-shrinker to confirm her side of the story. That almost sows it up for me, because in a thing like that, normally, everyone concerned would be instructed – strongly (payoff, whatever) – to deny all. The very fact that he did NOT deny is the stronest possible evidence that Dylan’s own Red Wing admission is true. I mean, he’s a psychiatrist! He’s not allowed, BY LAW, supposedly, to admit to talk about any patient-client, ever! And that’s a fact that is undeniable. So you KNOW the family, in some way, had to have set up this psychiatrist’s “admission” because frankly, it’s against the law for him to speak about having any particular named client! That’s illegal, and could cost him his liscence! (sp?) Did anyone, like Heylin, not realize this? UNLESS permission was granted. And the permission had to come from Dylan himself, actually. Which is probably what his mother did, but a long time ago. “If anybody asks about this, we’ll get someone from that “other” place to say you were there; that would be better, wouldn’t it, Bobby?” I wonder about the last time he came home, and his reaction to his father’s first heart attack in talking to Shelton. He said this “Man, nobody knows what is the matter with me, and I’m not about to go tell anybody.” Not the type to agree to voluntary type place like Deveraux with its “medical model.” Today, they do not seem like a “placement” for juvenile delinquents at all, but they may have been different then. But that kid was not the type to talk to any head shrinker, then, or any other time. He’s just not the type. I mean, if he had, would he, years later say “can imagine me getting kicked out of Colorado for robbing a cat’s house?” And he’s in his 40s when he says this, “without remorse” according to his “official biographer” Shelton. That doesn’t sound to me like anyone who was in a “medical model” type program, where at least he would know that “robbing a cat’s house” is, uh, against the law, and not something you treat all that lightly. He would at least know what to be lackadaisacal about! And it would be of interest to look at the other place(s) in Pennsylvania to see if they resemble anything in any of his songs! I’ve checked out Red Wing, and they have this awewome “360-view” of various parts of the place, and it’s a ringer for what he describes! An absolute ringer. This was not something somebody “told him.” No one is going to DESCRIBE THE PLACE IN GREAT DETAIL! That’s ridiculous. Anyone who really was there, who was NOT a songwriter, would just say “yeah, I did time there, and they try to make it look like a school from the outside, but it’s not.” And I do not believe that any guy would go into further detail. And I mean DETAIL. The sound of the “siding” at night, “making my ears ring.” Even if someone had told him about it, he certainly would NOT have included this detail. It’s *extremely* personal. When you’re talking about something making your “ears ring,” it’s very personal. Almost like he was talking to a lover — someone like Baez when they were in California and he wrote a LOT of material. He could be vulnerable with her, because she felt maternal towards him, and the material that came out of that time had that quality. I think under other circumstances, he wouldn’t have revealed such detail. Even “Tomorrow Is a Long Time” has very palpable – very touchable – detail . . . “I can’t hear the echo of my footsteps; I can’t remember the sound of my own name.” Shrink or not, he’s drifting back in time . . . and the detail is remarkably similar to a MUCH later song like “Cold Irons Bound” where he stops feeling himself . . . For those of us who never took such a trip (and if it was Pennylvania, he would NOT have been “twenty miles out of town and cold irons bound.” That’s absurd), we cannot know what that feels like, and neither could he. And if we did have such an experience, we wouldn’t be able to share it in any way except some kind of artistic expression. Yeah, he knew, if at about 24-25 years old that something “is the matter with me.” But he makes sure to say he wasn’t about to go telling anyone . . . at least outside of the song-writing arena.
    But the main point is that the shrink is not legally permitted to speak to anyone without the permission of the patient-client. Period. It may be different for underage, but he would have to have a PARENT’s permission. But this was many, many years later, and it’s simply not legal for him to say Dylan was his patient. EVER. But I can imagine, that after he had a record out, that both Dylan and his parents were worried. And so they made plans in case it ever came up. And sure enough, Dylan decided to do it. If he had told this guy, this old friend of his NOT to disclose this to anyone, he would not have done so. But it was clear that he wanted it disclosed. And he was might clear: Red Wing. Why, after all these years, why hedge? Well, if you’re his mother, then you’ve got a reason (and if you’ve already set up a “back-up scenario” with a shrink who was given permission to say he had treated him, then it would be ok. Heck, if young Dylan had been given a disclosure form when he was 21 or so, he might not even have read it. May not even have known of this “Deveraux” idea of his parents. If it was important to them, what the hell, he’d sign it. It didn’t mean anything, anyway, if he had never seen a shrink! Because there would be nothing to tell. And he nothing to tell. Like “why was the kid there?” That is pretty much legal at the time; it was before the Gault decision, I’m quite sure. But that is something they do not wish to disclose. And I can imagine Dylan thinking that whatever he was asked to sign was for his own protection from the press-public. Actually, it was for his parents’ protection, and I guess he should have known that. Because, in the end, his mom ends up calling her famous son a damned liar! In his 40s! Now, why the hell would she do that? And have a shrink lined up, and everything? Clearly, she (and earlier, both of them), had been waiting for the other shoe to drop. But it never did (the state of Minnesota saw to that: “Bob Dylan” never did time in Red Wing. Surely true. Legally true, too. But what about Robert Allen Zimmerman. You gotta get the FULL access to the legal databases for the time. And hope that they were open to the public at the time. And hope that the records were not destroyed. That would be the only way.
    The only other way — and I think it’s a good way — is to look at the place and listen to the songs. And look at his behavior at the time. That’s a lot easier, and it makes it quite clear.
    Wanna see inside Red Wing? Here goes:
    This is just ONE 360 degree virtual tour! There are several. Some weird stuff, too. Like that cicular barbed wire thing, like they would walk through it or something. Is this the “screen” of which his lyrics’ speak? Dunno. Just lots of wire walls all over the outdoors, stuff that’s been painted over a gazillion times, and some indoor scenes that are chlling.

  40. R M Says:

    I meant “It’s NOT typical blog-speak. Why do I make these damn mistakes. Always gotta type too fast on a slow connection. Need DSL.

  41. reprindle Says:

    RM. Nobody went away. Don’t be so insecure. Things pile up. I have my blogs:,,, my photostream on Flickr, google dugwarbaby and click on Flickr, I’m trying to shepherd a book through publishing, keep up my reading of a hundred pages a day not counting the internet, digest Dylan’s senior year and check the sources on that for a write up, pay some attention to the wife, and shower and shave. Oh yeah, and ‘take out the trash and bring in the cat.’ I have to organize my thoughts occasionally to stay one step ahead of the Thought Police.

    Yes, Dylan did fall into a laughing fit (Scaduto) when he learned that Elliott (Anglo name) was Jewish. He thought Elliott was some glorious goi cowboy like Guthrie. He had a lot invested in the reverence he felt for the goi. Then he learned that Elliott was no better than himself so he lost respect. Bob had put himself on. Collapsed in mirth as a result. Laughing at himself as it were.

    I don’t know why he didn’t realize that Elliott was Jewish. The young Elliott had a really Jewish face but maybe they didn’t put pictures on the Topic covers. I don’t know why but Jews seem to have a difficult time recognizing other Jews. When I tell someone that so and so is Jewish they seem genuinely surprised. Don’t understand it, seems really obvious to me.

    Anyway it’s almost time to write up everything we’ve been discussing about Dylan from 16 to 18. The only thing still uncertain to me is whether Echo was involved in setting Bob up for his humiliation. I recently viewed a video someone called A Bit Of Bob where he’s goofing off in front of a shop in England. He would definitely be seen as an objectionable twerp by his fellow students. I’m sure they woud have tried to humiliate him in some way.

    A set up where the victim takes the fall while his cicerone walks is quite common. Everyone would have had a good laugh when bob ‘went away’ for a couple months. As no action was taken against Echo one has to wonder.

    Her public repudiation of Bob, if it happened after the break in, which it probably did, would be part of it. As a girl from the poor side of town Echo may have done it in an attempt to ingratiate herself with her ‘betters.’ I’m betting she was on the easy side open to advances from the uptown boys but I could be mistaken.

    That’s my main problem at the moment. I think Echo is the key.

    I’ve seen the pictures of Red Wing. Pretty posh place compared to the orphanage. The dining room looked like the Waldorf Astoria. I would have been able to eat in that evironment. Of course, we would have to know the exact situation in ’59 when Bob was there. If those guys were howling all night so a decent guy couldn’t sleep then getting through the sixty days may have been an experience one doesn’t easily forget. If Bob didn’t know he’d been had it might have been easier for him but if he knew of the setup it would have been tough to bear. I mean, imagine that, he and Echo were surprised in their breakin at eleven on a dark night. Did they turn on the lights? Not impossible but it would be good to know exactly what the circumstances were.
    Caught in the act on a dark night in Hibbing. Hmm.

  42. R M Says:

    Sorry for my paranoia; comes with the territory of being me. Don’t be so insecure! Ha! If only. I always assume I said or did the wrong thing. It never seems to end up that way, but I always think so.

    Don’t sweat it; and, rememember: “wife” generally comes first, or your life will be unhappy, indeed. Heck, you probably have a wonderful wife if she has created a marital atmosphere where you feel free to, well, think freely. That’s exactly how I feel about relationships: politics, religion, whatever . . . shouldn’t matter much: what matters is that you can understand each other, and feel free to always speak your mind, and never turn in angry. I think that should apply to a whole family, I think, but then again, I was an only child and so everything was very informal. I never wanted for much in high school, so I would get “spending money” on an “as needed” basis – and I rarely needed it: I wanted some magazines, gum that cost two for a penny, school supplies . . . not much, really. In college, I had A LOT more fun; high school sucked, anyway.
    But for a kid like Bob (he had a little brother, remember, and a distant relationship with his father, to say the least), in the late 1950s, when kids routinely hit the movies, stopped for a bite to eat together, etc., a 9:30 curfew — Echo spent time with him through early senior year, she says, and says that his curfew was 9:30 [incidentally, that would be a damn good reason for a girl to want to flee a relationship in her senior year!] Even if he gave him an extra half hour, or so – which she does NOT say, it’s still too early for a kid that who is almost finished with high school . . . not to mention that he had no allowance or spending money given to him (not changing things even after he had found a “steady” – at an appropriate grade level). She had to buy the “hot dogs” or whatever . . . because he had no money to be, well, “a boy.” If there was a “conspiracy,” I’d say it was a “conspiracy of one”: his dad’s plotting to keep him home and out of trouble, while at the same time setting him up for trouble because there were so many rules to break! (Read Gary Crosby’s book: it explains very well how crummy parents set that up. Not that Abe was like Crosby! Hell, very few people could be like that . . . but it’s the nature of how he set them up to BE in trouble, a lot.) We know that he WAS trouble: James Dean films influencing his entire personality, break-ins (and it seems as though he usually got caught, or wanted to — to be provocative, which is typical for kids with authority problems), that little convertable that he whined for . . . and his father telling him “no impulse (buying)”: which very well could have been the cause of what happened. For some reason he absolutely DID NOT have that car with which to go off to college; his parents drove him down there. And no other mention is made of the car after a brief interlude . . . he hitched a lot, and even speaks about these days, that hitching was a normal thing to do then, etc. Makes a point of it. Does not speak of his little convertable!
    It may be that he did a little “impulse shopping” on his own. All of a sudden, he shows up with the car; the kids heard the argument, and then they saw the car. You never hear them saying that they saw Abe go “well, all right, but no [this] and no [that]. The car just appeared. And then it disappeared.
    I’m not saying we know, of course: that’s the really the mystery, more than “when.” The “when” we can figure out from the songs: “get your mind off wintertime; you ain’t goin’ nowhere.” We do not know for certain that he did do “two months” at all: that’s simply Heylin’s conjecture – or what he was told when confronting his mom. I wouldn’t put a whole lot of stock in anything she said. If you ask a “mom,” you are definitely going to get yourself a watered down story. (I don’t see any “dining halls” in the 360 virtual tour pictures: there is an old, not very clear picture of the dining hall decades before he was there. Those are “day rooms”: places for the kids who are NOT going to school to spend time (“it’s all afternoon, you remember your hometown”), and they’ve been “prettied up,” remember, for the camera! That’s very important to remember. And, gosh, I’m sorry that your orphanage does sound like something out of Dickens! (Or Charles Chaplin’s childhood; ever read that one? He and his brother were thrown into a workhouse because their mother had problems.) I see so much freshly painted – everything, indoors, or out. And no, nothing there actually looks like a resturant in a NY hotel! (Sometimes, in Winter, just before Christmas, after doing the “Window Walk” – looking at the fantastic window displays on fifth ave., I would stop at one of the hotels and have lunch there using a credit card (would gobble up at least a week’s pay!). Nothing at Red Wing looks like that. Frankly, it looks, inside, like a freshly painted (and very tidy: no “stuff” or clutter at all) prison. Check out the men’s prisons — the minimum security ones: they are much bigger and have those creepy balconies, but the exteriors of the old buildings at Red Wing look pretty decayed. There are only about a couple of old buildings, that I can see. They were built to “look good” from the road back in the 19th century. From the beginning, Red Wing was intended to make a false impression. They wanted to go for the “New England Private School” look. The ground look nice, but remember, they were prepared for a camera shoot. What IS interesting is that strange circular barbed wire, INSIDE the grounds. (Most people just read the lyrics, or listen to Baez’s version: his version goes “inside the GROUNDS behind the walls of Red Wing.” And he makes clear the dark humor of the title: “the walls are barbed wire.” Anybody who takes the title literally hasn’t actually listened to the song or even read the lyrics. And there certainly ARE walls in a variety of buildings: just no concrete or brick walls SURROUNDING the place. That is exactly what they didn’t want. I took the closest view that I could of those rooms, to see inside the ones that allow it, and boy, are they dark. “Darkness at the break of noon; a handmade blade, a child’s balloon eclipses both the sun and moon.” In that last one, we see an image of youth shutting out both sunlight and moonlight. If one was locked away in such a dark place, one would not know the diference between day and night.
    Anyway, if he says “the dirty OLD mess hall,” we can assume that on normal days, everything is not all cleaned up for the cameras, AND that the place is very old, which it is. And we see old kitchen equipment now used for other purposes. But I don’t think it’s the kids make that noise at night: he mentions something about the “siding” that made a disturbing sound, and that he’d “pretend to be a-sleeping.” Not that he couldn’t if he wanted to, but he seemed afraid to sleep. After all, if he was 17 or even 18 (and I doubt it, because of “get your mind off Wintertime; you ain’t goin’ nowhere.” And the car’s disappearance, and her giving her ring ID bracelet back early in their senior year. I feel certain he’s telling people the time frame when he says “no older ‘n seventeen.” We can be clear that she threw the bracelet back at him in front of everyone so that they would know that she had nothing to do with it. There may be a certain “cool” factor in having done time: but none in your girl dumping you in front of everyone (and so unnecessary!). Yeah, she probably was “the easy girl” ’cause no other girl seemed interested in him. Remember, except for his birthday in May, the rest of the year, he was quite young. A lot of kids are (I was), but I don’t think he liked it. He was young-looking for his age anyhow. So, she was pretty much his last hurrah. There were no other girls in his senior year. And no car, that I can tell. He must have felt pretty trapped, just when the other kids were spreading their wings. He’d made a childish mistake, whatever it was, and lost everything, in his view.
    One thing I feel clear about: I think it was more than just two months. It had a monumental effect on him. Look at the song catalog: so many about about being imprisoned, trapped, “drifter’s escape,” and on and on.
    I think we need a flow chart, really.

  43. R M Says:

    I forgot the most important thing that you hinted at: “car + girl = PARKING.” A cop shines his light, and if so inclined, checks the plates and registration . . . and maybe, uh oh.

    Yup, that’s maybe why Echo was in such a foul mood. She not only was involved in his impending doom, but exposed! Literally.

    If that’s what happened. Makes sense, does it not?


  44. reprindle Says:

    Quick one. Makes sense doesn’t it? No. This is Hibbing way up there in the Iron Range just barely a part of the United States. We didn’t even think it was.

    How many cops can Hibbing have and are they going to bother with kids the cops all know parking? Seems unlikely but you can’t never tell.

    Bob would have to have been extra stupid to steal a car in a small town but then I’ve known a number of extra stupid kids. Still I see it as a stretcher. I grew up in a town of 100.000 and I can’t imagine getting caught parking. Heck, on a Saturday you could find a hundred cars parking on Ojibway Island. Cops didn’t care.

