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ALTERNATIVES TO COLLEGE

by Michael Crimmins


‘Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I'll Go Mine)'

 

You say you love me
And you’re thinkin’ of me
But you know you could be wrong.
You say you told me
That you wanna hold me,
But you know you’re not that strong.
I just can’t do what I done before,
I just can’t beg you any more.
I’m gonna let you pass
And I’ll go last.
Then time will tell just who has fell
And who’s been left behind,
When you go you’re way and I go mine.

I intended to write a belated follow up piece here to my article that appeared in Freewheelin’ 223 “Tales from the outlaw hideout” which ended up referring to the infamous call of ‘Judas’ from 1966 and The Free Trade Hall. I was going give you all my take on “Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I’ll Go Mine)” from ‘Blonde on Blonde’ in which I see Dylan anticipating the parting of the ways amongst those, of the time, who liked their “Folk music” served up with electricity, as opposed to those that did not. Realising slowly that this would almost certainly be my last chance to express my feelings in association with Freewheelin’ closing its doors, and knowing that JRS has a specific idea in mind for the last issue, I decided against my original idea. Looking at my blank page that held only the song title “Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I’ll Go Mine)” I realised that I could still use this to express my anticipation and reluctance to accepting the inevitable. 

It is sad that freewheelin-on-line is to cease, and I would like to tell you why I come to feel that way. Firstly it is, and has always been, a non profit making organisation, therefore delivering the necessary purity of enthusiasm needed to create an offspring to Dylan’s great art. Though I have only been involved with the actual words that appear in freewheelin’ for the last fourteen months, it has been great therapy for me! If we can think of ourselves, the record buying public, as that required by Bob Dylan when he sang “I need a dump truck momma to unload my head” then freewheelin’ has in a way, been my dump truck. If that sounds a little ungracious I can assure you that I do not mean to be. I am sure that JRS realised my needs in that direction, when he first asked me if I would be interested in writing a regular column here. I had you see informed him that I had for a number of years the rather curious habit of committing my thoughts to paper. Freewheelin’ has provided me with a wonderful chance to write about one of the great passions of my life: The music of Bob Dylan. I am very grateful and want to say thank you to all involved here! 

Up until 1999 I had never come into contact with, or heard of, The Cambridge Bob Dylan Society, although I was aware, and had read a few copies, of the freewheelin’ magazine. Significantly 1999 was the year that I first logged on. It was on the night January 25th 2002 that I first attended one of the CBDS meetings. Dylanesque had been invited along to play a few songs, and it was there that I first made the acquaintance of John Stokes, Chris Cooper, John Nye and Keith Agar. Although I have been playing live music for nearly thirty years and have attended many many Dylan shows, the spirit of this evening, which will have been just another meeting to the regular attendees, really did overwhelm me! Maybe it was playing in front of the aficionados; maybe it was watching Bob footage where we all applauded as if he were there in the flesh, maybe it was the realisation of Keith Agar’s unique talent, or maybe it was all of these things, whatever it was – it was something else! 

One of the reasons that I mentioned the CBDS meetings, besides mapping out my route to you here, is to establish a positive note in my lament to freewheelin-on-line. Apparently these will continue, as will hopefully the annual Bob Dylan convention John Green Day. Roll on July 30th

As I have already made mention of  Manchester’s Free Trade Hall and that legendary shout of ‘Judas’ I might as well use up a little of, this now, precious space in praise of Like The Night (Revisited) by CP Lee. The book is subtitled ‘Bob Dylan and the road to the Manchester Free Trade Hall’. Not having read the original edition of 1998 ‘Like The Night’ and regretfully not being there, or indeed at any of these almost incendiary shows, I am grateful to CP for not only, as Greil Marcus would say, putting me there, but for also explaining the very reasons why someone like myself,  living outside of Manchester might not have been there. The book provides enough social, political and economic history, as the necessary backdrop to providing a greater understanding of the term ‘Folk music’ as perceived at the time, and the pandemonium that culminated in that most hurtful shout. For anybody wanting to get as close as to feel that night, without actually having been there, I would recommend a book, a film and a record. They are of course ‘Like The Night (Revisited)’ ‘Eat The Document’ and The Bootleg Series Volume 4. Little touches to this book made me happy, like leaving it open as to who in the band actually said “Play fuckin’ loud” CP gives us the choice of Dylan or Robertson. I must say that it never did sound like Dylan to me! And I must say, given his most recent recollections of being in Dylan’s band, another contender is Mickey Jones.  CP provides two Judas figures in Keith Butler and John Cordwell and while he can put you right next to those heat pipes that cough, if he can’t quite get to the bottom of who the culprit is, at least it was he whom brought the two candidates to our notice.  Is all of this relevant? Yes we are talking historic fact here and CP Lee is an eye witness. His road to delivering ‘Like the Night’ to us is a very important one in the history of Bob Dylan. It is one that stretches way back to 1971 when he first got hold of a copy of the bootleg record ‘Bob Dylan - Live at The Royal Albert Hall’. Without his eventual intervention this history, of which he in the most natural way possible has become a part of, would be a distorted one. Be glad that he remembers! It’s a great book!

AND IF MY THOUGHT-DREAMS COULD BE SEEN THEY’D PROBABLY PUT MY HEAD IN A GUILLOTINE… 

What is a song/poem if not thought and expression? The songs/poetry, of course, will depending upon their generally perceived worth, remain long after whoever creates them departs this existence. I find the whole idea that an artist would create even just one line; let’s say the one quoted above for example, NOT to stimulate our consciousness rather silly.

Not wanting to be seen as presenting an apple to the teacher, as it were, I have up until now made no mention of:

‘Like Ice, Like Fire’ (addressing the night in “Visions of Johanna”), by J. R. Stokes

By taking into account the work of others on the subject of “Visions of Johanna”, the most notable being ‘The Nightingales Code’ by John Gibbens, John presents the fruit of a his own long and hard study of this great song. I hope it does not sound too ridiculous to say, for myself at least, that John realises ‘thought dreams’ in “Visions of Johanna” that Dylan might not have. The perceived beauty in the eye of the beholder is surely what the artist craves. John translates the language of Dylan’s code to me so well, and when I say that I know full well that he is not telling me that “Visions of Johanna” means this or that! He just tells me what he sees. Like I said earlier with word space in this particular arena now so very precious, it would be a crying shame not to express my appreciation of John’s efforts. I don’t have the eloquence of expression that I would like to have to do this, so I will just say that it was bloody marvellous lad!

 

For information on Michael's band "Dylanesque", including a gigs guide, go to his website.
 
 
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