inkwell.vue.173 : Larry "Ratso" Sloman: On the Road with Bob Dylan
permalink #101 of 175: Dan Mitchell (mitchell) Mon 27 Jan 03 12:08
    
I'm a little confused about the prison show. When Hurricane was going
off on the justice system etc. and he was hustled off the stage -- what
exactly was the problem there, and why did that make him, as you put
it, a "con man?"
  
inkwell.vue.173 : Larry "Ratso" Sloman: On the Road with Bob Dylan
permalink #102 of 175: William Hale (hinging0) Mon 27 Jan 03 15:49
    <scribbled by jonl Tue 28 Jan 03 11:25>
  
inkwell.vue.173 : Larry "Ratso" Sloman: On the Road with Bob Dylan
permalink #103 of 175: Bill Burrows (gjk) Mon 27 Jan 03 16:13
    

I had a quiet conversation with Reuben Carter about 8 years ago, and he's
calm, quiet and reflective.  But give him an audience and put a microphone
in front of him, and I don't doubt for a second that he'd go off.  The guy
was fucked at least two times by a racists "just-us" system.  No wonder he
lives in Canada now.

I'd like to hear a tape of that show.  I've known lots of con artists, and
represented a few (talk about a challenge!) and he's not that way one on
one. He doesn't grind his axe all the time, so I can't blame him when he
does.

Still like the song.  Did NOT have the nerve to ask him about it.
  
inkwell.vue.173 : Larry "Ratso" Sloman: On the Road with Bob Dylan
permalink #104 of 175: Bill Burrows (gjk) Mon 27 Jan 03 16:17
    

By the way, #102 is from a work-in-progress.  Pay no attention until it's
out.
  
inkwell.vue.173 : Larry "Ratso" Sloman: On the Road with Bob Dylan
permalink #105 of 175: Michael Simmons (michaelsimmons) Mon 27 Jan 03 16:34
    
      Even though Dylan renounced his "finger pointin' songs" (see "My
Back Pages), he went on to write songs about Hurricane Carter and
George Jackson and performed at the Allende benefit.  Rats, you say
Dylan's politics are "to the left of Kinky's".  Have you ever had a
political discussion with Dylan?  With all due love and respect to Phil
Ochs, it seems that Dylan can be obliquely political without sounding
like he's reading a newspaper.  Dig "Political World" or "Jokerman" or,
as some claim, "Neighborhood Bully".
  
inkwell.vue.173 : Larry "Ratso" Sloman: On the Road with Bob Dylan
permalink #106 of 175: Bill's Burrow (gjk) Mon 27 Jan 03 18:21
    

Huh.

Good question.

I've been listening to Dylan for a good 39-40 years now, and haven't heard
*anything* political in his songs.

Ratso?
  
inkwell.vue.173 : Larry "Ratso" Sloman: On the Road with Bob Dylan
permalink #107 of 175: Larry Ratso Sloman (ratsosloman) Tue 28 Jan 03 07:15
    
Dan,

Con man might have been too harsh a description but I was a little
burnt out by the end of the tour.  But I did sense something really pat
and glib and rote about Rubin's answers.  And I guess I was also in a
way reacting the same way Joni did about his lack of attention to the
performers who had gone out of their way to stage this show to
highlight their concerns about him being in jail unjustly.  It wasn't
like he was talking to a lawyer who he never had a chance to talk to at
the show -  effin' George Lois had managed to get not one, but TWO
phones installed in his cell! In the book, I call up Rubin and he
actually tells me he can't talk now he's on the other line!  Look, I'd
probably do anything I could to get out of jail, so from the vantage
point of twenty something odd years later, I wouldn't even condemn him
for being a con artist.
  
inkwell.vue.173 : Larry "Ratso" Sloman: On the Road with Bob Dylan
permalink #108 of 175: Dan Mitchell (mitchell) Tue 28 Jan 03 07:20
    
oh, I agree with all that, and I was appalled by his lack of attention
to the show, etc. And I've never seen him as a sympathetic character
-- simply as unjustly accused of murder. But I still can't figure out
why he was hustled off the stage at that point, as if what he was
saying was going to create some kind of huge problem. It seemd like
everybody was really panicky about what he was saying, and I can't see
why.
  
inkwell.vue.173 : Larry "Ratso" Sloman: On the Road with Bob Dylan
permalink #109 of 175: Larry Ratso Sloman (ratsosloman) Tue 28 Jan 03 07:29
    
