January 16, 2007

It's nothing. Just something I learned over in Scotland.

So Bob Dylan is buying a home in Scotland -- the "25 acre 10 bedroom Aultmore House at Cairngorms." The Aultmore House? Sounds like I should live there... A..lt...House. I belong there more. Well, I mustn't continue with these ramblings, lest Dylan think I'm crazy, and I'll never get an invitation. I'd like to see Scotland sometime. I never have. And I have ancestors from there. MacBeth clan.

Has Dylan ever showed an interest in Scotland? What is it about Scotland that goes with Dylan? I searched the Dylan lyrics -- you can search all Dylan's lyrics here. He's never once mentioned Scotland. You'd think with all his many songs and wide-ranging language he would have gotten around to mentioning it at least once. But then, has he mentioned a lot of countries? England: only 3 times. I wonder what country he's mentioned most often. I take a guess and get 7 hits. I tried a lot of others and none came close. See if you can guess, or maybe find one with more than 7. It turns out he rarely names countries. Even the United States. "But even the president of the United States/Sometimes must have/To stand naked." That's one of only 2. And only 1 for America: "I think I'll call it America/I said as we hit land." And that one's a dream that ends with him leaving (and desperate to leave):
But the funniest thing was
When I was leavin' the bay
I saw three ships a-sailin'
They were all heading my way
I asked the captain what his name was
And how come he didn't drive a truck
He said his name was Columbus
I just said, "Good luck."
So, good luck, Bob.


vbspurs said...

Has Dylan ever showed an interest in Scotland?

Neither did Luciano Pavarotti, Madonna, Mel Gibson, or any other famous, rich person who recently purchased a baronial manor there.

Scotland is the best of both worlds. English-speaking, close to England (and thereto, civilisation...), MUCH less expensive than other comparable countries*, with still affordable real estate and manor homes.

*Even Ireland is not cheap anymore, or as easy to gain proprietal rights to the kinds of homes sought. They are a whole, independent country with an established county set, whereas Scotland is a part of one, with penurious landlords, selling up due to death duty taxes.

What is it about Scotland that goes with Dylan?

Rugged individualism. A sense of community without intrusion. Romanticism in landscape.

If not for the rain, Scotland would be heaven on earth, for a second home.

As it is, I have minor tracts of inherited land there, since I'm part of Clan Hamilton .


JohnK said...

"Well, I mustn't continue with these ramblings, lest Dylan think I'm crazy, and I'll never get an invitation."

That is probably true and considering that Dylan was known to take the occasional shot at curious fans in the late 60s when he lived in Woodstock, I wouldn't invite myself either.

Anonymous said...

Number of references to the word "sex?" Just one, from "It's Alright Ma":

Old lady judges watch people in pairs
Limited in sex, they dare
To push fake morals, insult and stare
While money doesn't talk, it swears
Obscenity, who really cares
Propaganda, all is phony.

I guess it's not too surprising given Dylan's interests, but it's odd to me that in rock and roll, supposedly a libido-driven art form, that so many of the classic performers are so chaste in what they actually sing about. (The Rolling Stones excepted, of course.)

DannyNoonan said...

The country he comes from is called the midwest.

Anonymous said...

Mexico. Italy comes close with 5.

Anonymous said...

Ann -

From "Highlands," off of Time Out of Mind:

Well my heart's in the Highlands gentle and fair
Honeysuckle blooming in the wildwood air
Bluebelles blazing, where the Aberdeen waters flow
Well my heart's in the Highland,
I'm gonna go there when I feel good enough to go

Anonymous said...

You were looking in the wrong place - the link is the tune not the words. He owes it all to Scotland:


Best Lady Macbeth I ever saw was a young Helen Mirren, beauteous, buxomy and libinous - both woman and portrayal of the part. There were parties of school boys in that night - must have been an 'O' level set text - who simply bayed everytime she shimmied across the stage.

The line - complete with illuminating gesture - "Come let me clasp thee to my bosom" - led to a near riot of teen hormones. Water cannon were required to quell the fires before the performance could proceed.

Drew W said...

Dylan songs about Scotland? Surely you remember "Who Kilt Davey Moore?"

Or perhaps "Yea! Haggis And A Bottle Of Bread."

I'll stop now.

Randy Cadenhead said...

Dylan did write "Highlands" for Time Out Of Mind.

Gerry said...

I am surprised he used "United States" or "America" as frequently as he did, since he "feel[s] ashamed to live in a land where justice is a game.

Michiel said...

I don't know Dylan at all - I'm from a generation later. I guessed Vietnam - way off. I'm happy to report that my fatherland trounced the competition, with 57 results and only a little cheating ;-)

Hamsun56 said...

Jeff beat me to the punch. Drew W, LOL.

"Well my heart's in the Highlands, with the horses and hounds
Way up in the border country, far from the towns
With the twang of the arrow and a snap of the bow
My heart's in the Highlands
Can't see any other way to go"

Elizabeth said...

Peter, I'm full of envy. Was that the 1974, Trevor Nunn production?

I've been a fool for Helen Mirren ever since Excalibur, 1981.

Elizabeth said...

Meanwhile, Simon Cowell is bored, bored, bored by this topic.

Hamsun56 said...

Has Dylan ever showed an interest in Scotland?

He agreed to get an honorary degree from St. Andrews a few years back. I'm sure has gotten scores of such invitations, but as far as I know the only other honorary degree he has accepted was from Princeton. From reading Chronicles, it appears that was an experience he wasn't eager to repeat, so there must have been some reason to accept St. Andrews.

Anonymous said...

I don't know Dylan at all - I'm from a generation later. I guessed Vietnam - way off.

The idea that Dylan would write about Vietnam is the big misnomer about his career. Dylan did not write more than a few songs that anyone could deem as "protest," except in the most poetic, metaphorical sense. The exceptions are songs like "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll," "Who Killed Davey Moore?" or "Hurricane," which tell stories about injustices he believed were done to specific people. Even "Masters of War" and "With God on Our Side" are timeless in their approach and could have been written about any era in the past 3000 years.

"Blowin' in the Wind" and "The Times They are A-Changing" are anti-protest songs that are about accepting the inevitable. "The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind," is not a rallying cry.

Dylan would never mention anything as specific or contemporary as Vietnam. By the time the big anti-Vietnam war protests were underway in the mid-60s, Dylan had been excommunicated from the Joan Baez/Pete Seeger world for daring to rock and roll; and he was singing about leopard-skin pillbox hats.

Anonymous said...

What is it about Scotland that goes with Dylan?


Dave Schuler said...

If you actually decide to go, I've got a number of good travel tips. We loved it when we visited and friends who've taken our advice have had a grand time, too.

Cedarford said...

AS I recall, the only country the Poet Prophet rhapsodized about and devoted a whole song to was "Mozambique", on "Desire".

Right before one of those usual African internal tribal wars killed 100,000 people in "magical land".

Candace Corrigan said...

No references to Scotland? How about "Highlands" (http://www.bob-dylan.com/songs/highlands.html).

Drew said...

I correctly guessed Mexico before looking at the comments. Of course the seven references to "Mexico" include one "New Mexico" so it is six. I am going to have to turn you in Ann: http://www.nmmagazine.com/FEATURES/50missing.html

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth - yes it was and I was one of the baying schoolboys;)

Anonymous said...

A very belated comment, but in addition to "Highlands" Dylan has covered a number of Scottish folk songs during his tours - including "The Newry Highwayman" and "Pretty Peggy-O." Not to mention the fact that he has "borrowed" the melodies from many Scottish folk songs for use in his own compositions, going all the way back to his earliest albums.