A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Monday, 21 November 2011

The Books In My Life (2)

I've seen Bob Dylan in concert around thirty times - which must make me rather more than the average fan. Fanatic may be a fairer description. The first time was at Earls Court in June 1978. We queued all night and half the next day for tickets. This was Dylan's first UK appearance in ages and London (where we were living then) rocked with excitement and expectation. The last time was at Nottingham's Capital FM Arena on 11 October this year. Although Dylan was, for him, energetic, communicative even - he stage-walked quite a bit instead of hiding away behind a keyboard - I found the gig disappointing and alienating. The music was hammeringly loud and unsubtle, almost devilish. And his guitar, keyboard and harmonica playing teetered on the edge of embarrassment. I may not go and see him again. But, as Am reminded me in a recent comment she left on my blog, he's been fading into his own parade for a while now.

All this by way of explanation why I own so many goddam Bob Dylan books. They've been begged, stolen, borrowed, gifted - occasionally even bought. You might spot the odd Neil Young, Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, Johnny Cash and Picasso (uh, how did he get there?) on these shelves - but essentially it's just Dylan, Dylan, Dylan.


ksam said...

Ahh Tom Waits!! :-) But then again...I am a Jersey Girl!!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Poor old Bob Dylan - but then he is getting old!! I used to be a fan but don't like his recent stuff so much.

George said...

Johnny Cash and Picasso, side by side! Without question, you are a man of eclectic tastes. During the early years of my career, I lived in Nashville, Tennessee, where one could never escape country music and "the Nashville sound." That was enough Johnny Cash for me, though my wife can never get enough of his music.

Rachel Fox said...

As Kate Bush might say... wow!

Dominic Rivron said...

Your bookshelf prompted a silly thought. Could one amass a collection of songs about one writer as one could amass a collection of writings about one songster?

I would join in these "personal space" posts, only what I'd want to share isn't in one place, it's all over the place - piles of old sheet music in the dining room, bookcases here and there, a computer somewhere else...

Ruth said...

I would not have guessed there are so many books about Dylan, let alone in one collection, but I hadn't thought about it. Forgive me for my tangential question, What is that pretty yellow bowl or pot?

The Solitary Walker said...

Ah - no doubt you are. like me, a Springsteen fan too, Karin..?

Pat - a lot of Dylan's recent stuff sound great on record, but live he's unpredictable ... as always ...

And George - have you heard the final "Americana' CDs Cash made before he died? I think you might like them. They're a world away from Nashville...

Rachel - wow encore!

Those all over the place spaces sound far more interesting than my own ordered structures, Dominic! I look forward to seeing them...

And Ruth - that's another fat Buddhist stupa-shaped wooden bowl with a lid.

fireweed said...

I love these books that show up completely unexpectedly in what we thought were our organized, well categorized shelves. I've discovered a guide to raising pigs in my meditation books and a guide to raising turkeys in my travel books. This is very much disconcerting to the obsessive compulsive in me. And yes, this little segment of your bookshelves shows all the signs of fanaticism!

Grace said...

I think my father has a similar shelf:) We have seen Bob Dylan once, it was a family event!

am said...

Good to see the book collection of another Dylan appreciator (-:

So you have a copy of Dylan: What Happened?" That is an obscure one. What's left on my bookshelf after I donated the bulk of my collection, including that one, to our public library is this:

bob dylan, photographs by Daniel Kramer (1967)

A bootleg (?) copy of Tarantula that my sister gave to me

Writings and Drawings by Bob Dylan

The Songs of Bob Dylan From 1966 Through 1975

Dylan, text by Jonathan Cott

Bob Dylan: Lyrics 1962-1985

in his own words: bob dylan

Bob Dylan: Drawn Blank

Early Dylan, photos by Barry Feinstein

Bob Dylan: Lyrics 1962-2001

Bob Dylan Chronicles: Volume One

Bob Dylan: The Drawn Blank Series

Bob Dylan in America, by Sean Wilentz (a gift last year from someone who recognized how important Bob Dylan has been in my life)

When Johnny Cash was reading in a local bookstore, I asked him to sign the poem he had written for Bob Dylan that appears on the back of the album cover of "Nashville Skyline." He looked at me with an expression that was both curious and grave and signed his name. That is a prized possession.

After seeing the "Beyond Here Lies Nothing" video that appeared in conjunction with the "Together Through Life" CD, I was so traumatized that I didn't think I would ever listen to Bob Dylan again, and gave away most of my Dylan books (but not my albums, tapes and CDs). On the other hand, after seeing that video I could no longer deny my experience with domestic violence, and that was part of my healing.

When I tell some people that I never stopped listening to Bob Dylan, they often assume I kept playing his music from the 1960s over and over again, but what happened is that I welcomed everything up until "Together Through Life." He lost me for awhile after that, but I couldn't resist buying the "Christmas in the Heart" CD and loved the video of"The Little Drummer Boy" and the video of "Must Be Santa" that appeared in conjunction with it. So it goes.

I don't know how many times I have been carried through difficulties when lyrics from Bob Dylan songs have come to mind just when I needed them, sometimes in the middle of the darkest nights. Sometimes it is gravity. Sometimes it is levity. There is nothing else like it.

Didn't expect to write so much. Thanks for listening (-:

Goat said...

I wonder if you were one of the seven people on the planet who made any sense out of 'Chronicles'. I gave it up about a third of the way in. The Bobster seems to have an almost pathological aversion to revealing anything about himself (outside his songs), despite the much-vaunted revelations promised in the blurbs...

Great collection, though! If you distilled all that Dylania into one text you might get somewhere close to The Man...

steve said...

"It's easy to see without looking too far
That not much
Is really sacred."

Dylan had it right with that line. But, oh, how I wanted to worship that guy! And what a set-up to be disillusioned! His early stuff seemed truly inspired... but the magic disappeared decades ago. It's OK. He's just pluggin along, and I have forgiven him for not living up to his early genius. Maybe he was there when we needed him, and that's enough to be thankful for. Now he's just earning a living...aren't we all!

Friko said...

books on or by Dylan?

I don't understand.

The Solitary Walker said...

Fireweed - ah yes, I see the connection between travel and Turkey , but pigs and meditation?

Most men of a certain age have such a shelf, Grace! well, either a Bob Dylan shelf or a model railway shelf or a football shelf. I'm relieved to fall into the first category.

Am - what a wonderfully long and interesting comment! I do thank you for it. Hearing from you is always a pleasure. Gravity and levity! Yes, that's Dylan.

Goat - I think I must have enjoyed 'Chronicles' and found it a little more revealing than you did - it's very well written, isn't it? - but I agree the man remains as elusive as ever.

Even if we only had the output from Dylan's first record-prdoucing decade, that would be enough, Steve. Still more astonishing than most singer/songwriters could create in a dozen lifetimes.

A few are books of Dylan's own song lyrics and other writings, but most are biographies and critical appreciations, Friko.