viernes, 30 de diciembre de 2016

Back Pages - Brown Notebook - Final Notes From The Watchtower

There are many who feel that life

is but a cut-up poem

But I’ve been through that

- drawing in the distance

the voice from the wilderness

Now a new time is approaching

                                                         and I will set it to music from the outside .

viernes, 9 de diciembre de 2016

Back Pages – Brown Notebook – No Date (Passages of a Speech-Dream)

Passages of a Speech-Dream

   I took a deep breath
   turned around
   an’ ran ...
                       … runnin’ down another road
                    an older road
                    through time an’ dignity
                    an’ I have never taken off my boots ...

                                                     ... t’ make new sounds out of old sounds
                                                            an’ new words out of old words
                                                               an’ t’ shout my singin’ mind

     anything that ain’t got no end’s
     just gotta be poetry in one
     way or another
                                an’ poetry makes me feel happy
                                                 for the lack of a better word

                   endless endless
                   it’s all endless
                   an’ it’s all songs

M u s i c ,  man ,  that’s  where  it’s  at . ” 

( Collage from 11 Outlined Epitaphs” )


domingo, 20 de noviembre de 2016

Present (XVI) Relics of a bet (4)

       My caravan moves almost fifty years forwards linking Dylan´s slamming of the door at Big Pink to the bewildered echo that followed his silence after being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature a few weeks ago. The noise then and now this thundering silence full of resonances provoke in my soul a similar feeling -as antagonistic modes of eloquence, anyway. Though separated by reverb and by decades of time, they were contiguous at the end of that scene about a biblical bet initiated by a stranger with a dusty voice. This is what I remember of it:
      After accepting the challenge with his laconic response, Dylan had disappeared into the house leaving behind the echo of an angry gesture that raised a murmur of voices in the groups close to the back door. He soon reappeared at the threshold, his figure sculpted in a silence that resounded in the air silencing everyone before him. First loudness, then echo, then nothing, successive chapters in Dylan´s special rhetoric -that night of July 1967 and these nights of autumn 2016: "Sometimes the Silence can be like the Thunder."
       Standing at the door, his mute eyes looked for me among the crowd, some people already beginning to retreat back into the shadows. I approached with a gesture that mimicked a half-smile, my shoulders shrunk, my hands open. He raised his own hands: in his left he carried two pieces of paper, a pen and a pencil; in his right, a mandolin which he propped up against the door. His silence extended the time. For a while, with a chill, I felt that Dylan was looking straight through me. My breath faltered but I managed to keep quiet until I heard him say:

       - “Let's have that bet, Nar. We both agree the quotation is from the Book of Isaiah but I find it hard to believe that you know the Bible better than I do, and I still don´t understand why you had to contradict me in front of all these people. What were you hoping for? An applause, a medal, the Super Bowl of annoyance, maybe?”

       - “I´m not in the business of collecting trophies. The truth is I had no intention of…”
        Dylan interrupted me, raising his voice and tilting his head in a defiant gesture:

       - “The absence of intention does not free you from its consequences, Nar, and that man in black by the fire has thrown down a gauntlet that you are going to have to pick up!”
        He came over and handed me the pen and one of the two pieces of paper, roughly, without giving me the option to refuse or even choose.
       -Let´s do a blind bet. We´ll both write down what we want from eachother if we win. The size of the prize doesn´t matter. Do you get it? See you in a while.”
       Then he turned and walked to the front entrance of Big Pink, where he had parked his car. His silhouette, as it moved away, was once again carved in silence. A rolled up piece of paper hung from his left hand: a still blank edict.

      Nearly fifty years later, as I write these notes by the big round box that would eventually become my trophy from the bet, I imagine a memory of the future: another paper, this time framed as a Prize diploma. Maybe more  S i l e n c e .

jueves, 20 de octubre de 2016

Back Pages - Brown Notebook - Undated

S o m e t i m e s

the   S i l e n c e

can   be

like   the   T h u n d e r


jueves, 13 de octubre de 2016

Present (XV) The Nobel Prize in Literature

Good news, the best news
Come to me where I write

The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2016 
is awarded to  BOB DYLAN

"for having created new poetic expressions 
within the great American song tradition".

