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Tag: Bob Dylan

Israel’s Eurovision Song Contest won

Sunday, 19 May, 2019

The Netherlands’ Duncan Laurence won last night’s Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv with his song Arcade, which topped the leader-board with 492 points in the public vote. Italy finished second with 465 points and Russia third with 369 points. Madonna also sang but most viewers regarded her performance as flat, musically and artistically. Iceland’s heavy metal act Hatari displayed Palestinian flags. Inevitably, this act of pubertal thickness was hailed and highlighted in the “popular” press.

Bob Dylan’s song Neighborhood Bully appeared on the album Infidels, which was released in October 1983. In the song, Dylan deployed sarcasm to defend Israel’s right to exist and the lyrics included references, some direct, some oblique, to history, near and far. The Six-Day War and Operation Opera, Israel’s bombing of the Osirak nuclear reactor near Baghdad in 1981 are in there, as is the enslavement of the Israelites by the Romans. The shadows of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union loom as well.

Neighborhood Bully

Well, the neighborhood bully, he’s just one man
His enemies say he’s on their land
They got him outnumbered about a million to one
He got no place to escape to, no place to run
He’s the neighborhood bully

The neighborhood bully just lives to survive
He’s criticized and condemned for being alive
He’s not supposed to fight back, he’s supposed to have thick skin
He’s supposed to lay down and die when his door is kicked in
He’s the neighborhood bully

The neighborhood bully been driven out of every land
He’s wandered the earth an exiled man
Seen his family scattered, his people hounded and torn
He’s always on trial for just being born
He’s the neighborhood bully

Well, he knocked out a lynch mob, he was criticized
Old women condemned him, said he should apologize.
Then he destroyed a bomb factory, nobody was glad
The bombs were meant for him. He was supposed to feel bad
He’s the neighborhood bully

Well, the chances are against it and the odds are slim
That he’ll live by the rules that the world makes for him
’Cause there’s a noose at his neck and a gun at his back
And a license to kill him is given out to every maniac
He’s the neighborhood bully

He got no allies to really speak of
What he gets he must pay for, he don’t get it out of love
He buys obsolete weapons and he won’t be denied
But no one sends flesh and blood to fight by his side
He’s the neighborhood bully

Well, he’s surrounded by pacifists who all want peace
They pray for it nightly that the bloodshed must cease
Now, they wouldn’t hurt a fly. To hurt one they would weep
They lay and they wait for this bully to fall asleep
He’s the neighborhood bully

Every empire that’s enslaved him is gone
Egypt and Rome, even the great Babylon
He’s made a garden of paradise in the desert sand
In bed with nobody, under no one’s command
He’s the neighborhood bully

Now his holiest books have been trampled upon
No contract he signed was worth what it was written on
He took the crumbs of the world and he turned it into wealth
Took sickness and disease and he turned it into health
He’s the neighborhood bully

What’s anybody indebted to him for?
Nothin’, they say. He just likes to cause war
Pride and prejudice and superstition indeed
They wait for this bully like a dog waits to feed
He’s the neighborhood bully

What has he done to wear so many scars?
Does he change the course of rivers? Does he pollute the moon and stars?
Neighborhood bully, standing on the hill
Running out the clock, time standing still
Neighborhood bully


Pulp Fiction

Sunday, 5 May, 2019

Todd Alcott is a screenwriter and graphic artist. He describes his creative work as Cultural Mashups and Midcentury Madness. Note: Maggie’s Farm is a song written by Bob Dylan and recorded on 15 January 1965. It was released on the album Bringing It All Back Home on 22 March of that year.

Maggie's Farm


J. S. Ondara: Saying Goodbye

Tuesday, 26 February, 2019

He grew up in the slums of Nairobi and learned English from the songs of Bob Dylan, but he neither copies nor imitates. J. S.Ondara is a talented wordsmith — “My heart is never on time / Always a little behind” — and his androgynous voice is quite a contrast to the raspy tone of the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature winner. Dylan “electrified” the music world in 1965 with his set at the Newport Folk Festival and J. S. Ondara will follow in the master’s steps there on 28 July. The gig is sold out already.


