Sunday, October 26, 2008
Newcastle; British Isles. Damp dressing rooms in olde Shakespearean Theaters that echo of Dylan's "To Ramona," forty years ago. Tea Kettles and tea trays with Kenyan Brown and Earle Grey. Biscuits. Cheddar. A bowl of British apples and Cuban bananas. Sour coffee. Red Bull. Monitor speakers wheezing from the strain of ten thousand rock bands. Sound checks. Hotels. Motorways. M1. A1. Roundabouts. The cold. Around and around. The same damp that bled into the bones of Dickens and a million doss house veterans. Near Gateshead: The Angel of the North; A cast iron and rust red lady with wings a hundred feet high. I've been driving on the left with a six speed stick shift. Two gears don’t work. A thousand roundabouts. Listening to new Dylan Bootleg series. Takes me back to 1962 and my sister handing me a promo pamphlet: "My Life in a Stolen Moment," by Bob Dylan. She was in charge of hiring an "act" for her College prom and Dylan was being considered. I read the pamphlet (wish I still had it) in which Bob claims he ran away from home dozen times, and "was caught and brought back all but once." He was a carny roustabout, and the whole other line of charming malarkey he was spinning out. I bought it all. "Hire him!" I told my sister. Didn’t happen. And now in this bootleg package there's a photo of Bob at age fourteen or so, standing with a group of his Hibbing cronies - all duck tail hair and attitude. Bob is in the center, holding a Sears F-Hole acoustic guitar. The chubby faced poet-prince who would conquer the world and re-shape lyrical history. And just the other day my own "Anthology" was handed to me. Two discs and a nice big booklet and 37 songs old and new and in between…and I'm somewhere out there on that well trod minstrel dog and pony road, playing the same theaters that The Bard played forty years ago. And the job is still the same; bringing forth what must be brought forth, and rhyming it with whatever duende can be summoned. Ignoring the dull, boring, dreadful, pain of a whining world gone wrong. Drinking the tea from Kenya. Working in a new song or two; the newest being "We've Become the Bloody People We Came Here to Escape." And: "East of Woodstock, West of Viet Nam." Made it home after five weeks, Road Flu, Food poisoning, battered rental cars…two news songs and a half dozen purple guitar picks. Leave for Vancouver at four in the morning. A train toward Winnipeg and the rattle and the clatter of steel wheels and guitar strings. My life in a stolen moment.