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searching for bob dylan by sadi ranson-polizzotti

Posted on Thursday, September 4, 2008 at 06:28PM by Registered Commentersadi ranson-polizzotti | Comments Off

My site has a backend search engine query, so it’s easy for me to see how people find Tant Mieux, what they searched for, and what they found. It’s interesting to see what people are searching for when it comes to Dylan. Today, I came upon, horror of horrors, “When did Bob Dylan die in a motorcycle accident?” Obviously, not a query by someone who knows a whole lot (of recent news anyway) about Dylan, but a question that begs to be addressed. I’ll tell you now, Bob Dylan did not die in a motorcycle accident. Not that I know of anyway. Did his heart stop? I hadn’t heard that. I haven’t read it anywhere or spoken with anyone in the know who has told me as much, so no, Dylan is still quite alive, and thank God for that, for I think so many of us would be lost without him. I would be anyway.

Some people die and they leave us and we remarkably eventually pick ourselves up off the floor and life goes on. It may be emptier, harder, but we do it because we have no choice. Others die and they leave holes. You’ve probably known some of these people, though I believe they are truly exceptional. I know that my brother left a hole in my life when he died. That there never will be anyone, any other person, who can fill that space. There will always be a void. Same of my friend Steven Florio, Hans Koning, and to the extent that I knew him as a friend, Saul Bellow, who was always a good and gentle and kind man and generous with his time and his vitality and his advice, to say nothing of his flattery and natural charm. Likewise Dylan… I don’t want to think about it. It hurts.

For me, those are some of the people who have left those light-sucking holes and life is harder and darker without them. I think of Dylan, and I know that the day will come, as it will for all of us, when the world will feel what I can best describe as a great “lacking” and a wanting. As my friend Hans Koning wrote, “I want to set up a whispering in the whole universe…” Hans did that. He did that in the literary world. Dylan has done that in the literary world and many other worlds: music, language, sound – he hits on all of our senses. He has indeed, as Hans did, set up a whispering in the whole universe. That, that can never go away. One takes some small measure of comfort in that. Frankly, it’s huge.

There are other searches for Dylan that I find on Tant Mieux. Photographs of Dylan on his motorcycle are a big search term (the fascination seems endless on this front), those few and far between photographs of Dylan at his typewriter that must be harder to come by (also a big request), for so many people have come directly to me and asked me if I would send them copies of what I have. Then there are the questions: What did it mean that Bob Dylan painted his face white during the Rolling Thunder Revue? Hell if I know with total and absolute certainty. As I recall, Dylan mentions it in Renaldo and Clara, but truth to tell, there were so many people on that stage that I think Dylan did it as a way of standing out. Again, I think it was a way of standing apart from the crowd, yet interesting, being disguised at the same time. Both hiding and being fully present, for no other person was as unmistakable as Bob Dylan with is white face paint and dark ringed eyes and floppy hat. It was pure Dylan. I think of the video of he and Baez singing “Never Let Me Go” as they both duck back away from and then toward the mic, and there is something about that white face beyond mere recognition. It is ghostly, memorable, atmospheric. It’s hard to think of that tour without thinking first of Dylan, and to me, that was the whole point.

As one of our writers recently called Dylan, he was indeed the “minstrel boy”. Avner asked, “Who’s gonna throw the minstrel boy a bone…” Obviously, we do. More than bones. I toss up my oracle bones and I read them. In my family, we have a long traditon of reading palms (no, not for money and nothing hokey, but back generations when my great great grandmother read palms and tea-leaves.) Not much has changed. I’m still carrying forth the family torch, and what I would give to take a look at Dylan’s hands. I’m told I am almost 99 percent accurate. I’d love to be that seer: to be the one in “Spanish Harlem Incident” (a favorite song of mine).

No, I don’t want to pry. If he didn’t want me to look, then I would not, for perhaps that is too exposing; it makes us vulnerable. But to trace the lines all along those restless palms as I have done for some others, I would do it in a New York minute and no doubt, see worlds of things both good and bad but I would expect to see many criss-crosses of fine stars along those fine hands. I have not seen, but I see.

One query asked about the meaning of “Blood In My Eyes” and as I always understood the song on the face of it, it seems to be about a date with a prostitute who never shows up. A prostitute who, in short, stands up the narrator. A secondary meaning and it could be about any relationship in which there is love, is that we often find ourselves with  “blood in our eyes”. Not everything is to be taken at face value or so literally. I listen to “Blood In My Eyes” and I can apply that to my own life, to heartache and quiver and sorrow. I think of a friend who had a bloodshot eye the other day and the tune comes to mind. So what is intended and what becomes are sometimes disparate.

What else? Ah yes. Lately, a lot of searches on whether or not Dylan was played at the Democratic National Convention. Well, all I can tell you is that I made my playlist of what I thought would be quite funny (with tongue up my cheek, indeed), and instead the music was really not memorable. I think “Everything Here is Broken” would have been damn funny, but then, it takes a dark sense of humor to do what I do every day and keep going. Really. The list is on the site, so if you didn’t see it, it’s there. But as to did they actually play Dylan at the DNC the answer is no. Not that I heard. I know, I know, Obama likes “Maggie’s Farm” (which I also wrote about), but I didn’t hear that either. There are a lot of Dylan songs that would have worked well in all seriousness, but none were played to my knowledge. Mistake or not, that’s all the news that I have.

We’ve had more than eleven hits in one day that contain the words “Dylan Smart No Direction Home”. I’m not sure what this means. It sounds like something E.T. would say in broken English. “Phone home… Elliott.” I don’t know. Yes, I think Dylan was very smart in No Direction Home, but then, I have always thought he was more than just smart – I’ve always thought of Dylan as somewhat of a genius seer, so yes, he is smart in No Direction Home. Or maybe Smart is someone’s last name? (I mean, yes, I’m sure it’s someone’s, but does it pertain? I don’t know. I found the query amusing).

Our final query, for now anyway (for this could be a very long article indeed if I included all of the Dylan queries we see; these are just the most popular), so the last is “Bob Dylan Top Hat”. Ah yes, that photograph. We have several of those. Dylan in his top hat, Dylan holding his top hat and walking and smiling at the camera. These may be harder to come by as well since a lot of people come to us for these photos likewise, emailing and asking if we could send them or where they come from etc.  Happy to have them. Happy to oblige.

No doubt, there will be more to follow this brief piece about the interesting ways people find Tant Mieux and search for Dylan, but it’s the words they use and the how that interests me. I hope here I’ve answered a few questions for those who use the most common search terms. The last one, “Bob Dylan Tant Mieux”. Yes, so much the better. Indeed he is.

Thanks for listening,

S.R.P.

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