Of Bob Dylan By Mr. Johnny Cash
There are those who do not imitate,
Who cannot imitate
But then there are those who emulate
At times, to expand further the light
Of an original glow.
Knowing that to imitate the living
And to imitate the dead
There are those
Who are beings complete unto themselves
Whole, undaunted,-a source
As leaves of grass, as stars
As mountains, alike, alike, alike,
Each is complete and contained
And as each unalike star shines
Each ray of light is forever gone
To leave way for a new ray
And a new ray, as from a fountain
Complete unto itself, full, flowing
So are some souls like stars
And their words, works and songs
Like strong, quick flashes of light
From a brilliant, erupting cone.
So where are your mountains
To match some men?
This man can rhyme the tick of time
The edge of pain, the what of sane
And comprehend the good in men, the bad in men
Can feel the hate of fight, the love of right
And the creep of blight at the speed of light
The pain of dawn, the gone of gone
The end of friend, the end of end
By math of trend
What grip to hold what he is told
How long to hold, how strong to hold
How much to hold of what is told.
The yield of rend; the break of bend
The scar of mend
I'm proud to say that I know it,
Here-in is a hell of a poet.
And lots of other things
And lots of other things.
-- Johnny Cash
Reprinted From Wildflower Child by Ed Reynolds December 7th, 2000
slumber was also interrupted in 1963 while she was staying at a large house in
Woodstock, New York, with Bob Dylan and a few other friends. "In the middle of
the night I woke up, because I heard music playing. And I went hunting out
through the house," recalled Collins. "I could hear this voice singing, and hear
this music playing. And I opened the door to the stairwell, and there was Dylan
sitting on the staircase in this old house on the stairway to the basement, and
he was just finishing [composing] "Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man."
Meets His Hero
Wed 21 July:
Homer meets Dylan; one of them is impressed the other is impressive.
I'm at an important meeting, I rush back in late from lunch. I get a message
that Alex, my brother-in-law, wants me to call him urgently. I gather it is
something very urgent indeed. I have to go into the meeting as I'm already late.
I reckon that it can only be one of two things: an illness in the family or
something Dylan-related. If the former he surely would have said, I have to
assume it is the latter and sit in a ferment of worry and nerves (I presume that
Dylan is on telly or that some big news has broken) for the eternity of 100
minutes that follow.
The minute the meeting ends, I rush out to 'phone Alex. I'm more than stunned to
hear that Dylan has been in Camden and that Alex has stood next to him. (Unable
to speak but in the line of the video as Dylan walked backwards into a cafe.)
One of Alex's colleagues even spoke to Bob & got an autograph with a lovely
little personal message for Alex. Stunned, pleased, a bit jealous - all those
feelings at once with the nagging question: Could he still be there?
Alex is still talking, of a song possibly called Blood In My Eye, of Dylan
singing with a busker. Of the autograph he has. This is all too much. He goes. I
'phone Larry. General disbelief and astonishment later, Larry says he cannot
possibly get there but will 'phone a friend in Camden to see what has
happened/if anything is still happening. He tells me to call back in 20 minutes.
Five minutes later I call him back. He hasn't got through to his friend. I ask
him - very precisely - to tell me that there is no possibility that Dylan is
still there and that I've to be sensible and go home. He exactly follows my
instructions; I hang up the 'phone, stop the first taxi and ask the driver to
take me to Camden.
Within three minutes we hit a traffic jam. I gnaw at my fingers, fingernails,
knuckles, wrists and arms, still the taxi crawls along. I have the bright idea
of calling Compendium Bookshop who sell Homer, the slut. I tell the driver that
I'll be back but must run & make a 'phone call; I have no worries that I'll
catch him up. I think that I'd better appear cool and collected - after all
Dylan probably left ages ago.
Hello, I supply you with Homer, the slut, a Dylan magazine, do you need any more
Funny you should ring just now, he's sitting straight across the road at the
window of a restaurant.....BRRRR!
I impress upon the driver that, traffic jam notwithstanding, I have to be in
Camden High Street NOW. I expect he couldn't make out any of my words but he got
the idea. Sooner than I'd thought possible, we were in Camden High Street.
