Build me a cabin in UtahThat is what's it's all about. Except we're in Madison, Wisconsin, not Utah. We're too old to have kids together. The house is too big to call a cabin. And we bought the rainbow trout at Whole Foods.
Marry me a wife, catch rainbow trout
Have a bunch of kids who call me “Pa”
That must be what it’s all about
I started writing this post because I wanted to say, AllenS, I'm not going to do it. I'm not interested in what Maureen Dowd says about Bob Dylan. I started reading her column yesterday, and I got sick of it at the second paragraph:
The idea that the raspy troubadour of ’60s freedom anthems would go to a dictatorship and not sing those anthems is a whole new kind of sellout — even worse than Beyoncé, Mariah and Usher collecting millions to croon to Qaddafi’s family, or Elton John raking in a fortune to serenade gay-bashers at Rush Limbaugh’s fourth wedding.Her Bob Dylan is "the raspy troubadour of ’60s freedom anthems." I've listened to Bob Dylan singing in 5 different decades, and Dowd has him stuck in the 60s, and the early 60s at that. She's seeing him as the instrument of the American political left, when he broke away from them almost a half century ago.
It's true that Dylan still frequently plays “The Times They Are a-Changin,’ ” and “Blowin’ in the Wind” — the 2 songs Dowd thinks Dylan could have sung to upset Chinese government officials. (To play a concert in Beijing, Dylan submitted his playlist for government approval. Here's my April 6th blog post on the subject: "What's the big deal about Dylan's 'protest' songs in China anyway? They're almost entirely aimed at the United States.")
Now that I am writing about Dowd's column, I realized I had to read the whole thing and not just get tripped up at the stereotype of the early 60s Dylan (and the disgusting lie about Rush Limbaugh). And I see she does get around to something like the point I was going to make. She taps David Hajdu's book “Positively 4th Street” for something closer to the real Bob:
“I never saw myself as a folksinger,” he said. “They called me that if they wanted to. I didn’t care. I latched on, when I got to New York City, because I saw (what) a huge audience there was. I knew I wasn’t going to stay there. I knew it wasn’t my thing. ... I became interested in folk music because I had to make it somehow.”I imagine Dowd had written the column she wanted to write, then called up David Hajdu, who gave her material that forced her to backtrack and reformulate her attack. But the reformulation is lame. The lefty folky politicos were the true 60s?! If there is some true spirit of the 60s, it would be more accurate to say it is whatever Bob Dylan was. It was complicated. Politically and personally.
“Folk music,” he concluded, “is a bunch of fat people.”
He can’t really betray the spirit of the ’60s because he never had it.
“I had very little in common with and knew even less about a generation that I was supposed to be the voice of,” he said.A pack of kids... who call me “Pa”... That must be what it’s all about....
He wrote that he wanted to have a house with a white picket fence and pink roses in back, live in East Hampton with his wife and pack of kids, eat Cheerios and go to the Rainbow Room and see Frank Sinatra Jr. perform.
Real personal life, with the beauty of love and family, enhanced by the comforts of material affluence. A cabin. Fresh food. That's a more subversive message to the Chinese than what Dowd calls "[i]conic songs of revolution like 'The Times They Are a-Changin'' and 'Blowin’ in the Wind.'"
The day began with memories of rainbow trout, and I began writing this post meaning to end with rainbow. Looking up the "Sign in the Window" lyrics at bobdylan.com with my search term "rainbow" — I was looking for the rainbow — I saw all Dylan's "rainbow"s, including a second one in "Father of Night" — which is the aforementioned last track on the album "New Morning":
Father of night, Father of dayIs that subversive in China?
Father, who taketh the darkness away
Father, who teacheth the bird to fly
Builder of rainbows up in the sky...
There are 3 other Bob Dylan songs with rainbows:
1. "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall." This is a song full of everything bad Dylan could think of to throw at us, and yet: "I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow..."
2. "Desolation Row." He's singing about "Ophelia," who's "already... an old maid" at the age of 22. She "wears an iron vest" and has "her profession" as "her religion." Her sin is "lifelessness." She does, however, have "her eyes ... fixed upon Noah’s great rainbow." See? She doesn't belong in the city! She needs God, a husband, a bunch of kids, and a cabin in Utah. (Ah! This makes me think about how I went to New York City, instead of out into some western landscape, after all those listens-through of "New Morning" in college.)
3. "Beyond the Horizon." "Beyond the horizon, behind the sun/At the end of the rainbow life has only begun... The bells of St. Mary, how sweetly they chime/Beyond the horizon I found you just in time." Note, at the link to the lyrics at Bob Dylan's own website — scroll down — there's a YouTube embed of Guy Lombardo playing "Red Sails in the Sunset."
Think about what that means! "We marry tomorrow/And she goes sailing no more." They marry... and they go to the Rainbow Room! Or they catch rainbow trout. Or they eat rainbow trout that they bought at Whole Foods in Madison and play their old Bob Dylan records.