  45. R M Says:

    Hmm. I have heard, personally, several accounts of kids getting “randomly” caught “parking.” And it’s in a LOT of books, both fiction, and autobiography. That flashlight. The cops who actually do it, are kinda weird, in my opinion, but there are great numbers of them all over the country (and this was undoutedly summer, the way I see it looks to me. Like I said, Gotta get a flow chart going. But yeah, cops do that: definitely. (NO, it did NOT happen to me: I did not have that interesting or fun social life for that. Wish I DID! I never went “PARKING,” but the other kids talked about it a lot. Even in college, because if you didin’t make it into the dorms by 4 AM, you were locked out. In essence, they acted like “parents” in setting a curfew, which resulted in childish behavior sometimes. Only reason I stayed in the dorm was that it was cheap, clean, and had great food on site. And it was safe; Alabama was one of the few campuses that tended to be honest when there was a pattern-rapist around. One was hunting around McFarland Mall when I was a Freshman, and another made his base of operations the parking lot behind Tutwelier. (NO parking there; better believe it!)
    But cops do go roving about, especially if it was a small town. Wouldn’t be much interesting crime: not even that many stores, and everybody was downscale on the economic ladder. (Guess that’s why the called the doctor’s houses “pill hill”: maybe there really were a number of “samples” spilled about the area that the kids went hunting for. Or maybe it was just a nickname. In any case, you can see that, for the most part, the Zimmermans were what mainstream soc. people would call “upper lower.” (I know that sounds ridiculous, but so is mainstream sociology.) A guy like Abe would be clinging by his fingernails to lower middle class, hoping he and his bros. wouldn’t lose their place in a recession, and find themselves scraping for ever-disapearing mining jobs. Seems to me it was that kind of town. You could “make it” — a little, but that could be blown away like ore dust quite quickly. In any case, he died young.
    Now as to what happened and when: clearly, the weather was sping-summer weather (check out the weather in Fairwell, Angelina), and there is another song that has little to do with the timing, but is powerful in its naked emotion: the version to hear is on the “Bootleg Series” and he sounds as desperate as a young kid: “Worried Blues.” Never mind any OTHER version: it’s the one on the Bootleg Series V. 1-3. He voices crackles with absolute desperation in asking his girl not to leave him, and it’s absolutely clear as to what he is worried about. You gotta hear it.
    Also, on his version of Red Wing, at one point, I think when he said “made my ears ring” it’s like he forgets he’s supposed to be singing at all, and it sounds more like speech. He sorta gathers himself back together and sings the rest. But at one point, he just sorta speaks to whomever is listening. Naturally, the liner notes say that Dylan never did time there, OF COURSE (which sounds ridiculous today with all these celebrities getting into Mondo Trouble, but what the hell), but that the subject matter is presented in so raw a fashion that it’s no wonder there was no big line-up of singers who wanted to record it. But wasn’t this song done for demo purposes, after all? And if it was, then why do a song that no one would want to record! And to make people wonder about your own past (that’s been covered up under layers of tales, hiding the fact the you were even FROM Minnesota). And then he’s in this beautiful, nurturing California setting, with someone who was very “motherly” toward him, and the song just flows out. Even the live album was cancelled that had this song on it. (Could have been edited out, but that would have been noted by a number of critics and caused concern . . . so the album was cancelled altogether.) He not only sang this song, so clear and open, but so many others along similar lines. I believe he did something to impress Echo, because he had so little to offer: he was not rich, like she was hoping; he had no spending money of his own; his curfew was 9:30 (Bummer!), and so on. He may have been “cute,” but he was definitely no “catch” as far as high school was concerned. Or for a long time afterward. “Twerp”: treated him like an annoying mesquito: Von Rock humorously paints that picture from New York. Just an annoying kid who would not go away. But he found a place for himself in life, except that at the very beginning, he kept running from place to place because he kept stealing. He couldn’t help it. (Says that in one of the songs.) And clearly, it was a compulsion. Usually, you see it in loved-starved 7-year olds; odd to see it in a high school kid, but it may have started quite early. “The Crab Apple” Heck, how can you “steal” a crab apple, anyway? We had loads of them behind the two-room kiddie schoolhouse at Lake Grove. They were free for the taking! Just little crab apples. But apparently, they made an issue of it. I guess that would start something. But more than that, he wanted love and attention. For a time, he got a hell of a lot more than he bargained for. The kid was a natural-born thief: if his dad wasn’t going to get him that car when he wanted it, do you really think he was gonna wait? Especially if Echo wanted a boyfriend with a car! He worked (for nothing) in an electrical supply place; he would know very easily how to do this. And, unconsciously, he knew ABSOLUTELY, that he would get caught – whatever the misdeed. That, he knew. Hell, he seemed to want to get caught. But I do not think SHE did. To her, it was just throwing good time after bad. She could be with someone who had a lot more to offer . . . which is to say that he loved her, but I do not think she loved him at all. In “Girl of the North Country,” he wonders if she remembers him at all. That bad. She made him feel like he was nothing at all, and with all of his father’s restrictions, there seemed to him, nothing he could do to fix that. What? Get a real job that paid? But he was “required” to sweep up the store! And get no spending money. And to have a very early curfew that if he were to have any teen fun at all, he’d be sure to blow. Abe had him in a stranglehold, or so he thought. When he went too far, he must have realized that he did have choices, after all. And then he made plans for “New York Town.” But he still had the stealing compulsion. You just can’t get rid of something like that. He really did/does need a shrink: then for the stealing, today for the botched life that almost ended ten years ago with that heart-ailment (have you ever SEEN such a chain smoker? Well, anyway.) He was very high strung: always jiggling his leg, never comfortable, always tuning and retuning insruments that probably were ok, anyway. Never seemed comfortable. In one song, he mentions (I forget the lyrics, exactly) that when most people were beginning their lives, he was pretty much coming to the end of his. That’s strong language from a kid who was making it in the business! We know when that was, and under what circumstances, but it seemed more general, like it was meant to be that way for him. He felt old already. He felt the thing that PSTD kids usually feel: futurelessness. (Post Traumatic Stress) The trauma may have been Red Wing and the things we cannot know from their “pretty pictures” that they took especially for the public, but more the terror that came before, as the judge sadly pronouced sentence. Every kid in that state was afraid of that place, and now he was not only being sent there, but his father was threatening to disown him for being “defiled”! In other words, unclean, and uncleanable. No wonder he ended up with green teeth. A few years, and he rotted his teeth, and he was obviously not into men’s “musk.” (I know: they didn’t sell that stuff then.) I mean, he must have had a distinct aroma, after a while. After a while of being “defiled,” what would it matter, anyway, right? Yeah, that kid needed help, but deliberately put himself in a situation where it things would go downhill, personally, regardless of his “career.” He had made Woody into a saint: who was all the things he wished he could be, but could not because he was “defiled.”
    And I think Grossman planted a number of those hecklers and boo-ers because he after Newport, he thought it would be a cool gimmick. Such great managers never think of their clients as human beings with actual feelings. They are tools with which to make bucks, and nothing more. Just like Col. Parker’s “Dancing Chickens.” (Look that one up — you couldn’t be EXPECTED to believe me. But it was his style, and Grossman figured that you emulate the best, of course. One time, he tossed all of Elvis’s books into a bonfire! For real. Elvis was recovering from a concussion and bad head injury [for which they did not send him to a hospital! Didn’t want the publicity. He was just lucky, or maybe not; the col. used the opportunity to realign his life without his permission.)
    Anyway, Dylan saw Grossman growing in power, it seemed on that day he took the bike from Grossman’s garage after an argument. I figure, if he had a rational argument about the 64 concert dates that he absolutely did not want to do, then he had not yet had his nervous breakdown. I think that happened when he just left the argument and went looking for the bike. Like he literally “snapped.” He was think a lot of dark thoughts just before it happened, anyway. And he just sort of blew. He knew the bike had problems (most likely with the brakes), and knew what was likely if he went fast enough . . . I think that rational thought had simply left him as he went off in search of his bike, and then got on it and . . . Grossman, worried about promoters suing over the concert dates more than the young man’s situation, called one or two women [probably Sara, maybe someone else, tool], to protect his precious cargo from permanent harm. Hell, it’s hard to stop a speeding motorcycle with a car! All you can do is be around for when it stops. And they were. They knew not to do anything that would alert Mr. Zimmeman, and so he got “good enough” emergency care for the times, and he was damn lucky, I figure. Just a cat with 9 lives.
    But to predict it in something called “motorpsycyo nightmare” is weird: I do NOT think it was planned in the conscious sense. I think it was more like his “destiny” — at least in the recesses of his mind. I do not think he expected to make it out alive, and was probably surprised and a little pissed off. But at least, he was not going back out on tour! It might have hurt, sure, but not as bad as more of that damn touring and being insulted while he made fabulous music. And yes, I think Grossman planted the hecklers and many of the “boo-ers.” He sold a lot of records! Those people did not come to boo. And a guy in England had an American accent! Yeah. I think Dylan figured this too. He had ENOUGH. “Dear Landlord” is every artist’s dream song to sing to their “keeper.” He got the chance to write and sing it, but believe me, whatever Elvis had in mind had to be far more violent. (Even though he felt sorry for him! True fact.)
    More to come
    There’s got to be something that nails down the Red Wing situation, and we’ll find it
    Bye for now,

  46. reprindle Says:

    If you want a chuckle RM go to:
    The first three words might be enough to get you there. Sort of what we’ve been doing.

  47. R M Says:

    I have the address ready to go, but it’s sorta scary. I guess THIS is what the ‘net is for. I mean, some of my friends used to “ramble” about an artist we couldn’t pin down at the time (this was a REAL headcase, who was also the biggest thing going at the time: I have the “We Are The World” book out now to check on Bob’s participation [he stayed virtually the ENTIRE night, and even tried to get into a conversation btw. Willie Nelson and that has-been “Huey Lewis” (as “and the OLD News”) about GOLF. He asked if it was relaxing, and they made it sound like some sort of zen experience. At a certain point, Bob got turned off on this subject, ’cause he was clearly no golfer (intering that he wanted to “relax”: I guess he couldn’t), but he didn’t just do his little part and run. In fact, he wanted to do it a few more times: he wasn’t satisfied, but they all told him he was great “dearest” (Bette Middler . . . the other women very supportive, and Al Jareau crying, I mean CRYING “MY IDOL!!! as he left. Bob was still there. (Ok, it could be because the cases of Bud came late! And several people were not leaving without the Bud. I think he and Willie went into the parking lot to talk about some work together for a bit, but I’m not sure . . . because there was a long Life magazine story as well that went into great detail. The main thing is that this project seemed to mean a lot to him, and he complained later that he didn’t think that you could “save your own life” by helping another, or that shouldn’t even be the point. Well, of course not, but the song had been butchered by “the sane people’ (not the kid who was not only talking to himself as they laid the track down earlier that week, but seemed to be ANSWERING himself! I mean, that was tough exegesis! He makes a remark about getting up early to daydream [the others act mildly perplexed, because like most musicians, they stay up all night, but no biggie], and then, everyone is left stunned by what they heard next. Even Dylan never got this “out-on-the-ledge”, the kid says “What the hell are you talking about?” TO HIMSELF! The others are struck dumb. They do what they must: they go on, but sheesh, they probably would not be the same after witnessing that. So, I’ve been down that road before, and I am going to hit the link. No, I don’t think Bob was EVER so far gone that he actually appeared to have multiple personalities that spoke to one another, but he was still pretty f’ed up, especially as a kid. (And at a certain point: 23 or so, whined “I am NOT a KID!” Which meant, of course, that he still was. A lot of people, Baez among them, still treated him in a sort of nurturing manner, and as if he was talking to his own parents, he actually said that at one point. I don’t know, even at Newport ’65, with his face showing the wear of his contorted personal life . . . he did the ultimate for a young “stud,”: got a girl preggo while still in a relationship with another. You can see it in his face: he’s “waist deep in Big Muddy” as the bluesmen used to say. So, what the hell, why not get the entire folkie establishment pissed off at him, as well! He could then wallow in his gloom. I mean, geez, all he had to do was to use a hollow-bodied electric (I forget the name of that type of guitar), and it would have fit in just fine. But noooooo! He starts hitting Keith Richards riffs! You might as well walk up to the New York Cardinal and crumble the communion wafer! Hell, to them it was The Holy Church of Pure Folk.” Which was never “pure” at all, because for folkk music to actually BE authentic, it cannot be pure! I has to be constantly changing, or it’s some kinda museum piece, which is what I think they were doing: being curators of a “folk” museum. And somebody done painted a mustache on the Mona Lisa! Idiots. That’s all I can put it up to: idiocy. They know it today, and feel like fools, but it’s too late. The smarty-pants college kids (remember, Bob QUIT college for a variety of reasons: I think the only reason he came beck from time to time was to re-enroll ’till 60, which is his last recorded enrollment. And he wasn’t going to school at all. There are some people who are in a different place and no matter what, do not need anything “to fall back on.” That’s mostly crap anyway. I never did get anything to “fall back on.” Every industry has downsized in one way or another and you can either be creative, or have nothing. I am glad I got to hang out with some odd ducks, but other than that, I started out a good writer; they did not make me one, and admitted as much. (With backhanded compliments like “I don’t know how YOU learned how to write like that . . .” I just put up with it and got what I got out of it.
    But the real fun was not for any kind of publication: it was what we are doing: “rambling” around someone else’s mind. It’s fun, it really does no harm (at least I hope not), and you learn about yourself as you do it. And about the world, as well.
    I will head for that site! Be back in a bit.

  48. R M Says:

    It was brilliant. And a great send-up of the medicalization of EVERYTHING! Of course Dylan was/is bipolar; what genius is not? They’re lucky if that’s all they are (and I underestimatied Bob; I forgot that line about hearing voices . . . “). Seriously, though, Bob had a real problem with the song that he did not discuss that night, and it was the idea that “saving yourself” is somehow saving the world, or “the poor unfortunates.” Which is a shame, because that WASN’T the song!! Originally, the chorus was ” there’s a CHANCE we’re taking; we’re TAKING our own lives . . .” Well, all the “normal” people found that last line terrifying, but hell, it WAS terrifying. People were dying en masse of starvation for a variety of reasons that the organization did not even understand. It would never be so easy. And so those weird lyrics (“Hey, people are gonna take that as a suicide line.” And the kid replies “I thought about that too.” Which you can take however you want, but the main point was that when we truly immersed ourselves in the problems their, hell, it WAS a “chance” that we took, and it WAS “suicide.” I refer to Black Hawk Down, which is not quite the same situation, but is close enough to make the original lyrics a hell of a lot closer to reality than to the pleasant ones Bob could never quite swallow. I hope he heard the demo as the guide vocal, so he’d know which writer was responsible for the lamer, tamer version. We can’t really know. But one thing I do know is that Lionel Ritchie will NEVER have any cultural signficance (I think he’s the father of one of those media brats? Big deal.). And the reason is right there in the “pleasant” rewrite of the lyrics. He just didn’t GET it. “We” may be as one, but our world is NOT their world, and their’s nothing we can do, save for taking a chance on risking ourselves, to make it so. Not at this point in history, anyway. And Dylan, being Dylan, could see that, and left unsatisfied despite all the hero worship and the women going “it’s great, dearest” with a hug, etc. Even in his forties, and already craggy-looking, he elicited this materal instinct. Bizarre, but I suppose understandable. Not nearly like when he was a kid, though. It’s hard to comprehend his father’s distance and nasty treatment of him. He WAS a loveable kid; why not let him have a few good times in a small town? If he had let go of that leash, whatever happened, would NOT have happened. I can be almost sure of that. If a parent wants a kid to break the rules and then some, well then make so many rules and be so stubborn that you practically force him to get in trouble. (Though I think they got more than they bargained for. All those years of tension, waiting for the “question” to come up, and Bob himself said it, which must have been a surprise, but she stayed with the prepared course of action. I mean, to get a psychiatrist to speak of a patient is outrageous. That must have taken some BRASS to get that done. Frankly, since Dylan wrote “Walls of Red Wing,” he couldn’t have cared. In fact, I think the “whitewash” thing annoyed him. (By the way, on the virtural tours, have you ever seen so much fresh paint?? Not much “whitewash,” literally, but a LOT of fresh paint. They were prepared to film these special photos (actually, they did them in all of the prisons around the state). But Red Wing was always special in that it was always intended to look like something it was not. They deliberately wanted to make it look like a fancy private school from the road. But no matter how much you pretty something up, it is what it is. I can see the details he mentions in the song (long before there was any kind of interior tour!), I do not see what he calls “the boardwalk,” and absolutely do not know what he means by “farewell to the minutes; they threaten you with it.” Only minutes I know are the minutes in an hour, and the minutes you take in a meeting. This is something else. It must have been some sort of timed punishment where one had to do something, or have something done to them, or whatever, for a certain number of “minutes.” That’s all the sense I can make of it. As for the “screen,” I guess it’s that round barbed wire. The large round barbed wire. I dunno. And like I said, they did not show the cafeteria, mess hall, dining hall, or whatever they call it. Those were just day rooms, like in a mental ward. You can see the cells. And they have, mostly, no windows into the day rooms, so it’s dark as hell, I’d imagine. Perhaps there’s a small outdoor window.
    But “the winds punch heavy against the siding,” or something to that effect, “making my ears ring.” But still, whoever is in there is a musical person: “too tired to sing,” but he wanted to, and the keys of the guard “clicked the tune of the morning.” That’s the experience of someone naturally musical. No guitar, no harmonica, too tired to sing. Even music was apparently taken away. Those dayrooms look pretty new in their appointments: the furnishings; the game-tables . . . during his time, they were coming out of a quite rough era, and mentioned in an article called “The Walls of Red Wing” (to say it had no “walls” — which is ridiculous because there are buidings! And besides, as he said, “the walls are barbed wire.” They claim that was a recent additiona, but he would not have even written it — no matter what — if the exterior walls of barbed wire were not there.) It would be interesting to hear someone else’s narrative of Red Wing . . . and not an “official” one.
    I’m going to look, and then I’m going to sleep.

  49. reprindle Says:

    RM: My concern with Dylan is myself. Of course. Within the last few months I felt I had put myself on, as Dylan did with Elliott, by investing so much of myself into the ’64-’66 Dylan. So I suppose my intent has been to deconstruct Bob to find that something of value I found before that redeems my investment. I never make a mistake, you see, so if I liked Dylan then there must have been something there. I hope you follow my reasoning.

    What redeems Bob in my mind now is that the has always been sound socially and politically. That he saw through that Live-Aid crap for the disgusting White Liberal arrogance that it was and is redeems him in my mind.

    I think you once wondered whether Dylan might be reading our dialogue. I think there’s a real possibility. I don’t know why he woundn’t run an Alert on himself. Got to have something to do on those long boring bus trips. I run one on myself, Dylan and Marcus. I would be surprised, even schocked, if he didn’t do one on himself.

    He recently appeared in some Texas club where he exuberantly announced that he wasn’t over the hill. I know where that’s at because ‘I’m going to climb that mountain no matter how high’ and I haven’t reched the top yet and neither has Dylan. So 66 or not he’s not over the hill, not even close to the top. What would cause his exuberance? I’m probably flattering ourselves but perhaps our analysis of Dylan’s crucial trauma revealed himselt to himself at last. If he did ‘see the light’ and crash through then his exuberance or ‘born again’ feeling would put him back up there. If so we should have a batch of new songs.

    As far as hearing voices every writer has to have interior dialogues. You can’t construct imaginary situations without both talking to yourself and carrying on converstaions with imaginary others. One only becomes deranged when the interior dialogue is out of joint with exterior reality.

    Hence all religious thought is insane. Anyone who talks to God is hearing voices. If he acts on those voices he’s really out. That’s why the Semitic religions are crazy and have been so destructive throughout history. They actually believe God talks to them. How crazy can you get?

    I suppose Dylan, who is not very scientific, had to go through his Christian and Jewish bull roar. Hopefully he’ll be able to come out of it.

    Anyway, I thought Pistol Pete’s ‘analysis’ humorous while not being entirely inaccurate.

