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 December 11, 2016  Posted by at 9:01 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,


Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud, Brussels 1873

 

Patti Smith’s performance of Bob Dylan’s A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall on Friday in Stockholm for the Nobel Literature Prize was impressive. In my never very humble view. Dylan was otherwise engaged or didn’t feel like attending, who knows, public ceremonies are not his thing. Patti stumbled, forget the second verse, said she was nervous, but she completely nailed it and then some. Patti Smith, I imagine, was chosen by Dylan with in the back of his mind the spirit of Marlon Brando’s refusal to accept the 1972 Oscar for the Godfather (in January 1973), when he sent Sacheen Littlefeather instead (to protest both Hollywood and US treatment of Native Americans), who .. declined it.

 

 

Patti Smith did not decline Dylan’s Nobel Prize. Her rendition of the song Dylan for some reason picked to ‘represent’ him was impressive (yeah, that’s just me). Even though she forgot the words to the second verse. That’s because she is good, and because the song is very good.

First, If you don’t know, her, a proper introduction is in place, here’s Patti Smith’s probably biggest hit, a rendition of Springsteen’s Because the night, from 1978.

 

 

As I was watching her in Stockholm on Friday, I realized a few things at the same time: that Dylan wrote the song when he was just 21 years old, and that this was 1962, pre-Beatles craze -though not by much. There are these great Newport Folk Festival clips where all the folkies including Pete Seeger are talking about -and admiring- ‘Bobby’, who they know, but don’t want to, is way better than any of them, and who Dylan doesn’t want to be part of (he loved the Stones et al); he’s much darker than the folkies and he knows it by then. They don’t.

 

 

It was also at the Newport Folk Festival, later, in 1965, that Dylan ‘went electric’, and showed up with with a rock band. That did not go down well with the hippies ‘avant-la-lettre’ (Traitor!). Which must have enjoyed the hell out of him.

 

 

If only the early hippies had listened to that 1962 song, A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall. Because it is at times apocalyptic, it paints visions of hell and despair (a dozen dead oceans), certainly not love and happiness. How did all of the new born love generation miss that? Nor was that the only one of his early songs, and it’s almost eery to see how many Dylan songs everyone knows that were written in just a few years time in the early 60s when he was just out of his teen years.

And if only they had recognized that Dylan’s ‘idols’ were not just Woody Guthrie, who he made it a major point of going to visit in hospital when he first roamed east from Minnesota…

 

 

… but also -then- black music’s ‘unknown icons’ like Robert Johnson or Blind Lemon Jefferson, or Leadbelly, who were anything but hippies. Robert Zimmerman always knew where he came from, but even more where his music came from. And he never stopped paying his respects.

 

 

Like the 7 year older Leonard Cohen, bless his soul, who I think should have gotten the Nobel before Dylan, just so Bob could have gotten it seven years later, Dylan’s songs are replete with images sourced from mythology and biblical texts. Both ‘recycle’ images that Carl Jung would have said are engraved in our minds.

Having written songs as impressive as that for their lyrics, which got Dylan the Nobel Literature Prize for over 50 years later, also brings to mind Arthur Rimbaud, widely considered the best French poet of all times, who quit writing poetry when he was 21, the same age Dylan had when he wrote the song, and became a gun smuggler in Morocco, or so the story goes, only to die at age 37.

Luckily, or I think it is, Dylan didn’t stop there. Instead, he’s abided by the tradition that the people he admired set: keep playing till time says no more. Like Woody Guthrie did, like the guys before him, black or white, did. A sacred tradition. Sort of a pact with god, or the devil, take your pick. Even the Stones might be seen as fitting the tradition, Springsteen (?), though money does blur boundaries.

To date, few if any artists in the US play more shows than Dylan does, night after night. Not in big stadiums, though he could fill them, but in small(er) places. Keep playing. So maybe it’s not that strange that he coudld’t make it to Stockholm because he had ‘prior engagements’…

 

Here’s Patti Smith’s 2016 Nobel version of A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall:

 

 

And here’s Dylan performing A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall in 1964:

 

 

And here are the lyrics:

 

Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, where have you been, my darling young one?
I’ve stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains
I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways

I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests
I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans
I’ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard

And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

 

Oh, what did you see, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what did you see, my darling young one?
I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it
I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it

I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin’
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin’
I saw a white ladder all covered with water
I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken
I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children

And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

 

And what did you hear, my blue-eyed son?
And what did you hear, my darling young one?
I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin’
Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world

Heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin’
Heard ten thousand whisperin’ and nobody listenin’
Heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin’
Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter
Heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley

And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

 

Oh, who did you meet, my blue-eyed son?
Who did you meet, my darling young one?
I met a young child beside a dead pony
I met a white man who walked a black dog

I met a young woman whose body was burning
I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow
I met one man who was wounded in love
I met another man who was wounded with hatred

And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

 

Oh, what’ll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what’ll you do now, my darling young one?
I’m a-goin’ back out ’fore the rain starts a-fallin’
I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest

Where the people are many and their hands are all empty
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison
Where the executioner’s face is always well hidden

Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten
Where black is the color, where none is the number
And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it

Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’
But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’

And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

 

 

Home Forums A Dozen Dead Oceans

This topic contains 4 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Dr. Diablo 2 years, 5 months ago.

