The Disgruntled Dylanologist

All the truth in the world adds up to one big lie.

“Mountains in the Palm of Her Hand”: Has Sarah Palin thrown it all away?

Once I had mountains in the palm of my hand,

And rivers that ran through ev’ry day.

I must have been mad,
I never knew what I had,
Until I threw it all away.

It’s hard to believe over 40 years have passed since Bob Dylan threatened to walk away from the music business. But that’s precisely what happened in the days following the July 29, 1966, motorcycle accident that nearly claimed the singer’s life.

And while it’s unclear exactly what happened that fateful morning—the details surrounding the 500cc Triumph Tiger 100 motorcycle Dylan crashed on a road near his home in upstate New York have always been sketchy at best—whatever transpired was enough to force the reclusive singer to reexamine his priorities.

In a way, the examination was long overdue.

By all accounts the ’66 tour of Europe had been grueling. And while Dylan may have had mountains in the palm of his hand in terms of his creative prowess, he was demonized nearly every night, forced to endure irate fans who were determined to deter Dylan’s new musical direction with jeers of “Judas!” on more than one occasion.

But now that the tour had come to close, Dylan was looking forward to spending some time with his new bride, fashion model Sara Lownds, whom he had secretly married the previous November.

Intent on seeking shelter from the storm, Dylan retreated to a provincial farmhouse in Woodstock. It turns out the months that followed turned out to be some of the most tumultuous of his life.

From the moment Dylan had arrived in Greenwich Village in the winter of 1963, he had dutifully carried the torch for the folk movement. And while Dylan had never masked his disdain for the moniker, “voice of a generation,” by the summer of 1966, it was evident that his audience’s insatiable appetite for all things ‘Dylan’ was beginning to take a rapacious toll on him.

The motorcycle accident hardly helped matters.

Overnight Bob was besieged with questions. Was the accident a cover for another drag-addled rock star whose addiction had gotten the better of him? Was the whole incident a carefully calculated publicity stunt designed to increase speculation around Dylan’s next creative endeavor? Would there even be another endeavor?

In the end, however, it wasn’t what had actually happened that early summer morning that kept Dylan’s legions of devoted fans up at night— it was the incessant speculation on what might have happened. Conjecture, it turns out, was the biggest contributor to a rapidly mounting mystique that all but eclipsed the notoriously ascetic artist.

Nearly 40 years later, a new conundrum has captured America’s imagination. But instead of unfolding in the solitary the woods of Woodstock, this one is taking place in the open wilds of Alaska.

Sarah Palin’s July 3 press conference in which she announced that she would resign as governor of Alaska was so surrealistic that one had to wonder if Palin had momentarily mistaken herself as Patti Blagojevich’s replacement on “I’m a Celebrity, Get me Out of Here.”

Bar a complete mental meltdown—something that even her most staunch supporters haven’t completely ruled out—clearly there’s more to the story than the wily politician from Wasilla is letting on. But anyone who patently dismisses Palin’s penchant for the dramatic is missing the point of her decidedly populist appeal.

Ever since she stepped on that stage at the Republican Convention in Minneapolis, Palin has taken to fame like a fish to water. In hindsight, however, perhaps Palin’s aversion to being labeled “a dead fish who goes with the flow” makes perfect sense. After all, when it comes to fame and adulation, nobody drinks it in better than Sarah Palin.

Watching Sarah Palin’s meteoric rise over the last year has been a lot like watching a tightrope walker navigate the hazards of the high wire. Her ability to balance her own ego with the ever-increasing aspirations of Republican Party is a marvel to behold.

Her performance last week, in which she cobbled together a series of incongruous sports analogies in an attempt to explain how abandoning a state in crisis translates to the type of leadership she can offer a nation in peril, was definitely a swing for the fences. In the end, however, Palin struck out big time. Though time will tell how much America’s favorite MILF’s recent muff dive will tarnish her once unmistakable luminous quality.

And so we are left pondering the question: Was Palin throwing in the towel, or throwing her hat in the ring for 2012 political season?

Conjecture has always been a critical component to the ‘Dylan mystique.’ Second-guessing what’s going on inside Dylan’s brain is precisely what makes him such an appealing and enigmatic figure. If the events of last week are any indication, a speculative glimpse inside the mind of Sarah Palin is clearly a far more trepidatious trip.

