Tuesday, July 24, 2012


"I’m looking for somebody to sell my dog, collect my clip, buy my animal, and straighten out my bird."
~ Bob Dylan

It was probably in 2005 that someone posted the following on an Internet chat site where I regularly participated:

I never did understand the whole ‘Bob Dylan’ thing.

Although I didn’t take the time to do so, for several moments I considered posting a reply, expressing a similar view: Bob Dylan? What was the big deal about Bob Dylan? I don’t get it either.

Then in very early 2008 I borrowed from a friend of mine Bob Dylan’s album ‘Bringing It All Back Home’, which I hadn’t heard since selling my vinyl copy at least 20 years earlier. I was astonished to discover over the 47 minutes it took to listen to the recording that Dylan, and especially that particular album, had been the single biggest influence on my writing. No him, no me.

I guess I did get the whole Dylan thing, I just didn’t know I did.

So far, 2012 has been a miserably depressing year for me; I don’t know if I’ve ever felt worse.

A friend of mine recently Emailed me:

Stephen, please do something good for yourself over these next two days that you have off. Go out and buy yourself something that you have wanted for a long time (maybe that's a woman thing)

Well, taking her advice to heart, I went out and bought myself a darling pair of pink and black high-heels. Gee, that really did make me feel better!

No, not really. I’m not that kinda girl.

Well, I didn’t buy anything for myself until a couple weeks later. I had gone into my local Zia store (books, movies, music) to buy ‘The Last Waltz’ movie and soundtrack for someone, and while I was in there I decided to buy something for myself as well:
For a couple years I had been thinking about buying a DVD of Bob Dylan’s performances at the famous (and infamous) Newport Folk Festivals. I finally splurged, took the plunge, dropped my dough and took home the prize.

Every Bob Dylan fan knows about that controversial appearance at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, where Dylan unveiled his new “electric” sound and was, for all intents and purposes, booed off the stage. I had often seen clips of those performances but I felt it was time I owned them in their entirety.

“I’m looking for a place to bathe my bird, buy my dog, collect my clip, sell me cigarettes and commission my bath.”
~ Bob Dylan

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MIRROR: Bob Dylan Live At The Newport Folk Festival, 1963-1965’ captures those years when Dylan was transitioning from the talented "Folk Music Voice Of His Generation" into the full-blown genius of Roots Rock that he would become. And many of his earliest fans wanted NONE OF IT, booing him and the electric backing group, ‘The Paul Butterfield Blues Band’ (minus Paul Butterfield) at Newport in ’65.

But it wasn’t just at Newport and it wasn’t just in ’65 either. Dylan and his bands played before disgruntled audiences throughout his 1966 tour of the U.S. and England as well. Dylan’s sound and style, they were a-changin’, and some of his fans weren’t ready for it.

I find it truly fascinating to see in this documentary the change in Dylan from 1964 to ’65, and the 180-degree turnaround that took place among so many of his fans. His final performace of the ’64 Newport Festival was ‘Chimes Of Freedom’ and at the conclusion, pandemonium ensued as the crowd, hungry for more Dylan “protest songs”, nearly hooted and hollered master of ceremonies Peter Yarrow into a bumbling, stuttering nervous wreck.

The following year, with that infamous 1965 performance, Bob brought out his new electric sound for the Folk crowd, beginning with an inspired, raucously driving version of ‘Maggie’s Farm’ featuring Mike Bloomfield’s fret-melting electric guitar lines. Massive booing by a significant portion of the acoustic-lovin’ Folkie crowd is clearly audible. They didn’t want the new Dylan - they were still clinging to the old.

Well, I try my best
To be just like I am
But everybody wants you
To be just like them.
~ Bob Dylan
from ‘Maggie’s Farm’

‘Maggie’s Farm’ was followed by Dylan’s signature tune ‘Like A Rolling Stone’, and then ‘Phantom Engineer’, an early version of ‘It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry’ (which is not shown in this DVD). As Wikipedia states:

After "Phantom Engineer", Dylan and the band left the stage. The sound of booing and clapping can be heard in the background. When Peter Yarrow returned to the microphone, he begged Dylan to continue performing. According to Robert Shelton, when Dylan returned to the stage, he discovered he did not have the right harmonica and said to Yarrow, "What are you doing to me?" 

Dylan then asked the audience for “an E harmonica”. Within a few moments, a clatter of harmonicas hit the stage. He then performed two songs on acoustic guitar for the audience: "Mr. Tambourine Man", and then, as his farewell to Newport, "It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”. The crowd exploded with applause at the end, calling for more. Dylan did not return to the Newport festival for 37 years. In an enigmatic gesture, Dylan performed at Newport in 2002, sporting a wig and fake beard.

