Five Things: Wednesday 5th February

Cello/Ship, Excellent Window Display, Selfridges

Cello

Jody Rosen on the Dylan-Chrysler-Superbowl-Halftime-Ad
“So let Germany brew your beer, let Switzerland make your watch, let Asia assemble your phone… we will build your car.” In the era of globalisation let’s not forget that Chrysler is an Italian-owned car company. I was pleased to discover Jody Rosen’s blog on New York Magazine’s website. He was terrific on the Grammies, and great on this: “As Dylan, age 72, moves into the twilight, he can see the boldface obituaries, rearing up on the horizon: Bob Dylan, America’s Great Protest Singer, Dead. There is clearly nothing on earth that irks Bob Dylan more than the specter of those wrongheaded and inevitable headlines. Dylan hasn’t recorded a protest song in decades, but make no mistake: The car ad and the yogurt ad, they’re protests.” Of course, lots of people thought this a ridiculous and untenable position, and Conan O’Brien did a very funny uncut version. And, visually slapdash as the ad is, I like the way that, as Dylan says cool, it runs into the motorcycle revving along the highway.

“As I walked out tonight in the mystic garden/The wounded flowers were dangling from the vine”
Hugh sends a link to a great blog: Gardening With Bob Dylan. “Written by a working gardener, with regular updates, easy ideas and thinking aloud. I have a garden of my own in Kent on clay soil and in a droughty area. I have recently acquired another, in Piemonte, Italy, higher and more continental in climate. I’m female and not very young. Other enthusiasms are garden literature and Bob Dylan. He has something to say about everything, even gardening.”
From the about page: “I’m no kind of aesthetic theoretician. But I have always believed that a successful piece of art will finger the synapses of your brain and your emotions together, setting up sparks between them. With luck you get a multiplicity of resonances, bouncing around, throwing light on both the world and yourself in it. For me, that is what Dylan does; it’s not just music and singing, it’s an open act of creation which you, the listener, have a hand in and a responsibility for. You have to listen. You have to concentrate. You develop meaning together with the singer and your own understanding of the world. To be more prosaic, you need new thoughts as you work in a garden; otherwise you’re going round and round the yearly practices, the endlessly repeated nuggets of advice. I like those thoughts to open and widen the vista in the mind, to go beyond the plant or the material, or the practice. To join things up, to express something beyond themselves, to be part of life. Let me out of the fenced enclave, however beautiful! Dylan’s songs will always lead me somewhere. They’ll connect me up, charm or amuse me, and lead me back to myself again, to what I’m doing, or what I care about. So I write my posts carefully, sticking to one song each time and enjoying the challenge of tying the song to a gardening preoccupation, or the lessons I have learnt in many years of making gardens.”

Bob by Allen
Mick Gold sends this, one of a series of portraits of Dylan taken in 1990 by Allen Ginsberg. Interesting clothing.

Bob by Ginsberg

“Everything dies, baby, that’s a fact…”
Levon Helm, singing “Atlantic City”, in Ain’t In It For My Health, a documentary where mortality weighs heavy as we follow Levon going to a variety of specialists for invasive procedures as he puts together his final album, Electric Dirt.

Some thoughts:

  • It’s fascinating to see Larry Campbell struggle with Levon’s anger. “I would go out on that Grammy night if they could tell me what good it’s gonna do for Rick and Richard… they never wanted to do a thing for ’em when they’se around.”
  • A fine version of Randy Newman’s “Kingfish” with Levon on funky acoustic rhythm guitar.
  • As eloquent as summation of The Band as I’ve ever heard, from Barney Hoskyns.
  • Levon’s Woodstock memories: “Fortunately I’d taken some of that brown acid!” he cackles.
  • Does anyone else remember Jesus, thinner-than-thin with long straight hair? Always shedding his clothes to dance at the Marquee or Reading or the free concerts in the park? More often than not, he was there. And appearing here, in some Wembley ’74 footage of The Band playing “Chest Fever”.
  • “In the Pines”, played to his new grandchild. Starting as a lullaby, it gets more and more intense as it goes on. As Levon plays his Gibson mandolin, a montage plays of him drumming through the ages. “The best seat in the house” he’d say, as he tub thumps behind Ronnie Hawkins in the Hawks, behind Dylan in ’65 and 74, and in The Band. The baby’s mother, Levon’s daughter Amy, can’t stop herself from joining in.

Comments

  1. Mark Pringle says:

    (That’s enough Dylan Ed)

    • Ha! Too true. Moratorium ensues…

      • No! More!

        Jesus was a friend of mine. Well, not exactly, but I used to bump into him all the time and we’d exchange greetings. He first approached me to say that he was a friend of the group Egg, whom I’d just interviewed for the MM. Last glimpsed by me on the Goldhawk Road some time in the early 70s.

  2. I, too, used to see Jesus occasionally, at London gigs and festivals in the latter part of the 70s.
    When he actually turned up to dance at one of Landscape’s gigs (possibly one of our regular Tuesdays at the Stapleton, or at a festival in Crouch End), it felt like a benediction. JLW

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