October 20, 2004

Dylan's "Chronicles": Chapter 5.

Finally, I got around to finishing the last chapter of Dylan's autobiography. I was blogging at the blistering pace of a chapter a day for a while. Chapter 1 is here (and here's the text of Chapter 1 on the publisher's website (via Metafilter)). Chapter 2 is here, and Chapter 3 is here. I kept up at a post a day but not a chapter a day with the first part of Chapter 4 here, and the second part of Chapter 4 here. Now, I've let four days go by, only reading a few pages a day. But this post covers all of Chapter 5.

Why Dylan liked Neil Sedaka more than other big New York songwriters: he performed his own songs. P. 227.

Dylan seems to have gotten some ideas from Harry Truman, whom his parents took him to see when he was a kid: "Truman was gray hatted, a slight figure, spoke in the same kind of nasal twang and tone like a country singer. I was mesmerized by his slow drawl and sense of seriousness and how people hung on every word he was saying." Pp. 230-231.

Dylan and guns: "As kids, we shot air guns, BB guns and the real thing--.22s--shot at tin cans, bottles or overfed rats in the town garbage dump." P. 232. He explains "rubberguns" and how the introduction of synthetic rubber ruined all the fun. Pp. 232-233.

Description of folk music: "It was life magnified." P. 236.

What Woody Guthrie's voice was like: "a stiletto." P. 244.

How Woody Guthrie writes: "like the whirlwind." P. 245.

Goal Dylan set: "to be Guthrie's greatest disciple." 246.

How the goal was thwarted: he found out Jack Elliot had already done it. P. 250.

What Dylan thought of asking John Wayne when he met him, but didn't because it "would have been crazy": "why some of his cowboy films were better than others." P. 250.

Description of Joan Baez: "Both Scot and Mex, she looked like a religious icon, like somebody you'd sacrifice yourself for and she sang in a voice straight to God ..." P. 255.

Interesting talent possessed by Noel Stookey: "He could imitate just about anything--clogged water pipes and toilets flushing, steamships and sawmills, traffic, violins and trombones. He could imitate singers imitating other singers ... [for example] Dean Martin imitating Little Richard." P. 259.

How Wavy Gravy dressed when he was still Hugh Romney: "he was the straightest looking cat you'd ever seen--always smartly dressed, usually in Brooks Brothers light gray suits." P. 259.

What Dave Van Ronk's wife Terri talked about: "highfalutin' theological ideas behind political systems. Nietzschean politics. Politics with a hanging heaviness." P. 263.

What Terri couldn't believe anyone would be stupid enough to buy: an electric can opener. P. 263.

What Dylan drank between sets in his early days in New York City: "shooters of Wild Turkey and iced Schlitz." P. 264.

How Dylan felt when he met Suze Rotolo: "The air was suddenly filled with banana leaves." P. 265.

Why Suze was just his type: "She reminded me of a libertine heroine." P. 265.

Movies Dylan went to see to try to get Suze off his mind for a while: "Atlantis, Lost Continent" and "King of Kings." P. 265.

Song name I wrote in the margin of page 266, where Dylan describes Suze's mother and sister: "Ballad in Plain D."

What Suze's mother said to Dylan: "Do me a favor, don't think when I'm around." P. 267.

Suze's age: 17.

How Dylan furnished his first apartment in NY: he borrowed tools and built furniture. He even made his own mirrors with plate glass, mercury and tin foil. P. 267-268.

What Suze taught Dylan about: artists! Pp. 268-269.

Favorite artist that seemed to express what folk music expresses: Red Grooms. P. 269-270.

Anti-fallout shelter song he wrote early on at his handmade table: "Let Me Die in My Footsteps." P. 270-272. That reminds me, obvious as it is now, when I was an adolescent in the early 60s, I couldn't understand why my parents weren't building a fallout shelter.

How people felt about Communists in northern Minnesota: "People weren't scared of them, seemed to be a big to-do over nothing." P. 271.

Kurt Weill/Bertholt Brecht song that made Dylan think of Duluth: "Pirate Jenny." P. 273-276.

Dylan's description of himself as a child in Duluth, listening to foghorns: "slight, introverted and asthma stricken." P. 274.

Dylan song I'm reminded of by his description of trying to learn a lot about songwriting from "Pirate Jenny": "When the Ship Comes In."
Singer Dylan thought was great--he was right--but couldn't get other folksingers--like Dave Van Ronk--to care about: Robert Johnson. Pp. 282-283.

Dylan's favorite politician: Barry Goldwater. P. 283.

Why: "[he] reminded me of Tom Mix."

Bob Dylan song that mentions Goldwater: "I Shall Be Free, No. 10."
Now, I'm liberal, but to a degree
I want ev'rybody to be free
But if you think that I'll let Barry Goldwater
Move in next door and marry my daughter
You must think I'm crazy!
I wouldn't let him do it for all the farms in Cuba.
A Bob Dylan political opinion: "I wasn't that comfortable with all the psycho polemic babble. It wasn't my particular feast of food. Even the current news made me nervous. I liked the old news better." P. 283.

Description of Robert Johnson's lyrics that shows what Dylan learned about songwriting from him: "old style lines and ... free-association ... sparkling allegories, big-ass truths wrapped in the hard shell of nonsensical abstraction." P. 285.

What the second to the last paragraph of the book is devoted to: Minnesotans.

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