Monday, October 17, 2016

Subterranean Homeshtick Blues

Bob Dylan just got the Nobel Prize. It's a statement which might have elicited howls of laughter if you had said it a mere fifty years ago, when he was a beatnik prancing around and playing gigs at the Café Wha? However try to remember back to what you first thought when you heard his voice. Doesn’t it sound a little like a whine? If you’re Jewish does it remind you of your mother or some of her friends with their blond permanents, their manicured nails—who met to play canasta. Remember Bob Dylan was born Robert Allen Zimmerman. “Lay lady lay, lay across my big brass bed, but don’t mess up the sheets or you’ll be dead,” could be the lyrics to a song one of these yentas might be singing. Or how about “Hey Mr. Tambourine Man are you available to play at my son's bar mitzvah? Or how about this version of “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” "Milton’s in the rec room looking at the television, I’m at my accountant’s making up a statement." Dylan’s voice has always had the sound of someone who's not happy with the world. But what is the difference between that and complaining? It’s plain that the distinctive sound of Dylan’s voice is that of an aging Jewish woman (a once time princess) who feels ever so slightly entitled and is perpetually on the verge of losing her grip because of the butcher, the baker of the candlestick maker. OK Dylan writes "Come you masters of war," but its not hard to imagine the future Nobel prize winner overhearing a relative expressing outrage about their upholstery to the tune of "Like a Rolling Stone," or how about this version of "Positively Fourth Street," "You've got a lotta nerve to say your are my friend the way you treated me at the UJA fundraiser." “How does it feel/how does it feel you can’t imagine how it feels, oy!"

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