I get the taxi to stop straight across from Compendium Bookshop. Sure enough
there is a restaurant there, called Flukes Cradle. I walk in, for Chris from
Compendium to have seen him Dylan would have had to have been in the room where
I now stood.
The room was empty of Dylan, bereft of Bob.
I trudge across to Compendium to ask when he left, what they saw etc. They -
kindly looking after my interests - grab me at the door and say:
He's still there, he's in the back now, having a meal.
Can I have a Homer, the slut?
Yes, but don't take the top one, it's dog-eared. Take two and bring one back
On your bike!
I take two and go back across to Flukes Cradle. It is a very hot day but I'm
beginning to sweat even more than that accounts for. My plan is simple - I'll go
into the restaurant and sit as close to Dylan as possible, and ask for his
autograph if there is a convenient opportunity as he leaves. I pass through the
bar, thinking that above all I must be inconspicuous. I go into the restaurant
and....OH MY GOD HE'S REALLY THERE! OK, I went in knowing he would be there but
seeing him really there, like really him, really sitting there....too much!
[I've read that in moments of shock supposed to have a kind of automatic defence
system; I've obviously been programmed wrongly as when I went into shock my body
went onto the attack. Knees buckling, head spinning and heart attempting to
smash through the ribs!]
He's wearing a top hat, sitting in profile, that nose, those curls; visions of
Blackbushe and all that '78 meant to me seeing him live for the first time,
visions of so many years before and after that. I stand stock still. I somehow
remember that I am supposed to be inconspicuous.
Dylan's table was down a few stairs to the left. I go to sit at the nearest
table to him on my level of the restaurant (a whole other level) and try to be
cool. I pick up a menu, though I know I'll never swallow anything I order. The
menu slips through my sweaty paws. I decide I'm too conspicuous so I move to the
next nearest table which just happens to have a better view of our man. I
realize I am, in fact, totally conspicuous as Dylan and his entourage are the
only people in the restaurant apart from me. Maybe I'm not supposed to be there?
I think and this thought prompts others that remind me I always said I'd never
disturb him in this way and that I was acting very stupidly. I leave the
restaurant and go back to the front bar.
I'm feeling pretty happy, seeing him so close is a big thrill.
I order a shandy. I sit down. I stand up. I sit down again. I move table. I
decide on an alternate strategy. I could go downstairs again and ask someone if
they could get Dylan to sign a Homer. This I do, whispering my request and
stressing that I only want it if it will not unduly trouble Dylan.
Go and ask him yourself.
I glance up at Dylan, a mere four seats away:
No, I don't want to disturb him and anyway it isn't physically possible.
I'll be sitting in the bar if you manage to get it signed. Thanks a lot.
I sneak back out and wait. A few minutes - or eternity - pass. My Homer is
returned, this person doesn't feel it is right for him to present it to Dylan.
Fair enough I think. I'm happy enough and have remembered all the stories about
him being pestered by fans. I'll just sit and watch him leave.
A few more minutes pass and someone comes over to me and says:
Go now! Now's a good time.
I stand up, hesitate, look doubtful.
You'll never have a better chance in your life, go now.
I go. Back in the restaurant only Dylan's table now occupied. The furthest away
table; Dylan, naturally, the most difficult person to get near to. To get to him
I'll I have to push past someone I don't recognize, then Dave Stewart.
If I'd thought that my heart was pounding before - and, hey, it was - it was
doing something else altogether this time. There were four young looking people
at the table; three on the far side, one nearest me then next to him Dave
Stewart and next to him, Himself. Looking absolutely gorgeous but you know what
they say about "an aura around him"? Well, I'd always thought that was nonsense
- or, rather, a projection of our feelings. I was wrong. The aura is almost
tangible. My legs are threatening to give way before my rib cage. I try to
detach my tongue from the roof of my mouth and my jaw from the floor.
At this moment there is a babble of conversation in the room. Dave Stewart is
facing Dylan - who is staring straight ahead in profile (and what a profile) -
asking questions quite forcibly. I cannot make the questions out due to the talk
amongst the others. Dylan is not responding at all. I push past the first person
between me and Bob.