    If Dylan has been following our dialogue it will be insteresting to see if anything results. He got about 50K worth of analysis for free. Maybe more.

  50. R M Says:

    Intriguing, but I wouldn’t worry about yourself because the ONLY thing thatattracts us to certain artists are these almost “irrational” gut feelings that by their very nature cannot be either “right” or “wrong” because they are not about rationality, but about feelling. Another words, something in his work of that time (and with artistis, I really think chopping their work up into “times” is usually not worth the effort; they get into one thing or another for a period of time for one reason or another, and that’s interesting, but basically, they are who they are and always were and always will be. Which is why the nuts who lost their minds over an “electric” rhythm section were out of their minds, period. The guy was trying find his place in the world . . . searching, and they just didn’t want him to do it. So I figure you could be fascinated by the craziness of the people who tried to stop him from “his journey” [which is literally how he sees it]). Worst thing you can do is to question yourself on this, because it is music, and if something grabs you, there’s usually a GOOD reason. Almost always. Yeah, I admit, I am fond of the earliest possible Dylan, Dillon, Zimmerman, etc., because I see an “unformed” kid in the process of formation with all the baggage that comes from being so young. So when I went searching deeper and deeper and found out how absolutely stranded his father left him: no spending money for girls, forcing him to literally “slave” by working and not getting paid (his girlfriend having to buy him hot dogs and such), and the damn weird thing about that car that appears briefly and then disappears at a CRUCIAL time, well, that gets me. But the music that tells the story doesn’t really even start until about ’62, after he’s “legal” (21), and felt some freedom to actually speak and not be as afraid. I say “as” because kids like that are usually always afraid. Even “normally raised” kids internalize their parents’ neuroses, and if he did, he’s got a ton of baggage. No wonder he turned everything that was his own into a garbage heap! Only sensible if you feel you do not deserve it. And his toxic relationship with Grossman is hard to fathom in a supposedly “free spirit” like Dylan. The guy not only owned a part of his house up there, but for some reason, Dylan was storing some of his possessions (he had many, I’m sure: most packrats are not theives, but Dylan had that, uh, little “sticky fingers” problem. Shoot, if YOUR father made you sweet up a store and didn’t pay you a cent, you might become a thief yourself! Think about it. That’s pretty heavy baggage . . . I think everything he did that was “off the rails,” as you so well put it, makes clear sense. And if a song is to make any sense politically or socially, or even just “generally,” it must first make PERSONAL sense or no one will FEEL the song, and it will mean nothing. How can explain this really well. Let’s see. In about ’03, I think it was, there was this weird episode of Star Trek: Enterprise. People were calling in, asking why had they put on a Western instead. The operators told them to hang up the phone, and watch. Anyway, it was a clever episode in the “tradition,” but near the end, when “the teacher” finally is allowed to teach and she says “Orville and his brother Wibur . . . ” I START CRYING! No damn reason at all!! I was absolutely mystified at myself, until I turned on the commentary on the DVD that later came out. See, a guy who was with them for over 15 years, and was only 54, suddenly dropped dead. It was just before the shoot, and they were not only pressed for time, but they were in mourning and shock. So, they got together and said “let’s do it for Jerry.” The guy was Jerry Fleck, first assistant director (the guy, so it happens, who does most of the real directing work). And they simply did. I reacted to the emotion of it, without knowing the “facts.” Which is why facts are “after the fact,” you might say. I just knew, at first, that there was absolutely no reason to cry, but something touched me. Once I realized the degree of emotional investment on the part of everyone on the set, it made sense. Had nothing to do with Orville and Wilbur Wright, not really. Had everything to do with a guy I never knew named “Jerry.” The pushed it to the wall, gave it everything they had for this guy. And you felt it, even when you had no information. In other words, if you really want to move people, there MUST be a personal force behind the work, whatever it is. And with music, that comes very easily.
    And once you’ve been deeply touched, especially musically, you have just gotta track it down. You just must. Like I said, I’ve always been a Dylan fan, but when he, in his mid-60’s, still says “I was born to the wrong parents or something” and it not only gives me the creeps, but it gave my dad the creeps, well, I just HAD to know. I knew the outline: that he pretended to be an orphan, and told tall tales, but so what? A lotta guys did that sort of thing. This FELT different, now. He may no long be “over the hill,” (hey, where is that damn hill! Let’s take a bulldozer to it!), but it should be time that he would be letting go of feelings he had as a teen!! But he absolutely cannot. You can tell the haunted ones. Hell, just in reading that old “We Are the . . .” book, you can tell the haunted ones: the ones who speak very little (Dylan, to be fair, tried: but they were talking about GOLF, which clearly held absolutely no interest for him, except that he asked if it was “relaxing.” And from those I know who do it, it’s really not: it’s tense. But his question speaks volumes: he’s looking for something to settle him down, even over twenty some-odd years after the whole thing should have been in the past. But it was right after his meeting with the other musicians (Willie, in particular, and also observing the others: seeing those who seemed very centered, those who looked like basket cases worse than himself, etc., that he decided to unburden himself to someone he trusted: he finally said the words, and not in song. “I did time in Red Wing.” To a guy who really was very close through many different tough times, and who was a friend who also happened to be a writer. Dylan knew Shelton was writing a book, but he didn’t tell him directly. It wasn’t easy, I think, so he told someone he knew would get the story back to Shelton. Shelton checked it out, but printed nothing: he did not print the “Deveraux” story, because, frankly, I don’t think he believed it. And he knew Dylan was quite close to this guy (kind of a “father figure” type, it seemed to me: I could be wrong), and had no reason in the world to make this up at this time. I think he saw a lot of “broken wings” at that session in January, and decided to get it off his back; the weight was killin’ him. If they went after him about it, and they did, well, screw ’em. I think it made him feel better. He seemed to be in a very insecure place at that time, and knew that he was going to “lose it” again if he didn’t get this off of him. And he did. His albums gradually improved until they were stunning (Time Out of Mind, of course, and others: you can even hear it on the Bootleg series, and in other sources than just the official albums). It probably took a while to get over people getting pissed off at him for saying it. But eventually, he could feel “more relaxed” and didn’t even have to play golf! But others could sense his unease: the women were acting very maternal, telling he’d done well when he said he’d screwed it up . . . he stayed very late, and that seemed odd to me. If he’s such a “loner,” why did he stay ’till almost the end of the entire session: he left at 7:30 AM!! Hell, the main people left just after 8 AM. So, for whatever reason, he was taking it all in. Or he needed the support people were giving him. Not the hero worship, but the kindness of the women, who by nature I guess, were hugging him and saying “you did great” and calling him “dearest.” Like he needed this. And he saw people in person who had never met, and he maybe wanted to get a look. I’m sure he was dissapointed that a fellow Minnesotan, Prince, was not there (he got throw out, as I explained), but it was still so intriguing. He does have a secret “high voice,” you know, and I wonder if he did “lay back” when Q asked them to sing in unison with MJ’s extremely high guide vocal (which may have had the real lyrics!). He said in an ’84 interview that his voice was in bad shape, so I doubt it, but I think I’ll get out my tapes and take a look. When he was younger, he could have gone up that high, easily. He had a lovely high tenor (it’s on that song in the little room in Scotland on the ’66 material that he scissored up before Marty Scorcese found s way to restore it). To me, it’s amazing. You see the real person in there!
    Anyway, I went hunting for first-person accounts of life at Red Wing in the 50s, ’60s, etc., and found NOTHING. Especially nothing by anyone who had done time there in the late fifties that would discount Dylan’s song! And that’s significant.
    Look at that green painted thing on the lawn. What is that? I mean, at Red Wing. Remember, the place was designed to mislead. You’re supposed to feel all “warm and fuzzy” over it. It was this weird hype triip someone was on. But it has taken a lot of taken a lot of paint and new furnishings, etc., to bring it up to today’s “niceness” standards. It’s almost like the place, Red Wing, is like the Zimmermans themselves! “We’re nice people! Why would he turn his back on us?” Well, maybe if you hadn’t set him up for a big fall, maybe he wouldn’t have “disown”ed YOU before you could do it to him! Honestly, to threaten your teenager with “disowning” (at a scary age, to begin with!), and then say it was because he was “so defiled” that this “could” happen. Well, hell, once said, it already DID happen. Threatening him with social death within his family was quite enough at such a prickly time. And then his girlfriend dumps him in front of everyone. He sure must be DEFILED for something like that! “Once upon a time” (from a kid’s nursery tale!), he was just an innocent kid; now though, he was “Napolean in rags.” He’d come home from college a mess; you can imagine the scenes that went on. And so he’d stick out his thumb and go wherever. But he came back for quite a while. I guess he was hoping for something . . . something that just never materiallized. He knew other kids were happy, and went on with their young lives happy, but he was not fated for that.
    So, I guess that’s why he stayed ’til 7:30 AM: to look at other f’ed up people in the business, to see that he was not SO alone. I guess it was something he just had to watch: like a movie. He interacted as little as possible (except for the attempted “mingling” regarding “golf” and making some plans with Willie, who did do a great version of “What Was It You Wanted?”)
    Take it from me: as for what I told you about another recording artists, those were NOT “interior dialogues.” They were jaw-droppers! They happened now and again. Sometimes, (I’m not talking about Dylan, now), sometimes he’d leave a scene and come back with an attitude so seemingly different, that it really did seem like different personality. The writer who watched this over time kept a lot of it to herself: revealing it in drips and drabs until the whole world knew he was just too far gone. But at least she knew he didn’t meat “mens rea” or however you spell it. You have to have knowledge of what you are doing and “right and wrong” and while Dylan always stayed just on this side of that particular fence, this other fellow, well, he did not. And I guess Dylan felt, by watching ’till 7:30, that if he was normal compared to whomever else, well, he could get up the nerve to tell the damndable truth, which he did.
    It’s when you cannot remember the worst of the truth that you got REAL problems, and lucky for him, he’s relatively ok. And if he feels a new “youth” after all that “Not Dark Yet, but it’s Gettin’ There” stuff, then I guess he’s feeling a lot better. And I don’t happen to believe that art is always the result of suffering. Yeah, a lot of people choose art if they have suffered, but I do not believe it necessary. Some do, but I do not. The Aescylus poem about wisdom coming from pain dropping upon the heart is true for some, but not for all. Sometimes you can sing and then laugh out loud.

  51. R M Says:

    Just wanted to let you know that I’m still keeping track. And that recently, I have begun to understand the “high school politics” of “two boys, one girl.” Uh, oh. If that John kid wanted “rid of him” for the summer, I’d bet he could find a way to let something be known that young Bob had done very recently (at that time), in order to find himself more time with the young lady. Oddly, I don’t think she was all that interested in him. At first they seemed to be enjoying the summer: she and Bob, but then, there was an eerie silence, which, as she knows she should, she puts off to his “making trips” to the Twin Cities without her based on a “probably” from the other boy. Now, that’s ridiculous. She would at least confront him: not the other fellow! No, she was absolutely ADAMANT about that bracelet, and the way in which it would be returned. If you know any high school kids . . . at any time, this would be a SUPREME horror, especially for a boy, who would get embarrassed even more easily than girls. I mean, if he been “away” during the summer, and the others knew where, there actually could be some “credibility” to that among other older teens, but to have the girlfriend (who was supposed to be kind of wild) psychologically “strip him” right there in the hallway was the worst, I’d wager. It’s an horrendous thing to do. But I guess her family was also adamant that she publically cut all ties, and do so with a flourish, which she did. There are so MANY songs that speak of various elements of what happened at that time. And I find Baez’s interpretations somehow getting even more to the heart of the matter, in many cases (such as Farwell, Angelina) than even his own. But there is something much more significant.
    There is only one instance that I know of where he played the song in public: at the 1963 Carnegie Hall concert. It was a really big deal at the time, and he even BROUGHT IN HIS PARENTS! Paid for them to stay at a local hotel (not very snazzy from the sound of it), but stilll, he flew them in, put them up, and got them tickets. And he picks this unusual occassion (I do not think he EVER did this at any other time, at least not in this formal a fashion) to sing this odd song that nobody but Baez seemed to wish to record (and I believe it was done as a demo originally — didn’t even make Biograph. If you wanted to hear it, her album was the only place until the Bootleg Series, V.1-3. It is even mentioned that the subject matter is creepy enough that it’s understandable that not many would want to record it. So why do it? He doesn’t release it, and others are unlikely to record it, so why even do it?
    Well, there’s only one time I know that he did it live, and that was the one time he flew his parents in for a concert!
    He sure as hell wanted THEM to hear it. We cannot know the circumstances without records, or without him finally telling (which I seriously doubt: he said all was going to say and the song speaks for itself, as well as other similar songs, and an absolute obsession with imprisonment. Hurricane is the best known example; heck, when I was in high school, they played that sucker constantly! And today, I hear differently: back then, it was just always on the radio, but now, it’s a fire-breating dragon! I mean it: he sings like there’s actual fire coming out of his mouth. You can tell he’s not all that interested in the guitar or harmonica. He just wants to grab the mic and sing the hell out of it! And he curses on a radio song! And it’s long [althouth it doesn’t seem so long at all]. In any case, there are others, and songs about courtrooms, judeges, etc. He made his whole performing WORLD into a courtroom, where he was “judged.” And then he sang about it. “Drifter’s Escape.”) But the main thing is that “Red Wing” is a “minor” piece of his work, but he picks the concert with his parents brought in to sing it live! I sure would like to hear that version, and I think it is available, but I do not know where.
    One thing: Baez omits the “woodpile” verse, and also does not sing it like the “demo” (perhaps because she wasn’t using the official demo, just the memory and the sheet music). In his own version, he’s very particular: “inside the grounds, behind the ‘walls’ of Red Wing.” And we know “walls” is sarcasm because he sings “the walls are barbed wire.” And this was done originally so that people could see those impressive looking buildings that were to give a ‘fancy private school look.’ We do know that during the late 50s, they were preparing for “reform”: to making it more of a “medical model,” but they explained that it took a while because of “overcrowding.” I know that you can see it today, and it looks like a lot of C.Y.A. places here, but there are odd bits. That round barbed wire thing. That’s got to be “the screen” for whatever purpose it served. I assume they wished to hide the kids from the road. The whole place is based on “hype.” They deliberately, from the beginning, wanted it to “look” friendlier than it is, and the kids knew this. So, it’s no wonder the very title is sarcastic. It would be easy to be sarcastic about a place that is playing a “game” with the public, and probably still is doing so.
    One last thing before I sleep (I really need to sleep! I haven’t been feeling very well lately): I really feel lousy about that orphanage you were in. ‘Cause you see, I always heard from my mom about the place in Jersey where she was sent until she was six. And she said it was very nice, as were the people. It was when she returned to the horror of the lower East Side of that time that things really sucked. So, like I said, don’t necessarily think that people with “normal” homes had it so great. My mom wanted very much to stay at that orphanage, and hated her “home.”
    Interestingly, Dylan offers a view of “home” that is intriguing: “and don’t go mistaking paradise for that ‘home’ across the road.” He was telling the truth. I guess a lot of people in Hibbing, who lived in really lousy conditions, thought the people in the “houses’ (“homes”) had it great, but he knew differently. And his story is no where near the worst, even in popular music. I do think he’s pretty rare in the boldness with which he declared his parents either dead or non-existent. He did it without any difficulty. Like when he had to get his union card and other papers: “You’ll have to bring your father.” “I haven’t got a father.” “Then bring your mother.” “I haven’t got a mother either.” The woman starts to get uncomfortable, but she did say something very mean. And that made me mad, because there are a lot of foster kids and such, and people should never treat them like that.
    People talked like that, then, I guess, and it’s shameful. And the guy goes “I don’t know.” Hell, you know one thing: he had a NAME, and that’s enough. But he signed on as guardian, which was nice. I was shocked that people still used such offensive language for real people in my lifetime! And remembering that you were an orphan, for real, I felt really crummy about it. Like, I sure would have wanted to punch that lady’s teeth in! It has probably been a long, hard road, what with people using such lack of respect. I want to say I’m sorry for all those people who must have been quite cruel. To me, that is just unthinkable . . . to use such disrespectful language about a kid. Just horrible. I just want to apologize even if they didn’t in your situation. I hope your adult life has been pretty good. But, still, I imagine that in your time, with people using such disrespect, it could not have been easy, either. Here we are talking about “groups” and “cultures” — which is precisely what you didn’t have — not really – and I can see how you might think it’s really very significant for those who grow up “that” way. But it’s really quite different for everyone. And maybe, when you see Dylan break out of the original persona in ’64-’65, and ’66, you maybe feel a rush of triumph along with him. Because, even today, he honestly does not feel like those people were his parents! He feels as though there was some kind of cosmic error! It’s hard to fathom, but I can see that to him, even in his sixties now, it’s absolutely real. So breaking out of that is not so easy. He felt there was NO home for him – ever. ‘Cause he didn’t know how the “accident” of his existence, HAPPENED! Because in his case, he was “misplaced” — a “real” orphan, but nobody would believe him, though he felt it to be so real. That much is absolutely clear. And that has GOT to suck. He feels as though his entire childhood was phony and not even real. It’s possible, in his case, for whatever reason, he’s a little nutty, to think something like this, but it’s a fact that he does.
    So, it’s not “why” do you identify with him, but really, why wouldn’t you? You are brothers under the skin, in many ways. He really feels there was some sort of “error” and that he really, really was an orphan. For real! He’s not kiddin’ around: it’s a little late for that. (“Dig my draft card, man” he once shouted to some people: it had “Dylan” on it, and this paper thing somehow made it “real.” Even when he KNEW it wasn’t. I don’t think I would like to be him.) And that those people were just not his parents. It’s so freakin’ weird, but it’s still just so absolutely REAL to him.
    It got better, though, didn’t it? At least a lot of the time, I hope.
    And like I said, do not believe that it is better to have loved and lost . . . or worry all the time . . . than to have zip. Because it’s not better! It’s absolutely terrifying. And it’s a terror you will never quite know.
    I know that I AM “Miss Lonely” in many ways, and I don’t like the implicaions for the future. It’s scary as hell. (No, I never got “Juiced” in any schools, although maybe I should have.) And I have “no direction home,” either. Where? And where are the people? There’ll all gone. Never see them ever again. As if they were just a memory, or a dream. But they were real, and they are really gone forever. No direction home. No old friends. No “porch swing” or anything like that. I think that Holiday Inn felt more like home to me as a kid than anything else.
    But I know not to mistake paradise for that “home” across the road. That I know.
    All the best,

  52. reprindle Says:

    Bob apparently left out the wood pile verse on the lyrics shown on his site too. Can’t find it. Checked out both Farewell Angelina and Angelina and can’t make anything out of either of them yet.

