Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Crippled Wolf's inspiration

Over the past year, Crippled Wolf has been reclaiming Bob Dylan.

Bob Dylan in AmericaBack when he was a wannabe hippie back in the late 60s and early 70s, Crippled Wolf thought of Dylan as the radical leader of "the Revolution"—mainly because that's what the media kept saying.

However, from Sean Wilentz's excellent recent book, Bob Dylan in America, he has learned that Dylan himself hated and rejected that role.  In fact, until the mid-1980s, Dylan went to great lengths to "destroy" his own career.

So that the media and the fans would stop following him. So that they would stop asking him "What do the young generation want?"  So that he could get back to what he had always considered his true role: not as a minstrel for "the Revolution" by as a lover and re-inventor of the great traditions of American folk and blues.

Here's what Dylan wrote himself in his beautiful 2004 memoir, Chronicles, Volume One,  describing his youthful years in Minneapolis:
The Gregory Corso poem "Bomb" was more to the point and touched the spirit of the times better—a wasted world and totally mechanized—a lot of hustle and bustle—a lot of shelves to clean, boxes to stack. I wasn't going to pin my hopes on that. Creatively you couldn't do much with it.
I had already landed in a parallel universe, anyway, with more archaic principles and values; one where actions and virtues were old style and judgmental things came falling out on their heads. A culture of outlaw women, super thugs, demon lovers and gospel truths...streets and valleys, rich peaty swamps, with landowners and oilmen, Stagger Lee, Pretty Pollys and John Henrys—an invisible world that towered overhead with walls of gleaming corridors. It was all there and it was clear—ideal and God-fearing—but you had to go  find it....
Folk music was a reality of a more brilliant dimension. It exceeded all human understanding, and if it called out to you, you could disappear and be be sucked into it. I felt right at home in this mythical realm made up not with individuals so much as archetypes,...each rugged soul filled with natural knowing and inner wisdom. Each demanding a degree of respect.... Folk music was all I needed to exist.
Trouble was, there wasn't enough of it. It was out of date, had no proper connection to the actualities, the trends of the time. it was a huge story but hard to come across. (235-36)
  Earlier in Chronicles, Dylan explained how he went about re-inventing folk music:
What I usually did was start out with something, some kind of line written in stone and turn it with another line—make it add up to something else than it originally did. (228)
Currently, Crippled Wolf is listening to one album over and over, Oh, Mercy, Dylan's brilliant "come back" album from1989.

Here's Crippled Wolf's current favorite, a musically gorgeous song with shades of the late Lou Reed in its sound and delivery, yet with all the wryly ironic twists of Dylan's masterful poetry.

Oh Mercy, by Bob Dylan
Most of the Time

Most of the time
I’m clear focused all around
Most of the time
I can keep both feet on the ground
I can follow the path, I can read the signs
Stay right with it when the road unwinds
I can handle whatever I stumble upon
I don’t even notice she’s gone
Most of the time

Most of the time
It’s well understood
Most of the time
I wouldn’t change it if I could
I can make it all match up, I can hold my own
I can deal with the situation right down to the bone
I can survive, I can endure
And I don’t even think about her
Most of the time

Most of the time
My head is on straight
Most of the time
I’m strong enough not to hate
I don’t build up illusion ’til it makes me sick
I ain’t afraid of confusion no matter how thick
I can smile in the face of mankind
Don’t even remember what her lips felt like on mine
Most of the time

Most of the time
She ain’t even in my mind
I wouldn’t know her if I saw her
She’s that far behind
Most of the time
I can’t even be sure
If she was ever with me
Or if I was with her

Most of the time
I’m halfway content
Most of the time
I know exactly where it went
I don’t cheat on myself, I don’t run and hide
Hide from the feelings that are buried inside
I don’t compromise and I don’t pretend
I don’t even care if I ever see her again
Most of the time


And so it is.

Bless├Ęd Be,
Michael Bright Crow 

1 comment:

Wendy Clarissa Geiger said...

It's a wonderful post. I, especially, relate intuitively to Bob Dylan's words about folk music sucking you in and other related words. Along with Quakerism and pacifism, folk music is a major aspect of my life. Fell in love with folk music at age 10, 40 years ago. Twice my singing on cassette tapes has been mistaken for Joan Baez. No higher compliments. I can still imitate opera from reaching those high notes singing "Old Blue" as a youth.

I just LOVE singing folk songs - especially, my favorites: "Birmingham Sunday" and "Barbara Allen." Singing "Birmingham Sunday" every few days since I was 13 centers me - in my living, dying and carrying on and in the Struggles of humanity. And, singing South African Freedom Songs (see the book and cd "Freedom Is Coming") centers me, too.

Thank you, Bob Dylan, for honoring your musical gifts. It's inspiring.

Gentle blessings,