When I’m Sixty Four

Beatles - Gouache

Now that I’m older, lost all my hair many years ago,
Will you still be sending me a valentine,
Birthday greeting, bottle of wine?
If I nod off at a quarter three, slippers on the floor,
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
Now I’m sixty four?

If the Beatles idea of old age is right I have today become a Crotchety Old Man. It seems like only yesterday that I stopped being a schoolboy and was magically transformed into something quite different – a college student. Suddenly, instead of teachers bellowing “Stop running, boy!” there were lecturers doing their best to treat us all as more or less mature adults. It was an interesting transition.

What else has changed over the intervening 45 years? I’ve written software for a number of different employers and even run my own tiny software company for a while. I’ve worked in several UK cities (Reading, Newcastle, Leicester, Leeds), ping-ponging north and south with every change of job. A few girlfriends drifted in and out of my social circle. I studied with the Open University for a couple of years, did a little charity work and indulged in the odd hobby (the board game Diplomacy being the oddest).

All that is behind me now.

Change comes slowly but, sooner or later, it affects every part of our lives. As a young man I felt strong and very much alive, a prime example of the human species should an alien wish to study it. Now, I fear, my body would be more likely to be dunked in formalin and housed in the dark, dusty stockrooms of E.T.’s museum than proudly displayed in a glass case for every many-tentacled visitor to see. My mind, though, is in better shape. I can still spot a politician’s ruse at a thousand paces and I can even do cryptic crossword clues most of the time.

Beatles - When I'm Sixty Four

One thing that hasn’t changed is my taste in music. The records I played as a boy and a student still give me pleasure. The songs that dazzled like the sun in my youth don’t shine quite so brightly any more but, now that the glare has gone, I can see the softer songlight of the moon and the stars, and that’s beautiful, too. It doesn’t have to be progressive rock to be worth listening to; it doesn’t have to have screaming guitars to be exciting.

I suppose you could say I have mellowed. When the Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967 I couldn’t have predicted what I’d be listening to in 2016. Back then old people only listened to classical music or dance bands and sixty four was undoubtedly a ripe old age. I’d probably have Beethoven and Bach, Mozart and Mendelssohn in my record collection, or perhaps a small stack of clarinet concertos. Come to think of it, When I’m Sixty Four would sit quite comfortably in the section labelled ‘Clarinet Trios’.

YouTube: Splendid cover by a male voice choir (but no clarinets).

All Flowers In Time

Sounddate: Tuesday, 26th January 2015

I heard All Flowers In Time for the first time yesterday on the RadMac afternoon show on BBC 6 Music. Curiously, it has never been released although, as you can see, it has escaped from the recording studio and is available on SoundCloud, YouTube and elsewhere.

All Flowers In Time Bend Towards the Sun, to give it it’s full title, was written by Jeff Buckley (around 1995 as far as I can tell). The version presented here is a demo recording; Jeff’s untimely death in a drowning accident in May 1997 meant that a finished version was never made.

The demo is a composition for two guitars and two voices. If it had been given a sparse arrangement it would be a simple folk song but, here, strummed acoustic and electric guitars provide a lush carpet of camomile and clover for us to walk upon. Liz Fraser’s dancing voice paints exotic flowers onto the bushes, and Jeff Buckley duets with her as she skips between the orchard trees. The two guitars pirouette around each other, butterflies in slow motion, while the voices mingle in exquisite harmony. For a rough cut this is an amazingly beautiful production.

Reliable information is hard to come by but it seems that Liz Fraser has always wanted the ‘unfinished’ All Flowers to remain unheard and Jeff Buckley’s mother, who manages his back catalogue, is of the opinion that Jeff and Elizabeth’s recording is “too personal” to be released. In spite of this there have been many calls from fans of both Buckley and Fraser to make it officially available.

As far as I can make out streaming and downloading this song is morally questionable and quite possibly unlawful. Yes, a polished version might have more light and shade but it’s hard to imagine another take with as much joy and spontaneity as this one. It shines like the sculpted face of Venus with laughter lines etched in. It deserves to be heard.

Crotchety Man has been naughty. He has downloaded All Flowers In Time but, if it is ever released, he hereby promises to pay for it.