A silence falls around the table with the exception of Dave Stewart's drumming
questions. I cannot make out the words because my heart is now beating so hard
that my ears are drumming louder. I try my pen for the last time - but I'd tried
it once too many times and it ran out - luckily I'd brought eight with me, so I
fished out my seventh last. I'm now standing right beside Dave Stewart's chair.
Dylan is within arm's reach.
The movement in getting Homer and the working pen out alerts Dave Stewart to the
fact that there is someone behind him and that everything has gone quiet. He
stops talking and looks around and up at me. His look is marvellous: it says "Oh
no not another one of these Dylan nutters". ( In a kindly way however, later I
admire his ready acceptance of himself as a mere pop star beside someone who is
a real Star.) He moves his chair slightly, I help him move it a little more. I
am now standing right beside Bob Dylan.
There is total silence.
Dylan just keeps staring ahead, not reacting to the sudden silence or anything.
This lasts for 7 zillion aeons, or about two seconds in real time.
Well this is it, after eighteen years of interest - some have called it
obsessional - in the Man, I'm at the point many of us have thought about. What
am I going to say? I have no idea. Staying alive is only barely within my grasp
at this moment. Thinking stopped some time ago. I tear my tongue from the roof
of my mouth.
Excuse me, Mr. Dylan.
HE MOVES - and how - the head swivels round in an instant, he stares into my
face (or, at least, the rivers of sweat where my face should be) and says
I am dead. It is not a pleasant feeling. I want my mummy and daddy. I want the
ground to swallow me up and never let me out again.
I am reborn and mysteriously function
I hold out a copy of Homer issue 9. I force the Sahara Desert above my chin to
respond; the sand becomes a torrent of burbling water. Something along the
following lines pours out:
Could you please sign this? Of course, it doesn't matter if you don't and I'm
very sorry for disturbing you, I realize it is a stupid thing to do, and it has
been great being this close to you and I'll leave now.
See, I told you I'd lost control. I don't know how much of this he made out,
possibly Please and sign or possibly he just guessed what the pen and magazine
He took the magazine in his left hand and the pen in his right I was pleased to
see. However, the pen was upside-down! A tale flashed through my mind of someone
asking for his autograph who didn't have a pen and his devastating
response....maybe if he tries to sign it now he'll get annoyed. Oh No...
Fate, however, intervened. Or perhaps it was the whole point of the suggestion
that I 'go in now' (if so I owe that gentleman so much I could never, ever repay
him). Dylan laid the magazine down and jabbed a finger - beautiful finger - at
the embroidery on the jacket sleeve pictured on the front cover:
That's it, that's the jacket I'm talking about
They'd been arguing/discussing that very jacket???! Someone says from the far
side of the table:
Well, that's it then, it's Hammersmith
I answered, without taking my eyes of Dylan's right hand which was signing the
front cover of Homer at that very moment. (In a very small voice:)
Actually it is Belfast. But, hey, if you guys want it to be Hammersmith, then
Hammersmith it is.
I take the signed copy from Himself and slither backwards out the room. I am
aware of acute physical pain. But the thought resounds that IT HAS HAPPENED.
I sit in the bar again. Stunning. Staring at Homer. More stunning. Slowly the
brain tries to re-establish a modicum of control. "Sit where he'll have to pass
you on the way out" it urges. I do. I get crafty, I get a table where they'll
have to pass in single file as they approach the door. I take away the second
seat and wedge myself into a perfect viewing position as they leave the
restaurant. I place the signed Homer by my right hand and lay the other one on
the table in such a manner that anyone looking as they passed would have to see
Another few zillion years (2 minutes) later they start to leave. Stewart and
some of the others (three, I think) are talking quite animatedly and,
gesticulating over to me, one says something along the lines of:
Oh yes they still do, look at that lad over there
They all laugh, in a friendly fashion, I keep my eyes glued straight ahead
waiting for You Know Who. However, attracted by the laughter the next person out
- a young American - stops at my table (thereby blocking the passageway, so I
have another hero) and, pointing to the unsigned Homer, asks
Do you subscribe to all of these?