Will Cecilia Malmström tax Bob Dylan’s Bourbon?

Monday, 30 April, 2018 0 Comments

The trade philosophy of the EU is based on the principle of the free movement of goods. And, so far, so good. Disruption may be coming to Brussels, however. A trans-Atlantic trade war looms after Washington hinted it will reject the EU’s demand for an unconditional waiver from metals-import tariffs. The Trump administration is asking allies to accept quotas in exchange for an exemption from steel and aluminium tariffs meant to kick in tomorrow, 1 May, when a temporary waiver expires. This puts the EU in a rather awkward position: either yield to US demands or face punitive tariffs.

Brussels is not shying from the fight, though. Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Trade, says she could apply 25 percent tariffs on around $3.5 billion of imports from the US — targeting iconic US goods including Levi’s jeans, Harley-Davidson motorbikes and Bourbon whiskey. Which is where Bob Dylan enters the picture. According to the New York Times, the great singer-songwriter and Nobel laureate has teamed up with a liquor entrepreneur to turn a deconsecrated church in Tennessee into a whiskey distillery. Their “Heavens Door Spirits” will produce a straight rye whiskey, a double barrel whiskey and, what Cecilia Malmström might like to tax, a Tennessee Bourbon.

Cecilia, should note however, that Bob has rather firm views on whiskey and taxes. Here’s a couplet from Copper Kettle, which appeared on his 1970 album Self Portrait:

“Daddy he made whiskey, my grandaddy he did too
We ain’t paid no whiskey tax since 1792.”

Dylan


Bob Dylan: Trouble No More

Monday, 26 March, 2018 0 Comments

Back in 1979, Bob Dylan announced to the world that he had converted to Christianity. He then became a man of The Word, touring inexorably, performing concerts only of songs that expressed his born-again message. One of the concerts was filmed but the material was never released. There was talk in recent times that it might form basis for a documentary, but Dylan intervened and demanded the commissioning of a series of “sermons” to be preached between the songs before the film could be screened. The writer Luc Sante was contracted to compose the sermons and Oscar-nominated actor Michael Shannon was cast as the Preacher. Jennifer LeBeau was tasked, as they say, with directing the “gospel service.” The result, Bob Dylan: Trouble No More, will be shown on Good Friday night on BBC Four. Praise the Lord!

“She said, ‘This man, this man, He must be a prophet’
She said, ‘This man, this man, He must be a prophet’
She said, ‘This man, this man, He must be a prophet’
‘He done told me everything I’ve ever done'”


The ‘peakiness’ of A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall

Tuesday, 9 January, 2018 0 Comments

Set in Birmingham in the aftermath of World War I, Peaky Blinders is a crime drama based upon the exploits of Tommy Shelby, “a crime boss set on moving up in the world no matter the cost.” The Season 4 soundtrack features the original score and songs by the likes of Foals, Johnny Cash and Savages. The standout track, however, is Bob Dylan’s A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall by Laura Marling.

On 22 September 1962, Bob Dylan performed A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall for the first time. Now, in 2018, the song’s power is as great as ever. These words never fail to encourage:

“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”


Javier Marías for the Nobel Prize in Literature

Thursday, 5 October, 2017 0 Comments

“He’ll be a minister in Spain some day, or, at the very least, ambassador to Washington, he’s exactly the kind of pretentious fool with just a thin veneer of cordiality that the Right produces by the dozen and which the Left reproduces and imitates whenever they’re in power, as if they were the victims of some form of contagion.” — Javier Marías, Tu Rostro Mañana: 1 Fiebre Y Lanza

They’re awarding the Nobel Prize in Literature today up in Scandinavia. The betting is that it’ll go to a writer, but that’s not a sure thing anymore. “For having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition,” the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2016 was awarded to Bob Dylan. Very few saw that coming.