Congratulations  and  beyond !

Bildergebnis für foto dylan escribiendo

domingo, 18 de septiembre de 2016

Present (XIV) Relics of a bet (3)

       Sleep overcame me. When I awoke, beside me there were only Ash and Richard, under a blue blanket. The sound of several guitars, maracas and some congas reached us softly from an area close to the back of the house. Someone was singing a song that started off talking about some news - an accident, a photograph.... This song had been chasing me around for almost two months, wherever I went, with its succession of fragments apparently unconnected and its impacting final chord.

      “Everyone and their dog is going to want to cover that song, even without the piano, and if not, time will tell. Anyway, fire's dying out. See?” said Richard after a while.
      “I´ll do it I replied. “I need to go get some cigarettes anyway.
       I found some dry branches and a couple of logs nearby so it was easy to rekindle the fire. As the flames began to grow, I began to see through them, little by little. They made a glow beyond the colors of the burning wood; it was kind of a tonality related to an acoustic sensation that seemed to rise out of the crackle of the fire itself. My synaesthetic rush eventually settled on a voice which at first I could not understand. As it approached, that voice took shape as a blurred silhouette.

      You´ll singe those eyebrows of yours Nar, this time you will!

       Dylan crossed on the other side of the fire, heading for the back entrance to the house. In front of it, the people who had been playing that perturbing song were now forming a circle around the man with the out-of-place hat, who was just at that moment telling the end of his story and quoting excitedly from what he said was the Book of Revelation:

      My lord, I stand continually upon the watchtower in the daytime, and I am set in my ward whole nights. ”

      Dylan couldn´t help but hear it as he walked past them to get to the house. From the door, with a gesture as if in slow motion, he turned to counter the man in black:
      “That´s not the Book of Revelation. It´s Isaiah, chapter 24.

      I was listening to every word even as I was walking back to Richard and Ash. Suddenly I found I´d stopped, and in a very loud voice, I heard myself say:

       That´s not right either. It´s Isaiah, yes, but chapter 21, verse 8.

      Everybody fell silent. A sea of eyes was on me. Dylan's shone brightly, his expression inscrutable.

      “How do you dare?!” he called out as he opened the door.

      I was about to reply I´m not sure what, when a dusty voice shook behind me.

      “If you are so sure, why don´t you place a bet?
      When I turned, a face like a mask held my gaze fixedly under that huge, black hat. Dylan stopped still against the open door, his head cocked to the side. With great parsimony he finally lit his cigarette.

      “Let it be so he said after a couple of neverending seconds. Then he entered Big Pink, slamming the door behind him.

       After so many years, that slam still echoes in my head as the shot before a duel, and I hadn´t even chosen my weapon. Dylan had chosen it for me. If we ever met again, I would ask him if he still remembers the next scene. Like I do tonight. In black and white.


sábado, 20 de agosto de 2016

Back Pages - Brown Notebook - Night of July 67

  My   songs   have   songs   within   songs.

                                  A   bet   can   sound   like   a   crossharp

                                                                        coming   just   once,
                                                                   q u i c k   like   a   flash.

sábado, 13 de agosto de 2016

Present (XIII) Relics of a bet (2)


       Richards voice thundered from inside Big Pink. We looked around at each other as if feeling for something in our pockets.

       “Come and turn this off, Garth! The fucking tapes jammed!”

       In the quiet that followed, a silent gesture from Garth left me in charge of the fire while he went into the house.

       What was that?” asked a dusty voice.

       It was the man with the out-of-place hat. He was afforded no reply - instead everyone rushed to fill their glasses- until Garth and Richard reappeared and, shoulder to shoulder, from the doorway, offered their respective versions of the incident:

       Just one of those tapes weve been recording in the basement, the system can get temperamental at times…” explained Garth in a conciliatory voice.

