by Jim Gillan



How did it last begin? 

Ah yesÖTime, as a Bob once observed, is an ocean. Then, after much of the by now familiar unusual, it finished withÖDeath, like the ocean, ends at the sure. I impressed myself with that pun Ė or is it merely a truth? As I never write anything else, I guess it must be the latter.  Well, heís gone now. Just as I was about to go up and stick his head under the water for a bit, Chronicles arrived, so I sat down on the stairs and opened it up. A fabulous read, surely a contender for the Booker Prize Ė and THATíS a fact. 

Well, later we talked and talked and talked some more. The old wood stove had nothing on us. I wish I had the sense to record it, but maybe that would have captured only the moment and lost the meaning. Itís all a jumble, so you sort it out in whatever way suits you. It may not be the same as anyone elseís take, but as there is always more truths than one, does it matter? Hereís how I recall it:- 

Öall the tired horses in the sun how am I supposed to get any riding done good question what does it mean obsessed people are said to ride a hobby horse the sun is a metaphor signifying that they want their obsession to be seen in the dark it cant be so the hobby horse ridden for all its worth gets tired and when horses get tired no one else can ride them sometimes though we can all see more in the dark its called insight it doesnít always survive the glare of scrutiny but whose scrutiny and why should one scrutiny be valued more highly than another good question in your opinion itís the one that matters to me itís all jestÖ 

Dear reader, Iím not trying to lock horns with you, though jest what I mean may not be clear. Actually, the above is my seasonal gift to everybody. It comes with a box of assorted punctuation that you can use as you like. You can change the sense and perhaps the tense, though ironically tension is almost inevitable at this time of year as folks fall over themselves to express goodwill. What starts in celebration can end in commiseration. Letís try some more:- 

Öbob dylan only exists as a construct of others some buy the records and go to the shows some read the lyrics and books some seek to explain what is already clear to at least one part of one facet of one manifestation of the person who sometimes calls himself bob dylan there is another person who exists as an integral part of but quite separate to bob dylan this is true for all of us yes but it is very scary so we dont go there as much as we should if we understood ourselves better we would understand others better from understanding comes consensus and so harmony instead of division and hatred and exploitation can you get all that from a song lyric maybe you can but others cant and when there are a lot who cant they often rant for which some get awards and accolades and others get reviled like jesus who said lots of things that were simple to understand but hard to follow was that failure a miracle because without it no crucifixion so how then could we have been saved from what good question its hard to understand the ways of the lord whoever she is its strange that people obsess about the meaning of a lyric then stranger that they arrive at an answer that owes much to a misprint or a misunderstanding words intrinsically absurd but how they are used and reactions to them can beÖ 

Bob read a lot of books, heard a lot of music, met a lot of people. What if he had read less, listened to more and met other people How would that have changed things? What if he had been a girl? Maybe in some parallel universes he is, which is a nice thought. If he had never made a record, would we have heard of Michael Gray, AJ Weberman, Neil Corcoran et al? Does he have to answer for that? 

Whatís really real? Bob Dylan said that. If my answers frighten you, donít ask such scary questions. Someone else said that. I said the folks I meet arenít always kind. Actually Tom Paxton said it before me, but I might mean it more. All I know is everything comes to a . Which is how 1066 And All That finishes. More fun than the Bible, not as opaque, doesnít comfort misogynists and has never been used to justify colonialism and war. How comes 1066 And All That isnít the Good Book? 

Well enough. Seasons greetings, health to all, peace on earth and farewell. Itís into the stop with WWIYW and its variants.  Where Ďstopí is as an expression of infinity. Which in a way contradicts my opening observations, but with much that is associated with Dylan (and indeed life in general), things rarely make sense. But then for many people that usually matters much less than making a living.