Born on the same day, five years apart.
♫ May you smile into the camera
And squint against the sun
May you stay forever fun
Forever fun, forever fun ♫
May you stay forever fun.
Happy happy birthday to two of my favorite people on the planet!
On this Sunday, I’d like to thank you for a gift you gave me thirty-five years ago.
(Peace Sunday was a concert to support nuclear disarmament,
and it included an impressive lineup.)
I wanted to attend this amazing live music event, but didn’t have a ticket. You, despite not liking crowds or concerts, said we should go. Right then! So you drove us in your “Blue Goose” from West LA to Pasadena, where 85,000 people had converged on the Rose Bowl. It took us a while to find a parking space and then we walked and walked and walked. Well, meandered was more like it seeing as you had your camera and were being meticulous about noting f-stops and shutter speed for each photo you took along the way.
When we finally reached the Rose Bowl, the concert had started and, of course, there were no tickets available. We needed a hand-stamp to get in. There was a chain-link fence near the entrance and some guys standing nearby had our answer: they licked the stamps on the back of their hands and then pressed them against the backs of our hands. It worked! We had our own hand-stamps and were officially part of Peace Sunday!
Many details of that day are hazy (cough, cough), but I believe our seats were to the side and slightly behind the stage. Wherever we were, we couldn’t see the stage. And the sound was pretty crappy right there. But we’d made it! We were part of the Peace Sunday experience.
I do remember when Joan Baez brought out Bob Dylan. It gave me chills, knowing two of my very favorite singer-songwriters were so close. It was rather surreal, hearing them sing from a stage we couldn’t see.
Joan and Bob’s performances weren’t great, but because of you, I was there! Because of you, I was able to join a swath of humanity that’d come together for an incredible day of music and to say NO NUKES! It was an unforgettable gift. I hope you also have fond memories of Peace Sunday. Thank you again for being my generous and funny big sister who gave me a very special day.
Happy birthday to you.
As has been documented here over the years, I’m a long-time Dylan fan, so wasn’t completely surprised when it was announced today that Bob Dylan has won the Nobel Prize for Literature. (Although, as I said in an email to a friend, I do wonder whether Bob should’ve been disqualified from consideration due to his Victoria’s Secret commercial years ago.)Nonetheless, this year the committee chose to honor Bob Dylan’s work which, on a personal note, feels very fitting because Zebu is studying in Sweden right now. The award also feels fitting because of one Dylan song in particular that tragically never, ever goes out of style. For “Masters of War” alone, I’m good with Dylan winning the Nobel Prize for Literature.
We’re still way below our usual numbers, but birds are starting to show up at the feeder again. However, many seem to prefer the top of the pole to the actual feeder dish.
(* apologies to Dylan fans for the very bad pun)
1) While much of Bob Dylan’s HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED is good music to run to, Ballad of a Thin Man is not a song that will put pep in your step.
2) Zebu is binge-watching all six seasons of LOST (and luring me in from time to time), and what pops into my head at least once per viewing is How are none of these people badly burned and peeling?! Yo, Dharma Initiative, you remembered the lima beans but forgot the sunblock!
3) I want to live in a world in which cookies and beer have no caloric consequences.
5) I recently read T.C. Boyle’s WATER MUSIC and Zadie Smith’s ON BEAUTY (part of this effort), and am trying hard to be inspired by their prowess for description rather than allowing their mad skills to intimidate me so much I take a match to my manuscript.
I grew up listening to The Band.
My parents had one of those huge cabinet stereos
that they’d hooked up to our intercom system
so music played throughout the house.
I washed dishes to The Band,
tanned outside on the deck,
lemon-oiled paneling and washed windows to their music.
I spent hours in my room, studying the album covers and liner notes
as I listened to the stories-in-songs they sang while trading verses and
marveled at the many instruments they played and the sounds they created.
These were the soundtracks for much of my childhood:
I knew their names and faces.
And I loved them even more when I found out they’d been
Bob Dylan’s back-up band before becoming The Band.
(Dylan painted the cover art for Music From Big Pink)
I spent my fourteenth birthday at home during a snowstorm
in Wisconsin while they played their very last concert together
in San Francisco. I was heartbroken I couldn’t be there with them
and their many friends: Bob Dylan (see#23), Joni Mitchell, The Staples,
Neil Young, EmmyLou Harris, etc. But I’ve watched that concert
“rockumentary” (see #24), many times since.
In the spring of 1985, Rick Danko, Garth Hudson, and Richard Manuel
played a small club somewhere in the San Fernando Valley.
My friend, Scott E., and I went, lining up at the door well before the show
so we’d get good seats. We were front row. No Levon and no Robbie, but it
was still remarkable basking in the music and memories.
Richard died the following spring.
Rick died in 1999.
And today, we lost Levon Helm.
Levon was the drummer but he also sang some of their most famous songs.
The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down and Up On Cripple Creek. And not-so-
famous Ophelia. When I was pregnant, I made a mix tape of songs for my labor soundtrack. I wanted music so familiar to me I wouldn’t need to expend any energy on
thinking or processing the songs. I wanted to be able to sing every single word
without hesitation. The Weight was one such song.
But right now, as I mourn the passing of yet another member of The Band,
I offer you Levon singing All La Glory.
Thank you for all the beautiful music, Levon.
Wherever you are, I hope you’re still smiling and laying down the beat.