       Its just my way of saying hi, you assholes! Im saying 'hello' through someone else, its the best way I can think of to let you know you chose the very worst day to come and hang out, for fucks sake!”

       No-one reacted to Richards increasingly cracked voice, until a girl who was standing by me, next to the fire, broke the silence with a question as naive as she looked:

       OK, but who the hell is that Tiny Montgomery anyway?”

       Stifled laughter and lukewarm toasts of lukewarm drinks ensued until Rick got up and holding a freshly-lit torch approached the girl whod asked the question and offered it to her with a smile, adding a promising clue:

       Youll have to stay a while longer, Julie, if you really want to find out.”

       As Julie took the torch into her hand, trying not to burn herself, an almost sergeant-like voice, amplified by microphone, was broadcast from one of the open windows of the living room:

       Hey, guys, I don’t think its such a great idea to be airing in public what were privately plotting down in the basement. Not so soon anyway. How about we let the speakers create a more suitable ambience for this meeting of friends?…Thank you everyone for coming. Rick! Put something quality on to fit the mood!”

       It was Robbie. And following this welcome speech, he waltzed out of the house through the living room door -his arm around the fabulous Dominique- and with hardly a word to anyone, grabbed the best bottle of champagne and headed straight over to sit by a tree. Luckily, the music Rick had chosen -evocative, luminous- began at once to be heard from the speakers that Richard -with so different a purpose- had placed on the sill and by then, the light was sufficiently scarce and the ethereal inputs sufficiently strong to allow conversation to flow without anyone feeling they had to perform for anyone else. Some people even started to dance.

       Garth had returned to his place in front of the fire and just then Simone and Ash appeared, saying hi from the door of my caravan and pointing into it. Without saying a word, Garth gave me leave to go greet them.

       Hi Nar! Thanks for calling us, the partys looking good… Im getting bored lately in Zena, you know? You two arent really coming much, are you, so its cool to get together tonight with so many… 'beautiful' people. Dylan is coming too, right? Well, weve put some beers in the fridge and the rest of the provisions are in the backpack under the table, and…”

       Hey, stop already Ash!” interrupted Simone with a crooked grin. “Its great to see you again, Nar, and this caravan always gives off a good vibe... Give me a hug!”

       Thanks for coming, and for the victuals. Dylan hasnt turned up yet, Ash, we‘ll have to wait and see if he does…” -that annoyed look made me smile-. “If you like, let‘s get something ready and go and hang out with folks. Ive been looking after the fire so far and have hardly spoken to anyone…”

       Done!” said Ash. “You go, Ill follow in a minute.”

       Simone and I grabbed some beers from the fridge and went up to the circle closest to the caravan. It had formed around a red-bearded man sitting on the floor and singing with an almost too-sweet voice. He played a beautiful Martin. Some guy asked in a low voice who it was and Simone shot him an ignoramus look, without deigning to reply. A group of girls looked on in fascination. It was too embarrassing to stay so we moved to the next group from which raucous, contagious laughter could be heard. A quirky-looking guy was telling what appeared to be a very amusing story. When were close enough, we saw it was Tiny Tim, who liked to drop by Big Pink now and then. He was making everybody laugh, except a very young girl who looked terribly sad. When he'd finished his story, Tiny sang a song for her, something about Memphis. His falsetto and the ukulele ended up making her smile.

     Ash joined us bringing provisions. We moved around, thinking wed share them with a group where two friends of Dylan -Neuwirth and Alk- were holding court on the topic of cinema whilst ten or twelve people listened in awe around them. Bad vibe, except from Richard, who was happy to see us.

      I cant bear those two when they get talking so crazy. Lets go somewhere else to try this supper you got here!” -his giggling made him cough for a while and he didnt even notice.

