Tag Archives: Bob Dylan

You’re gonna make me lonesome when you go

14 Oct



We’re having dinner at the Molong pub on our way to Canberra, and then to the Snowy Mountains for a month.

We’ve been driving for nine hours on the back roads, avoiding motorways and highways and listening to Bob Dylan because today he won the Nobel Prize for Literature and we’re stoked, and we need to revisit everything he’s ever sung, which you can’t actually do in nine hours but we’ve given it our best shot.

There’s an entertainer at the pub, he’s a little stout and red-faced with silver chains round his neck and he’s singing stuff like The Proclaimers I’m on My Way, and Elvis’s Suspicious Minds, and Joan Jett’s I love Rock n’ Roll, and there’s a woman wrapped around the verandah post, leaning over the singer and going “uh huh” every now and then in relation to pretty much nothing. She’s a little pissed and pretty happy and the singer’s trying to pretend she isn’t there. The sun’s gone down, it’s getting chilly in the beer garden and I wrap myself in a woollen shawl, drink another glass of wine, and consider asking the act if he’ll sing some Dylan.

As stoked as I am by Bob’s win, I’m also sad because if there’s one thing my beloved husband would have wanted to live long enough to hear, it’s that Dylan won the Nobel prize. Babe, if you can hear me, you were right.

Dylan was part of the soundtrack of our decades-long love affair, and Arnie’s knowledge of the man was encyclopaedic. He did a radio show on Sunday afternoons on 2SER just about Dylan. We went to every concert we could, and we only ever walked out of one, at the State Theatre in Sydney when Bob’s performance was so excruciatingly late and then so excruciatingly bad, even we couldn’t hack it. Something to do with drugs in the dunny, I don’t know.

I don’t ask the performer at the Molong pub to sing some Dylan, instead we walk back to our motel and eat chocolate and drink green tea in bed. I’m trying to think of which song was ours, Arnie’s and mine, but that’s the thing about Dylan: there was a song for every shifting phase, even the dark ones, maybe especially the dark ones.

Arnie always came back to You’re going to make me lonesome when you go as his song to me. Which is ironic, because in the end he went and I’m still here and still singing:

I’ll look for you in old Honolul-a
San Francisco, Ashtabula
You’re gonna have to leave me now, I know
But I’ll see you in the sky above
In the tall grass, in the ones I love
You’re gonna make me lonesome when you go

I know there’s all kinds of arguments against the Nobel prize for Bob Dylan. Some of them I probably even agree with. But I don’t care. What he wrote decades ago, personal and political, is as applicable today as it was then, his body of work is vast and varied, and I’ve never anywhere come across images of the kind Dylan comes up with.

As Mick Jagger said, Thank you Bob.



How to do an ending

3 Sep

It’s occurred to me many times as I’ve watched quality television drama, how few script writers manage a good ending.

I’m thinking specifically of the ABC TV drama Broadchurch, a series that finished last week.  It was pretty good I thought, and I hadn’t picked the villain. That revelation was an unpleasant shock (Oh, no! No! I cried) which I won’t reveal, in case anyone is planning to watch the DVD.

However, after the critical denouement, things went south fairly rapidly, sinking into a swamp of sentimentality that left me irritated and offended. It was as if the script writers didn’t quite know what to do next, and settled on an unrealistic coming together of an intolerably fractured community as their nod to catharsis. Obviously they felt compelled to attempt a resolution, in a situation in which such a thing would take decades to achieve, if ever.

The final scenes worked as an exposition of the kind of overwhelming public emotion experienced after a catastrophic event, the short-lived euphoria of  an intense and temporarily bonding experience. But it told me nothing about the morning after when everyone woke up to find themselves inescapably trudging through daily life in a bell jar of emotions, most of them necessarily dark.

The other ending that comes to mind is that of The Sopranos. No easy resolution for these scriptwriters: the Soprano family are seated in a cafe, Tony looks up, and everything goes black. What the fuck? I yelled. Then I thought we’d lost our power. However, I count this as one of the finest endings I’ve ever seen. Not even the merest nod to catharsis, bugger audience desire for resolution, everything just went black so figure it out for yourself.

My interpretation was that we were offered Tony’s perspective as his life abruptly and unexpectedly ended.

Of course, everything has definitely gone black now, with the recent death of James Gandolfini, who played Tony. There can be no change of plans and further episodes. It is ended.

Endings are rarely easy. The lovely innocence of Aristotle in Poetics, in which he declares his belief in a beginning, a middle and a cathartic end, seems in 2013 to belong with fairy tales and Hollywood, though in the latter case, innocence is long-lost. The ending has to be happy in Hollywood because that’s what brings in the money. There’s also an infuriating rush to resolution in most media: after the most horrific events, people are urged to seek “closure” and “move on” with what seems to me a most unseemly haste. Grief has its own unpredictable timeline, and Freud referred to the “labour” of mourning, implying the hard slog of it. If you’ve lost a sentient being under any circumstances, you’ll know the rewards of  “closure” and “moving on” have to be earned and they don’t come easy. And they aren’t the only losses some of us have to grieve: loss of health, body parts, hopes and ambitions unrealised. Sorrow is, to varying degrees, an inescapable aspect of human life, so why there is such emphasis on hastily tidying up the dark and difficult with such lack of due respect, is a mystery to me.