Jazz coverhttps://open.spotify.com/track/53JnmsrMLoTzzqdWCZ8M0Y

Down Here

Down Here - Pool

Crotchety Man was a bright child. The headmaster of my primary school (ages 5 – 11) told my parents that in any ordinary year I’d have been top of the class. That there were a couple of other kids in my year smarter than me was, he suggested, a statistical fluke and I’d probably go on to great things. Fortunately, no-one told me this at the time so I wasn’t nervous when I took the 11-plus exam in the summer of 1963.

The exam was a breeze and I knew I’d done well. Annoyingly, I never knew how well. Nevertheless, I was put forward for the nearest good secondary school a 20 minute bus journey across the London suburbs. It was (and still is) a fee-paying school but the local council deemed me clever enough to warrant a local authority grant that would pay most or all of the fees. After an interview at the school I was offered a place and spent much of the next seven years learning how to pass more exams: O-levels, A-levels and the Oxford University Entrance Exam.

I don’t know whether my school place was secured by the 11-plus exam result alone. That my father went to the same school some 22 years earlier might have had something to do with it, too. Or, perhaps, mother’s prediction that the interviewer would ask me about what books I was reading swung it for me. At her suggestion I borrowed 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea from the library and could honestly say I was reading that when the question came up. I suppose getting me into St. Dunstan’s College was a combined family effort.

Shortly before my first day at the new school Mum asked if I’d like to learn to play a musical instrument. It was a question I couldn’t answer. Music had never been a significant aspect of family life and we certainly didn’t know any musicians. Becoming a musician myself had never crossed my mind. On the other hand here was an opportunity to try something that I might enjoy. I tossed a metaphorical coin in my head. Mum pointed out that it would win me Brownie points with the teachers at my new school and at that the coin came down heads – I would add extra-curricular music lessons to my timetable.

Having established the principle we went on to discuss which instrument I should play. Again I was at a loss. Mum said they would buy a piano if that was what I wanted but perhaps something I could carry on the bus might be a better choice – something like a clarinet. The logic of the argument was undeniable and, not having any preference for one instrument over another, I accepted the clarinet as my entry ticket for the realm of musicianship.

So it was that once a week for seven years my clarinet case would accompany my school books and sports bag as I boarded crowded London buses on my way to school. Sometimes I would manage to find a seat, sometimes I would have to stand, but always there was a danger of bashing the shin or bruising the shoulder of a fellow passenger as I fought my way onto the bus. Happy days!

I never really enjoyed those music lessons. The rehearsal room was like a Hobbit hole down in the basement, where it was dark and spooky in the winter evenings when everyone else had gone home. My clarinet teacher was always giving me pieces that were difficult to play and I never really felt I had mastered the instrument. Over the years my technique must have improved but it never felt like that. It was frustrating. Furthermore, I was only ever given uninspiring orchestral pieces to play; the clarinet is never heard in popular music (with the sole exception of Acker Bilk’s Stranger on the Shore).

Of course I’m exaggerating there. The sound of the clarinet features on at least six Beatles tracks (including When I’m 64, A Day In The Life and I Am The Walrus); it’s there, too, on The Carpenters’ We’ve Only Just Begun; and Captain Beefheart used a bass clarinet occasionally. (All information from The Clarinet BBoard.) But those songs are all old now. For a much more up to date example I recommend John Grant’s Down Here. No, recommend is the wrong word. For all sorts of reasons listening to Down Here is imperative; click that link, play that song; I insist.

Down Here - John Grant

John Grant is an unusual character. (You can read his biography on wikipedia or the johngrantmusic website.) His albums are the work of a troubled artist wrestling with his demons – and winning. I think of John Grant as a toned-down Tom Waits. Where Waits’ lyrics are acerbic Grant’s are merely melancholic; Waits’ half-crazy instrumental arrangements are reflected in Grant’s quirky choice of instruments; and Wait’s deep gravelly voice finds a warmer, smoother, but no less distinctive tone in Grant. The result is a chocolate box assortment of songs to entice and intrigue the listener. There are hard nuts, soft centres and sweet, sticky caramels. There’s something for everyone but we will all have our favourites.

Down Here is a track from the Grey Tickles, Black Pressure album released in October 2015. It has a nice easy beat – a perfect accompaniment for a couple taking a leisurely stroll through the park. He is telling his girl about life as he sees it. His words have a sense of futility about them but he is not unhappy – at least, not here, not now, while the sun is warm and a good friend is by his side. As the chorus explains:

Cause what we got down here is oceans of longing
And guessing games, and no guarantees
And you work so hard to be in control
And now you’re laughing at yourself because you can’t let go

The couple walk on for another verse, another chorus, past the flower beds and the duck pond until they come to the bandstand. There a young girl is clacking the railings with a pair of drumsticks and a funny little man is blowing an over-sized clarinet. Together they have turned the park into an impromptu arts performance space. Why are they here? Just for the fun of it. Life for them is good and their audience is infected with their exuberance.