    Well, yes, the orphanage was bad enough but everyone has to be someplace all the time and that’s where I was. That was the adventure then and now it’s over. I made it through alive. I had a good mind and I knew what to do with it. As I say somewhere I integrated my personality at the crucial moment. Me and Freud are like that and that’s me up on top.

    Your situation of changing schools every year is as horrific as I can imagine. I’ve known many Army Brats in my time and the constant changes left their mark on them. If any thing we’re all of a class.

    Besides I grew up the forties and fifties before all this current racial and sexual crap took form. It was tough enough then. Brown vs. The Board of Education. The Supreme Court ought to be boiled in oil. You can’t imagine how hideous I find it to be sexualizing five year old girls and boys. Teaching them that sodomy is just another form of ‘love.’ To have avoided that is one of the more healing feelings I can imagine. To let perverts do that to mere children is even more criminal than doing it which, I guess, makes me guilty too.

    It’s not such a small thing that we had moral role models like Hoppy and Gene and Roy. I mean, Jack Armstrong the All American Boy. Dick Tracy. Tarzan when he was straight.

    I was always amazed that so many comic books had orphan heroes. That was a major comfort.

    If you want the story of it call up my novel Far Gresham Vol. I. About 500 pages. I’m amazed at the stuff I thought I put in that I left out. Of course I was writing a novel so I made a story I thought would sell but I’ve got another five hundred pages I could blend in.

    In ’64-’66 I suppose Dylan’s and my sensibilities touched. I can’t honestly say how much he may have contributed to my working things out because I can’t find whatever it was I saw in him. I had some pretty fantastic interpretations of the songs then but they all seem like nonsense to me now.

    Perhaps it was the times. For whatever reason the news shows made so much out of the Beatles and Dylan that it was astonishing. Of all the news events of the period, the Jewish Wars, Viet Nam and whatever what stands out in mind for the period are the Beatles, Dylan and The Twist. Even Kennedy’s assassination doesn’t move me like the reaction to the Animals following the Rolling Stones and the Beatles.

    Funny how that works out and yet there was so much of real significance going on at the time. Only the sixities soundtrack has left any real impression.

    Now, of course, what was going on then is getting down to the nitty gritty now. As Zappa said: Trouble coming everyday.

  53. R M Says:

    Gosh, I wish it was just “every year” that I changed schools, but that wasn’t how it worked. I went to 17 different schools as a kid. Only counted it when reading another biography, and found that I had been to many more! I would just be changed at any time of the year. Didn’t matter. I do know that public and private schools at the time were not much different, unless the school was unusual. And yes, though I hate to say it, I guess it was “horrific, ” I can remember the day they gave me that diploma, and I wanted to shout “free at last, thank God almight, I am free at last!” Shoot, I really did!!
    But you must move on to life, whatever went down. It was hard at times though. Kids would wait to get you from behind corners and stuff. What can I say. I just knew, in 10th grade, that I wouldn’t have any more of it. I was staying with the Devil I Knew, if you get my drift. Sometimes it’s hard for me to imagine kids who just go to the same school year after year. But it must be good in many ways.
    (Hey, I found a real history of Red Wing, and I know what “minutes” means! It was a punishment of sitting and standing in a punishment “cottage.” I think this pretty well seals it. No one would know something like that unless they experienced the fear “they threatened you with it.” That’s why Baez “knows too much to argue or to judge.”)
    When I was young, I though Dylans lyrics were just words mixed with LSD. That’s all I figured. Know they seem quite clear. Farewell, Angelina is about leaving town before the sky changes and the weather kickds up, and “I must leave fast.” Like a last goodbye. Oh, and girlfriends were not allowed to visit, but by his time, parents could send as many letters as they wished. But they could only visit once a month. So, if it was just the summer, mostly, then I guess they just didn’t. And that had to bite. It was a rough place in that they practiced corporal punishment well into his time. And trying to run, or “stealing” were considered very serious offenses. So I imagine he was in hell, even if the judge made it short stay. After all, this was a kid frequently on the honor roll, so what do you do? But if it was serious (say, a car or something), he would have no choice but to do something, especially if he had seen him before. It sounds to me like when James Dean’s films came out, Bobby went kinda wild . . . or at least for Hibbing. And it appears as though he paid for it. And, of course, things only got worse.
    Oh, and about those training programs for kids, what gets me is telling them, at young ages, to “shout” and make a lot of noise. Look, a sex crime is a crime like any other. And you don’t yell and scream during a holdup! You’ll get killed. And I fear that kids have been led down the wrong path by urging them to make a big fuss and and scare the hell out of the offender. That’s just dumb, and you try to tell older kids (who are more at risk for the more common varieties of abuse) to use common sense. As for the very young, they needn’t learn any details of adult sexuality. That also makes no sense.
    Anyway, it’s true that pop culture truly ruled in the 60’s. And it did mesh with everything that was going on, but in ways that Dylan himself felt were counterproductive.
    I remember when Walter Cronkite introduced America to The Rolling Stones. He sounded as though we were LITERALLY “invaded” by the British! I was very little, but even then, it was funny.
    And I remember the first Kennedy murder: the president. They interupted, can you believe, “To Tell the Truth”!! Really! That’s a hoot. To tell the truth. See, it wasn’t so much the act itself that made the sixties the sixties; it was that most Americans realized by sometime in ’64 that they would be lied to if an when their elected leaders decided to do so, even with something so huge. Heck, everybody knows what happened. Even kids who don’t know, when presented with the situation as it happned, NEVER come to the conclusion that he was killed by anyone in the building. It’s just ridiculous. And that mistrust built over the years to the point where we’ll never get it back.
    Gotta go know,
    P.S. — My idols, of course were different. I really dug sports guys, and I liked the ones who were truthful, even if they were rouges and rakes. Like Broadway Joe! (But every kid plays “cops and robbers” with at least a water pistol! I had a red one. And a “Hopalong Cassidy” watch, even though I didn’t know who that was.)
    But yeah, it wasn’t “every year”; it was continuous.We lived in NYC for 5 months, and I think I went to 3 schools. 2 or 3; it’s hard to remmeber. And later that year, there was more, more, more. And before that! What a year. I was in second grade. It sucked. But I lived.
    Tough day ahead: see ya.

  54. reprindle Says:

    My heart goes out to you, RM. I don’t know how you graduated high school. I mean how could you ever know which page you were supposed to be on? Or how could you even develop a persona? Just goes to show once you get the machine running it’s hard to shut it down.

    Some guy ran a tape of Dylan doing Cold Irons Bound. Bob’s really putting one over on everybody. Can’t sing, can’t articulate, can’t play and can’t dress. Even Webb Pierce dressed better and that’s saying a lot.

    I was reminded of Ronnie Hawkins’ statement when he said ‘Bobby, I have had quitar players in my band as bad as you but you’re the only one making a living at it.’

    About every three sentences he’d utter an intelligible word. I caught ‘Cold’ for sure. He is truly the most successful performer in the world because he has succeeded in making people accept him on his own terms and gets paid for it. God bless him! I am envious.

    I can’t quite place his role model but it was definitely a 40s Western singer. Of course everything depends on what night he saw whoever he saw. Ernest Tubb may have been part of the persona. The night I saw Tubb he was either totally drunk or pretending to be. He kept looking like he was going to fall off the stage but always pulled back in time with this smirk on his face. Bob showed a lot of that persona.

    Hank Locklin, Hawkshaw Hawkins, he reminded me of the whole lot. Those good old boys must all have passed through Hibbings or Duluth.

    Gotta say I was kinda embarrassed for the kid. It was pretty horrible. I think I would have asked for my money back.

    Geoff Muldaur is coming to town so I think I’ll go see him. He used to be in the Jim Kweskin Jug Band. Do you like Jug Band Music since you’re a former Memphis Belle?

    The show’s nearly sold out. The auditorium holds seventy-five and I got tickets #29 and 30 just a couple hours ago. A lifetime on the road and only the ‘faithful’ show up. Oh well, I saw Freddy Fender once in a room that held 1500 and there were less than thirty of us out there. I only went because I got comps.

    If I were Bob I think I’d work on it a bit. Patch that hole in his bucket and learn to carry a tune.

    Oh well, I jumped off the Slow Train before it came into the station. Hank would be rolling over in his grave.

    Oh, it was so terrible and disappointing I can’t go on…
    Where’s my cyanide capsule? Hey, anybody seen my…

  55. R M Says:

    First of all, are trying to say you recently – very recently – saw a Dylan concert? Hahahahaha! Oh, gosh. I saw ONE. It was right smack in the middle of the Slow Train Coming all-gospel shows. Man, was I disappointed. Not only was he beginning to really lose his voice (and you can hear a dramatic change btw. 76 and 78. Maybe he DID get those adenoids removed; if so, it was a MISTAKE! When he was in his heyday (and that stretched right into Blood On The Tracks, looking back at it now, he was, IMHO, different enough and firery enough to be really, really good when he wanted to be. Like I said, I listened to Hurricane the other night, and it really didn’t seem as long as it is becuase he did what any good or great singer is supposed to do: forget about everything else, and just grab the microphone and go nuts.
    But on “It’s Alright Ma,” he play the guitar held high in the air, usually from what I have seen on tape, and he really hits it. I don’t know if it’s “formally” good or great playing, and I never have cared about that. I go by feel, and the playing on that song is pretty stunning because he FEELS it, which is always most important. Hell, you can bring in the greatest guitar player, or even singer, but if they don’t FEEL it, then you won’t either. (And he and Hawkins were rather close, so I think it’s kinda teasing. That Dylan’s first session required NO other musicians is pretty cool: he didn’t even have a proper harmonica rack: he used a twisted coat hanger in the earliest days. To stand out, I guess, or he really was ignorant of such things. Who knows? When he was a little kid, they bought him a really cheap guitar and he loved it. A lot of kids would have been pissed off if they were serious about music, but he loved this cheap piece of junk. Some people said he would “caress” it: you know like Roy Rodgers and his horse! I can identify with that somehow. It’s like a kind of juvenile fantasy. I loved my plastic red water pistol. I copied stuff on TV.
    As for jug band music, I guess my tastes were not yet quite developed, nor did we have much access to good roots music near the campus. In Memphis, I only wanted to be at Graceland: I wasn’t interested that much in the local clubs. Beale Street was in total decay at the time, and recorded it photographically, but our campus was musically kinda pathetic: not like Athens, Georgia at all. The group The Police (you know, with Sting!) came very, very early in their career to the ‘Bama theater and only a few dozen people showed up. It was a disaster. And a few years later, they were all over MTV. Another time, that guy (I never liked him), Eddie Money, performed in an auditorium in the student union: really pathetic, and like 13 people showed up! I’m serious. And then he had some big hits. And our own bands, well, we had this group that had a local (very local) “hit” – or whatever you want to call it, called “Blue Comodal Water.” As in, “we got blue comodal water, and that makes us upper class.” That was it for Tuscaloosa, and like I said, the music scene in Memphis was dying in those days. And then it was gentrified. They really destroyed Beal Street by making it pretty. They had a great mural of the music of the city, and knocked it down along with the entire Lansky Bros. clothing store!! That almost physically hurt! I used to make up my own Elvis tour. I would map out EVERY place he ever lived or recorded or played music, and find it and stand there. I stood on the empty Overton Park Shell where Elvis became “Elvis.” When he first started “wiggling” his legs, as he put it. I climbed on that stage and looked out at the seats, and it was sorta chilling. It was amazing that it was still there, and in pristine condition: just like it was (from descriptions and photos of the time). An unbelievable feeling. I guess I should have gotten more deeply into roots music, but when you’re in Memphis, and you can visit the Sun studio (before that was fancied up a bit), and Chip’s American Sound Studios in a REAL funky neighborhood that scared other people (but not me!), and they give you tours every few hours, well, WOW! And Stax is there, too, and despite all the other “greats” at Stax, I knew that Elvis recorded “Help Me” (while singing on his knees, as though praying – for what? He knew he didn’t really want help, so why get on your knees?), and “It’s Midnight” which is a song he did almost all night long. (“Pieces of My Life,” a country song by Troy Seals, if I remember correctly, was unfortunately recorded in Hollywood. Yeah, I’m here, but the ambience is just not right to even bother. But that song gripped him SO. He asked the engineer to put the master on a cassette, and he listened to it over 30 TIMES that night . . . after only a reasonable amount of takes. It’s way, way scarier than “I Threw it All Away” because of the degree of detail. It’s so personal, you feel like you shouldn’t be listening. Same with It’s Midnight. Hard to explain. Sure, I should have given myself a full musicological education at the time, but it was just not the time. Today, I think I understand roots music in its many varieties pretty well, but I need, for whatever reason, to know of the life of the person playing. If not, I lose interest. A “hang-up” as they used to say, I guess. But it’s the people, I feel that make the music “important.” That’s why I can understand the dude who got the creeps when Albert Grossman was “creating” Peter Paul and Mary as if they were a ’90s “boy band.” You know what I mean. As though their lives, or even personas they may have wanted to create, meant nothing.
    Dylan certainly created his own persona! “I don’t have a mother, either.” God! To me, that truly is unthinkable, especially from a teenager. That’s not merely a “persona,” that’s bloody vengeance, to my way of looking at it. Yeah, the kid had a rough-hewn genius, even early on. He did hear “music” in everything. I sorta love the line in Red Wing where the sound of the keys “clicked the tune of the morning.” To hear music in mere keys . . . well, it shows you got music coming out of your pores. Actually, although, I’m sure that happened, but was a minor, overlooked thing, the real “wake-up” was a steam whistle (it’s in other songs! No doubt about it.) But he would hear the keys, and that was more viscerally musical to him, and so more memorable. Look, if Mick Jagger actually had the nerve to sing AND “dance,” well, anybody stake their claim! Now THAT’s awful!! But I saw them in Philly once, in ’81. Loud and kinda pointless: they went “over that hill” very quickly. But they still keep doing it. So, I guess Dylan’s nasal whine (all the voice he has left) is acceptable. And “Not Dark Yet” is pretty good, and I can hear the words to “Cold Irons Bound.” The CD makes it a lot easier to hear. And his voice improved on that record in that he learned how to use it. Like when a little boy’s voice changes, he’s gotta learn how to use the new one. And Dylan’s voice changed severely. There’s another song, the second one on the album, I think (Dirt Road, I think), and he’s going “you left me in the doorway, cryin'” and you can see a craggy “old” guy, with every cigarette, every kinda dope, every drop of wine, etc., lining his face, standing there, kinda pathetic. He allowed that to come through on that album, and it made it better. He got honest with what he had become. As a teenager, and young “stud,” it was cool to be the “lonesome outlaw,” and today, it’s just lonely. (Oh, and you’re not the only person to have seen Baez that way: other descriptions invariably say that she’s much better looking in person. He was lucky to have her, and he shouldn’t have blown it. Somehow, she still loves him, and probably doesn’t even see him as he looks today: she probably sees the “tiny” singer she first saw in the Villiage, with whom she fell for – madly. And I think it was different than with Suze Rotolo. I’ve seen the look in his eyes in the time when they were “involved” as it is routinely described. There is an account, and I believe it, where she thought he was just goofing around — too early, she thought, when he actually proposed, or allowed the subject to come up, and she said “oh, it would never work.” And she was just goofing, but he wasn’t. And he was sorta pierced throught heart: he was that kinda kid. And he was still very much a “kid”: had a lot of growing up to do (if he ever did). She felt that marriage would happen naturally, “inevitably,” but I can see from the early Newport stuff (I have a tape of all of his stuff) that he was mad for her. She was a normal person; he was all extremes. She even said that when he went into a “tantrum” or fit, he was, she said “psychotic.” Scary. And still, she remained in love with him. Isn’t that what she sings in Diamonds and Rust? “I love you dearly and always will.” I am certain she means it, but could not comprehend “normal” thinking. He ruined things for himself every step of his life.
    He’s pretty generous: Hendrix did THE version of “All Along The Watchtower,” and I believe has NEVER, and probably never will ever record “Tomorrow Is a Long Time.” That’s almost sacred to him it its definitive version. I’ll be nobody pointed it out to him, then: I’ll bet he bought that damn crappy “Spinout” album on finding his song perhaps mentioned on the cover. Must have shocked the hell out of him. And it was perfect. That’s exactly how Elvis felt on his return to Graceland, which was now just “that home across the road.” Haunted and dangerous.