“I can’t believe it, I can’t believe I’m alive,” snarls Bob Dylan, in one of his many angrily grieving lyrics written for some woman who’s abandoned him, “but without you it doesn’t feel right…”

It doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t feel the same. Something has irrevocably changed. That’s endings for you. And that’s what I want the scriptwriters to show me. Bugger the confected catharsis.


Hey, Mr Tamborine Man

3 Dec

Tambourine Man


(With thanks to @ForrestGumpp for the title, and for reminding me of Dylan’s song)

I’m sitting in the Mt Tamborine library, availing myself of free wireless for three hours. It’s the most delightful little library I’ve seen in a long time, the kind of library in children’s story books with jolly librarians and interesting-looking customers. Something fantastical could happen in this library.

Take me on a trip upon your magic swirlin’ ship…

Mrs Chook sits opposite me, researching some nasty-sounding nasal surgery she’s been guaranteed will fix her blocked nose. She keeps asking me to tell her if she ought to have it done or not, but why anyone would ask my opinion on something like that, let alone someone who knows me as well as Mrs Chook does,  I don’t know. I can’t even decide what to have for breakfast, after four months of sustained stress that has left me exhausted, and second-guessing every step I take.

My weariness amazes me…

We’re here because my Archie family has just moved up from the coast to live here, but now they’ve gone to Hawaii and we’re looking after the dogs and luxuriating in the panoramic views from their front windows, views that stretch from the Gold Coast to Mt Warning. It’s  about five degrees cooler than the coast and a good deal less humid. Watching the sun rise out of the sea made me teary this morning. Followed by a hike through an enchanting palm grove with enormous and ancient red carabeen trees, then coffee, lime and coconut scones at a North Tamborine cafe and the world is looking a whole lot better than it did a few days ago.

Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow…

In the forest we startled large groups of what look like very small wallabies, Mrs Chook is researching them as well to find out what they are. They squatted, staring at us gravely and with surprising trust.

We just had a fight about a picture she says is them and I say isn’t. This may not end well.

I haven’t watched the news, read a paper, or given a stuff about politics and politicians, so I have nothing to contribute to whatever is going on. All I know is when you just can’t take anymore, head for the natural world and immerse.

Let me forget about today until tomorrow…

But…Campbell Newman is doing his best to stuff up Queensland’s natural beauty, and the mayor of the Gold Coast is trying for a cable car from Surfers to the top of the mountain. It never feckin ends, does it?

Hey ! Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
I’m not sleepy and there is no place I’m going to
Hey ! Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
In the jingle jangle morning I’ll come followin’ you.
Though I know that evenin’s empire has returned into sand
Vanished from my hand
Left me blindly here to stand but still not sleeping
My weariness amazes me, I’m branded on my feet
I have no one to meet
And the ancient empty street’s too dead for dreaming.
Hey ! Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
I’m not sleepy and there is no place I’m going to 
Hey ! Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
In the jingle jangle morning I’ll come followin’ you.
Take me on a trip upon your magic swirlin’ ship
My senses have been stripped, my hands can’t feel to grip
My toes too numb to step, wait only for my boot heels
To be wanderin’
I’m ready to go anywhere, I’m ready for to fade
Into my own parade, cast your dancing spell my way
I promise to go under it.
Hey ! Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
I’m not sleepy and there is no place I’m going to 
Hey ! Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
In the jingle jangle morning I’ll come followin’ you.
Though you might hear laughin’, spinnin’ swingin’ madly across the sun
It’s not aimed at anyone, it’s just escapin’ on the run
And but for the sky there are no fences facin’
And if you hear vague traces of skippin’ reels of rhyme
To your tambourine in time, it’s just a ragged clown behind
I wouldn’t pay it any mind, it’s just a shadow you’re
Seein’ that he’s chasing.
Hey ! Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
I’m not sleepy and there is no place I’m going to 
Hey ! Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
In the jingle jangle morning I’ll come followin’ you.
Then take me disappearin’ through the smoke rings of my mind
Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves
The haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow
Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free
Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands
With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves
Let me forget about today until tomorrow.
Hey ! Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
I’m not sleepy and there is no place I’m going to 
Hey ! Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
In the jingle jangle morning I’ll come followin’ you.
Bob Dylan

Kathy Jackson. Journos as cannibals. Investigative bloggers. Leonard Cohen.

30 May

I’m reading a novel by Lionel Shriver ( of We need to Talk about Kevin fame) titled The New Republic. The blurb on the back claims the novel is about terrorism and personal magnetism. It does indeed deal with both, in that bitingly humorous fashion usually fuelled by deep anger, and contempt for the subjects. I won’t attempt to describe the convoluted plot, for to do so would be to ruin the story.

However, to my reader’s mind this novel is all about journalists and mainstream media, especially those who venture into theatres of conflict, and Shriver has not one good thing to say about them. For example:

“I’m a journalist,” she has a lead character, Barrington Saddler,  explain, “and journalists need news. Deprive them of it, and they go a bit barking. Deprive  them of news long enough, and they’ll make their own – much the way the starving will eventually turn to cannibalism.”