But even if we were able to unravel Palin’s convoluted, incoherent ramblings, how can anyone expect Palin to move mountains for the Republican Party when she can’t even figure out why she’s walking away from them…

So if you find someone that gives you all of her love,
Take it to your heart, don’t let it stray,

For one thing that’s certain,
You will surely be a-hurtin’,
If you throw it all away.


July 17, 2009 Posted by | Disgruntled, Dylanologist | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dont Look Back: 2008 in Review

A poetic look back on 2008, set to the tune of Bob Dylan’s “Desolation Row”:

They’re printing tickets to the coronation
They’re fitting his thorny crown
The district’s filling up with Democrats
A new sheriff is in town
There goes the Maverick from Arizona
And gal from Wasilla
Couldn’t quite get the votes they needed
Their platform was too vanilla
Eight long years they ran this place
Now it’s time for them to go
As ‘43’ and Laura lament the passing
Of Republican Row

Congress, they make it look so easy
“This won’t hurt a bit,” they smile
As they slip $700 billion in their back pocket
Hank Paulson style
In come the auto makers, they’re whining
“What about our piece of the pie?”
“Talk to 16th and Penn,” the gentleman from Alabama says,
he’s gonna be your guy
And the only sound that’s left
As theyfill their Priuses with dough
Is the sound of Wagoner, Nardelli and Mulally cleaning up
On Republican Row

And the banks are also empty
Lehman, Stearns and AIG can’t console
As America’s fortunes disappear
Down a dark, rat-infested black hole
All except for T. Boone Pickens
And the Oracle of Omaha
Everybody’s future is bleak
No one can believe the gall
And Bernard Madoff, he’s in lockdown
$50 billion and nothing to show
A house of cards has come tumbling down
On Republican Row

Now Hillary, she’s buckin’ for a promotion
The Senate could not hold
Less than eight years in New York
Her true ambition did unfold

To her, New Hampshire seemed quite inviting
She wore her emotions on her sleeve
An act of pure political theater
Even crocodile tears could not deceive
But were it not for her former rival
To whom she does now owe
She’d be serving the rest of her sentence
On Republican Row

OJ, disguised as an All-American
Reclaiming his memories from a fan
Into a Vegas suite he burst
A pistol in his hand
He must have looked rather frightful
Waving his USC letter vest
Then ran off with the Heisman
Clutched tightly against his chest
Got off years ago after killing his wife
It seems you reap what you sow
Thirty-two got 33-to-life
On Republican Row

Spitzer, he keeps all his names
Inside a little black book
But it’s what he said on the phone
That got him cooked
Now the girl, quite a looker
Had the lungs to be a singer
It was the Governor’s tit, however
Got caught in the ringer
For years he blew the whistle on corruption
This time he took the blow
Just another self righteous prick sent packing
To Republican Row

Meanwhile in California
Another sexless battle begins
Gay marriage goes on the ballet
And then abruptly ends
It seems America wasn’t ready for Casanova
To come marching down the aisle
With a partner on his arm
Who can’t produce a child

And the Religious Right is shouting
“It’s not natural, don’t you know”
One Casanova at a time
On Republican Row

And we learn the governor of Illinois
For months has been trying to sell
Obama’s seat in the U.S. Senate
To whomever has the most cash to shell
But despite a jury’s indictment
Blago still refuses to concede
Replacing the people’s trust
With his own gluttonous greed
But soon his house will shatter
When he runs out of stones to throw
His fortunes crashing like everything else
On Republican Row

Praise be to Phelps’ Neptune
A solitary beacon of hope
Brought the whole world together
Eight men out with a single stroke
And another show of mettle
Naked aggression in the Gaza Strip
A millennium of distrust and malice
Of which this latest skirmish is only the tip
In Iraq the war still rages
Would Iran have been the next to go?
You can bet they had it all mapped out
On Republican Row

Yes, America is at a crossroads
(As if you didn’t already know)
But hope and change is coming
Though some would say too slow
But now that the people have finally spoken
And the world has heard their plea
All these people we mentioned
Into exile were forced to flee
Let’s just hope they’ve taken with them
The anguish and the woe
That’s been festering these last eight years
On Republican Row

January 5, 2009 Posted by | Disgruntled, Dylanologist | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment