Bob Dylan

4 Articles
Gary Mays

Lyrically, and spiritually at least they’ve been trying to find the new ‘Bob Dylan’ since, well, since the former Robert Zimmerman from Hibbing, Minn., broke through the din of the1960s folk scene in Greenwhich Village to tell the world that “A Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall.” Yet while many singer-songwriters over the decade have tried the title on for size — voice of a generation — few have passed the test of time, digital music, and a wandering cultural attention span.

Perhaps listeners, ears accustomed to auto-tune inanity, could care less about lyrics anymore. Dylan’s new record, Tempest, came out with much marketing fanfare last week, and from the one track I’ve heard, it’s pretty good. Yet lyrically, Dylan’s best days seem behind him — and that’s OK, for even an aging, cynical and wealthy Bob Dylan is better than most of the crap out there.

But in the view of this writer, the lyrical claim to fame these days belongs to the obscure, the twisted, the relatively unknown and the deeply personal. And that’s why, while I’ll always be a Dylan fan, singer-songwriter John Darnielle is my new life coach.

Darnielle, front man for the intrepid band, ‘The Mountain Goats’ writes with demonic power and urgency, and like Dylan at his earliest and angriest, he senses the cultural zetgeist and tears at it with pen and rapid fire downstroke on his acoustic. The chorus to the first Darnielle song that grabbed me went like this:

“And Sonny Liston rubbed some tiger balm into his glove, some things you do for money and some you do for love, love, love.” (Love, Love, Love, The Sunset Tree)

Next song I heard: “St. Joseph’s baby Aspirin , Bartles and James; and you, or your memory…” (‘You or Your Memory’, The Sunset Tree)

John Hicks

I was up early, filling water bottles and charging batteries. I checked out a few maps. It’s always a good thing to know where you’re going in my corner of Alabama, especially if you live in the middle of nowhere and your destination is even more remote.

Chance of rain, according to the forecast. I was ignoring the gray skies. Given the vicissitudes of 21st century weather, I wouldn’t have been surprised if it had started raining locomotives and Gummi Bears.

Does anyone really know what the weather is going to do these days? I keep waiting for a TV weatherperson to tell it like it is:

“Right now it’s pretty nice out there. Last time I looked out the window, anyway. The forecast for tomorrow is … (shrugs). Hey, your guess is good as mine, Einstein! It might be a beautiful spring day, or we might experience a meteorological event straight out of the Old Testament. My advice, folks, is have a few drinks and don’t worry about it. I’ve been into the Absolut since lunch, and, frankly, I feel great. [Expletive] the [expletive] weather. Back to you, Todd.”

John Hicks

Ah, Christmas.

What a wonderful time of the year! Let’s all join hands and sing “Silent Night.”

Is that mistletoe? You scamp! Yes, more delicious eggnog for me, please!

This is my second B2L2 Christmas. I can’t remember what I wrote about last year. I’d look it up, but I’m just too dang busy having Christmas fun.

Let’s start a new tradition. Christmas is a great time of year to start new traditions. I’ve been kicking around a few ideas:

The Annual Obscenity-Laden Christmas Post

I try to avoid using obscene language in my work. Sometimes, however, one must drop a strategic f-bomb or something equally pungent in order to convey the full, uh, earthiness of one’s position.

Generally speaking, I don’t work blue, as the comics say. Swearing well comically is a talent. You must be a Carlin or a Pryor to pull it off. (Is it too early to add Louis C.K. to the pantheon? I think not. I’ll be throwing down my five bucks for the interweb special, Louis. But not right now. I’m slap-happy with Christmas cheer!)

But what if once a year – in the last post before Dec. 25, say – I just let it rip? Four-letter words, multisyllabic oedipal blasts, and good grief, Bob Johnson! I am busy trying to think up different ways to describe cursing without actually cursing! You are interfering with my steady progress toward a Nobel Prize, you insane mutt! Go chase a rabbit! (He never catches the rabbit.)