Today, we’ll see a return to the norm, such as it is in the world of letters. Haruki Murakami? Margaret Atwood? Ngugi wa Thiong’o? Amos Oz? Worthy candidates all, but our money is on Javier Marías, the Spanish novelist, short story writer and translator. He’s a superb writer and because the Spanish establishment could do with some good news at the moment, the Nobel committee might be inclined to lend a hand.


The Nobel Dylan

Friday, 9 June, 2017 0 Comments

Bob Dylan has delivered his Nobel Prize for Literature lecture. Finally. The format is audio-video and during the course of its 27 minutes, he talks about his musical and literary influences and then riffs on the differences and similarities between music and literature, from Buddy Holly to Moby Dick to All Quiet on the Western Front to The Odyssey. Snippet:

“If I was to go back to the dawning of it all, I guess I’d have to start with Buddy Holly. Buddy died when I was about eighteen and he was twenty-two. From the moment I first heard him, I felt akin. I felt related, like he was an older brother. I even thought I resembled him. Buddy played the music that I loved — the music I grew up on: country western, rock ‘n’ roll, and rhythm and blues. Three separate strands of music that he intertwined and infused into one genre. One brand. And Buddy wrote songs — songs that had beautiful melodies and imaginative verses. And he sang great — sang in more than a few voices. He was the archetype. Everything I wasn’t and wanted to be. I saw him only but once, and that was a few days before he was gone. I had to travel a hundred miles to get to see him play, and I wasn’t disappointed…

…Our songs are alive in the land of the living. But songs are unlike literature. They’re meant to be sung, not read. The words in Shakespeare’s plays were meant to be acted on the stage. Just as lyrics in songs are meant to be sung, not read on a page. And I hope some of you get the chance to listen to these lyrics the way they were intended to be heard: in concert or on record or however people are listening to songs these days. I return once again to Homer, who says, ‘Sing in me, oh Muse, and through me tell the story.'”


Bob Dylan will be present but not there

Saturday, 10 December, 2016 0 Comments

They’ll be handing out the Nobel Prize in Literature tonight in Stockholm but the Laureate, Bob Dylan, won’t be there. Instead, he’s sending a speech and Patti Smith will perform A hard rain’s A gonna fall, which was first recorded on 6 December 1962 for The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, his second album. Here, it’s sung beautifully by Jason Mraz and the lack of images in this video clip suits the symbolism of the Swedish occasion perfectly as Dylan today is increasingly absent but constantly present.

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


Dylan city map

Wednesday, 7 December, 2016 0 Comments

“Crimson flames tied through my ears
Rollin’ high and mighty traps
Pounced with fire on flaming roads
Using ideas as my maps
‘We’ll meet on edges, soon,’ said I
Proud ‘neath heated brow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now.”

My Back Pages from Another Side Of Bob Dylan (1964).


First Aid Kit could fill in for Bob Dylan in Stockholm

Sunday, 20 November, 2016 0 Comments

On Wednesday, the Swedish Academy announced that Bob Dylan would skip next month’s Nobel Prize in Literature award ceremony because of “other” commitments. “He wishes that he could accept the award personally, but other commitments make it unfortunately impossible,” it said.

But all is not lost as Dylan is expected to play a gig to Stockholm in spring. Sara Danius, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, told Swedish public radio that she received confirmation from Dylan’s manager. “Then he will have an excellent opportunity to hold his lecture,” she said. Giving a public talk is the only requirement for the Nobel laureate and must be done within six months starting from December 10.

A radical solution would be to get First Aid Kit to fill in on the Big Day. The Swedish duo consists of sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg and here’s their interpretation of It Ain’t Me Babe, which originally appeared on Another Side of Bob Dylan, released in 1964.