I'm with Michael on the political thing.  I think there's an element
of political criticism in almost everything that Dylan does -- tell me
that Desolation Row doesn't have some of the pithiest most cogent
critiques of American society ever written ("At midnight all the agents
and the superhuman crew...etc etc etc),  "High Water Everywhere" has a
political subtext to it..but from the discussions I'd had with Bob
that bordered on the political I have to say his politics are closest
to the politics of the prophets from the Old Testament.  Some things
never change.
  
inkwell.vue.173 : Larry "Ratso" Sloman: On the Road with Bob Dylan
permalink #110 of 175: Larry Ratso Sloman (ratsosloman) Tue 28 Jan 03 07:31
    
Dan
There were very sensitive political negotiations going on at that
point to get him out of jail at that point and Lois was concerned that
his inflammatory rhetoric, especially with regards to the Governor
would blow the whole thing.
  
inkwell.vue.173 : Larry "Ratso" Sloman: On the Road with Bob Dylan
permalink #111 of 175: Dan Mitchell (mitchell) Tue 28 Jan 03 07:47
    
gotcha, thanks.
  
inkwell.vue.173 : Larry "Ratso" Sloman: On the Road with Bob Dylan
permalink #112 of 175: Angus MacDonald (angus) Tue 28 Jan 03 20:47
    

>  the politics of the prophets from the Old Testament

        That really seems about right. 
        Also seems like that's the kind of politics that works much better
for artist and performers than for public officials.
  
inkwell.vue.173 : Larry "Ratso" Sloman: On the Road with Bob Dylan
permalink #113 of 175: Dan Levy (danlevy) Wed 29 Jan 03 06:23
    

"Love and Theft" is one of his *most* political works.  Every song, you 
know he's really got a bug up his ass about something or other.  
  
inkwell.vue.173 : Larry "Ratso" Sloman: On the Road with Bob Dylan
permalink #114 of 175: Larry Ratso Sloman (ratsosloman) Wed 29 Jan 03 09:14
    
I was going to cite Tweedledum from that record too.  There he's used
overtly political symbolism - Tweedledee and Tweedledum -- and
broadened the whole thing into a sociopoliticospiritual complaint.  
  
inkwell.vue.173 : Larry "Ratso" Sloman: On the Road with Bob Dylan
permalink #115 of 175: Michael Simmons (michaelsimmons) Wed 29 Jan 03 14:27
    
       Rats, how ingenuous (or dis, for that matter) is Bob being when
he says an album like "Blood On The Tracks" is not autobiographical. 
Obviously there's plenty of fiction, Sara clearly never worked in a
topless joint, but c'mon! 
  
inkwell.vue.173 : Larry "Ratso" Sloman: On the Road with Bob Dylan
permalink #116 of 175: who? me? (stet) Wed 29 Jan 03 20:46
    
Why does anyone who buys the album get a free peep into his life? When
he and Sara and everyone else is dead, open season. In the meantime,
enjoy the music and the story, and if that's not enough, you should
probably be listening to somedbody else.
  
inkwell.vue.173 : Larry "Ratso" Sloman: On the Road with Bob Dylan
permalink #117 of 175: Gary Lambert (almanac) Wed 29 Jan 03 23:05
    

Gee, I must have not been around when the rules were handed out
prohibiting discussion and speculation regarding the relationship
between an artist's life and work.  Thanks for so much for setting us
straight on the proper way to listen to Dylan.
  
inkwell.vue.173 : Larry "Ratso" Sloman: On the Road with Bob Dylan
permalink #118 of 175: Larry Ratso Sloman (ratsosloman) Wed 29 Jan 03 23:48
    
Michael,

I like to hear him say that the song "Sarah" is not autobiographical!
  
inkwell.vue.173 : Larry "Ratso" Sloman: On the Road with Bob Dylan
permalink #119 of 175: who? me? (stet) Thu 30 Jan 03 02:57
    
Regarding <117> speculation is one thing and it always happens. If an
artist wants to lie or not respond, or not volunteer details of the
part of their life that seemed to wind up in the song, so what? 

>Thanks for so much for setting us straight on the proper way to
listen to Dylan.

My comments had nothing to do with listening, which is a private
encounter with a recorded work that everyone does in their own way. But
a precise determination of exactly how much reality Dylan put into a
song - I don't think he owes anyone that, nor do I see what it has to
do with listening. If it's not a good song, who cares? If it is a good
song, what difference does it make? And the linkage doesn't have
anything to do with whether or not it's a good song. 
  
inkwell.vue.173 : Larry "Ratso" Sloman: On the Road with Bob Dylan
permalink #120 of 175: Dan Mitchell (mitchell) Thu 30 Jan 03 05:30
    
>a precise determination of exactly how much reality Dylan put into a
song - I don't think he owes anyone that, nor do I see what it has to
do with listening.