    Gosh, I wish I was a real “Memphis Belle,” but I didn’t see myself that way. A “persona”? Me? I just had my little TV fantasies, and that girl in school who called Elvis “fat,” and immediately made me a fan . . . well, of course it grew over the years. I didn’t run to Memphis when he died, but in the years that followed, I kept wanting to keep returning, and did. It became familiar. And for me, that was important. You could walk the grounds unbothered, all day, if you wanted, back then before they opened the tours. It was wonderful. You could see that Golden Palomino called Rising Sun, and that barn that he called, with his quirky sense of humor “House of Rising Sun.” (I wonder if there’s a song in that: the HORSE called Rising Sun. I mean, “horse” is street language for what junkies use, and that’s what Elvis was, and so, maybe if he had listened to his mama, as in the B.B. King version of the song, he would be at home today. If he hadn’t rode that “horse.” Just a thought. There have been so many songs.
    But, really, to just lazy about there, and look at the horses, and allow the “meditation gardens” BE the meditation gardens, as it could be in the early days, and to walk the drive, and what can I say? The very first time, I bought a single rose, and it was rainy ann muddy, and I had these light brown corduroy jeans on, and they got mud on it from his grave. Well, I’m sure you know that I still have them. And I can still see the dried dirt. That’s about as close to a “persona” as I could ever come. I mean, if I idolized someone (like when I was younger, it was Joe Namath, and when I flunked out of 9th grade, and that’s what actually happened, although Woodward was kind enough to promote me, anyway, well, I bought this little, tiny futuristic orange television to watch Monday Night Football. See, the admissions dude, who gave my dad a cut rate as it was – which was nice, well, he decided I needed “structure,” so he made me stay in the dorms they used to have during the week. I was thrilled to be leaving those “beautiful” new public schools that didn’t even have teachers meet their classes, where the inmates ran the asylum, and go to a real school, but I was stricken with TERROR! MY JETS!! JOE!!! What would I do?! So, I cornered the R.A., an older girl, and begged and wheedled and dealed, and all whatnot, and by golly, I got to watch TV ’till midnight or therabouts every Monday night! I coverd the whole thing with the blanket! Used an earplug. And then was surprised to find out that the other girls new that I idolized Joe Namath. “How could you know that?” I was serious. I was only a kid, after all. And those were my “personas.” I had lost my “page” somewhere in the spring of 5th grade, when I had to leave Lake Grove for the first time. Gosh, I had a little gaggle of little friends there. Ok, so Kerry was a criminal of sorts (he was only a little kid, though), and Carlos was older, but not much, but there was this one kid who had huge eyes and a sweet face, and he knew I had him in my crosshairs! My nine-year-old crosshairs! I spent a year-and-a-half that first run! Like I said, it was the only childhood I ever had . . . there. Like I said, I’ll remember that little boy ’till the twelfth of never . . . ’cause I know I’ll never see him ever again, or any of them. I lost contact with every kid I ever knew. Everywhere. You can imagine that relationships later on were difficult. I never trusted anyone, really. And some, for good reason, and some maybe not. (The weirdest one, you’re gonna dig: I was waiting at the elevator, and this guy in a dark suit with a skullcap comes over, and a real pale face . . . you know where I’m going. He was studying for his degree in theology, gonna be some kinda Rabbi. So he asks me, rudely, I thought, “are you Jewish,” so I go “yeah” (though maybe 3/4 wouldn’t have been suffiecient for him!), and all of a sudden, after one date, and a few phone calls, he wants to get married! Well, talk about terror striking me! What about Christmas!?! This has always been very important to me, and not only cause it’s my mom’s birthday, but really because people seem to be nice to each other right before Christmas. And the magic, and the gorgeous music . . . I couldn’t live without that! I ask him “how much would you be willing to compromise?” And naturally, he asks it back to me (you know the old joke). And I just couldn’t say it, but he had to be an idiot if he didn’t know that as a non-pracicting individual, I eat bacon and ham and cheese, and Kosher food mostly sucks (God, the awful places to eat in NYC that he took me! Made you wanna barf.) And Christmas. This I couldn’t tell, ’cause how can ya? The guy is dressed in black and everything!
    So, I avoid him as much as I can, and HIS MOTHER calls me! Says they’re having the annual Madison Ave. Holiday Event . . . in all the stores, and wouldn’t I enjoy that?
    That was the END of it, but before that, one time we were walking at night in NYC, and he asks: “Do you like to clean?” I was speechless. Duh, uh, no, not really! He realized he’d stepped in it, but I wondered if he could ask those other girls a question like that and get away with it? Talk about a foreign culture!!!!!! Truly, though.Weird. Especially, a guy’s MOTHER never called me before or after!! That was plumb weird.
    I got other proposals, and I think I made the right decisions. But I would have to say that my youth really made relationships difficult. Because I had less than zero self-regard. But I’m getting better at it. Not ready for any capsules just yet!
    Thanks for caring. Not many people do. I lived in a “mixed up confusion” that other people cannot understand, and it was nice for someone to show compassion. Summers were so lonely. My mom slept real late, and my dad was off working, and I had the house/apt. to myself, and I would have spaghetti for breakfast AND lunch! Daily. And read my Sports Illustrated Book Club books, and sink into fantasies that were so very distant from my life. I would wad up paper, and try to throw perfect fastballs and curves . . . and fill up notebooks with very elaborate football plays and game plans. (Which were really quite good.) And we had a basketball net outside. When I went to college I got a dorm team into the championship game with the Legal Eagles. Boys or Girls, they would always win, ’cause they were older, and very sharp-minded. But within two seasons, we got in the championship game. No dorm team EVER did. But the day I got there, I bought I blackboard, and got a team together, and tortured them through learning the game, and learning how to play with “heart.” See, according to Bear Bryant, “heart” is way more important than talent. You gotta love it and want it. And you’ll win!
    And I guess I look at music that way. I really don’t know what the hell kind of guitar player Dylan was or could be, but I know one thing: he had “heart.” He played with soul, and he made you feel it, and nothing else much mattered. (And there are times when the intensity, at the height of “his game” was extraordinary. People in the audience were yelling out catcalls, and he was playing so hard that he seemed about to burst into flames. I thought they were crazy. But then again, knowing the evil of that business, I truly believe, that after Newport, Grossman sniffed out a gimmick: the booing, and then heckling. It worked swell, too: sold tickets. But I look at that young man, and you can see he’s truly pissed off and hurt, and well, that is one rotten business.
    But to answer your question, I probably should know my jug band music better than I do, but to be truthful, I didn’t investigate everything that I should have in those days. Remember, I was a seventies kid trying to escape “Dust in the Wind” and suchlike! I knew Ska music, and all kinds of Carribean stuff because I was a critic and I had to, but a lot of American roots music got by me because I was reading too much of that damn Mystery Train! Which later only brought me grief.
    It is interesting talking music to someone who was really THERE in the sixties, when all we did was look back, and kinda pretend because we missed it. We missed a lot, and followed leaders instead of parking meters.

  56. reprindle Says:

    R.M. Apropos of Bob ‘Mumbles’ Dylan who’s turning into a Dick Tracy character, maybe it’s all just a practical joke now. Remember in Ramona: I could forever talk to you but my words would turn into a meaningless ring; deep in my heart love I know I have no help I can bring.’ So he gets up in concert and sings to everyone forever but his words are just a meaningless ring. Funny huh? The guy’s doing OK on his own terms. ‘And more, much more than this, he’s doing it his way.’

    Amazing turns of fortune in the record business. Sting comes through one time and they won’t let him use the public toilet; the next time he’s a genius. Sinatra starts out strong, goes into eclipse. I won’t say he couldn’t buy a thrill, he didn’t have to, Natalie Woods’ mother brought sixteen year Natalie to him at that time and said: ‘Here, use this.’ I’ve always wondered what effect that had on her career. So things change and fluctuate.

    Sure glad you escaped that guy with the ‘yamaha’. Man, do I have experience with religious nuts. Funny thing is Westerners revere Jewish and Moslem religious nuts while they despise their own. They’re all the same, man, Jewish, Christian or Moslem. Semtic religion sucks. I call the holiday Christmas nowadays out of sheer perversion so as the irritate the Happy Holidays crowd. I’m actually a real Yuler and Santa Claus type.

    Obama is a real threat to Christmas. He not only hates Santa because he’s White but, my god, Jesus is Jewish. Out of respect for our Black President we’ll probably all give up on Santa and Jesus, turn them Black, or switch to Kwaaanzai. Don’t think I’m kidding either.

    Some my my most frightful encounters were with religious people. I too think the notion of kosher is ridiculous. Actually it’s a custom to prevent eating with non-Jews. The Hasids carrried it one step further and said Hasids could only eat food chopped with a specially sharpened knife so Hasids couldn’t eat with the Rabbinicals. You can set my table off to the side, I don’t want to eat with anybody.

    Sooner or later religious types get into strange food fetishes; they relish them. (That was a yolk, son.) The Puritans attempted to adopt the Jewish dietary laws and now you’ve got these weird Fundamentalist Texas types getting into the same thing.

    They all get into dietary crap like vegetarianism or something sooner or later; the Pythagoreans couldn’t eat beans. Strange stuff. Good for a sociological study. What does religion have to do with food? Everything actually. As Jesus cannibalistically said: This is my body; this is my blood.

    You were right to be revolted at this guy’s mother calling you. Mothers are good for only one thing and that’s giving birth. Freud must have had his head up his rectom with his Mother fixation. I can’t think of anything more revolting.

    Am I getting serious? My apologies. Anyway a few days later I’ve come to the conclusion that Bob is over the hill. It’s time for him to get a new act. A new band too. That stuff might have worked forty years ago but it’s old hat now. Get a couple country pickers and a fiddle and do it right.

    I’m beginning to have strange dreams again after two or three decades. Don’t know what it portends. Think I’ll go have one now.

  57. R M Says:

    Funny thing: when you said that Obama “hates Santa because he’s white,” I thought surely you meant that OBAMA IS WHITE!! Because, politically, personally, and oportunistically, he surely IS. To me, he reeks phoniness. Why do this if you really cared about the nation? You know it’s just not time, for either one of them. Like it or not, it’s just a fact, and he knows it. No matter how things turn out, there’ll be bitterness and ordinary people will have to pay for it. And he knows that too. Some people are in love with their own reflection, even if it is one of their own imagination. Enough of that.

    Yeah, I’m glad I didn’t let it linger with the guy whose mother called, but as for MY mother, well, she’s good for a LOT more than giving birth! You must imagine how I feel at this time. I am scared every minute of every day. We are really close. She looks at me, and it’s almost like we don’t have to talk. That’s what I man when I say that maybe it’s better you never had one: especially a good one, because unless you get hit by a truck or something, eventually, you must part. And there’s nothing good about it. Whether it’s now, or even 15 years from now: in any case, it would be very hard. So, you didn’t miss that misery: in your case, you get to make your own world.

    But I can see that some people have been unlucky to the max in the parent sweepstakes, and Dylan is a standout. I gotta hand it to him to give them tickets to the Cargegie(sp?) Hall concert, and then pick that show to do “Walls of Red Wing.” Wow! They must have been in shock. He knew EXACTLY what he was doing back then.
    Today, well, of course, in some ways he’s “over the hill,” but only because it’s his choice. If he really wants to sing, he can do it, but most of the time, he just doesn’t really care. I remember the worst one: it was on the Inaugural concert in ’93 outdoors, and everyone was talking about because you couldn’t understand a single word he said, and some people didn’t even have any idea what song it was! I mean, c’mon, he did that on purpose. Or he was WAY drunk. One or the other. Because when he wants to, of late, he can do it. He just wants to check out how much he can get away with. I guess he earned it in a way: when he was really slammin’, people boo’ed and heckled, so now, when they applaud almost anything, he gives ’em a crap performance. Like “payback” for what they did to him when he was young and really smokin’! (No, I do not refer to the cigarettes.) After what he went through in those days, you almost have to say: “give it to ’em!” Garble, mutter, whatever. Make those tickets worthless, if you can. Because he really put a lot into those concerts back then: always fussing forever (like he had OCD or something!!) with the damn tuning to be “perfect” for an audience who didn’t care. So, really, I guess he sees this as a kind of payback. It was really tough on him back then: you can tell it hurt. He most certainly DID care, and the harder he tried to give them his best, the worse they treated him. It was kind of sick: I can think of no parallel in music. I can’t think of anyone who was treated quite like that by an audience: EVERYWHERE. Like I said, they HAD to be plants by Grossman. And why tell him? It’ll work better if he doesn’t know! That’s the kinda guy he was, Grossman: he had this great luck with a client like that, and so why not screw him over, big time? It sold tickets! Watch the execution, LIVE! In Person!
    I see it today, and it’s just unbelievable. So I don’t blame him today for the muttering. I think he’s still pissed off. Because he couldn’t understand what he was doing wrong! (He said this in so many songs!) And was doing nothing “wrong”; I feel strongly that he was set up. I am sure he realized it somewhere along the way, I think. I mean, he couldn’t have been that gullible. But who knows? He started out as a young kid, erasing an embarrassing past, or trying to, and he really tried to give it all he had, and they got good shows. Their behavior is without precedent, and incomprehensible. (“How do they buy the tickets up so fast”? He wonders. DUH. You’ve been had, you schmuck. Back then, he didn’t know it. So now, the audience gets “taken.” He feels it’s a fair exchange, I guess. And, looking back at it, I can’t really blame him.) I certainly hope he’s figured it out by now!
    Anyhow, g’night.

  58. R M Says:

    Gotta let you know about this one; it just happened. Either withing the past 24 hours, or the week — not sure. He’s in Brazil, of all places (doesn’t he have hundreds of song copyrights? Why would ANYBODY, even somebody desperate, want to play Brazil in their mid-60’s — sounds like hard work to me). Anyway, this goofy lady jumps on the stage and does the whole “groupie/grope-the-pop-star thing. Most of all, she valiantly tried to get his hat. Unlike almost any other popular music star I have EVER heard of, he WOULD NOT LET HER HAVE IT! HE FOUGHT HER, AND WON! I am not making this up. Look it up; it just happened. Well, at the end of the show, he realized what an awful gaff/goof this was: a kind of violation of the “unwritten laws of pop”: thou shalt ALWAYS give a fan your hat!, he asked if she was still there so he could give her the hat. Sense had prevailed over what could only be instinct. Boy, he sure must have felt DENIED when he was a child: I’ll tell you that. Anyway, the woman was spotted by the press, but she was just tickled to have pawed him, etc. Like “Eternal Circle,” he had to keep on, and wait for another. But unlike “Eternal Circle,” he realy doesn’t WANT another! Weird.
    I mean, you gotta have some instintual thing going to fight for a hat in the middle of a concert. (Elvis once had his drum kit kicked in – I think it was during a Vegas run – and he fought that physically with a bunch of drunken goons, but A HAT? And it was a woman? Hell, some stars pile up this stuff just to give away! It’s part of the game. But wasn’t kidding: if it’s his, he’s gonna “keep it with mine.” Period. “I can’t help it/You might think it’s odd”: “I’ll Keep It With Mine.” This time, his own oddness about “things” really hit him when he realized that he had fought a woman over a hat, and won. Not endearing himself to the locals, the press, or much of anyone, except the woman, who enjoyed it all immensely.
    Man, I now realized what I was warned years ago: “be careful about writing about a ‘living individual’; they can be unpredictable.” No joke. But, damn, after all these years, to have a neurosis like that still pecking away at you, that you’d make a damn fool of yourself in front of the entire WORLD. That’s weird. Almost as strange as another pop story I read.
    Lisa Marie Presley, on her fourth (count ’em!) husband, said that she had to, “under the gun” (whatever that means . . .) had to announce that she’s havin’ a baby. Apparently the press made some unflattering comments about her apparent, appearance, and the way she put it: well, you hope the kid never grows up to read it! “Under the gun.” Amazing how the things your parents do get repeated: her own mother was thinking of aborting her, and wrote it in her autobiography, where she KNEW her daughter would soon read it. And that her father was shocked, but told her he’d go along with whatever she wanted, and then started to have a few doubts before he realized that it was crazy to do so. Why the hell GET married? I man, yeah, there are other reasons, but if you are blessed with another child, that’s totally cool, and shouldn’t be announced “under the gun” as if it was something horrible. I guess she just had to repeat her mother’s actions and reactions. I used to think that popular culture gave you insight into the rest of us, and largely, I still do. But some things are just damn weird.
    Hell, I think, unless it was VERY special, I wouldn’t even get upset over losing a hat in the street. Hell, my dad once bought an overpriced Australian outback hat in Disneyland, and it flew off on Pirates of the Carribean. Didn’t go bonkers. God, I think Dylan would shut the damn place down for his hat!
    Goes to show: while not all pack rats are thieves, you can bet all natural thieves are pack-rats by nature. “C’mon, give it to me!” A damn hat. That is hilarious. I guess he won’t be holding any auctions of his stuff any time soon!

  59. reprindle Says:

    Well, R.M., a cowboy and his hat is serious business. Sounds like it was some funky Brazilian model he was wearing like a costume. Those little hangups are significant. What’s his is his. I can understand that so long as its not someone elses he’s keeping with his.

    Geooff Muldaur was in town. I went to see him. Geoff got his start in Boston with the Kweskin Jug Band in 1960 just before Bob hit the Big Town. He put on a terrific show before tha assembled multitude of 75 but, a packed house.

    Interestingly he got in an anti-Dylan diatribe. I guess all the folkies have a certain amont of distatse for him. Muldaur complained about Dylan’s detourning words and music. Plagiarism is such a strong word I don’t think it should be used often. You have put a lot his with yours for plagiarism. Let’s just say Bob closely followed his inspirations.

    Anyway Muldaur experienced the period first hand and up close and personal. I think a mjor part of their dislike is that they’re all better pickers and singers. But in the pop world technique is much less important than charisma and Bob does capture the imagination.

    Personally I think it’s great that he is capable of this incredible touring. You’d probably dig Rio and Sao Paulo being received as some kind of savior. Quite a transition for Bob from Redwing to worldwide celebrity on his own terms. I would say I would dig it but I probably wouldn’t. Who knows who’s going to jump up at you from out the audience.

    I’ve been putting the finishing touches to the book I’ve got in iUniverse. Trying to find all those typos. I got about five hundred the first time, down to sixty this time. And they say you can never get them all. I hate to think they’re right but it sure looks like it.

    Hope things are going well for you in La La Land. There was talk at the Muldaur concert of getting Kweskin up here. That would be nice. Do any of these old folkies play around LA? Did you ever go to the Troubadour, or did you get there too late. Ash Grove was nice too but they burned that down. Those were both great clubs. Loved ’em. Back before drugs broke the scene.

