by Richard Lewis


I have to admit that before last Saturday I had never heard of Paul Wellstone. I should have though. From everything I have read since he sounds like he was a good, honest and courageous American. I say was, as last Friday (October 25th) he was killed in a plane crash near Eveleth a small town in north-eastern Minnesota.

Paul Wellstone was also the Senator for Minnesota and had been so for the past 12 years and was standing for re-election next month. His first act in 1991 had been to oppose Bush Senior's Gulf War and his last act in office was to oppose the Iraq War proposals of the current President Bush.

I didn't know who Wellstone was but Dylan did. At his concert in Denver on Saturday, October 26th Dylan spoke his only words of the night after singing The Times They Are A-Changin' saying "that song was for my man, the great Senator from Minnesota". A few days later when Dylan was actually in Minnesota for a show in St Paul, before singing High Water he said, "this is to my man who reached the end of the road up in Eveleth".

To make it absolutely clear how he felt about current events Dylan has also been singing Don Henley's The End of the Innocence which was written about the Reagan era but is also applicable to the current Bush administration.

O beautiful for spacious skies, but now those skies are threatening,
They're beating ploughshares into swords, for this tired old man we elected king

Dylan has also been singing about another Old Man, this time the song of that name by Neil Young. Why this song out of so many and why now? Well as I and others have noted there is a lot of family references and thinking about parents in Love and Theft. Also as I mentioned in my article on "Wonder Boys" that is the very Neil Young song that is on the soundtrack and links with Dylan's own Shooting Star as a commentary on the relationship between the man and boy in the film. In fact it is the writer and his own younger self.

Dylan has also been singing several of Warren Zevon's songs. Although terminally ill with cancer Zevon managed to get to Dylan's LA show and Dylan is rumoured to be appearing on his next, final album. In Accidentally Like A Martyr Zevon refers to an "abandoned love" and "time out of mind". You can hear, I'm sure, Dylan singing these lines from Mutineer: I was born to rock the boat, some may sink but we will float Haven't figured out "Brown Sugar" yet unless it's just a tribute to his secret second wife. Sounds like a good tour though.