Yes, and, actually, I run this one.
Well I type it up on computer and I've a photocopier at home...
As those last three words came out, every sensory input in my being went into
overdrive again. Dylan had majestically walked up the stairs and was now heading
straight for my table. Do not believe he is 5' 7", this man is at least 95 feet
not including the top hat.
He rests one hand on the table and lifts Homer from the young man's hands. The
youngster backs off a little, Dylan moves in. I self-liquidize.
Dylan starts reading the inside cover page. He says something about the warmline
number and laughs and then flicks a few pages sometimes pausing to read. There's
a smile, a grunt, an "uh-huh". Some of my senses are still working, I realize
that behind me everyone has left except Dylan and the youngster who first
stopped at my table. He is shifting his feet as though to leave, Dylan is still
reading but I feel he is about to go:
Please take it Bob. And thanks for a great year..
('Heard it a million times before' voice.)
He is still standing reading.
Did you write this?
I have no idea what page he is on. Remember I am sitting down, wedged in, he is
right ahead and above me. I can see the front and back page and HIM. Having
written virtually none of Issue Nine, I answer anyway:
No, I edit it...it's not a very good issue anyway Bob...
He raises an eyebrow and flicks a few more pages, keeps on reading. Suddenly he
realizes it is time to go, very regretfully he says:
This is eh, uh, really interesting but you know I just don't have time ...
Please take it, Bob, take it with you...
He leans towards me with a look that says: "There's a puddle on this chair and
it is trying to speak to me but I don't know what it is burbling".
Thankfully the young man translates:
He's trying to tell you it is yours to take, Bob.
(How come he said that so easily, I wonder)
Bob, still pretty close, in a very surprised voice:
Really? I can take this one?
Utter panic, his face is now too close for its own safety. I gasp/scream/whisper
Nothing would give me greater pleasure in life.....
He - Bob FUCKING Dylan - puts the hand with Homer (his left) toward my right
shoulder and his right hand squeezes my left shoulder as he leans forward and
Hey, that's great....
I am now beyond death, beyond rebirth, beyond Nirvana. I am also almost
completely incapable of movement. However, Dylan is still nearby so I manage to
get up and follow him to the car waiting outside.
I notice Dylan is still being generous with his time, a denim-clad man is
shaking his hand and they are exchanging greetings. I notice too that Dave
Stewart is in the back of the car videoing everything. But mostly I notice Dylan
and how friendly he's being and how people are drawn to him and, finally,
something which even he may never understand, how even the ordinary things he
does do not lessen the aura, the mystique - whatever you want to call it. He has
been nothing but friendly since I've been in Camden and by all reports from
throughout the day. He is doing normal things, but he is set apart. I never
believed such a thing possible; but he just doesn't walk and talk like anybody
else. He is Bob Dylan. (The clothes at Camden certainly aided this feeling but,
honest, he is stately.)
He walks around the back of the car and goes in the far-side back seat. (They
let him walk near the cars? - dear Christ, I wouldn't.) He is waving to people
on the street, unfortunately this brings too many people across the road, they
press against the car, staring in at him. He opens the Homer and buries his face
in it as the car speeds away.
I have a feeling that I will never be able to describe the way the fear, pain,
hesitation, wonderment changes to an unbelievable rush of adrenalin..
I want to tell everybody in the world what happened. I could start at Compendium
and Alex's office and thank them at the same time. I ran across the road to
Compendium. In my delirium I had forgotten such things as traffic. It was coming
straight for me. Screeching brakes, burning rubber. Chaotic hubbub.My hero from
the entourage shouting:
Hey watch the cars!!!
I spin round in the middle of the road and yell back:
What the Hell does it matter now?!
Letter from Bob
Dylan to Broadsides Magazine in 1964
for sis and
gordon an all broads of good sizes
let me begin by not beginnin
let me start not by startin but by continuin
it sometimes gets so hard for me --
I am now famous
I am now famous by the rules of public famousity
it snuck up on me
an pulverized me...