Down Here somehow manages to capture both the joy and the futility of our lives. The lyrics may say “all we’re doing is learning how to die” but nothing expresses a sense of joyfulness more than the warm, bubbling, playful notes of that bass clarinet. When I hear it I can’t help thinking of my lessons down there in the dark basement of my school. Blowing into the mouthpiece of my Bb clarinet felt like a futile exercise much of the time but it led me into a world of enjoyment that I could not otherwise have imagined.

A Few More Details

  • When I was there St. Dunstan’s College was a boys school; it’s co-educational now.
  • There’s an official Down Here YouTube video that captures John Grant’s out-of-kilter perspective on life rather well. It was shot at the Crystal Palace olympic swimming pool where Crotchety Man swam once or twice as a lad.
  • The bass clarinet comes in at 2 minutes 35 seconds.
  • The title of the album comes from a literal translation of the Icelandic for ‘mid-life crisis’ and the Turkish for ‘nightmare’.

Island

Renaissance - Island

One day in 1969, when I was just a lad, rippling piano arpeggios rang out from the radio. That was odd because the portable transistor radio in the kitchen was always tuned to the light entertainment channel. Radio 3, the BBC’s classical music station, might have been on in the living room but not until after I had been packed off to bed and certainly not in the cramped kitchen of our flat where serious music couldn’t be appreciated.

Curiosity compelled the youthful Crotchety Man to listen. After a few bars the piano gave way to strummed electric guitar chords, a gentle drum beat and a rich electric bass. This wasn’t a piano concerto but it wasn’t like any pop music I’d heard before, either. A woman’s warm, clear voice began to sing over the backing track.

There is an island where it should never be,
Surrounded by cerulean sea …

It was a haunting melody and a song with a captivating mystery. Where is this island? Why shouldn’t it be there? Is it a paradise or a manifestation of hell? Listening intently I strained to pick out the lyrics. Some of the words were muffled and distorted by the recording, the AM transmission and the electronics in the cheap radio receiver but the refrain was quite clear.

I want to be there,
I want to be there,
I want to be there,
For the rest of my time.

There could be no doubt any more. This island is a perfect place, a paradise if not heaven itself. But, like heaven, it is somewhere else, somewhere the singer longs to be, a place she fervently believes she will reach in the end.

I know that it’s waiting
I know there’s a place ready for me

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Island was a single by Renaissance, a band whose music is usually described as progressive rock or symphonic rock. I prefer the latter term because it emphasises both the strong classical influence in their compositions and their unashamed use of orchestral arrangements. In fact, as their collaborations with classical orchestras attest, no band straddles the rock/classical divide more successfully than Renaissance (and that includes ELP and Elbow).

The self-titled debut album from Renaissance contained both Island and another lush keyboard piece called Wanderer that was (apparently) never released as a single but did receive some airplay. Those two tracks burned the name of Renaissance into the Crotchety brain as permanently as a red hot branding iron on cattle hide. Although the original band personnel changed completely over the next couple of years the rock/classical blend remained and the Crotchety LP collection gradually accumulated no less than 5 LPs by Renaissance (and that’s a lot).

Island was the spark that prompted Crotchety Man to roam a little further out from the pop/rock mainland towards the continent of classical music in search of deeper waters and lasting beauty. For that I am making it my Track of the Week.

Lizard

It’s a brave man that disagrees with the renowned guitarist, composer and producer Bob Fripp but, when it comes to King Crimson’s third album, Crotchety Man takes issue with him. In the early seventies Lizard graced my turntable as much as any other record I possessed; it could almost be described as the soundtrack to my university days. I must have listened to it for many, many, hours. So, when Fripp described it as “unlistenable” in 1999 I think he was mistaken. If anyone else had said that I might have assumed it was just a deliberately controversial comment intended to promote the then forthcoming 30th Anniversary release on CD. But the man who co-founded the Discipline Global Mobile label “to be a model of ethical business in an industry founded on exploitation, oiled by deceit, riven with theft and fueled by greed” wouldn’t do that.

