Galway Advertiser 2005/2005_02_03/GA_0302_E1_078.pdf
February 3 2005
Th W e e e k/Biblio
The enigma of Dylan
BY DES KENNY NE EVENING during the late sixties in a friend's house we were discussing the things boys in their late teens normally discuss - girls, records, football, girls, and more girls. Somebody changed the record on the turntable and an unusual voice accompanied by an energetic guitar and wild harmonica filled the room. The lyrics of the second track cut through the conversation: "Wintertime in New York town The wind is high, snows on the ground Walk around with no place to go A man could freeze right to the bone I froze right to the bone New York said it was the coldest winter in seventeen years I didn't feel so cold then Hey, this guy had a sense of humour. The song continued: "I got a harmonica job, began to play Blew my lungs out for a dollar a day I blew inside out and upside down The man there said he loved my sound Yeah he was raving about it, he loved my sound A dollar a day's worse though" This, then, was the great enigmatic and iconic Bob Dylan. Despite the hundreds of songs he has since
recorded, the thousands of myths that have grown up around him, the largely undeserved reputations he has earned, the abiding image of the man that has remained with me has been the one projected on that first afternoon nearly 40 years ago. Suede jacketed and leather booted, dressed in denim jeans, strolling through Greenwich Village, with guitar slung over the back, harmonica at the ready, the smiling, cynical, quintessential folk singer, the unique Bob Dylan. The uniqueness is further enhanced by the elusiveness. If ever a man defies definition and yet invites a plethora of adjectives to describe him, it is Bob Dylan. He can be a folk singer, a bluesman, a gospel singer, a jazz player, a country and western singer, but above all he is always Bob Dylan. His lyrics can be beautiful, poetic, lyrical, cynical, funny, abstract, self indulgent, and even romantic, but they were always Bob Dylan's. Yet no one can say what it is that makes them `Dylanesque'. No one seems to be able to get near this man. Even his name remains a mystery. There are those who claim to know his real name, but when pushed as to their sources, they are immediately uncertain. In fact, it gets to the point where you begin to wonder is the guy real at all? Is Bob Dylan a name for someone who has conned more than two generations, a figment of the
sixties' imagination? Last summer Galway had an opportunity to see if he was for real. The brother paid good money to get us the best tickets. It was painfully obvious that while the GAA may know what the best tickets are for a hurling or football match, they hadn't a clue when it comes to concerts - we could neither hear nor see him. All that wafted across Pearse Stadium was a weak cracked voice that sounded more like a death rattle than a full blown song of the sixties, and all we could see was the rim of a rather large hat. Yet we left the concert exhilarated. Somehow he still managed to produce the magic and when at the end of the gig he pumped out `All Along the Watchtower' and `Like a Rolling Stone', Dylan was in the air, and then disappeared just as quickly. However that moment's magic was enough to make the concert worthwhile. Last autumn Dylan published Chronicles: Volume One. On the blurb, the publishers tell us he explores critical junctures in his life and career. This is certainly true and the book could be called a sort of autobiography, but, being Dylan, it is more or less that at the same time. He tells us: "America was changing. I had a feeling of destiny and I was riding the changes. My consciousness was beginning to change too, change and stretch. One thing for sure, if I wanted to compose folk songs I
would need some kind of new template, some philosophical identity that wouldn't burn out. It would have to come on its own from the outside. Without knowing it in so many words, it was beginning to happen." The book is warm and friendly. We watch Dylan emerge as a folk singer in the heady sixties. We watch his fame spread and the difficulties he and his family had in dealing with the most unsavoury aspects of being a celebrity. He takes us through the recording of a full album in New
Orleans and gives us a wonderful insight into the hard work that goes into making one happen. The book is also full of surprises. Every so often there is the unusual statement such as: "Truth was the last thing on my mind, and even if there was such a thing, I didn't want it in my house," and "Mostly what I did growing up was bide my time." And then, Dylan disappears again, but what's new, the journey is well worth it. That's, of course, if you can believe a word of it!