I never knew what was happenin
it is hard for me t walk down the same streets
I did before the same way because now
I truly dont know
who is waitin for my autograph...
I dont know if I like givin my autograph
oh yes sometimes I do...
but other times the back of my mind tells me
it is not honest... for I am just fulfillin
a myth t somebody who'd actually treasure my
handwritin more'n his own handwritin...
this gets very complicated for me
an proves t me that I am livin in a contradiction...
t quote mr freud
I get quite paranoid
an I know this isn't right
it is not a useful healthy attitude for one t have
but I truly believe that everybody has their fears
everybody yes everybody...
I do not think it good anymore to overlook them
I think they ought t be admitted...
an' I think that all fellings should be admitted...
people ask why do I write the way I do
a question like that hits me...
it makes me think that I'm doin nothin
it makes me think that I'm not being hear
yes above all the mumble jumble an rave praises
an all the records I've sold... thru all the packed
houses I play... thru all the communication systems
an rants an bellows an yellin an clappin comes
a statement like "why do you do what you do"
what is this?
some kind of constipated idiot world?
some kind of horseshoe game we're all playin
responding only when a ringer clangs
no no no
not my world
everybody plays in my world
aint nobody first second third or fourth
everybody shoots at the same time
an ringers dont count
an everybody wins
an nobody loses
cause everybody lives an breathes
an takes up space
an cant be overlooked
an I am a people too
I cannot pretend I'm not
an I feel guilty
god how can I help not feel guilty
I walk down on the bowery and give money away
an still I feel guilty for I know I do not
have enuff money t give away...
an people say "think a yourself, dylan, you're
gonna need it someday" and I say yeah yeah
an I think maybe about it for a split second
but then the floods of vomit guilt swoop my
drunken head an I spread forth more gut torn
bloody money from the depths of my forsaken
pockets... an I whisper "ah it's so useless"
man so many people need so many things
an what am I anyway?
some kind a messiah walkin around...?
hell no I'm not
an I ask why dont other people with things give some of it away
an I know the answer without lookin
security security security...
everybody wants security
they want t be secure
they want t be protected
an I say protected?
protected aginst what?
protected against starving I guess
an power too
an protected against the forces that they know will
get them if they lose their money.
an why does it have to be like that?
man why are these walls built?
who is this god that is so feared?
certainly not in my life this isnt
yes I have my fears but mine are the fears of
the mind. the fears of the head
a lonely person with money is still a lonely person
I have never had much money before
an so it is easy for me I guess t spend it
an overlook it
but I'm sure that many other people could overlook
some of theirs too
I'm not speakin now of the century ridin millionares
but rather of "get theirs and get out" people
I dont understand them
I dont understand them at all
there's many things I admit I dont understand
I dont understand the blacklist
I dont understand how people aginst it go along with it
I'm talkin about the full thing
not just a few of us refusin t be on the show
I'm talkin about the poeple that stand up
against it violently an then in some way have something t do with it...
not just the singers mind you
but the managers an agents an buyers an sellers...
they are the dishonest ones
for they are never seen
they play both sides against each other
an expect t be repected by everybody
the heroes of this battle are not me an Joan
an the Kingston Trio nor Peter Paul an Mary
for none of us need t go on that show
none of us really need that kind of dumbness
but there's some that could use it
for they could use the money
I mean people like Tom Paxton, Barbara Dane,
and Johnny Herald... they are the heroes if
such a word has t be used here
they are the ones that lose materialistically
ah yes but in their own minds they dont
an that is much more important
it means much more
we need more kind a people like that
poeple that cant go against their conscience
no matter what they might gain
an I've come to think that that might be the most
important thing in the whole wide world...
not going against your conscience
nor your own natural senses
for I think that that is all the truth there
is... an no more
thru all the gossip, lies, religions, cults
myths, gods, history books, social books,
all books, politics, decrees, rules, laws,
boundary lines, bibles, legends, and bathroom
writings, there is no guidance at all except
from ones own natural senses
from being born
an it can only be exchanged
it cant be preached
nor even understood...
