Whut wuz it                       

                        u wanted  ?


... by Jim Gillan

Howdy! Just back from an excellent couple of weeks in that parallel universe, Ireland. Excellent trip, but hard to get back in to the house on account of the HUGE pile of letters. Many, many, many of which were from the dark army. Do other Freewheelers suffer (or perhaps I mean enjoy) a similar level of interest (or perhaps I mean anger)?  Anyway, as ever, here are some from the pile…Let me begin with a nice easy one. 

On the web site it says “Jim is a book reviewer for ISIS and other non-Dylan magazines. He is a poet in the making and a writer whose work is blessed with the ability to use words with wit and, occasionally, acerbity.” HA! HA! HA! (etc). If you’re so smart, why then don’t ya show it? 

Signed A FAN 

HA! indeed! Well, Signed A FAN (odd name, but so it goes) what do you think? Hold on! Why am I asking you?Anyone daft enough to write the above is probably going to struggle with any concept more profound than the Lottery Draw! But here are some ideas that might help you arrive at answers of your own… 

· Maybe the holy spoke got me wholly confused with someone else! Or vice versa.

· Maybe I only exist in an imaginary dimension, a bit like the square root of minus two. Which however has it uses! Does this mean that I 2 have uses? I make my excuses and leave it to you.

· Maybe something is happening – only YOU don’t know what it is.

· Maybe it’s like press conferences, interviews, overviews, commentary, analysis, discussion, debate, books, articles, documentaries about Dylan – none of it matters! 

EXAMPLE! It makes no difference how often Bob or anyone sings ‘With God On Our Side’ or ‘Masters Of War’ or ‘John Brown’ or any of that canon (there’s irony there – and not just in the barrels), as Bush and co are deaf to music (other than that of ringing cash tills); humanity is, on the whole, a lost cause (look at who we let hold the reins of power); and pain sure brings out the best in people. But I digress. 

As it happens, I am part of a poetry group and it did add its efforts to calls for sense to prevail. We marched, we attended meetings, we lobbied. We wrote impassioned poems to Tony Blair. Some of my colleagues formed teams that wrote reams. They pleaded with Tony to pull back from the apocalyptic abyss. The very ink in the pens boiled. Neither Dante, nor Milton, nor Blake wrote with such power! Knowing a bit about the attention span and intellectual capacity of politicians, I contented myself with two simple offerings. Before the attacks began I wrote ‘DON’T’. When the bombs began to fall I wrote ‘STOP’. Later I cried. 

But now, in the light of what the Hutton inquiry is revealing, I think that some nameless apparachik took my two offerings, made them into the single ‘DON’T STOP’, then showed it to Blair, who happily seized on it as compelling evidence of support for his approach!!!!! O the heartless cynicism of it. Don’t follow leaders said Bob. I wonder why?  Incidentally, ANYTHING, however vile, is  justified by Governments on the grounds of ‘political expediency’ – surely the filthiest phrase in any language. Going to vote next time are you? In the hope of what? More of the same? Politicians only look big because you are on your knees. 

Now then, it might seem ridiculous to suggest that Blair relied upon my terse verse, but consider. Whilst I may seem to be a much less informed and authoritative source than the combined might of the Intelligence Services and the Cabinet, unlike them I never claimed that Saddam possessed a threat from WMD that could be readied in less time than it takes to play ‘Blood On The Tracks’. I never thought that arming a vile regime (as the USA and the UK once did for Saddam - and continues to do so for many others) was a good thing! 

Remember Broooooccceeeee, when ‘Born In The USA’ got in to the hands of the Regan administration? No wonder Bob keeps a low profile and only communicates in riddles. Even so, I reckon that ‘Day Of The Locusts’ could still get him into trouble with Donald Rumsfeld. 

Now then, another letter… But what’s this?  URRRGGGH! Well, I despair. Another illusion shattered.  I though that whatever else might be said about Freewheelin’ readers, ‘pretty nice on the whole’ might apply to all of ‘em.  NOT SO! This next is a request for me to – no I’m not going to lend any dignity to this. All I can say to ‘Big Breather’ (an obvious alias – I know who you are) is that I’m not going to ask Mary for any such thing. Odd ain’t it. The relentless exploitation and degradation of the planet and its people attracts less outrage than what is ultimately a harmless fetish? If only Tony would content himself with a laddered stocking.  Here’s hoping that the next off the pile is an improvement.  Well sort of… 

Dear Jim, What’s your take on Love & Theft and that Japanese book? Very best regards, Michael G. 

Yippee! Evidence, if any were needed, that Freewheelin’ is indispensable, as Issue 215 explains what old MG (incidentally, I though he was still doing his ‘WORLD AUTHORITY Explains Dylan’ tour of village halls and back street bookshops) is on about.  HA!  It seems that there might be an overlap between L&T and something called ‘Confessions of a Yazuka’.  Let’s have a look…H’mmm. Could be….. 

When Bob wrote ‘With God On Our Side’, he supposedly lifted the tune from Dominick Behan’s ‘The Patriot Game’. Old Dominic, drink taken, is said to have come to the Savoy when Bob was over in 1965 with the intention of battering him for his impudence. At one level, all this illustrates is that Bob, like all artists in every medium, deliberately draws on anything that engages him, though is often sloppy about attribution. Perhaps on the grounds that his sources would themselves have drawn on earlier works. Perhaps because sharing royalties is even harder than sharing credit. Personally, I think that the story would have been immeasurably improved if echoes of  ‘The Fanny Craddock Cook-Book’ had been found. 

Here’s a thought. Had Behan been a hard as nails, sword wielding, honour is everything yakuza, rather than an out of condition imbiber of vast quantities of Stout, would Bob have used a different tune? 

OK. Only a couple more for now. 

Dear Jim. Are you going to many of the shows – I know you went to six last year…AJ 

Hi AJ. Yes and No. As in Yes I did get to six – all VERY enjoyable – and No I’m only going to Sheffield. I’m a bit off Bob at the moment. In part it’s because nothing that I have heard recently grabs my one good ear, but mostly it’s because I’ve been listening to LOADS of other stuff.  But who knows? Anyone who wants a ticket can get it one way or another. Is it mad to go or mad to stay away? Will attendance or absence provide the better perspective? History will be the judge, as someone sort of said recently. Which reminds me…. 

Parallel universes cross time, as well as place, boundaries. So I’m not surprised to find myself gazing at the statue of Tony Blair. Erected outside the new Parliament Building in Piccadilly and unveiled in March 2070, it is apparently the most crapped on statue on the planet, the daily tonnage of birdy-pooh exceeding the weight of all the excrement of the centuries heaped on all other monuments combined. And to think that ‘bird-brain’ was once used as a derogatory term. I think I’ll see if I can get reborn as a gull. And no, I didn’t see anyone else around, not even in my nightmares. 

Hoi! I thought the best was still to come!!!!!!!! But your stuff is £***&^%$!!!@~??& 

H’mm. No name, so it could be from one who is shy. Or from too many to list. Well, my anonymous friend(s) - or can I call you Andy? - it’s the Spoke (He who we revolve around) who writes that. Personally, I think his optimism clouds his experience. What the hell, it’s all relative. You’ll find out when you reach the top. Though hopefully well before then.