by carl wilson

Send a Truck Back For It

A couple of samples from Bob Dylan's Chronicles, Volume One (see below). The kind of cold bourbon language that can fortify you against debate doubletalk and the optimism of fools on days when the world seems to be sinking below its own horizon. [...]


On Ricky Nelson: One afternoon I was in there pouring Coke into a glass from a milk pitcher when I heard a voice coming cool through the screen of the radio speaker. Ricky Nelson was singing his new song "Travelling Man." ... Nelson had never been a bold innovator like the early singers who sang like they were navigating burning ships. He didn't sing desperately, do a lot of damage, and you'd never mistake him for a shaman... but it didn't matter. He sang his songs calm and steady like he was in the middle of a storm, men hurling past him. His voice was mysterious and made you fall into a certain mood.
I had been a big fan of Ricky's and still liked him, but that type of music was on its way out. It had no chance of meaning anything. There'd be no future for that stuff in the future. It was all a mistake. What was not a mistake was the ghost of Billy Lyons, rootin' the mountain down, standing round in East Cairo, Black Betty bam be lam. That was no mistake. That's the stuff that was happening. That's the stuff that could make you question what you'd always accepted, could litter the landscape with broken hearts, had power of spirit. Ricky, as usual, was singing bleached out lyrics. Lyrics probably written just for him. I'd always felt kin to him, though. We were about the same age, probably liked the same things, from the same generation although our life experience had been so dissimilar, him being brought up out West on a family TV show. It was like he'd been born and raised on Walden Pond where everything was hunky-dory, and I'd come out of the dark demonic woods, same forest, just a different way of looking at things. Ricky's talent was very accessible to me. I felt we had a lot in common. In a few years' time he'd record some of my songs, make them sound like they were his own, like he had written them himself. He eventually did write one himself and mentioned my name in it. Ricky, in about ten years' time, would even get booed while onstage for changing what was perceived as his musical direction. It turned out we did have a lot in common.

On Clausewitz: When he claims that politics has taken the place of morality and politics is bruce force, he's not playing. You have to believe it. You do exactly as you're told, whoever as you are. Knuckle under or you're dead. Don't give me any of that jazz about hope or nonsense about righteousness. Don't give me that dance that God is with us, or that God supports us. Let's get down to brass tacks. There isn't any moral order. You can forget that. Morality has nothing in common with politics. It's not there to transgress. It's either high ground or low ground. This is the way the world is and nothing's gonna change it. It's a crazy, mixed up world and you have to look it right in the eye. Clausewitz in some ways is a prophet. Without realizing it, some of the stuff in his book can shape your ideas. If you think you're a dreamer, you can read this stuff and realize you're not even capable of dreaming. Dreaming is dangerous. Reading Clausewitz makes you take your own thoughts a little less seriously.

Can you believe that Dylan once played a gig in a Village coffeehouse with Cecil Taylor? We played 'The Water Is Wide,' the old folk song. Cecil could play regular piano if he wanted to. I had also played with Billy Higgins and Don Cherry there. If only there were recordings!

And you have to hear his account of obsessively reading Civil War-era newspapers, leafing from page to page as this "black schism" hurtles into view: Back there, America was put on the cross, died and resurrected. There was nothing synthetic about it. The godawful truth of that would be the all-encompassing template behind everything I would write. I crammed my head full of as much of this stuff as I could stand and locked it away in my mind out of sight, left it alone. Figured I could send a truck back for it later.

There's so much more, but that seems enough to get you out to the bookstore or the library, if they still have one where you live. Turn off the computer. Go.

Read More | The Writ | Posted by zoilus on Friday, October 08 at 12:12 AM | Linking Posts | Comments (2)

 

COMMENTS

I was one of the "tweedyinclinedudes" who witnessed the brilliant Wilco show last week at Massey Hall - Who knows how many of us had a Silver Rail lament, I know I did, but it occurs to me that it really doesn't fucking matter. Was there anyone there having a pre-silver rail lament about the horse and buggy pit that stood before? Was anyone longing for the good-old-days when women couldn't vote and Jews weren't allowed to practice medicine at Toronto hospitals? The city grows and changes - sometimes for better sometimes for worse. Deal with it. Those who claim ownership over time and place are already dead.

Posted by original spin on October 16, 2004 06:55 AM

 

 

mr. wilson,
all the young tweedyinclinedudes are smoking outside of massey hall in the designers glow emananting from the vintageous fran's 'cross the street, 'spose none of 'em knows there used to be a silver rail that was the real deal in that 'hood pre buffalo jeans pier one et al. meanwhile i slipped into the haemotology hotel only to find that i had time to chill before noctonurse could let me in. mosied on up to that big bookstore and laid it down in the bio section. gonna shut the screen door now, gotta turn up volume one. btw, did you re-type all them chronicles yer own self, memorize any lines?
x mr. sumac

Posted by woody on October 9, 2004 09:20 PM

 

 

 

Zoilus by Carl Wilson