I like to know as much as possible, but I liked, say, Tangled, before
I ever knew much about Dylan. And the Real Live version almost seems to
be a completely different story ftom the Blood version. Like most good
music, Blood on the Tracks speaks more to my own personal experience
(unfortunately) than Dylan's, and I think that's the point. Dylan's
never liked explaining his songs. I like to hear what he has to say,
but usually, it's not actually very revealing. The "explanations" are
entertainment on their own. Some of this is shown in the Ratso book.
  
inkwell.vue.173 : Larry "Ratso" Sloman: On the Road with Bob Dylan
permalink #121 of 175: Dan Mitchell (mitchell) Thu 30 Jan 03 05:43
    
OK, I really liked this book. As I started getting into it, I worried
that it was going to be these endless verbatim interviews, like the
early one with Hurricane, where he talks and talks and says a whole lot
of nothing, repeating himself endlessly. By the end, I realized this
was done to offer an insight into the guy -- that's how he is. Same
with everybody else. I struggled to get through some of the long
monologues by Joni Mitchell, but again, ultimately there was payoff to
this. The method takes work to read, but affords insights that normally
presented interviews never could. The lack of editing of interviews
mostly works, especially with Dylan. I love how he changes tone when
things turn from actual conversation into a "formal" interview, where
he just wants to get the hell out of there as quickly as possible. 

Also love little tidbits like Dylan worrying over having made a
reference to blow jobs, and calls Ratso back to ask him to strike that
from the interview. He really is quite old-fashioned when it comes to
stuff like that. Another biography points out how he almost never says
"fuck," for example, and how, during the Christian period, he chided
audiences for their "potty mouths." It's rather endearing, actually. 
  
inkwell.vue.173 : Larry "Ratso" Sloman: On the Road with Bob Dylan
permalink #122 of 175: Gary Lambert (almanac) Thu 30 Jan 03 07:50
    

My major problem with the stern lecturing tone of 116 ("...if that's not
enough, you should probably be listening to somedbody else") was that it
seemed to be aimed at a straw man, or at the very least was, in its
indignation, a disproportionate response to <michaelsimmons>'s entirely
reasonable question. No one was asserting a right to a "free peep" into
an artist's life, aside from speculating about just how much of a peep
the artist is offering in the work itself, and in his public utterances
about that work. And no one has said that what Dylan *has* offered in
explanation "is not enough." But Dylan has never been shy to play this
smoke-and-mirrors game about himself with interviewers -- indeed, he
seems to take some perverse pleasure in it, spinning out multiple, often
contradictory, versions of his life and work for public consumption. It
goes without saying that he has every right to do just that, but I don't
believe for a minute that he isn't cannily aware of the benefits to his
mystique of adding a few new layers of obfuscation and misdirection to
the murk, and the speculation that ensues. Questions about what impels
artists to create is part of what makes art interesting.
  
inkwell.vue.173 : Larry "Ratso" Sloman: On the Road with Bob Dylan
permalink #123 of 175: Dan Lynch (ndjd88) Thu 30 Jan 03 08:06
    

Its been pointed out elsewhere that Dylan didn't actually write 'Sad
Eyed Lady of the Lowlands' in the Chelsea Hotel, so that "Sara" may be
part biographical and part of the 'smoke and mirrors' game that Dylan
has always seemed to engage in with the details of his personal life.
  
inkwell.vue.173 : Larry "Ratso" Sloman: On the Road with Bob Dylan
permalink #124 of 175: who? me? (stet) Thu 30 Jan 03 08:31
    
I apologize for a starchy tone, but I do believe a musician owes his
public his music, not his life, and need not make apologoies for
smoke-and-mirrors or anything else. 
  
inkwell.vue.173 : Larry "Ratso" Sloman: On the Road with Bob Dylan
permalink #125 of 175: Gary Lambert (almanac) Thu 30 Jan 03 09:06
    

No one is suggesting that Dylan "owes" anyone apologies or anything else
-- he doesn't even owe anyone his music, should he choose to never write
or sing another note, or to offer his art only to the gods from some
mountaintop. But he chooses to put the stuff out there for public
purchase and scrutiny, and he chooses, on occasion, to talk about his
work and life, often in ways that seem deliberately contrived to send
mixed signals, and to fuel confusion about meaning and motive. Which is
just fine with me, BTW, as is speculation about the dance between fact
and fiction.
  

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