December 11, 2016
I saw this yesterday and averted my eyes. As a diligent — dylangent — blogger of all things Dylan, I feel obliged to provide you with coverage of the Nobel Prize ceremony, which took place on a day when my writing about Bob Dylan consisted of 2 quotes from 60s-era Harvard-Square snobs insulting Bob for playing croquet badly and having green teeth.
I don't know if Bob Dylan wrote anything yesterday. I heard he was busy — too busy to attend the Nobel ceremony. Maybe he was busy writing songs, maybe he was busy with Nonattendance at Ceremonies, not following leaders, and watching parking meters.
But he sent Patti in his stead — Patti with her lifelong embodiment of Punk, Patti to sing one of the oldest, most serioso Bob Dylan songs for the throng in white tie. She chokes up around the 2-minute point, and you might think she's just so moved by the profundity of the words, but the truth is she's forgotten what comes after "I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin’." The next line is "I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin’," but she sings "I saw the babe that was left bleedin'" and then for the line after that — which should be "I saw a white ladder all covered with water" — she begins "I saw the babe...." Another babe!
When I heard this the first time, I believed she — just like a woman — was reacting to the suffering of babies. But Bob only put one baby into the song — "a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it" — and that baby had already been sung about, back before the black branch with blood that kept drippin’. Oh, Patti, you are in verse 2 of a song with 5 verses full of particular characters and images. Is it the poet or the clown who dies in the gutter? Does the white man give you a rainbow or walk a black dog? What about the pony? Where is that pony?
Is Bob Dylan watching this YouTube and feeling glad it ain't me, babe, bleedin' babe, cryin' in the alley, dyin' in the gutter, with ten thousand whisperin’ and nobody listenin’?
Has Bob Dylan ever performed for royalty or does he send back all of his invitations....