Tuesday, July 11, 2017
I was so crazy-busy that I somehow had a meeting with some Ruskies, oops
"If you wanted to talk to people, you'd usually talk to them in the street, in vacant lots, fields or in cafes, never on the phone."
~ Bob Dylan, describing in his 2004 memoir how people in Hibbing, Minnesota used to go about communicating in the 1950s and 60s - when phones were still on "party lines"
He kills me, I don't know why -- the way he describes things, and his references and allusions... you can picture being in Hibbing -- meeting on the street to talk to somebody, like immigrants in a big-city neighborhood....
Meeting to talk -- in vacant lots!
In fields -- like world War II spies...
Talking in cafes, like actors auditioning for jobs, or farmers...
...Was it really like that?
Dylan has his own "take" on stuff, that's why he's an artist.
[Chronicles - Bob Dylan. Simon & Schuster. excerpt] ---------------------
On the corner I put the dime in the slot and dialed the operator for long distance, called collect and the call went right through. I wanted everyone to know I was all right. My mother would usually give me the latest run of the mill stuff.
My father had his own way of looking at things. To him life was hard work.
He'd come from a generation of different values, heroes and music, and wasn't so sure that the truth would set anybody free. He was pragmatic and always had a word of cryptic advice. "Remember, Robert, in life anything can happen.
Even if you don't have all the things you want, be grateful for the things you don't have that you don't want."
My education was important to him. He would have wanted me to become a mechanical engineer. But in school, I had to struggle to get even decent grades. I was not a natural student. My mom, bless her, who had always stood up for me and was firmly on my side in just about anything and everything, was more concerned about "a lot of monkey business out there in the world," and would add, "Bobby, don't forget you have relatives in New Jersey."
I'd already been to Jersey but not to visit relatives.
Lou snapped the big tape machine off after listening hard to one of my original songs...."What other songs do you have? Let's put 'em all down."
I didn't have many songs, but I was making up some compositions on the spot, rearranging verses to old blues ballads, adding an original line here or there, anything that came into my mind -- slapping a title on it. I was doing my best, had to thoroughly feel I was earning my fee. Nothing would have convinced me that I was actually a songwriter and I wasn't, not in the conventional songwriter sense of the word. Definitely not like the workhorses over in the Brill Building, the song chemistry factory that was only a few blocks away but might as well have been on the other side of the cosmos.
Over there, they cranked out the home-run hits for radio playlists. Young songwriters like Gerry Goffin and Carole King, or Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, or Pomus and Shuman, Leiber and Stoller -- they were the songwriting masters of the Western world, wrote all the popular songs, all the songs with crafty melodies and simple lyrics that came off as works of power over the airwaves.
One of my favorites was Neil Sedaka because he wrote and performed his own songs.
I never crossed paths with any of those people because none of the popular songs were connected to folk music or the downtown scene.