  60. R M Says:

    Shoot, by the time I got to L.A., going to clubs was possibly the LAST thing on my mind at the time. Unfortunately. It was not a good time. (Now is worse, though . . . personal pain aside, there’s a lot of professional pressures, too, and you realized you’re not a kid anymore. You just can’t ride around and go to clubs and have fun. “Although I cannot explain that in lines.” It was really horrible back then, because I had good friends in New York, and there was always a party of some sort to go to and the people were friendly, and music flowed naturally by that time. People would bring their guitar, or whatever instrument they played to a party and they would sing and play. Most often, “folk songs,” if we must label songs: I’ll never forget the last one. An older lady, I think maybe she was originally Carribean (and YOU worry about typos! Without Word, I’m now lost! ), but anyway, she said she had one more song to sing. I knew I would be leaving shortly, and there it was: “I’m Never Gonna Stop My Wandering.” I don’t know if I actually cried right there in front of people; I hope not. But it was so perfect that it felt rather mysterious . . . Perfectly horrid. I remember when I went to my commencement (no one else in my department actually showed up, but I did it for my parents and my aunt and uncle: my uncle borrowed a video camera for it ’cause he was so stoked that someone from our family actually had a doctorate. To him, I guess, it seemed just unthinkable. When he was young, none of them finished school, and I think the first person to graduate high school was my cousin, and I understand that it wasn’t very easy for him. His daughter did much better, but I went the distance [hell, you hang around long enough, you WILL get the damn degree true enough . . . but, on the other hand, I had a blast in that it really wasn’t like “school” at all near the end – I had nearly complete freedom to choose a topic just as long as I put in the work on theory and method. And I did. One time, getting on a plane, I got a car to the airport [it was a long drive], a soft-sided “trunk” filled with books actually broke the vehicle’s trunk! A buncha men tried mightily to get it open, and the plane was gonna leave! They did, thank heavens, and I got my stuff, and off I went, but it was kinda hilarious, ’cause who can read all those books in a day? But I had to have them there for some kind of security: it was my Defense, after all. The Defense went so easily they cut it short. We went up to the bar on the 18th floor, everybody had a few drinks and laughs, and I wished that every young person had such an opportunity. City University’s graduate center is unique: you get Ivy League quality [perhaps better in many ways], and at the time, you paid peanuts. I never would have made it if it weren’t for City. Nowadays, students absolutely drown in debt. I tell ’em to do everything possible to get a “McNair” – a four year free ride [after that, they’re on their own . . .]. And then I deposited, and I was already living out here, very, very lonely, but I knew I could get jobs and not be totally cut off from family.
    Which is why it’s just unthinkable to me that Dylan’s parents knew basically where he was and didn’t seem to give a flip. Some of his “Dinkytown” friends came out there, but not his parents. So it was cool when he played Carnegie Hall, flew ’em in, and for what I believe is the one and only time, performed “Red Wing” live. That took “cajones,” as they say out here. It was like he was not as angry at them for not seeming to know or care whether their teenage kid was even alive in NYC as he was for the Red Wing thing. Lord knows what actually happened. But you know from looking at his song-book, that he has a great pile of prison songs, and outlaw songs, etc. God, it’s so damn clear. We’re always presented with a courtroom metaphor, or someone on the lam, or a prison song [“I Shall Be Released”! Elvis sang the chorus of that one time in a recording session that was going very badly, and he ended with the single word “Dylan.” He said it as if answering an unasked question, but also with both resolve and true respect. A respect he absolutely did not have for the Beatles [really, for Lennon, who always managed to say or do the wrong thing on those stage-managed “summit meetings” that Epstein would set up. The one with Dylan almost came to blows! Hell, if he had said that to Elvis (say, if Nick Adams had been sitting in the chair instead of Ginsberg), he would have rued the day . . . which he did, anyway. Lennon tried for YEARS, to get back in touch with Elvis: he sent messages of apology, invites, anything he could think of because Elvis had been such an inspiration to him and he totally blew it. When Elvis was filming the ’68 special, Lennon found out exactly where he was, and kept calling. Elvis absolutely refused to return the phone calls. Steve Binder was mystified, and Elvis would not explain. Binder, today, feels it was something very personal, because he told him almost anything. After all, he did go for that initial [and last] meeting, so he was once open to them [him], but after that meeting, it was OVER. And Lennon admitted that he wished he had that night to do over again. God knows what he said.
    I have found out that he no only met Dylan once, in Memphis (“by the river of tears”: a hotel on the Mississippi, in Memphis,) after the first remarkable Vegas stand, where Elvis performed as if possessed. Dressed in a silken Karate Gi, he ACTUALLY turned cartwheels! His singing was remarkable, getting better every night, and he sweared A LOT. He made jokes about the war, but they were quite sardonic; despite what you may have heard, I have heard what he said with my own ears, and he was clearly opposed – and he was still angry about his own hitch (“I was drafted and shafted and everything else”). He defintely was not the “good boy” who went freely and happily off to Germany to nearly freeze to death during those stupid “war games.” Finally, he found a way to get the cough lozenges to make his throat red, but not his tongue. The other guys begged for the trick, but he wasn’t telling: if he did, he would lose it, after all. He would claim a sore throat, fever (faked), and claim it would harm his career. Worked like a charm. But not until the end of his hitch.) It was only on stage that Elvis could be truly straight with people — that is, free. Off stage, unless he could trust someone not to blab, he would either say nothing, or say what they wanted to hear. Like the Nixon thing. Yes, he was pissed at Lennon, but he would never have said what he did say unless he wanted to shake up Nixon, which he did. The other two guys there, in reflection, feel that Nixon got a little frightened after a bit: he wouldn’t leave. And he was determined about that badge which he called “the federal credentials.” Finally, the prez gave in. See, Elvis had been trying to plan something for at least months because he found out the federal drug agents do not rat out each other, ever. And a lot of them, exposed to massive quantities of dope in their course of business, take some of it. And get away with it. When he discovered this, he wanted a damn badge and official credentials. At this point, he felt he needed protection: he was already doing coke, and not merely the legal kind. He did EVERYTHING, and not all of it was “prescribed,” no matter what you have heard. And even the prescriptions were often illegal. One Dilauded prescription was in the name of a newborn baby! And one time, at Baptist Hospital, they absolutely refused to fill it. (The guy trying was either Sonny or another guy.) Anyway, his guy pulled a gun on the pharmacist. And the pharmacist, who KNEW that Elvis was sitting just outside, which he was, said “son, now put that thing down, ’cause I’m just not going to fill it, and you are not going to shoot me. I just filled one for him a few days ago from another doctor. Forget it. Now do you want me to call the cops?” And his guy (I forget which one) put the gun down, and said “ok, ok, but he’s sitting out there, and I’M going to have a gun to MY head if I come back empty! PLEASE!!” The pharmacist told him that he doubted Elvis would shoot him. The fellow was not terribly sure at that point. But he went back, and history is clear that he did not get shot. But, oh, Lordy. (Although Elvis DID once shoot at a car full of kids who spotted him and pulled up next to him and touched his car with their hands and waved. Nothing bad: they just wanted to acknowledge him. Then they took off, and he, for unknown reasons, flew into a rage, and shot right at their car. The guy who later talked about this in several different interviews [and was corroborated] said “I don’t consider that ‘funzees'” and it wasn’t]) So, yeah, he was deeply concerned about “the federal credentials” when he began to tour again. Only now do we know that the badge was a fake and that he got “lucky.”
    Anyway, if Dylan saw that first Vegas gig, particularly during the first week, he would have been knocked on his ass. And dying to meet him, but not where the press would make something of it. So, it was not in Vegas. It was in Memphis. The southern end of that “river of tears,” as it was for so many, but I guess particularly in Dylan’s mind. (The River is right next to Highway 61, as it goes by the Red Wing facility.) For many, the River had always symbolized “freedom” (Mark Twain, etc.), but not for Dylan. Elvis took it for granted, and didn’t think all that much about it, except that he often brought girlfriends out there, both before and after ’56 and for life, what there was of it. But it was not a “river of tears” for him, no way. It was a nice, pleasant private place to chat, which is just what they needed. As soon as Dylan saw those lights glinting off the River, a song was quickly forming in his head, of course. But it could not be too explicit as to the details. I guess, later, as the drug problem escalated, it sorta was a “River of tears,” but not immediately. Anyhow, that’s the source for “Went to See the Gypsy.” There WAS an initial meeting, and it was NOT the only one. And it took much digging for me to find out. God, there are so many new and old books out about both of them, but still, it’s very hard. I know that “Went to See the Gypsy” was recorded after an initial meeting in Memphis over the winter that was carefully arranged. After that, they simply crossed paths. Especially when Dylan was jumping back and forth between labels and he was taking in a lot of other people’s music and performances, both in the studio, and in concert. It is clear they felt comfortable in each other’s company, as long as there was privacy. He would not be the type to be around “the guys,” so I am sure Elvis knew of comfy hiding places where they could chat alone. But sitting on the banks of the Mississippi in the middle of the night, as I just found out? That image is startling in its intimacy and odd beauty. Trading stories of which one wanted to knock Lennon on his ass the most! Gosh, even his own son, Sean, freely tells reporters that before he came along, he is aware that “my dad was very often an asshole.” The tragedy is that in that five years, he grew up and became a good man. And THEN that jerk shot him, and ruined his kid’s life in ways you cannot know. (Because of my dissertation topic, I know something that cannot be divulged unless Sean himself ever decides to do so . . . uh, IF, there’s anything to it, of course .) What I mean is that he had found inner peace, and was no longer a jerk. Good Lord, I don’t mean that anyone should have EVER shot him for ANY reason, but there were times that someone might have wanted to punch his teeth out, sure. Ginsberg reacted swiftly to avoid a press catastrophe, ’cause Dylan was not afraid to fly off the handle and do something he would regret. My God, the thing with Weberman . . . I know the dude was an ass, but I do not know how Dylan walked away scot free after banging someone’s head on a sidewalk multiple times, and with extreme violence. And this was in his “happy” period. What a joke. And I guess Elvis could relate to all of that: to losing control, to being able to get away with stuff that other people would not. Lots of things. But mostly music. Country, and blues, and oh, anything and everything. Elvis was a master of just about everything (with the possible exception of jug band music, but who knows? If he could jump from the most soulful rendition of a Johnny Mathis song imaginable to genuine Ranchera music, I supposed he could do anything, and knew more). And it was during this period that he began spontaneously (and without ANY credit, I might add!) rewriting songs in rehearsal and on stage. It could be a ballad, or gut bucket blues: if he felt like it, he’d completely rework it, including the lyrics. This was especially true of songs relating to his separation and divorce. And not records that ever came out in his lifetime except for bootlegs. Now, the question presents itself: if he met Dylan on SEVERAL occassions during this period, did he give him any tips? After all, Woody gave Dylan tips: take a song you like, and then maybe put some new lyrics in there, or mix up the verses, and then you go on from there. Woody made it sound easy, and unless one is REALLY insecure, it IS easy. Ok, I could never write “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding).” But you get the idea.)

    Now, about that hat. The picture of it is just hysterical to me! Especially since he felt very embarrassed later and asked for the lady so he could give it to her. But he fought like a damn tiger, is what I read. Lost his total mind. See, when you’re on stage, it is considered routine to give just about anything to the fans as a souvenier. That’s in my experience, anyway, and I have seen almost all the greats. (Gosh, in the “Aloha” special, Elvis threw that expensive cape right into the crowd, and “Daddy” nearly had a heart attack right then! He had them find it and ask for it back. The person who had it generously returned it. But Vernon, always closer than 9 is to 10, went nuts when he saw that thing flying away. (That particular one was rumored to have had some REAL jewels on it!) But actually, what he did is quite normal. What Dylan did is considered “insanity.” I know, cowboys and their hats, but gimme a break here. Remember, he had that little cap when he was young? And Baez says things really started to fall apart over a disgusting, stinky old jacket that “went missing.” She said he had a tantrum “like a five year old.” She said it was WAY over the top, and I guess she realized that he probably would never really change. But it WAS a misunderstanding of motives. She really did think they were just relaxing and goofing on each other when she said “ah, but I guess it would never work.” And he took it so seriously, as a “no.” How could she know that a girl who once talked about “baby names” with him threw his bracelet at him in front of a high school crowd? This was no “joking matter” to him. And so ends up with Sara, and she has baby after baby in a short time, and then the marriage begins to fall apart. Because he never did change and came with more baggage than she could ever know. Joan, I get the feeling, understood the baggage. She felt, as many women do, that with some nurturing, he would drop some of the baggage. Nope. The sheer intensity of the violence with which he attacked Weberman just gives you the shivers. I mean, Elvis had a situation where these fans were very nasty to Priscilla and Lisa (when she was still a baby, actually), and he firmly, but without “losing it,” let them know that he wanted them gone, immediately! He was *close* to violence, but could restrain himself. (Well, there were other times . . .) Apparently, he was inside the house (in California), and came out, and boy, were they scared. He hollered, and they ran off. On another occassion, he actually had to stop his daughter (then about 8 years old, going on 45) from torturing some women who had climbed the trees behind Graceland and were stuck. They couldn’t get down. Not only did the little girl not get help, she teased them, laughed, and started throwing stuff at them. They begged the little girl for mercy, and she replied “are you drunk?” The little kid said that! Finally somebody saw that Lisa was having an intense interaction with *somebody* in the back (there’s quite a bit of room in the horse riding area: it’s not huge, but it’s enough), and called her daddy to check it out. This time, fortunately, he was conscious, and he ordered her away in a firm voice, and she ran off, laughing, and he helped the beleaguered trespassers down. “You’d better do something about that little girl of yours!” they ranted, and he replied “yeah, yeah, but that’ll teach you to respect other people’s homes!” And that was it. He didn’t freak out. I mean, these women had engaged his young daughter in a rather ugly encounter, and could have hurt her if they had gotten down from the trees. But, still, he kept his cool.
    Dylan would have probably killed them or something. From what I can tell – maybe I’m wrong, he felt his kids were like china dolls . . . I’m sure they could take care of themselves from a young age with a father like that. I get the feeling he tried to be the father he didn’t have. And yet, after Abe passed away, he was quite protective whenever reporters asked questions. Or didn’t like how it looked in print when it came out. Something like that. In any case, he has always, always been very involved in his kids’ lives. Even at the We Are The World sessions, when most of them were either grown or almost grown, he was having some sort of family vaction coming up with all his kids. This was long after the divorce, and the oldest one would have been just about 19 at the time. Hmmmm.
    And think about the song he wrote, just as most of them were hitting that age: “Lord, Protect My Child.” It’s very moving (if Elvis had lived, he would have recorded it in a hair’s breath), and does show that one does not have to repeat whatever it was with which one was raised. In Dylan’s case, it was such coldness and rank neglect. It’s almost impossible for me to imagine having your own teenager (only two kids!), wandering the streets of New York, looking so young, and being actually in quite a bit of actual jeapardy, and not even sending a message or anything. It’s just unthinkable that his dad didn’t fly out to New York and find out the condition he was in! And see those “green teeth” and everything . . . and then get him a decent apartment and tell him he had to find a way to make a living unless and until he “made it” in the business. Or threaten to just take him home. Hell, he was legally underage, couldn’t sign a contract: that would have been easy. But nothing! People have always said that he disowned THEM! Excuse me, but since they apparently showed zero interest in finding him, what else WAS he gonna say but “I don’t have a mother, either.” He did not disown them; they most definitely disowned him as soon as decided he did not want to finish college. Like he’d committed some gravely immoral act or something! So you just give up on him? Not even curious as to whether or not he’s alive, or in what condition (and he was not in a good condition, even AFTER “Blowin’ In the Wind,” which made a fortune: he told a guy: “don’t open that [refrigerator] door! There’s stuff growin’ in there!” I mean, he had a lot of money by then, but was clueless as to what to use it for at the time.
    As to his early “abilities,” well, he was learning, and he seemed a fast learner. Remember, there really was NOTHING in Hibbing for him to learn. He would hear Hank Williams on that massive Opry antennae, and hell, even I can play Hank Williams! What’s not to love? The songs are great, plus they are easy!
    He certainly did improve in every area. Ok, so I have NEVER heard of playing the piano with your hands crossed to the opposite sides and allowing them to collide in the middle. Now, that’s weird to me. But ain’t nobody taught him, so he did it the way he wanted. The playing on “It’s Alright Ma” is incredible to me. Such intensity! And I go for that.
    And I guess it was the intensity of a song like “I Shall Be Released” (that Elvis sang), with that spiritual core that moved Elvis when he heard it, and said “Dylan” with both finality and a tone of explanation in his voice. At that time, few people had heard the song. Either you collected bootlegs, liked “The Band,” OR, you actually KNEW the guy, and he sang it to you!
    But can you imagine the publishing battle between Hill and Range, and Dylan’s publishers (they changed after Grossman, but the song preceded that change, if I am not mistaken, so it would have been war to try to record that song — damn shame, too, because the piece of s–t Elvis was being pressured into recording right then was, well, that’s what it was. He sang those verses LITERALLY: “any day now, any day now, I shall be released.” But God, is it a stunningly beautiful, if short, rendition. You can find it on “Walk a Mile in My Shoes,” a big box set, but it is not in the “real” order in that he sang it while trying to record a crappy song called “I’m Leavin'” and was in a bad, bad, BAD mood. And then, with those verses, a ray of hope literally beams into that tormented recording studio, with “suits” arguing publishing rights, and exhausted, spiritually spent musicians. It gave him the courage to at least finish the session. He maybe had hope that someday soon, he could actually be the captain of his life.
    Never happened though.

  61. reprindle Says:

    Wow! That was quite a post. Presley, Lennon and Dylan. What do they all have in common? They all came from impoverished backgrounds in which they had been denied. They all enjoyed success far beyond their reasonable hopes. They were all ‘jerks’ or ‘assholes’ in high school. Thus they were all emotionally stunted or crippled.

    Dylan was fatally traumatized by Red Wing. I’m almost persuaded he was set up for the fall by having been a ‘jerk.’ High school’s a tricky place to live your teenage years. The defining moment for Presley seems to have been whan the hot guys saw him coming and said: ‘Oh look it’s a squirrel come down from the trees.’ Elvis couldn’t laugh that one off. I haven’t found Lennon’s defining moment. The challenge to all three was to grow into their success. From a Jack to a King. Whether one likes Dylan or not he rode the rapids and got on through. Elvis broke on the rocks. He couldn’t find the counselor he needed. Whether Lennon resolved his problems or not will never be known; Maxwell’s Silver Hammer came back on him. The White Album should never have been made.

    If Lennon was a bigger ‘asshole’ than Presley or Dylan might be a subject for debate. All three had to adjust to incredible media attention. Just imagine the Beatles being a feature news story every night of the week on every channel. Perhaps Epstein taught them to be glib so that they were able to pull it off but these guys were little more than neighborhood showoffs. All of a sudden Lennon’s witicisms that earned him the reputation as a fool or goof in high school were accepted as first rate standup comedy.

    McCartney, Harrison and Starr managed to slide around all the attention but confrontational Lennon went out and courted disaster. Yoko Ono. Yoko Ono. Yoko Ono. I mean, what a brazen hussy. Who deserved that?