And this from his editor: “Journalists are parasites…on everyone else’s events. The worst thing that can happen to a correspondent is to start thinking of himself as a player. The hack who fancies himself a mover-and-shaker gets slipshod – thinks he’s covering his own story. Reporting is a humble profession, Mr Kellogg. Journalists -” Wallasek shrugged – “are History’s secretaries…a reporter’s not supposed to chip in his two cents.”

I find it significant that this novel is all about journalists, with terrorism and personal magnetism employed merely as vehicles to cynically explore the bleak terrain of mainstream media, but there’s no mention at all of this on the cover. Oh, BTW. It’s published by Harper Collins Fourth Estate.

And so to Peter Wicks’ latest expose of Kathy Jackson, her partner Michael Lawler, the HSU & FWA. Wixxy is doing an extraordinary job of investigative blogging without any of the resources or protections afforded to mainstream journalists. As Peter points out, with such limited resources he’s still been able to access flammable information about payments made by the HSU to Kathy Jackson, payments that beggar belief. These include over half a million dollars invoiced as “Key Management Personnel Compensation,” itemised only as “Employee benefits.” Kathy Jackson is the sole recipient.

Don’t miss reading Wixxy’s piece, published today in Independent Australia. Wicks provides all kinds of interesting links, including the connection between Jackson, FWA boss Michael Lawler, and Christopher Pyne, who were all spotted enjoying coffee together just last week. Why aren’t these matters receiving anything like the intense scrutiny given to Craig Thomson’s affairs? Why aren’t journos lurking beneath Jackson’s bathroom window while she takes a shower? How come the msm aren’t asking why Jackson’s child care centre whose staff do not wear uniforms, received money for their non-existent uniforms from the HSU? Are child care centres even in the HSU?

Why the mainstream media haven’t bothered to investigate these matters any further is a mystery. Idleness? Political pressure to refrain?

With a few outstanding exceptions, we don’t generally have investigative journalists, just an excess of self-regarding opinionistas. Thank god we do have bloggers.

Or maybe too many of our journos, like Shriver’s morally corrupt hacks,  are far too busy trying to be players?

Oh, and this has just been brought to my attention. I don’t know how reliable this source is, but it alleges Lawler belongs or belonged to Opus Dei. The thlot pickens.

Finally I am seriously disappointed in Barack Obama who has just awarded the Congressional Medal of Honour to Bob Dylan WHEN IT SHOULD HAVE GONE TO LEONARD COHEN. And yes, the medal can be awarded to non US citizens. I still take my hat off to you Leonard. Dylan is good, but you are better. Plus you don’t look as drug-fucked.

Goal attained pass the chocolate, and Baby Love

22 Nov

I decided that for one week I wouldn’t get on Twitter, look at my blogs, listen to the news on radio or TV, and check my email. Except for one slip when I flitted through a room in which someone else was watching the Obama visit (Barack who?) I passed my test with flying colours and I have no idea what happened last week. What’s more I couldn’t give a rabbit’s arse.

The reason for this utter lack of interest in the uncertain and treacherous political world is one brilliant seven-week-old baby boy, entrusted by his Mum and Dad  to me and Mrs Chook  for a large portion of the week. Armed with gallons of decanted breast milk, we took him out to coffee, several lunches and a few dinners, and bathed in his reflected glory. In the wet, hostile heat of  the tropical Queensland afternoons, I turned on the air con, laid myself and the baby on the bed, and enjoyed post-prandial naps to the award-winning soundtrack of baby dreaming.

I swear he acquired at least a hundred new sounds during the time he was with us, and he learned to pee like the Bellagio fountains every time I let him go naked for a bit of kicking exercise. He also learned to poke himself in the eye, how to give his new Captain Calamari toy a good walloping, and the names of a whole bunch of vegetation when Mrs Chook gave him  botanical lessons in the garden in the mornings.

The Dog, I have to say, was beside himself with jealousy and behaved very badly, digging enormous revenge holes in a garden we didn’t own, necessitating surreptitious night visits into the empty block next door for bucketfuls of soil.

All this bonding caused me to reflect on the long journey home about love. The human capacity for love is infinite, and every time I have cause to remember that it strikes me as miraculous. A new being enters the family and snuggles into his or her place in the heart, and the heart expands to accommodate without so much as a murmur.

It was worth every minute of giving up all distractions to focus completely on loving. We are beings with a breathtaking, mind-blowing capacity for love. Immersion in the political world doesn’t seem to be conducive to accessing those capabilities. A little bitty baby on the other hand, took me to a place I never want to leave, though I know I will. I also know I can get back whenever I want.

That old grouch Bob Dylan put it nicely:

When evenin’ shadows and the stars appear
And there is no one there to dry your tears
I could hold you for a million years
To make you feel my love

I’d go hungry, I’d go black and blue
I’d go crawlin’ down the avenue
Oh, there’s nothin’ that I wouldn’t do
To make you feel my love

Thank you, Archie Baz, and your Mum and Dad.

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