Lizard is certainly the jazziest of King Crimson’s albums. All the material was written by Bob Fripp and Pete Sinfield during a band “interregnum” when King Crimson had no other permanent members. The album was recorded after hastily recruiting Mel Collins (saxophone, flute), Andy McCulloch (drums) and Gordon Haskell (bass) into the band and drafting in guest jazz musicians Keith Tippet (piano), Mark Charig (cornet), Nick Evans (trombone) and Robin Miller (oboe, cor anglais). Jon Anderson of Yes also supplied vocals on the title track.

The first side of the original 1970 vinyl release contained four songs; side two was a single 23 minute track in four sections.

King Crimson - Lizard - TracksThe album opens with Cirkus, an intriguing mix of guitar, mellotron, saxophone, drums, bass and vocals that can best be described as progressive rock with strong jazz and classical influences. There are echoes of the stadium-filling grandeur of earlier tracks such as In The Court of the Crimson King, but it’s a lighter, shorter piece – a song rather than a movement from a symphony.

The next track, Indoor Games is similar: a relatively short, predominantly guitar, Mellotron and synthesiser tune with a curiously light-hearted feel and some obtuse and lurid lyrics.

Happy Family adds Keith Tippet’s piano and the horn section to give a frosting of jazzy sparkle. It would be easy to dismiss this as frothy bling but if you let your ears unpick the multi-layered fabric of woven chords and melody you will find a carefully constructed work of art. You can also have fun decoding the lyrics which make unflattering comments about the Beatles.

Side one ends with the gentle ballad, Lady of the Dancing Water. Unusually for music on the periphery of rock it features the sounds of flute and trombone over acoustic guitar and electric piano. The trombone is as warm as the summer sun, the guitar tinkles softly like distant rapids and the flute flits with the butterflies across the fields. It’s a wistful memory of a beautiful day by a brook with the singer’s lady love.

On the second side of the LP the title track is divided into three main sections and a short coda. The first part is called Prince Rupert Awakes and it’s a tuneful song that benefits hugely from Jon Anderson’s clear, mellow voice. It sounds at first like a piece of classical piano music. But the piano is accompanied by a guitar, and a Mellotron duets with the vocalist. There are interjections of discordant electronic effects, too, creating a kind of musical chiaroscuro. This has to be one of my all-time favourite passages by King Crimson – or anyone else.

Once Prince Rupert is awake we hear Bolero – The Peacock’s Tale. The drums tap out the bolero rhythm steadily through the whole six minutes of this second section while the cornet begins to sing a story with no words. After a while the cor anglais takes up the tale and soon other voices join in: saxophones, trombone, piano and bass. What started as a simple melody has morphed into a 7-part jazz instrumental without ever losing the initial theme. Then, in amongst the other instruments, the piano goes off on an astonishing flight of fancy – the ivories ripple and tinkle, ascending like a pair of squabbling birds, up and up, octave after octave as if each hand is racing to be the first to leap off the top of the keyboard. The other instruments raise their voices, too. Then, suddenly, the piano notes stop just as the rest of the band resolve their own crescendo. Order restored, the instruments take it in turns to complete the story.

The third section of Lizard, The Battle of Glass Tears, is (I think) the least successful part of the album. It is divided into three sub-sections: Dawn Song, Last Skirmish and Prince Rupert’s Lament. These represent the periods before, during and after the battle. Dawn Song tells of the tension in the opposing armies as they prepare for the coming conflict. It works as an introduction to the battle itself but wouldn’t be strong enough to be a track in its own right. Last Skirmish is (as you’d expect) loud, raucous and chaotic. It certainly sounds like a battle but who wants to hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth that comes with war? After the skirmish there is, predictably, a period of sadness and reflection as we listen to Prince Rupert’s Lament, in which Bob Fripp’s guitar moans and whimpers over the trudging drumbeat of an army in retreat.

Finally, and incongruously, the coda brings us the theme of the Big Top, as if to herald the entrance of the clowns. It fades in, rises in pitch as if the DJ has fiddled with the speed control, staggers along drunkenly for a while and fades away. The whole thing lasts less than 1 minute 20 seconds. Is this meant to signify that soldiers are as laughable as circus clowns? Does it simply remind us that the first track on the album is called Cirkus? Or is it there just to pad out the LP? I suspect it’s just a bit of fun.