       We walked a little way into a less well-lit area, gesturing Rick to come over. He joined us bringing one of the best-looking girls at the party. Sally she said her name was. We spread out a couple of blankets under some trees and there we stayed, sharing the best moment yet of the evening: an intense feeling of closeness.
       After a long and snug silence, Sally shot out with a question which caught us quite off-guard:

       Do you think this 'summer of love' stuff includes people like us on the East Coast having parties like this?”

      “Like this? What? Hmm. This aint exactly a party, is it baby, well, not yet anyway...” was Ricks answer as he lay down next to her and started to kiss her.

      Ooh, baby, ooh-ee!” Richard briefly sang. “We can work on having a cool bash!”

       We toasted as the laughter rose and just then I felt very lucky to be there, in that place at that moment in time. And I still feel that tonight, 49 years on, as I look at my face reflected in the mirror of a brown hatbox which once belonged to Dylan.

jueves, 4 de agosto de 2016

Presente (XII) Reliquias de una apuesta (2)

      -¡Garth! - la voz de Richard tronaba desde el interior de Big Pink, todos nos mirábamos como tanteándonos la ropa-. ¡Ven a apagar esto, Garth! ¡La puta cinta se ha encasquillado!

      En el silencio que siguió a aquel grito, un gesto mudo de Garth me dejó al mando del fuego mientras él se dirigía hacia el interior de la casa.

      - ¿Qué ha sido eso? -preguntó una voz como polvorienta.
      Era el tipo del sombrero extemporáneo. Se quedó sin respuesta -todo el mundo corría a rellenar sus vasos- hasta que Garth y Richard salieron y, hombro con hombro, desde el umbral, ofrecieron sus respectivas versiones del asunto:

      - Era una de las cintas que estamos grabando estos días en el sótano, el equipo a veces tiene sus caprichos … -explicó Garth, con su voz conciliadora.
      - ¡Es mi manera de saludaros, gilipollas! Os estoy diciendo „hola“ por personaje interpuesto, es lo mejor que se me ha ocurrido para que entendáis que habéis elegido justo el peor día para venir a petarnos esto, joder...

      Nadie reaccionó a la voz cada vez más quebrada de Richard, hasta que una chica que estaba a mi lado, junto al fuego, rompió el silencio con una pregunta tan inocente como su propio aspecto:

      - Vale, pero ¿quién coño es ese Tiny Montgomery?

      Risas entrecortadas y brindis indecisos en vasos con cubitos ya derretidos, hasta que Rick, levantándose con una antorcha que acababa de prender en el fuego, se acercó a la chica de la pregunta para ofrecérsela, añadiendo a la sonrisa una pista prometedora:

      - Julie: tendrás que quedarte un rato más si de verdad te interesa averiguarlo.

      Mientras Julie recibía la antorcha intentando no quemarse, desde una de las ventanas abiertas del salón surgió una voz casi marcial, amplificada por un micrófono:

      - En todo caso, gente, no creo que sea buena idea andar aireando tan pronto lo que estamos tramando en privado en el sótano de esta casa. Mejor usaremos estos altavoces para crear un ambiente más propicio a esta reunión de amigos... Gracias a todos por venir. ¡Rick! ¡Pínchate algo a la altura de las circunstancias!

      Era Robbie, que tras su discurso de bienvenida salió por la puerta del salón abrazado a su flamante Dominique para, sin apenas saludar a nadie, ir a sentarse junto a un árbol llevándose la mejor botella de champán de toda la fiesta. Por suerte, la música elegida por Rick -evocadora, luminosa- empezó a sonar enseguida por los altavoces que Richard -con tan diferente propósito- había colocado frente a las ventanas, y para entonces la luz ya era lo suficientemente escasa y los inputs etéreos lo suficientemente fuertes como para que las conversaciones fluyesen sin que nadie tuviera que sentirse como público de nadie y alguna gente empezara a bailar. Garth se había vuelto a colocar al mando del fuego, y justo entonces aparecieron Simone y Ash, saludándome desde la puerta de mi caravana y apuntando adentro. Sin palabras, Garth me apremió a levantarme a recibirles.

