Friday, February 10, 2017

Hippies vs. Punks: Bob Dylan's "Talkin' World War III Blues"

For months my iPod wouldn't sync with my laptop. So for months I listened to the same however-so-many gigabytes of music (which is one of the reasons that Hippies vs. Punks posts have all but disappeared).

Sometime in December this problem corrected itself. When I re-synced my iPod I loaded it with every Bob Dylan record in my library. The idea was to re-explore Dylan in light of his being feted with a Nobel Prize in Literature. And it has been a revelation.

There are so many avenues to travel. The first Dylan song in this re-exploration that exploded in my brain (during a New Year's Day jog) was "Idiot Wind" off Blood on the Tracks (1975). Last night walking home from work it was "Talkin' World War III Blues" from "In Concert – Brandeis University 1963." The song is originally found on side two of "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan" (1963).

I think it is a fair argument to make that without "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan" there is no super-historical Dylan and hence no Nobel.

What is singular about the Brandeis concert is the power of Dylan's bellows. He is flat-out fog-horning each verse. It is an amazing performance, reminding the listener of the absurdity of current events while feeling more grounded and sane imagining the dream of this young man.

I was particularly tickled by
Well, I seen a Cadillac window uptown And there was nobody aroun’ I got into the driver’s seat And I drove down 42nd Street In my Cadillac. Good car to drive after a war 
 As Dylan's career progressed his writing lost much of its mirth.

What's interesting about the video at the top of the post is all the flannel and work clothes populating the bohemian coffee house television set. It looks exactly as we dressed in my California Hardcore youth of the early to mid-1980s.

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