327. tombstone blues

Tombstone Blues comes immediately after Like a Rolling Stone on Bob Dylan’s sixth album, Highway 61 Revisited (the one that changed everything forever). The thought that comes to mind is, hard act to follow, but Dylan being Dylan, he quickly annihilates that concern. Note the use of present tense. This stuff is still very much alive, virulent even. The poetry, that is. Lately it’s been the geometry of innocent flesh on the bone causing Galileo’s math book to get thrown. But maybe six months ago, it was the king of the Philistines, his soldiers putting jawbones on their tombstones and flattering their graves. And back in the early 1980s, it was definitely John the Baptist (after torturing a thief) looking up at his hero the Commander-in-Chief, saying, tell me great hero, but please make it brief, is there a hole for me to get sick in? In other words, yeah just call it Dada, but it’s a fine and enduring Dada. Particularly if you’re driving long distances, gobbling dexedrine, smoothing the edges with cheap red wine, you hit the Pacific coast at sunset, northern California somewhere, take some pictures, but for some reason all you’ve got is black + white film. So the moment is captured without pigment, the sky pure white, like an atom bomb. Which is more or less accurate, I think. If the world didn’t end in 1965 when Dylan released Highway 61, then it was June 1989, and I’ve got pictures to prove it. Which makes what we’re going through now just one more layer of the proverbial onion — everything keeps peeling away.” (Philip Random)

BobDylan-1965-smiling

1034. tell me when my light turns green

Dexys Midnight Runners are generally thought of as a band that had one big deal single (featuring a lot of fiddle) in 1982, then pretty much faded away. But that wasn’t even from their best album. 1980’s Searching for the Young Soul Rebels takes that honour, with Tell Me When My Light Turns Green a big, brassy, soul-drenched rave-up that manages to sound like nothing else that was going on at the time, and yet still be pretty darned cool in a hot, sweaty, party-all-night-and-then-some sort of way (the dexys part of the bands name referring to Dexedrine, one of the go-to club drugs of the time).

(photo: Fin Costello)