      - ¡Hola, Nar! Gracias por llamarnos, esta fiesta tiene buena pinta... En Zena me aburro bastante últimamente, ¿sabes?, Simone y tú tampoco os pasáis tanto por allí, así que mola juntarnos esta noche entre tanta gente „guapa“... ¿Va a estar también Dylan, no? Bueno, hemos metido cervezas en la nevera, el resto de provisiones están en esa mochila, debajo de la mesa, y …
      - ¡Para ya, Ash! -interrumpió Simone con una de sus muecas-. Mola volver a verte, Nar, y además esta caravana siempre me inspira buena onda… -añadió dándome un abrazo.
      - Gracias por venir, y por las vituallas. Dylan todavía no ha aparecido, Ash, ya veremos si se digna... -su gesto contrariado me hizo sonreír-. Si os parece, preparamos algo y salimos a mezclarnos con la peña, hasta ahora me he estado ocupando del fuego sin apenas hablar con nadie...
      - Hecho -dijo Ash-. Salid ya, yo voy enseguida.

      Simone y yo pillamos unas cervezas de la nevera y nos acercamos al círculo más próximo a la caravana, formado en torno a un hombre con barba pelirroja y voz casi meliflua que cantaba sentado en el suelo acompañándose con una Martin preciosa. Alguien preguntó en voz baja quién era y Simone le llamó ignorante con un simple gesto, sin dignarse contestar. Algunas chicas lo miraban fascinadas, daba casi vergüenza seguir allí, así que nos movimos hasta el siguiente grupo, del que provenían unas risas agudas y contagiosas. Un tipo de aspecto estrafalario estaba contando una historia al parecer muy divertida. Al acercarnos vimos que era Tiny Tim, le gustaba pasarse por Big Pink de vez en cuando. Estaba haciendo reír a todo el mundo, excepto a una chica muy joven con un aspecto muy triste. Al terminar el relato, Tiny le dedicó una canción que hablaba de Memphis. Su falsete y su ukelele hicieron que la chica acabara por sonreír.

      Ash se nos unió trayendo provisiones. Nos movimos, pensando en compartirlas con el grupo en el que dos amigos de Dylan -Neuwirth y Alk- se habían enzarzado en una discusión sobre cine que mantenía en tensión a las diez o doce personas que los rodeaban. Muy mal rollo, excepto por parte de Richard, que se alegró al vernos.

      - No hay quien aguante a estos dos tíos cuando se rayan así. Mejor nos vamos a otro lado a probar esa merienda que traéis ahí -la risa le hizo toser durante un rato sin que él pareciera darse cuenta.

      Nos alejamos un poco hacia una zona menos iluminada, haciéndole una seña a Rick. Se nos unió acompañado por una de las chicas más guapas de la fiesta, Sally dijo llamarse. Extendimos un par de mantas bajo unos árboles y allí estuvimos compartiendo entre los seis lo mejor de la noche hasta ese momento: una intensísima sensación de cercanía.
      Tras un largo rato de silencio, Sally disparó una pregunta que nos dejó fuera de juego:

      - ¿Pensáis que lo de „verano del amor“ nos incluye también a la gente que en la Costa Este celebramos fiestas así?
      - Así, ¿cómo? Para empezar, esto no es exactamente una fiesta, cariño, al menos todavía -fue la respuesta de Rick antes de tenderse junto a ella y comenzar a besarla.
      - 'Ooh, baby, ooh-ee' -entonó brevemente Richard-, ¡haremos todo lo posible para que termine en juerga!
      Brindamos entre risas, y yo sentí que tenía una gran suerte al estar en aquel lugar en aquel momento. Es lo que sigo sintiendo esta noche, 49 años después, mientras contemplo mi imagen reflejada en el espejo de una sombrerera marrón que una vez perteneció a Dylan.

viernes, 29 de julio de 2016

Present (XII) Relics of a bet (1)

        In the middle of this summer night, a large, round box eyes me questioningly from its place on the table. It´s been open for a while now, overflowing with photos, reflecting my cocked head in the mirror on the inside of the lid. This reflection of a top hat and narrowed eyes retells me the story of that night in July 1967 when - without quite believing it – I had the bad luck of beating Dylan at a bet.