Winners by Jacqui Broderick - an extract
face splitting involuntarily into a huge grin when she remembered the previous evening. It had all started normally enough. Her boyfriend, Derry Blake, had asked her out to dinner. Then they had gone back to Westwood Park, his home, for a nightcap. That was when things had become a little unusual. They had been sitting on the opulent velvet sofa in the lounge, watching the flickering embers of the fire cast dancing shadows around the picture-lined walls. Suddenly, as she watched wideeyed with amazement, he had slid off the sofa and knelt on one knee in front of her. "Paris," Derry had said, quietly, "I love you. I love your strength, your independence." He took her face in his hands. "And I love your beauty." Paris had felt tears of joy prick her eyes as he reached into the pocket of his jacket and pulled out the most gorgeous ring that she had ever seen and said: "Will you marry me?" And when she nodded, speechless with emotion, he had slid the ring onto her finger. Derry Blake was all that she had ever wanted. It had been almost dawn when they finished celebrating their engagement. They had taken a bottle of champagne and two glasses upstairs and lain in his enormous four-poster bed, drinking and making plans for the future. As she drove into the stable yard at Redwood Grange, her home, she realised that the grooms had already arrived to start the morning stables. She dashed into the feed room to tell Merrianne, her head groom, the wonderful news. "Derry's asked me to marry him!" she breathed excitedly. Then, noticing Merrianne's dour expression, added, "Oh, I know, I know. We're going to be late - I'd better go and get changed!" And then she was gone, dashing across the yard to the house to break the news to Paddy, her father. Merrianne kicked a plastic bucket across the feed room. Bloody Paris had all the luck! Why couldn't she find someone rich and gorgeous to marry? She sighed bitterly. Paris came back outside ten minutes later, still grinning. She had changed out of her dress into a smart wool trouser suit, ready to go racing. They were taking two horses: Paris's own horse, Destiny, and Dark Admiral who belonged to Ollie Molloy. Dark Admiral was the favourite in the race. Ollie owned a chain of bars and restaurants around the Irish midlands, and many of the horses at Redwood Grange stables were his. Many of his family and business acquaintances were coming to the meeting at Limerick today and it was essential that the horse went well. Paris had done all that she could. The horse was fitter than he had ever been. And the competition in the race could easily be beaten. But there were a thousand things that could go wrong between the start and finish of a race. And if Dark Admiral were not enough to worry about, it was Destiny's first race and Paris was riding her herself in the second race. Merrianne led Destiny into the lorry and rubbed a soothing hand down her glossy neck. The young mare looked fabulous. Fit and ready to show the competition what she was made of. Then Merrianne jumped back quickly as the mare laid back her ears and swished her tail angrily. She really was the most badtempered creature Merrianne had ever come across! How Paris could possibly love her so much was beyond her! Paris jogged across the stable yard to fetch Dark Admiral. The gigantic grey horse turned towards her and dropped his head politely into the head-collar that she held up to his nose. She led him across the yard towards the lorry. Merrianne led the horse up the ramp, tied him in the stall next to Destiny and then ran hastily back down the ramp. Together she and Paris lifted the heavy ramp into place. "Have we got everything?" Paris asked dreamily, still smiling happily. Merrianne nodded. Paris wouldn't have known if they had gone without the horses. She was a million miles away, dreaming of the new life she was going to have as Derry Blake's wife. Merrianne scrambled up into the passenger seat. "Let's go." Paris turned on the engine and manoeuvred the big lorry expertly out of the yard. "Have we got the silks?" she asked. Merrianne glanced over her shoulder to where two sets of jockey's silks hung one in the red and purple colours of Ollie Molloy and the other in the blue and yellow Paris wore when she rode her father's horses or her own. "Yes," she snapped back, coldly. She was sick of Paris, always on her case, checking and double-checking that things were done, insisting that they were done again if they didn't meet her exacting standards. "Saddles? Bridles?" The list was endless as Paris reeled off everything that they needed for the day. Merrianne and Paul, one of the other grooms, had loaded up the lorry early that morning and thankfully when Paris reached the end of the list, everything was accounted for. At the end of the long driveway, Paris turned the lorry onto the main road towards Limerick. "What do you think about cream silk for my wedding dress?" she mused, dreamily. Merrianne began to wish that she had gone to the races in the car with Paddy. Now she was going to have to spend the entire journey listening to Paris rambling on about her wedding. She had thought that going with Paris was the lesser of the two evils; now she was not so sure. To go in the car with Paddy was an experience in itself. The whiskey fumes that came from his breath were enough to make the passenger drunk. His driving was erratic and he used any gear-change as an excuse to brush his hand against the leg of any female passenger, especially the young grooms. Paris heaved a sigh of relief as she turned the lorry into Limerick racecourse. She had managed to make up the time on the road. Fortunately there had been very little traffic, apart from a small red car driven by an old man. But he had soon pulled over when she had driven the lorry right up behind him. She manoeuvred it into a parking spot between two huge lorries with Kildare number plates and switched off the engine. With relief, Merrianne straightened out fingers that had been clamped on the edge of her seat. "I'm going to declare the runners," Paris said, climbing out. She set off across the lorry park to tell the officials that Dark Admiral and Destiny would be racing. Merrianne watched Paris march off on long slender legs, head high, long auburn hair swinging. "Arrogant bitch!" hissed Merrianne. Just then, a loud wolf-whistle rang out and Paris felt her face split into a broad grin. "Derry!" she yelled, breaking into a sprint towards a large dark-blue lorry. He was leaning against the side of it as she ran headlong into his arms. "I missed you," he said, when they came up for air. Paris grinned and ran her hand through his gleaming dark hair. "How could you miss me? It must be all of three hours since you saw me last!" She raised her face towards his for another kiss. "Three minutes is too long," he mumbled, beginning to unbutton the top buttons of her shirt. "Derry!" she said sternly, wriggling away from him. "We have races to win." "Yes, dear," he mocked, reluctantly releasing her buttons. Arm in arm they walked across the racecourse, which was deserted apart from other trainers, hurrying about their business. Suddenly Paris felt Derry stiffen with tension and she turned to see what he was looking at. Walking towards them was Tara, Derry's sister, and her husband Morgan Flynn. "Tara looks exhausted," snapped Derry bitterly. Paris looked at his stunningly beautiful sister. She didn't look any different than usual to her. As their paths met, Morgan nodded curtly while Tara greeted her brother. "Derry! How lovely to see you!" She smiled serenely, standing on tiptoe to kiss his cheek. "Paris and I got engaged last night," Derry said and Tara at once screamed with delight and flung her arms around Paris. "How wonderful! I'm so happy for you both!" "Paris," said Morgan, pulling her gently to one side once the excitement had died down. "Just the person I wanted to see." They walked a little further away. Paris glanced back at Derry. He was glaring ferociously at Morgan, oblivious to Tara who clung to his arm, smiling up at him in obvious delight. Winners is the second novel by Galway woman Jacqui Broderick. It will be published by Poolbeg on Friday February 11 at 8.99.