    And then all three of them had such extraordinary managers: Grossman, Epstein and Parker. There’s a whole nother story. Epstein may have been the most constructive while Grossman and Parker would have done well in a destruction derby. Parker with his need for an alter ego found the perfect subject in Elvis who needed an ego badly. Don’t think I don’t know where that’s at either as you probably do too. Grossman. I don’t know. he might have been predatory or he might have thought Dylan was ‘temporary like Achilles.’ Grab the money and run. On the other hand as Peter Yarrow says, without Grossman there wouldn’t have been a PPM or a Dylan. You gotta remember PPM was a very big act competing with the Kingston Trio on an equal basis. Grossman might have worked them just as hard.

    No could have known how big the record business was going to get in the late sixties and the seventies yet Grossman was positioned to take advantage of it. I think he and a more mature Dylan, after his hiatus, might have worked well together.

    Of course the Dylan of the Rolling Thunder Review was a disintegrating personality. He was surely as big or bigger an asshole as Lennon ever thought of being. Dylan was lucky to find his way out but Presley when he disintegrated couldn’t find his way back. I don’t think he ever would have. Once you get lost in those drugs there’s no way out.

    I thought that was a good composition on your part putting the only performance of Red Wing together with his flying his parents out to hear it. I’d sneer but it took me thirty years with a severe disintegration of personality to shuck the most destructive aspects of my character.

    When you’re coming from la-bas it’s hard to tell which will hurt you most- success or failure. Like Dylan said when he was in the throes of success: There’s no success like failure and failure’s no success at all. That line is kind of like: Where do I go from here? It was just a short step to Desolation Row.

    Presley’s still my favorite for listening but only the Sun Presley.

  62. reprindle Says:

    R.M. That last was so loaded I didn’t even get around to your visions of the Mississippi River. Twain’s Life On The Mississippi has always been one of my favorite books. My favorite representation of the river is Johnny Cash’s Big River with its panoramic view of the stream from top to bottom.

    River songs are always great. A train and river song is even better. I really like Woody Guthrie’s Grand Coulee Dam and Roll On Columbia. While the Mississippi takes first place in the American imagination having lived on the the Big Columbia now for a few decades I can’t see the Big River in the same light. Besides with the American disregard for the environment the charm or any mysteriy of the rivers have been destroyed.

    The Interstate Bridge over the Columbia is still an impressive bridge while the 205 freeway crossing just rams over the river as part of the Superslab. The same with the tremendous concourse of highways crossing the Mississippi at St. Louis. At seventy per you can’t even see the river.

    I’ve always wanted to cross the Mississippi Bridge at Memphis but now I’m afraid to lest I be disappointed. I’ve seen the channeled Missouri at Kansas City and it darn near broke my heart. The Ohio at Louisville was just a sewer while having none of the grandeur of the Columbia.

    That is a nice scene you painted of Presley and Dylan sitting and watching the river flow in the moonlight. But the charm is much dimished for me. I’ve sat and watched the river flow in Twain’s own Hannibal but the dams and locks had changed it a lot since his time. It is kind of a river of tears for me now.

  63. R M Says:

    Thank you. Hey, it took a lOT of work digging out this information: as I said, I have at least 300 books on Elvis, and many, many other music-related books (and periodicals), as well as recorded interviews. The Internet was a little helpful, but not much. It involved going back to old, falling apart, out of print books and other stuff to get what I needed to find out: not just a story, but one that was corroborated. I went to J-school, and that’s important to me. I mean, it would be ok as a kind of fantasy, but it WAS NOT! See, Elvis would always take his girlfriends by thhe banks (yes, I rode on a Riverboat on a number of occassions when in Memphis: you almost have to, to cool off from the heat and humidity. I saw it, very briefly at night. But didn’t take a ride at night. And didn’t sit on those benches, but back in the day, they were still there.) Gosh, now everything in that town is “Disney-fied” — like New York. But back then, in the ’70s, you could still feel it. It made absolutely perfect sense, when you think about it for them to meet in that fashion – and in comfort. Elvis knew how to seek privacy. He was a master. I met a waitress back in the ’70s, and older lady who’d been at that particular establishment for years (the old Howard Johnson’s near Graceland), and boy, she gave us an earful, with proof! She had all the checks stored. They had signatures like “David Stanley” and “Billy Smith” and so on . . . she said “Elvis and his ‘whole band’ [she did not mean musical band, of course; she meant his whole “merry band”] would come to stay in the motel when Elvis wanted to get away from his father. I kid you not. And this was not long before he died! Aparently, Vernon was getting to be annoying, to put it mildly, and Elvis would “disappear,” but just right down the road! Now that’s clever. But hell, sneaking away like that as a grown man? It’s so bizarre. (But better than Dylan’s situation, for sure, where he was tossed aside completely.) Anyway, she explained that he wanted only bacon cheese burgers, with the bacon burnt. I knew that last part already. But she had the orders and signed checks! Amazing. He would not come into the resturant area. The guy who signed would take the stuff up to the rooms. I asked “how often”? And she showed me this pile of checks that were signed, and they had dates on them. Gosh! At first, I was mystified: “why?” And she said, kinda quietly for some reason (hell, he was already dead!), but out of habit, I guess, “to get away from his daddy.” No real further explanation than that. I guess going to the airport and asking for the first plane out was kind of a drag; in the future, he simply went down the road a bit. It seemed so weird, though, I can tell you. Some of the people down there didn’t want to admit about the drugs, and some were honest. She was honest, and although I never said the word “drugs,” I asked “he was giving him a hard time about certain, uh, things . . .?” With a bit of a wink. And she sort of winked back, “yeah.” But that’s all. She really did not want to talk about the reasons. It was not comfortable. But Howad Johnson’s motel??????? Can you imagine? Good thing he didn’t set up the Dylan meeting THERE! Never would have seen him again! (Or maybe yes . . . after all, he was sort of a hayseed himself, coming from a little mining town and all)
    Naw, it was a decent hotel in Memphis, where it actually happened, near the River. Could have been the famous one, but I don’t think so, for some reason. The song would have ducks in it or something. Anyway, they slipped out, totally, to be alone, to chat alone, and it was pretty much all night . . . which was no big deal for Elvis (nor for his companion, I’d imagine). But this was only the “first” meeting, and the only one “arranged,” but not by the Col. Elvis wanted to do this himself for whatever reason, and having remembered the stage-managed Beatles meeting, did not want to repeat that! You’re right: it’s easy to be too hard on Lennon, especially since he was quite young and utterly unprepared for these carefully arranged and press covered “summit meetings.” But to say what he said to Dylan, gosh! If that was Elvis, and Nick Adams was sitting in that chair, good gawd! Anyway, despite what he said to Nixon when he was desperately in search of those “credentials,” later on he tried to help him out, according to Larry Geller (who smoked a joint with George out by Elvis’s pool because George was uncomfortable with the whole thing), Elvis gave Lennon his private line, so that’s why he knew how to contact him during the 68 special!! For some reason, Elvis wasn’t answering at that time. (I don’t suppose he wanted to hear “good luck” and not know what it MEANT.) He actually was sort of “lecturing” Elvis about the “movies,” and Elvis did NOT need to be told how awful they were. He knew. That’s what really pissed him off. Later, Geller said Elvis felt really bad when Lennon when wanted to become an American, and Nixon was trying to stop him. He contacted him, and Geller was a witness to the call, and told him that Nixon liked singers to sing “anti-drug songs” and told him to just record something like “get high on life.” That is exactly what Nixon told Elvis to do. (And exactly what he did not do.) Apparently, he recorded something, and this pleased Dick (makes me laugh when I think of what my kids think of that name! “What was WRONG with parents back then!!?!”). If Elvis saw that talk show where Lennon said “we’re scared!” he would naturally and automatically feel sympathetic ’cause that was his nature. And forgiving. Also a part of his raisin.’ Gosh, the whole thing with the Elvis-Nixon meeting takes on an even more hilarious note when you find out that he was having an affair with a woman from the Armed Services Committee in the House, and while they were, well you know . . . , he was pumping her for information about what to say to these people to get his drug “credentials”!! Unreal. Soon after he got what he wanted, she slipped from his radar completely. I won’t say her name, but it’s in a well-known book. That’s not right, but he felt pretty desperate at the time — and damned scared of a drug bust. He was already into illegal and “legal” cocaine use. And you pretty much know the rest. Dylan was, good for him, sporadic in his drug behavior. Certainly the “high” point (bad pun) was the Rolling Thunder review. Ever read that old book by Sloman? God, the drugs were flowing like water on that tour. No wonder Dylan was half into it and half not. It’s no wonder his behavior, and even his physical condition was not so great. One night he claimed he had a very high fever. Maybe so. Whatever, he was NOT fit to go onstage, and was amazed on getting good reviews. He thought he’d get slaughtered, because he was OUT of it! Wasn’t Joan Baez on that sometimes? If so, how could she put up with the druggie stuff? Well, as they say, “love is blind.” She was glad to be back, even if only briefly. But, hell, SOMETHING had to be wrong with Dylan, earlier, to jump Weberman and go after him with such intense violence. I cannot believe he was able to just walk away. That blows my mind. Even Elvis got busted in ’56 for a fight in a gas station. He was charged and aquitted on the same day. Oddly, he stayed home for about 3 days after that. Now, he was 21. You cannot be grounded at 21, but when you read it . . . I give up with stuff like that; it’s too weird. Could be that he was spooked about going out after the incident, but that doesn’t sound like him. I dunno. His life was so “smothered,” you might say. My guess is that Gladys was terrified, and he wanted to keep her calm. And when he lost his mama, he went absolutely psychotic. He actually made a leap into the grave! Shouting “I want to go with you!” Four guys retrieved him. The mechanical thing was going down! And so was he. I have NEVER heard of anyone doing that.
    And he and Oedipus became great buddies after his daughter was born, making his marriage just impossible. Now, that is sad.
    Thanks again,
    And G’night,

    But what I mean is Elvis slugged two guys big time and he got busted. Dylan just dusted himself off and walked away. You gotta be made of Teflon or something! He nearly killed the dude. And it sounds like drug induced behavior because it was SO violent. I do not believe it was heroin; but there were plenty of other drugs at the time, freely available to any rock star who wanted them.

  64. reprindle Says:

    R.M. I wouldn’t take slugging somone seriously. I guess you have no idea of the taunts, shoving, tricks, messing around with that those guys have to take.

    I used to be in the record business and did ads on TV. Yu have to be made of teflon to take it. Drivers were forever cutting me off, crossing in front of me so I would have to slam on the brakes. They thought I was Jewish so they would pretend to sneeze and go ‘ah Jew.’ I know more about being Jewish than you do.

    One of their favorites is to terrorize you to the point where you think they’re going to seriously hurt you. The plan is to get you to wave a gun around in ‘self-defense.’ Then they get all innocent and say: ‘God, what’s wrong with that guy. We weren’t doing anything. He’s crazy man. I wouldn’t take success if it came like that.’ Then they’re all mocking you trying to push the button. Pretty much drives you crazy after a while.

    Some of them are so nuts they actually want to be beaten up by you. It’s a surrogate for sex. Homosexuality is such a fun sport for these guys. I’m sure Weberman was queer and ready to die at Dylan’s hands. He’s probably sorry he didn’t have someone there to film it. Watch it over and over. He pushed Dylan until Dylan was so nuts he had to do something. They’re called emasculation games.

    When I hear of a celeb punching someone out I’m always on the side of the celeb. That Sean Penn had to go to jail for it was really criminal. The guy who got him screwed him good. Trust me, the guy who got him was gay.

    If Elvis flew off the handle a few times he was entitled. I don’t care if the perps seemed to deserve it or not. They did. They can’t be friends to they have to put it to you. I’ve been there.

    If Elvis killed a half dozen of ’em on drugs or off if I were on the jury he’d walk.

    It goes on an on and on. I’ll tell you stories sometime.

    You have 300 volumes on what? All Presley? A bunch of guys or what? I’ve got maybe a hundred music volumes and another hundred sixties things. I don’t have more than ten of anyone though. I think I have the most on Dylan. I’ve only got a couple on Presley and seven or eight on the slugger, Sinatra.

    I don’t think most people have any idea how central Sinatra was to the fifties and sixties up until 11/22/63 of course. Then his career took a left turn. Guess why?

    Once he was born again after Eternity the guy was a real monster. The two guys that get the most visceral reaction from me are him and FDR. It would have been better if neither of those guys had lived. Sinatra as so evil there’s so much I don’t even want to know. I just learned that Judith Exner’s son is Cheney’s photographer. (I think it was Cheney) How incestuous.

    She had a story to tell but didn’t know how to tell it.

    I don’t know which would be worse, being a beautiful woman or an ugly one. I think I’d settle for plain or homely and be real careful. God, look what they did to Monroe. What criminal bastards.

    Anyway Sinatra is the real study for the period. Probably more important that both Kennedy’s rolled together.

  65. reprindle Says:

    RM: I just saw a video of Baez and Dylan during his headscarf period. He introduced Blowin’ In The Wind as dedicated to the town of Hibbing, Minnesota. The song probably has nothing to do with Civil Rights other than his own grievance about the old hom town.


  66. R M Says:

    Guess this is the best place. Hope you see it. I’ve been “missing” for months, and I am sure you have guessed why. It was one two many evenings of fillial affection and laughter (and the usual mother-daughter fights, but not recently at all), and 3000 miles behind. Yup, I insisted on flying back East, so she could be with her eldest sister in that place that has always haunted my deepest nightmares. Oh, how many times, in my dreams, have I rode up that road . . .
    And so it had to be again. Yeah, it’s updated, with a 9/11 memorial and fancy new building. And you’re allowed to play music. The small service was outdoors in the biting winds of March. A dear cousin was there, and I almost jumped out of the car before it stopped. He hugged me SO hard. He KNEW how much more my mom loved him than his own. He lost his sister (so he’s an “only” since the age of 17), and I played, in the biting winds, Elvis’s “That’s Someone You’ll Never Forget.” One of two songs he co-wrote for real. This was, of course, about his mother. My mom absolutely adored Elvis. We lived in Atlanta and she had that radio on at night on a pillow speaker. She screamed when he died. I mean SCREAMED.
    I felt, of all the people “in this whole wide Universe,” that E.P. was the only person who could possibly really understand the pain I was in. And still am in. It is so quiet and lonely. I cannot even call her up on the phone. I was away quite a bit, and always called a lot. We liked the same things. When together, it was like camping out. I miss her so, you cannot know. I do not mean any harm, since I know your situation, but like I said, maybe you were lucky. It is not better to have loved and lost. Trust me on this.

    Anyway, yeah, I would say I stopped counting at around 300 Elvis-books. They got ALL kinds. I also have bunches and bunches and bunches of other music books and periodicals. From all over the world. And that’s just for kicks, mostly.
    My academic books, they sit in great old piles to the ceiling. And then my oldest: the Sports Illustrated Book Club books from my teen years that taught me to enjoy reading, and escaping torment through other lives, I thought: cooler lives.
    I was so much older then; I’m younger than that now. True fact.
    What is NOT true are the people who go “I understand,” or “I’m sorry” (for what?) or all the cliches. After a while, you get really p’o’d. And if you knew the whole story of how it came to be, well, I hope you’d be angry, too. I will respect your site and not cause no troubles.
    But God help me, I was lucky. In this time, I got a revelation re: “Like a Rolling Stone.” Ah ha!!!!!!! It’s so clear, doggone it. It’s not about Joan, or any other of those gals.

    You’re gonna dig this. It hit me one sleepless night: he IS singing “to a woman” in “Like a Rolling Stone.” Her last name, is, of course, Stone! Why did it escape me for so long?????? But not a wife, not girlfriend, nor steady, nor sweetheart. Uh, no. He’s singing to the woman who, according to Joan Baez, once left him jumping up and down on the outside of “his own” screen door in the North Country as a teen; he had to pee, and was pleading for mercy. She simply refused to open the door. Joan called it “beautiful” writing, but I clearly take that to mean “beautifully horrible” a scene put to paper (an early version of Tarantula). It’s one of those things where you WON’T “look back and this will all seem funny.” Cause it clearly never did. She suggested other such scenes that she was privy to. “Knows to much to argue or to judge.” Indeed. And she sounded still angered and indigninant at the horrible “beauty” of the horribly “stoney” scene. She knows he was never loved at the time in life when he needed it most. And so she put up with a lot, and kind of still does. And he tries to communicate with her in various ways, and always gets it wrong, but you can see he’s trying. (One guy who knows him from the earlier days suggested that he’s maybe somehow “autistic” when using ordinary speech. Might be on to something. He’s good with LYRICS, not “words.” Or even actions. He takes things the wrong way. And misinterprets experiences.

    And you’re right: I probably experienced much less genuine anti-semitism than a lot of people. Some. But not as a kid. Or even in college. I was so mixed up at having no real culture of my own, that I guess I wouldn’t have even known, maybe. I was a lost little kid. My hometown was the Holiday Inn. Always on the move.
    It’s ok, though. You can do worse.

    All the best for now,
    P.S. — Sinatra is fascinating. And he DID maintain his relationship with “Chickie Baby” (the president) even after little brother told him to knock it off. Things in reality are always way more complex than they generally are presented.

    Now I have heard of crueler things done to kids, sure, but it’s the icy quality that sticks with you. It’s like the absolute opposite of what most would consider an “instinct” by adult women (and men, too), too protect and nurture the young. And it was missing. Could be a million reasons, but no excuses, though. “True, like ice, like fire.” Two opposite ways of “true love and faithfulness.” Two parents. But no examples of more temperate climes. Many have seen the fire, and in most of those accounts, it is indeed accompanied by “ice.” Which, by the way, is pretty “stony” in palpable quality. Not the “comfortable middle class background” of which he is always “accused.” To him, it IS an accusation, because he painted a picture of a loveless orphan, rambled and gambled his way to the big city. Well, if you take a closer look, I see very little “lying” in those early days. Just maybe embroidery, but much that is simply, and often shockingly true.
    And I have always felt that Paul Simon was a jealous spoiled brat, but now that I know what “lie, lie, lie” meant, wow, I am amazed that anyone would have the unmitigated gall to judge another person’s life with such nastiness, I am simply stunned. Hell, it took them years to get a decent album together, and then they parted. Simon had a brief career, really, and now he’s really nothin’ at all, while Dylan has had another rennaissance (sp?). Who’s the boxer, anyway?