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  • #31707

    Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud, Brussels 1873   Patti Smith’s performance of Bob Dylan’s A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall on Friday in Stockholm for
    [See the full post at: A Dozen Dead Oceans]

    #31708

    oxymoron
    Participant

    It’s like a jungle sometimes
    It makes me wonder how I keep from going under
    It’s like a jungle sometimes
    It makes me wonder how I keep from going under

    [Verse 1]
    Broken glass everywhere
    People pissing on the stairs, you know they just don’t care
    I can’t take the smell, can’t take the noise
    Got no money to move out, I guess I got no choice
    Rats in the front room, roaches in the back
    Junkies in the alley with a baseball bat
    I tried to get away but I couldn’t get far
    ’Cause a man with a tow truck repossessed my car

    [Hook]
    Don’t push me, ’cause I’m close to the edge
    I’m trying not to lose my head
    It’s like a jungle sometimes
    It makes me wonder how I keep from going under

    [Verse 2]
    Standing on the front stoop, hanging out the window
    Watching all the cars go by, roaring as the breezes blow
    Crazy lady, living in a bag
    Eating out of garbage pails, used to be a fag hag
    Said she’ll dance the tango, skip the light fandango
    A Zircon princess seemed to lost her senses
    Down at the peep show watching all the creeps
    So she can tell her stories to the girls back home
    She went to the city and got so so siditty
    She had to get a pimp, she couldn’t make it on her own

    [Hook]
    Don’t push me, ’cause I’m close to the edge
    I’m trying not to lose my head
    It’s like a jungle sometimes
    It makes me wonder how I keep from going under

    [Verse 3]
    My brother’s doing bad, stole my mother’s TV
    Says she watches too much, it’s just not healthy
    All My Children in the daytime, Dallas at night
    Can’t even see the game or the Sugar Ray fight
    The bill collectors, they ring my phone
    And scare my wife when I’m not home
    Got a bum education, double-digit inflation
    Can’t take the train to the job, there’s a strike at the station
    Neon King Kong standing on my back
    Can’t stop to turn around, broke my sacroiliac
    A mid-range migraine, cancered membrane
    Sometimes I think I’m going insane
    I swear I might hijack a plane!

    [Hook]
    Don’t push me, ’cause I’m close to the edge
    I’m trying not to lose my head
    It’s like a jungle sometimes
    It makes me wonder how I keep from going under

    [Verse 4]
    My son said, Daddy, I don’t wanna go to school
    ’Cause the teacher’s a jerk, he must think I’m a fool
    And all the kids smoke reefer, I think it’d be cheaper
    If I just got a job, learned to be a street sweeper
    Or dance to the beat, shuffle my feet
    Wear a shirt and tie and run with the creeps
    ’Cause it’s all about money; ain’t a damn thing funny
    You got to have a con in this land of milk and honey
    They pushed that girl in front of the train
    Took her to the doctor, sewed her arm on again
    Stabbed that man right in his heart
    Gave him a transplant for a brand new start
    I can’t walk through the park, ’cause it’s crazy after dark
    Keep my hand on my gun, ’cause they got me on the run
    I feel like a outlaw, broke my last glass jaw
    Hear them say “You want some more?”, living on a see-saw

    [Hook]
    Don’t push me, ’cause I’m close to the edge
    I’m trying not to lose my head
    It’s like a jungle sometimes
    It makes me wonder how I keep from going under

    [Verse 5]
    A child is born with no state of mind
    Blind to the ways of mankind
    God is smiling on you, but he’s frowning too
    Because only God knows what you’ll go through
    You’ll grow in the ghetto living second-rate
    And your eyes will sing a song called deep hate
    The places you play and where you stay
    Looks like one great big alleyway
    You’ll admire all the number-book takers
    Thugs, pimps and pushers and the big money-makers
    Driving big cars, spending twenties and tens
    And you’ll wanna grow up to be just like them, huh
    Smugglers, scramblers, burglars, gamblers
    Pickpocket peddlers, even panhandlers
    You say “I’m cool, huh, I’m no fool.”
    But then you wind up dropping outta high school
    Now you’re unemployed, all null and void
    Walking ’round like you’re Pretty Boy Floyd
    Turned stick-up kid, but look what you done did
    Got sent up for a eight-year bid
    Now your manhood is took and you’re a Maytag
    Spend the next two years as a undercover fag
    Being used and abused to serve like hell
    ‘Til one day you was found hung dead in the cell
    It was plain to see that your life was lost
    You was cold and your body swung back and forth
    But now your eyes sing the sad, sad song
    Of how you lived so fast and died so young, so…

    [Hook]
    Don’t push me, ’cause I’m close to the edge
    I’m trying not to lose my head
    It’s like a jungle sometimes
    It makes me wonder how I keep from going under

    #31709

    rapier
    Participant

    I’ve always been most partial to Chimes of Freedom.

    I also applaud his refusal to participate. I don’t care about the personality of an artist. The best are often shits in many ways. Dylan is that, in spades. True artists are a channel I believe.

    #31723

    E. Swanson
    Participant

    Dylan grew up during the ’50’s, when school kids (like me) were taught to “Duck and Cover” under our school desks, in the event of a nuclear attack. Not that that would have done any good. Anyway, that “Hard Rain” in Dylan’s song was (obviously) nuclear fall out. We’ve been lucky since then, not much fallout since then, just some sprinkles here and there from open air testing. Most of us from those days still have some some radioactive bits buried within us.

    I always liked his “Talkin World War III Blues”. It was so positive, the lyricist somehow survived, compared to what would be left after a thermonuclear hydrogen blast. Dylan’s latest message is: It ain’t over yet especially with a guy like Trump who naively asks: “Why can’t we use nukes?”…

    #31725

    Dr. Diablo
    Participant

    Situations have ended sad
    Relationships have all been bad
    Mine’ve been like Verlaine’s and Rimbaud
    But there’s no way I can compare
    All those scenes to this affair
    Yer gonna make me lonesome when you go

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