Overall Lizard is still one of my favourite albums. It has stood the test of time. The battle parts may be raw and uncompromising but the rest is a sublime blend of prog rock and jazz styles. My only caveat is that Gordon Haskell’s voice never quite seems to fit in. I’d have loved to have heard Greg Lake or Jon Anderson on vocals but that wasn’t to be.

I have the 30th Anniversary CD release which was remastered in 1999 and released, according to Wikipedia, in 2001. There’s also a 2009 40th Anniversary release (remastered by Steven Wilson with Bob Fripp’s blessing). Now, by my reckoning 30 years on from 1970 is 2000 and 40 years on is 2010 so those ‘anniversary’ releases may be mis-timed but albums that last that long must have something going for them. I think Bruce Eder (of AllMusic) deserves the final assessment. He described Lizard as “an acquired taste”. I acquired the taste in the early seventies and it’s my flavour of the month again in January 2016.

P.S.

Apologies for the YouTube link above. Unfortunately Lizard is not available on Spotify, etc.

Birdland

Birdland - Pigeons

Birdland is in New York. Currently it’s in the Theater District of Manhattan but Weather Report’s track  of the same name harks back to its original location on Broadway. Judging by the music, it must have been a magical, joyous place then, always full of happy sounds.

Birdland is the first track on the Heavy Weather album released in 1977. The lineup of the band at that time was Joe Zawinul (keyboards), Wayne Shorter (saxophones), Jaco Pastorius (bass), Alex Acuña (drums) and Manolo Badrena (percussion). Weather Report are known as a jazz fusion band and that description fits Birdland pretty well. It’s undeniably jazz and Zawinul’s synthesisers pull it over to the fusion side of the genre. But the fretless bass adds a little funk, the drums tap out a metronomic beat and there are infectious latin rhythms in the percussion. With Wayne Shorter’s saxophones providing a simple melody the whole piece exudes a sense of relaxed playfulness.

Jazz in general and jazz fusion in particular rarely make an impact on the pop charts but the Heavy Weather album peaked at 30 on the Billboard 200 chart and reached 43 on the UK album chart. Birdland itself was released as a single; it didn’t chart as far as I know but it has become a jazz standard and flits by from time to time on the radio, on the TV and in films. Even if you never listen to jazz I’m sure you’ve heard it once or twice.

There’s a compilation album called Je n’aime toujours pas le jazz mais ça j’aime bien, which translates as “I don’t always like jazz but I do like this”. It contains 75 jazz tunes selected for their wide appeal and it includes the Weather Report track Teen Town. If I had chosen those tracks I’d have included Birdland instead of (or perhaps as well as) Teen Town. It’s the ultimate jazz tune for those who don’t like jazz.

Birdland - Weather Report

Zawinul, Pastorius, Acuna, Badrena, Shorter

Birdland was named after the place in New York. It’s not a park full of pigeons or a collection of rare birds in cages, it’s a jazz club named in honour of Charlie Parker (a.k.a. “Bird”). To Joe Zawinul it was indeed a happy place full of sounds – the sounds of his favourite jazz musicians – and you can hear his joy in the music of Birdland.

Bob Dylan

When it comes to Bob Dylan, Crotchety Man came late to the party. He had raved about House of the Rising Sun (by the Animals), adored Blowin’ In The Wind (by Peter, Paul and Mary) and swooned over Mr. Tambourine Man (by the Byrds). He was moved by The Times They Are A-Changin’, With God on Our Side and Just Like a Woman. But, somehow, he never connected all these records with the Bob Dylan name. It wasn’t until Lay Lady Lay at the end of the sixties that he began to appreciate just how many great songs Dylan had written and recorded.

Looking back, I think this was partly because the record-buying public here in the early sixties listened almost exclusively to the BBC’s Light Programme, which broadcast popular music and other forms of light entertainment. Until 1964 there was simply no viable alternative. If you were lucky you could get passable reception tuned in to Radio Luxembourg but, in most parts of the UK, this was an immensely frustrating experience.

So everyone listened to the BBC, which hadn’t shaken off its public school, upper class beginnings and seemed to regard the Light Programme as the runt of the litter. It was as if the writers of popular songs were merely failed poets and second-rate classical composers, not worthy of any mention by an august institution like the British Broadcasting Corporation. If the plebs wanted to buy a record all they needed was the title of the song and the name of the recording artist. And that’s all we got. We fans of pop music were starved of the information we needed to make the connections.