  67. reprindle Says:

    RM: Surprised to hear from you. Thought it was something I said. You weren’t quite clear but I gather that the worst happened and your mother died? I think you said she was ill.

    You have my deepest sympathies for your loss as your relationship seemed to be quite close. Console yourself that your mother lives on in you and in that sense she is perpetuated. One hates to lose someone loved so much but, alas, it is inevitable. Life goes on and your mother deeds you life.

    I turned seventy the other day so I can see my appointment with the Dark Angel just ahead. I am into my last thousand days or less, possibly two thousand days but it doesn’t matter. My task is to work and get as much done as possible before I go. I’m sure your mother felt the same way about her life. In the words of Tennyson: Let there be no moaning at the bar when I put out to sea.

    So, sooner or later we go the way of all flesh. Cherish your mother’s memory but life belongs to the living so make her proud of you.

    Much water under the bridge since your last. I’ve published my novel The Sonderman Constellation with iUniverse so I’m actually in print. I’ve added lots of Dylan stuff. Things are confused along that line now because Suze Rotolo’s suto is out now while Toby Thompson’s Positively Main Street has been reissued and muddied the waters. I’m going to have to review Positively Fourth St. in light of the new information.

    So much for now, I’ll await your reaction.

  68. R M Says:

    Well, of course it wasn’t anything to do with you. It was a LONG time, and at some point, ya gotta think, God! Something TERRIBLE happened. And it did. The erstatz insurance hospital (you’re not allowed to get seriously ill anymore; the hospitals must kick you out. They have started new industries. All of which are filled with those “pellets of poison” of which young Bob so wisely spoke. I know; I saw those pellets shower down. If you get better, they kick you out and send you to a place where you’ll get sick, and then call 911 when you do, and this goes ’round and ’round until the person is not “treated” as such, but is finally harmed, not by individuals, who are no more than bureaucrats with no actual ill intentions, but by a system designed according to the bottom line.
    So, of course, she’s gone. That night, for the first time in my life, I fainted. The young woman was so impatient to move “the body,” that when I heard the word in relation to someone who was virtually a part of me (well, actually, once, we WERE one body — for nine months, anyway), I remember nothing after hearing the word but a man’s hand under my head, and then another man’s hand, and people muttering “should we call 911”? This, in a so-called “hospital”!!?!! I told them to unhand me. A wheelchair appeared, and we left her.
    Until the stroke took her voice (unthinkable!! for my mom, anyway: she was always vocal! yelling even at the TV!), every night, even when I was hundreds or thousands of miles away, we did the old Burns ‘n’ Allen routine. I would be “George” “Say g’night, Gracie.” And she would finish it. But now, she would speak no more. So as my dad pulled the chair away, I muttered at them “murderers” just under my breath, but more loudly, with unimaginable sadness and utter losesomeness, “Good Night Gracie.” With tears finally streaming down my face. It was her line, dammit! It was HER line! And yeah, I would say “I love ya,” and she would say “I love you more,” and then I would, etc.
    Yeah, her memory is “in me,” but she under the grass in New Jersey, where she spent the first 5 of her first 6 years in an orphanage. An orphanage that she really liked! She always talked about a little boy named “Dickie” who died of an illness. Now they can be together. And maybe play in happiness and freedom. And her big sister (the nice one) will watch over them. And she can watch over my young cousin. I walked to Rhonda’s grave, and knelt and told her Aunt Lucy is coming and you know how much she loves you!! The ground was wet and cold, but I hated those crappy pants. I told her “I’m coming soon!!!!!!” as they did the shovel ritual, in which women are now “allowed” to participate.
    But, one of my young students, on the sympathy card, understood best of everyone. Somehow this young kid knew. I NEVER said this to her or anyone but to my mom, when she was ill. “She was ‘you’re world.'” My exact words to my mom, but she couldn’t know! She just KNEW.
    Sometimes kids can be cruel, and sometimes they can be the kindest and most understanding.

    And you’re just turning 70? Aw, heck, if you exercise, eat right, avoid stress and get your rest, you’ll live for decades!!!!!!!!!! Blog on, my friend, you have miles to go before we weep!!!!!!!!!!

    Ain’t that a “bitch”????? That it took me so long to remember that her name is “Stone”?!? I’m going to go down and read “positively Main Street” Right NOw. Got it tonight.

    P.S. — Yes, she WAS proud of me, but still, I cry every night. Every night since March 16. A “River of Tears.”

  69. reprindle Says:

    RM: Finished Thompson’s Positively Main Street. Gave a good background for Hibbing and Minnesota. I was interested to learn that Dinkytown was on a Fourth St. That gives a continuum to Hibbing>Minneapolis>New York. That enabled him to continue and build a rage against all three for a lack of immediate recognition of his innate greatness. Compare that with Greil Marcus’ quote of the Jewish lament from Marx: Why am I nothing when I should be everything?

    I came across a series in Jewsweek examining Dylan’s religious odyssey called Bob Dylan’s Unshakeable Monotheism in five parts. Big essay, probably forty, fifty thousand words. By some guy called Scott Marshall. Well done.

    Well, so how long were you back East? I presume you’ve had a difiuclt two or three months. You have my sympathy. I’ve never had that much affection for anybody. When my maternal grandmother died I went in and took a shower. When my step-father died this March I hit the toilet evacuating fully. Strangely when my mother died about sixteen months ago I had no such reaction. I didn’t mourn any either. Interesting psychological reactions. For me, hard hearted as I may be, it was a relief to see them gone. I counted it a blessing. I’d better stop now before I say something I may regret or make you a receptacle for some pent up feelings of rage. Maybe a while down the road when you’re in better shape or I’ve organized my own thoughts.

    I think it must have been Dylan’s rage that appealed to me in the sixties. God, those songs are hateful. Perhaps not so much hateful as resentful. Sort of like: How dare the bastards. Somebody has to pay; and Bob made everybody pay. Carla had him pegged. He was a bastard. Well, I can understand that. Ahh, I better stop.

    Suze has repressed a lot of rage at Bob too. She wouldn’t express her true feelings in memory of her old love so she put the words in Carla’s mouth. I had to laugh.

    If you start comparing the stuff in Chronicles with this new stuff coming out Chronicles is a bunch of bullroar. Bob just manufactures his memories as life rolls along. Embarrassing really. I’d better stop now.

    I could work up a rage if tried.


  70. R M Says:

    Hey there,

    It’s me again, “RM,” which makes listening to “To Ramona” kind of spooky now. It’s so on point.

    I’m holding up, but troubles seem to pile up at really bad times, and I can think of no worse. Shoot, I could win the damn Powerball, and not win anything of any real value.

    Enough about me. The YOU TUBE “Went To See The Gypsy” imaginings seem to have been mostly “ceased and desisted,” if you know what I mean. Permission pulled. Hmmm. If you don’t think that means anything, well, come on!!
    But I don’t care, I have other sources.
    Speaking of source: I mean the living, breathing kind, I just found out that Charlie Hodge gave up the ghost back in ’06. Looked way older than when I met him. Creepy. And even though I found him to be jealous and not truthful (and now I KNOW he was lying; Guralnick leaves anything out that he’s not absolutely, absolutely CERTAIN about, and then some . . . actually, I think he goes too far with that but, whatever), even though I did not like Hodge at all, it’s a bummer. He was in the service with Elvis, either his age or younger. Too young, thus, to die, but you know how southerners eat. Cook stuff in bacon grease, etc. But Elvis had good genes on the Presley side . . . he’s gonna have another grandbaby who he’ll never meet. Oh, well.

    Anyway, regarding Dylan, in Jerry Schilling’s new book, he talked about how a “girl” — kind of a groupie type (“that pretty dancing girl”) gave Dylan Elvis’s phone number. (If Jerry felt he could do that, it seems odd that Elvis would not follow through, as Schilling tries to suggest, but as I said, I know differently.) Schilling insists that even though Dylan called often, in his recall, they hadn’t “met.” “It’s easily done, you just pick anyone, and act like we never have met.” But, as I said, I know that it did happen, but not out west, and certainly not in Minnesota. (Although Elvis gave 3 sparsely attended concerts in Duluth, Minneapolis, and St. Paul, in ’56, and most of the kids were “sneak-aways.” So if you want the REALLY first meetings . . . anyway, beyond the Memphis meeting after Dylan avoided the “Celebrity Prison of Vegas Introductions,” there’s no doubt, he saw him perform as a kid. Hell, they were BOTH 50s kids, after all. But Elvis was on the stage, the arenas were large, and quite empty, relatively. Gosh. It was a VERY “midwestern” atmosphere, for sure! But you’d better believe that that “little Gypsy” had gotten himself a seat close to the front, and probably brought his guitar.

    And, uh, have you considered the notion of his mother’s and grandma’s name as “Stone” yet? Wow!! Mind blowing. Bob Shelton held him up against the wall in one interview, years ago, insisting that HE was the “Rolling Stone” (and he didn’t mean Mick and Keith’s group!). And Dylan really couldn’t deny it. Gender swaps are so common in songs. But on the other hand, it WAS a female: “Miss Stone,” indeed. Especially as she stared into the vacuum of his eyes and kinda begged “do you want to make a deal!!!???????” The deal involved that Devereaux thing and allowing a shrink he probably never met to say they did and to say whatever he wanted.
    I am not sure Shelton went for it at all, when he heard about this “Devereaux.” If the younger writers believe it, it’s because of the ’80s and how kids were treated then. Not in the 50s. It’s a confusion.

    Anyhoo, Greil’s reputation is finally hitting people hard. They see the overblown prose, his fixations on certain things to the exclusion of all else, and his “out of it” attitude toward more contemporary musical forms, which he simply doesn’t comprehend at all. Hell, when I saw him once at a panel, he didn’t even understand my question about the unseen and uknown true courage of ordinary people (it was about Lipstick Traces, which infuriated me for other reasons at the time).
    His whole life, he tried to be something he was not. He even struggled to be some sort of hifalutin’ “intellectual” who could swing the largest words with the greatest of ease on his trapeze of high fallutiness.’ (I don’t know how better to put it.) I met another critic, can’t say who, in the ’80s who explained why he’s the way he is: isolation. Total. It sounded sorta sad in a way. The guy wants to part of something, but is afraid to go out there and actually be part of oh, anything, for real. And so lives in his mind.
    Dylan stuck out his thumb, or however he “got the ride” and paid some heavy dues to do what he did, only to have some jerk write “What is This S–t?” about one of his albums later. Talk about jealousy!

    Bye now,

  71. reprindle Says:

    RM: Getting a handle of things when times are troubling can require effort. Stand back, look and analyze. I hate it when things seem to pile up.

    I don’t know what was going on with YOU TUBE. Did someone have a site where they mused about Dylan or something? Clue me in.

    Elvis was an old guy. Forties type. He graduated in ’53 I think. Three years older than me, six years older than Dylan. Three different high school classes and mind sets. Difference of the Paleolithic and Neolithic. Elvis was just cool. Even then he reverted to his forties roots when he got back from the Army. An outsider who managed to look and dress differently than his contemporaries but hip enough to be a role model for us younger ones. Compare him with Webb Pierce, Faron Young. The latter two were good but they didn’t transcend their country roots no matter how hard they tried and they did try. Warren Smith didn’t either which prevented his being cool but OK. Roy Orbison was uncool and out of it on an R&R level but he created his own spectacular niche. He was really solid but not cool. Pretty Woman and Only The Lonely, for instance, don’t move you but they call up deep emotional responses.

    Presley was a groove. You’re Right, I’m Left, She’s Gone moved you with a depth reminscent of Orbison. Guys like Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins touched down in an R&R sense but couldn’t sustain.

    Gene Vincent’s Be Bob A Lu La was a tremendous flash that he couldn’t replicate or come close to again but the was still a great talent. No emotional strength.

    Elvis made the mistake of surrounding himself with those football pricks who couldn’t possibly understand or respect him but couldn’t do anything on their own. That irritated them. Elvis should never have given Red West a job. West must have been stunned when a ‘freak’ like Presley vaulted way over him. There must have been terrific conflict and rivalry there.

    To get a pretty sound fix on the relationship check out a talking song: The Tupelo Mississippi Flash. In three minutes you’ve got the whole story.

  72. R M Says:

    I believe that Tupelo Miss. Flash may actually be the ONE song I have NOT heard about Elvis . . . ain’t that weird? As for age, well, I am 2 and a half years older than Eddie Murphy, but find that his discussions of his pubescent touchstones (like those warped “Bannana Splits” puppet things on Saturday morning kiddie TV, according to him, both defined and screwed up a generation of “late Boomers” as I refer to those “boomers” who were just too young for the Sixties or Vietnam, or . . . well, you know.) Dylan, as an American, wasn’t even a War Baby (ok, by months, but he wasn’t), and even though Lennon is older, it isn’t the precise age that matters. If you’re in the generational neighborhood, then you’re in. And about those Hollywood movies of Elvis, gosh, in an official interview with the “On Tour” people who were filming his, well, tour . . . he went on a sort of verbal rampage and couldn’t stop himself. He said first, that he got “physically ill,” and then the emotions began to roll, and he said, “VIOLENTLY ILL!” when he had to read the scripts, sing the idiotic songs, and do the pictures. In Clambake, you can catch him putting an imaginary gun to his head and pulling the trigger . . . in a playground with children!! Singing, Good Gawd, “Old MacDonald’s Farm.” Elvis was into weird stuff in the mid sixties, right before that film. He smoked pot (made his throat burn, and he found it made him too alert: Janis Joplin had the same complaints), did acid an unknown number of times beyond the four I have counted for sure, and later, smoked pot for a while again, anyhow . . . even after his Nixon escapade, which was NOT a joke, nor was it his “politics,” either. It was MUCH more serious, from his vantage point. In 1970, he began to tour. First, just one group of shows in Houston, but in September, a real tour – small, but real. He hadn’t flown in years: one bad experience and he swore it off. Typical Elvis. Anyway, he HAD to fly now, and NOW, what to his wondering his did he see? SECURITY!!!!!! MASSIVE!!!!!!!! “Holy S–t!” He must felt. As Dylan would put it, “complete evaporation to the core.” Metal detectors, people emptying their pockets!!!!!!! The guys scurrying about the restrooms, dumping stuff: their guns, and especially, their DRUGS!!!!! He had to do something, and in a BIG way. Turns out, Spriro Ag. lived right nearby in Cali., and was a treasure trove of “old people thought”: I mean REAL “old people” for that time. All he needed was a couple meetings, and a bump into a senator who lived nearby, and a GIRL, who worked in Congress, with whom he had a timely affair for his needs in this matter. No joke. This is Guralnick verifiable stuff. He needed, in a word, “RESPECTABILITY.” Got this Jaycee thing nailed down. Got a Grammy Lifetimes Award, actually wriggled himself into the Oval Office in the weirdest Tall Tale That Was True that anybody ever heard. And he wanted to greet J. Edgar, in person, ARMED. Bought new shoes especially so a gun would fall from his belt. This was NOT for “respectability,”: it was a combination of drugs, and a fantasy that a lot of people had at the time. He wanted that gun to fall out in front of Hoover! After all, Hoover sent a “gift” of a gun to somebody else, who got killed in MEMPHIS, of all places, and according to Steve Binder, Elvis was violently angry about the King murder, especially . . . and particularly that it was in Memphis. He didn’t want to “march” around aimlessly: when Elvis did something, he did not play. I’ll put it that way.
    So, there’s much more depth to Elvis than a lot of people realize. Dylan realized it. (And by golly, there WAS a “pretty (dancing?) girl” involved!! Honestly. The original contact was made through a girl, not through Jerry Schilling. The girl knew both of them, I guess in the Biblical sense. Duh. And Elvis made the first “move” to Dylan, and Jerry only knows that he called often . . . no more details than that. At certain points, Jerry did other things, so he could not know what some other people know.
    Anyway, there were lots of video “re-imaginings” of “Went to See . . .” on You Tube, with some info, but just the tip of it . . . not quite what I found out and corroborated. And it seems they’ve been silenced, but enough. I think a whole lot of people took a vow of silence (but not everyone . . . that area is peopled at night with teens, and it seems this is who and how the real story emerged when they grew up). Why? Simple. Look at the “Meet the Beatles” fiasco that Parker and Epstein created. It was horrific. And Elvis, especially, did not want that to happen again, particularly with someone who he liked for quite some time. He “loaned him” a bodyguard and a Cadillac to make Blond on Blonde. Yup. Details in Al Kooper’s new book. Lamar Fike was “nasty” according to Kooper. Whiny and big-mouthed. Dylan must have feared what he’d tell about HIM when he got back!! The guy was a total jerk. Elvis didn’t want to lose a good one, heck. But that dude in England with the “Judas” heckle, well, you wish he had Red West along for the trip. That’s all I’m sayin.’
    Yeah, it is weird time to be doing this “cultural archeology,” but it has always been my way, especially when I needed to do research. It actually is a kind of balm.
    As for that song, ” . . . Cold Irons Bound,” if you look at the lyrics, and listen, too, you find that the “winds in Chicago’ll tear you to shreds.” Hmmm. And the money’s in the bank? What the hell? Something happened, and he protected her, alright, but something BAD happened! And it did involve some sort of trip in a vehicle, I believe.
    Also, Toby’s nice little book has lots of sinister little things in it. Like the father taking the boys out to Sunday Dinner. Regularly. But without Mom. Hmmm. That’s not MY childhood. Or anyone “ordinary” childhood I know of.
    Time to rethink a lot of songs in terms of a lady once named “STONE.”
    Hell, that’s gotta be right out there! Never trust the artist; trust that tale!

    All the best,
    P.S. — McCartney used to drive past Elvis’s house and neighborhood in L.A. in the 60’s frequently, and said the ground actually shook from the sound of his fender bass playing with the amp turned ALL the way up. Elvis loved that instrument: played it on “You’re So Square” from Jailhouse Rock, THE early rock bass classic intro.!!! Bill Black raged out in anger.

  73. reprindle Says:

    Robin: This page is getting to long. I’m opening another one titled Conversations With Robin. Check in there.

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