Tuesday, December 07, 2004

You do what you must do and you do it well

I have this line completely jammed into my head right now:
In the jingle jangle morning, I'll come following you
Why? Stupid reason- because jingle jangle is the only term that adequately describes the feeling in my head right now, that sound that loose change makes rattling around a cage, that feeling that you're just not quite right. Very weird, though probably a sign that my immune system is launching an all out counterattack against whatever virus was wreaking havoc through my body the last week. I love immune system imagery, by the way. This goes back to the very first time I saw The Fantastic Voyage, which is truly an awesome B-movie from the '60s. When the white blood cells attack... well, that seems like the best way to explain an immune reaction ever.

Most iconic musicians should never be covered (should you have any doubt, take a listen to Limp Bizkit's skewering of The Who's classic Behind Blue Eyes). That said, Dylan is the one musician who actually benefits from being covered from time to time. So, I respectfully submit my favorite Dylan covers:

  • Tangled up in Blue, by the Indigo Girls... because it's just more melodic, and yet, the whole time I'm listening to it, I always picture Dylan in the actual story of the song, if that makes any sense.

  • Masters of War, by Pearl Jam... because, well, personal irrational love of Eddie Vedder aside, it captures the rage of that song at a particularly perfect moment.

  • You're gonna make me lonesome when you go, by Shawn Colvin because Colvin does cheery way better than Dylan does, and man, is that a beautiful song in her hands.

  • I've been thinking about Dylan since his 60 minutes interview, and since he creeped me out of my socks the evening I saw him on a Victoria's Secret advertisement. The guy is nothing if not confusing. I had a friend in grad school who worshipped Dylan and Elvis, had every one of both of their albums. Which is interesting to me now that I hear Dylan aspired to be Elvis at one point. That seems hard to believe to me, when I listen to an album like Blood on the Tracks.

    What Dylan did mention that I can understand, that I think everyone can understand, is that his early work had a sort of magic to it that he can't imagine recapturing now. I don't want to tie this into youth or innocence, necessarily. But I think there are times in one's life, when everything aligns perfectly, and something extraordinary is possible. The old sayings of it's never too late, sure, they hold true, but it is also true that there are times that things are in synch, opportunities present themselves and beg to be taken. It brings to mind the beginning of life, the conditions present in the early atmosphere that could have sparked the very beginning of those first amino acids forming, of that first cell forming, dividing, replicating.

    A little Dylan on the brain is a good thing. Since I'm not a child of the '60s I can't necessarily relate to every political significance behind his music, but I do relish some of his lyrics. Your heart is made of stone if you can listen to Visions of Johanna or I want you or Don't think twice, it's alright or, my personal favorite, If you see her, say hello and not be moved at all. Just typing the names of those songs reduces me to a shell of my former self.

    The 60 minutes interview made me think a lot of another artist I like a lot, who is a complete recluse about interviewing and stardom. That old curmudgeon, Van Morrison, has been complaining for years about people treating him like a prophet or some sort of phenomenon (see Songwriter, or better yet, Cleaning Windows for evidence of such whinging). The problem is, music transcends. When you hear something that transcends, it's difficult to think of the person behind it as a mere human, whether that's true or not. I don't mind that musicians decry being treated like prophets, that will keep them honest, but I also don't think it's crazy to be blown away by someone who makes really good music. If it is, then lock me up, folks, because I am heading to the funny farm. But I think they must know, those musicians, because otherwise, how could Dylan write this:
    Every one of them words rang true
    and glowed like burning coal
    pouring off of every page
    like it was written in my soul from me to you

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