The advent of the off-shore (‘pirate’) radio stations changed all that. Radio Caroline brought a breath of fresh air, but reception was still rather poor. Then, in December 1964, the south east corner of Great Britain started to receive nice clear broadcasts from a ship anchored in international waters off the coast of Essex, within sight of the town of Frinton-on-Sea. Radio London had landed… docked… anchored itself to the airwaves and, in between its signature jingles  that jangled out “Wonderful Radio London” in excruciating multi-part harmony, it was just… wonderful!

For the next two years or so Crotchety Man feasted on a newer, fresher kind of pop music, gorging himself on as much of Big L’s output as he could fit into his life as a schoolboy living with his brother and parents in a small south London council flat. The adults commandeered the Sunday lunchtime slot for Family Favourites on the BBC but the kids were allowed to tune in to the pirate station at other times provided it wasn’t too loud. We borrowed Dad’s reel-to-reel tape recorder, dumped hours of John Peel’s broadcasts onto tape and listened to it over and over again.

But Bob Dylan wasn’t centre stage on pirate Radio London, either. They played his songs along with all sorts of other pop and underground music but, as far as I remember, he was never singled out for special attention. All the excitement was in the Flower Power haze of psychedelic rock music. Well, that and anything else that was out of the ordinary and tickled the fancy of John Peel, Kenny Everett and the other DJs.

Then, in August 1967, Radio London closed down. The government had made it illegal to supply any unlicensed off-shore radio station with music, advertising, fuel, food or water from the UK. It was one of the saddest days of Crotchety Man’s adolescent years. Radio Caroline continued broadcasting, getting its essential supplies from the continent, but it wasn’t the same. Neither the music nor the reception was up to Big L standards and problems with the business and technical operations meant that Caroline suffered several periods when it went off-air. Giving up on Caroline, Crotchety Man’s ears went into a long period of mourning.¹

Bob Dylan - Three Albums

By this time Bob Dylan had transformed himself from a fairly conventional folk singer to a song writer of exceptional flair and originality but there was still no radio station in England that could provide a natural home for his songs. A few of his singles made the charts and were played on pop music stations like the BBC’s Radio 1 but the bulk of Dylan’s output remained hidden away on albums, out of the reach of a working class school kid whose pocket money wouldn’t stretch to exploratory purchases. Friends had albums of blues-influenced and psychedelic rock but, sadly, none were into Dylan.

So, for many years I missed out on a lot of Bob Dylan‘s music. Eventually, though, the Lady of the House² added half a dozen Dylan CDs to our combined collection, which together form a rather patchy summary of Dylan’s extensive repertoire.

Listening to those albums I find that several of his tracks from around 1964 and 1965 have seeped into my soul: Blowin’ In The Wind, The Times They Are A-Changin’, Mr. Tambourine Man, Like A Rolling Stone. This was the time when Dylan was known for writing protest songs (and no-one did it better than him) but even then there were some intensely personal songs and others with a splash of sardonic humour. Those few songs from the mid-sixties stand out in my memory but, of course, there are lots more great songs in the Bob Dylan canon (Gotta Serve Somebody, Everything Is Broken, Jokerman, for example).

Dylan’s contribution to popular music is immense. He has written some of the most enduring songs in the history of recorded music. He has found words that touched the hearts of his contemporaries and were taken up by civil rights activists. He continued to write and perform when many of his early fans called him ‘Judas’ for using electric instruments. And he has been making new recordings now for over 50 years. In all that time Bob Dylan has never been constrained by conventional ideas of genre or trapped by the red tape of commercial contracts.

Bob Dylan - Van Gogh Ploughman

As Bill Clinton said when presenting the Kennedy Center Honor in 1997, “Bob Dylan has never aimed to please. He’s disturbed the peace and discomforted the powerful”. It is that determination to plough his own furrow that made it difficult for Crotchety Man to find him. Dylan has sown seeds in different fields and different lands, as a musician, a writer and a painter. In the field of music some crops thrived while others failed but Dylan himself never faltered. Like Crotchety Man’s collection, Bob Dylan‘s output is somewhat patchy but there are rare blooms among the staple crops and never too many weeds.

Bob Dylan takes my retrospective Artist of the Year award for 1964.

Footnotes

  1. That period of mourning lasted well into the Internet Age.
  2. The house is jointly owned but it’s Mrs Crotchety’s home – she just let’s me live here for a bit of company – like the cat.