To be or not to be Noble or Nobel

This happened some days ago – I didn’t manage to get around to watching it until now.  It did bring tears to my eyes – perhaps a generational thing.  What struck me was the bizarre setting:  Patti Smith’s faltering and recovery, the mix of instruments (an acoustic guitar, pedal steel, and strings in black and white formal tails), the audience of royals and highest of Swedish society folks, all looking on, as this song was sung.  The dissonance was stunning.  And the words and meaning of the song stung like they did 50+ years ago.

  beaz_dylan

“A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”

Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?
And where have you been my darling young one?
I’ve stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains
I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways
I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests
I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans
I’ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.Oh, what did you see, my blue eyed son?
And what did you see, my darling young one?
I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it
I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it
I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin’
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin’
I saw a white ladder all covered with water
I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken
I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.And what did you hear, my blue-eyed son?
And what did you hear, my darling young one?
I heard the sound of a thunder that roared out a warnin’
I heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world
I heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin’
I heard ten thousand whisperin’ and nobody listenin’
I heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin’
Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter
Heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.

Oh, what did you meet my blue-eyed son ?
Who did you meet, my darling young one?
I met a young child beside a dead pony
I met a white man who walked a black dog
I met a young woman whose body was burning
I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow
I met one man who was wounded in love
I met another man who was wounded in hatred
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.

And what’ll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
And what’ll you do now my darling young one?
I’m a-goin’ back out ‘fore the rain starts a-fallin’
I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest
Where the people are a many and their hands are all empty
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison
And the executioner’s face is always well hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten
Where black is the color, where none is the number
And I’ll tell and speak it and think it and breathe it
And reflect from the mountain so all souls can see it
And I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’
But I’ll know my song well before I start singing
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.

Mr Zimmerman, aka Bob Dylan, is emblematic of the problematic nature of America, present times, USA.  He is a highly successful, though now passé, cultural icon/pop star.  He set out from Hibbing, Minnesota, to be exactly that – bigger than Elvis was the aim.  He now has a handful of houses, from Malibu to Minnesota and elsewhere, and maintains a highly elusive life-style.  Well past retirement age, he still tours – small venues and big; he’s a singer, that’s his thing.   By current standards I suppose he’s not so rich – probably a major football or baseball figure draws far more than Dylan did in his prime.  Still….

I wonder what he’ll do with the nearly 800 thou in bucks he’ll get when he picks up his Nobel winnings, and what it will have to do with the song text above.  America, as we enter the era of Trump, is damned weird.  And painful.

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