      The weather was very hot, and in the morning we went swimming in one of the streams near Big Pink. There was a group of about six or seven of us; I remember a blonde girl and someone with a camera. Hamlet was with us and Rick played with him; he ended up diving into the water in his striped t-shirt, happy as a kid. Somebody took some great photos of him. Richard had preferred to stay back home to wait for Dylan in order to go over a song on the piano. We couldn´t persuade him to come with us, that song mattered more to him than anything else at that time. It was to be called Tears of Rage, he said.

      When I got back to Big Pink that afternoon, I slept for a while in the caravan. It was the smell of burning wood that woke me from a desert dream. I went out and saw Garth was lighting a fire, just a few meters away.

      How was your siesta, Nar?” he asked me with a grin. “Look, I´m about to hit 30 and I was thinking I might have a party out here tonight with some people. Dylan said it´s ok. If you want to invite someone, you can call from here.”
       “Ok, I´ll see. If you need anything, just let me know -I went shopping yesterday and I´ve got everything in.”

       “Thanks, I´m sure we´ll find a use for it.”
      I sat down to smoke on the steps of the caravan and spent a while thinking about who to let know. Then I went into the house and made a couple of calls. Simone was at a farm in Woodstock. Ash was spending time in Zena, with some friends. They were surprised by the invitation, but when I assured them that it was Garth´s idea and that Dylan had okayed it, both said yes straight away, promising to bring “all the necessary provisions”.

       “What was all the laughing about?” I heard Richard ask behind me as I put down the phone. His voice sounded sort of fogged over.

       “Nothing, I was just inviting some friends to drop by tonight, Garth just proposed that we…”

      “Oh yeah? Well, I'm not in the fucking mood to have this place full of people today, you know?”

       “Something wrong?”

      “What´s wrong is that Dylan just fucking stood me up again! He didn´t show up here all day and we were supposed to finish that song… And, it´s urgent, at least it is for me.”

       “Well… He can still turn up later, right?”

       “Maybe. But 'later' is never 'on time'. He should know that.”

       He left without another word, turning his back to me whilst he lit a cigarette. I understood he wanted to be alone. I put a hand on his shoulder, fleetingly, and went back to the caravan in silence.

      Evening was starting to fall and people were beginning to arrive bit by bit. I hardly knew anyone and preferred to avoid introductions, so I decided to people-watch instead whilst I helped Garth keep the fire going and waited for Ash and Simone to show up.

      Rick came out of the kitchen door carefully balancing an enormous glass ice-bucket overflowing with ice cubes and was soon greeting everyone, with hugs and knowing laughs: Girls with hair that matched the colours on their dresses and guys holding bottles and orange mirrored sunglasses which they´d end up forgetting on tables next to empty glasses and full ashtrays.

       One of the men, who arrived on his own and didn´t join any of the small groups that were getting together, caught my attention: he was wearing a hat that seemed out of place amidst the fading sunlight and increasingly animated voices. And he didn´t take it off even when, voice after voice, the crowd fell silent due to the sound now coming from inside the house. Richard had opened the windows to the living room and placed two speakers on the sill. The unexpected music turned the scene to stone. A band of rockers manning a ship heading for the unknown: instruments in freefall and vocal experiments somewhere between a joke and a groan.

Tell ev’rybody
Down in ol’ Frisco
That Tiny Montgomery’s comin’
Down to say hello !!!!

sábado, 18 de junio de 2016

Back Pages - Brown Notebook - End-July 1967

Summer days, summer nights

I'm making up songs that float in a luminous haze

Meantime life outside goes on all around us,
a million miles away


                                         Our 'Summer of Love' shall become a private bash !!
                                                                 (Only one guest allowed : The Ibanez guitar player)