Bob Dylan - "Live at Newport Folk Festival" teaser

I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more
No, I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more
Well, I wake in the morning
Fold my hands and pray for rain
I got a head full of ideas
That are drivin’ me insane
“I got a head full of ideas that are drivin’ me insane”. Indeed! In the documentary ‘No Direction Home’, while reflecting on that era when he was forever changing the face of Pop music, Dylan says:
“I wrote a lot of songs in a quick amount of time. I could do that then because the process was new to me. I felt like I’d discovered something no one else had ever discovered, and I was in a sort of arena artistically that no one else had ever been in before...ever. Although I might have been wrong about that.”
Not much. In 1965 and ’66 Dylan was mining the musical motherlode that his genius had somehow tapped into. ‘Bringing It All Back Home’, ‘Highway 61 Revisited’, ‘Blonde On Blonde’ – three masterpiece albums in two years! That quantity of brilliantly original and influential creative output in such a short span was probably matched in the arts only by painter Vincent van Gogh and actor James Dean.
Is this the best musical performance that was ever booed?...
The booing of Bob Dylan continued well into 1966 and it didn’t stop until Bob stopped. At the end of July that year he had a motorcycle accident and didn’t tour again for close to a decade.
The Other Side Of The Mirror’ is a very interesting look at a musical genius in transition.
It would be thirteen years before Dylan would piss off so many of his fans again by choosing to write and sing songs about Jesus.
“I’m looking for a place that’s going to animal my soul, knit my return, bathe by foot, and collect my dog.”
~ Bob Dylan
~ Stephen T. McCarthy
YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t Amazon.com, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.


  1. Stephen,
    He can piss off anyone he wants. He's Bob Dylan. You have to admire someone who is not blown about by public pressure (booing), or willing to compromise what they believe to be right just to appease the majority. I love the fact this guy came to Christ. Wish we had more like him.


  2. Stephen-

    I think actually it's MY local Zia Records.

    I think I've spent enough $$ and time there that they've put my namer on the lease.

    I think you relate to Dylan because he pisses so many people off!

    As we've both agreed many times, the pet store scene you link to should be enough for ANYONE to "get" Dylan.

    Sheer friggin' brilliance.

    Well posted, mon ami!


  3. BR'ER MARC ~
    Yep, agreed. You gotta respect an artist who is going to do it his way, even when "his way" is way out there ahead of the curve and breaking new ground big time. If someone don't like it... there's the door!

    Yeah, no doubt, it's more YOUR local Zia store THAN mine if money spent there counts for anything.

    >>...I think you relate to Dylan because he pisses so many people off!

    Ha! Had never considered that angle before, but now that you mention it...

    What really blew my mind though was being totally oblivious to how much Dylan had influenced my writing only to have that awareness come upon me suddenly like some kind of spiritual revelation two decades after the fact. I'll never forget that afternoon. (The shock of it was almost on a par with discovering I actually liked Tiny Tim!)

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  4. For my second attempt here today...

    Let me say I love the shoes, love the purse, and the bag that they came in. Definitely love the song, and what's not to love about Bob? The guy keeps reinventing himself and proving to us that you can swim upstream, flip off the world, make a darn fine living at it, and like yourself in the morning.

  5. FAE ~
    How about my lipstick? Do you think it's a good color for me? Or should I go back to the black lipstick I wore in the mid-1970s?

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  6. People can get pretty disturbed by change and then they get used to it and start liking it until it changes again. Nothing really changes all that much it just seems different.

    Folks were really really narrow-minded back then considering they thought they were being so open-minded.

    ; A Faraway View

  7. BOIDMAN ~
    True. And you know what's funny? I'll bet there were countless Dylan fans who turned against him when he went "electric", who later came to love his "electric" stuff and forgave him, only to turn against him again when he went "Christian" in '79.

    I'll bet he could piss off a whole new group of fans if he suddenly went back to playing exclusively acoustic Folk stuff like he was doing when he was first discovered.

    That's what he should do, reinvent himself back to the beginning and write nuttin' but Woody Guthrie-like acoustic protest songs. Ha!-Ha! Can't you hear all his Rock fans today screaming, "He's not the same; he's changed! He's selling out with all that Folk crap!" [All things that his former Folk fans said when he went Rock 'N' Roll.]

    Ha! I'm making myself laugh with this. Maybe I should write some satirical short story based on this idea.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  8. I think it takes a special mind, or ear, to appreciate his lyrics, and obviously you do since you have referenced Dylan in at least fourteen posts. That song, Gotta Serve Somebody, is always rolling around in my head.

    The clip of those harmonicas being thrown on stage is hilarious. I never saw that before. I guess he could have gotten just about anything...money, gun, underwear if he just asked for somebody to throw them on stage.

    Your comment to Arlee Bird, "Maybe I should write some satirical short story based on this idea." might be a good idea...a stepping stone to greater things maybe. Just because you don't read fiction doesn't mean you can't write it...and maybe influence a few people along the way. There is so much strange truth in this blog that would make such great fiction.


  9. SigToo ~

    >>. . . you have referenced Dylan in at least fourteen posts.

    Yeah, that's probably about right. I should stop mentioning and quoting him before someone gets the idea I'm a homosexual Dylan stalker, when in fact I'm neither of those things.

    >>. . . That song, Gotta Serve Somebody, is always rolling around in my head.

    That's a good one, from his first Christian album 'Slow Train Coming'. There are several powerful songs on that collection.

    >> . . . I guess he could have gotten just about anything... money, gun, underwear if he just asked for somebody to throw them on stage.

    Ha! Probably so.
    "Will someone please toss a blonde up here for me?"

    >> . . . Just because you don't read fiction doesn't mean you can't write it

    The author Phillip Jennings, a writer of humorous political satire, once told me that he believed I was particularly suited to write political satire as well. But I never really seriously considered it.

    While I do enjoy writing, it's all that post-writing drudgery I dislike - contacting agents, editors, or publishers and begging them to read your stuffs and give it a chance. That's just such a drag, so I stick solely to writing blog bits instead. A blog bit gets "published" immediately, no begging required.

    Thanks for stopping by, Sig. I'm always pleased to hear from ya, buddy!

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'


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