my mind sometimes runs like a roll of toilet paper
and I hate like hell t see it unravel an unwind
at my empty walls
I'm movin out a here soon
yes the landlord has beaten me t tell you.
this place I am typin in is so filthy
my clothes cover the floor an once in a while
I pick up somethin an use it for a blanket...
the damn heat goes off at ten
an dont come on til ten...
that's mornin wise
gushes of warm smelly heat always wake me up
when I sleep here
the plaster falls constantly
an the floor is tiltin an rottin
but somehow there is a beauty to it
columbia records gave me a record player
of the goodness of some keeps on amazin me
an sometimes I play it.
gettin back t the landlord tho
he is really too much
he owns I guess three buildings
I pay him way too high
an I'm gettin screwed and I know it
an he knows it
but I just dont have the time t go down t the rent control board.
I been told they'd get after him but I'm so lazy.
when sue was here he was gonna jack up the price
cause he said I never told him I had a wife.
you really got t see this place t believe it.
I ought have jacked him up a long time ago and used him for heat.
last year he put in a new window (there was a god damn hole in the
other one) man it was like I asked 'm for his blood relation
or something. (which he'd probably give away)
anyway the record player's on now
an I'm listenin t Pete sing Guantanamera for the billionth time.
I dont have many folk music records (I dont have many records really)
but I do have that one of Pete's.
god it's like I go in a trance
he is so human I could cry
he tells me so much
he makes me feel so good
it's as though of all the things that're sold t make one feel better,
aint none of it worth while.
all the cars, an clothes, and trinkets an foods,
an jewels an diamonds an lollypops an gifts of glad tidings,
just dont do nothin for the soul.
I believe I'd rather listen t Pete sing Guantanamera than t
own everything there is t own...
(that's my own private selfishnes shinin thru there)
yes for me he is truly a saint
an I love him
perhaps more than I could show
(as always is the case ha)
I think of love in werid terms.
sometimes I even feel guilty about it
because I know I love sue
but I should love everybody like I love sue
an in all honesty I dont
I just love her that way
an I say what way?
an a voice says "that way"
an I get quite up tite
an I know I have a long way t go
when the day comes when I can love everything
that breathes the way I love sue then
I will truly be a Jesus Christ ha ha
(but I dont wanna be a Jesus Christ ha ha)
an so I am again contradictin myself
away away be gone all you demons
an just let me be me
all kinds of me
saw the last issue of broadside an especially flipped out over
"talkin Merry Christmas"
I have never met Paul Wolfe but I'd like to
he has an uncanny sense of touch
as for Phil, I just cant keep up with him
an he's gettin better an better an better
(spoke with someone who was with him in Hazzard
named Hamish Sinclair.. an englishman
of high virtues an common tongue)
I want t get over an see Phil's baby
I'm told the girl came out yellin about the bomb.
my novel is going noplace absolutely noplace
like it dont even tell a story
it's about a million scenes long
an takes place on a billion scraps of paper...
certainly I cant make nothin out of it.
(oh I forgot. hallelullah t you for puttin Brecht in your
same last issue. he should be as widely known as
Woody an should be as widely read as Mickey Spalline
an as widely listened to as Eisenhower.)
anyway I'm writin a play out of this her so called
novel (navel would be better I guess)
an I'm up to me belly button in it.
quite involved yes
I've discovered what the power of playwriting means
as opposed t song writing.
although both are equal, I'm wrapped in playwriting for the minute,
my songs tell only about me an how I feel
but in the play all the characters tell how they feel.
I relaize that his might be more confusin for some
but in the total reality of things it might be much better for some too.
I think at best you could say that the characters will tell in an hour
what would take me, alone, two weeks t sing about
I shall get up t see you one of these days
just cause I haven't in a while please dont think I'm not with you.
I am with you more'n ever.
yours perhaps is the only paper that I am on the side of
every single song you print
an I am with with with you
my nit is closin again now
an I shall drift off in dreams
an climb velvet carpets up t the stars
with newsweek magazines burnin an disappointin
people smoulderin and disgustin tongues balzin
an jealous mongrel dogs walkin on hot coals
before my smilin unharmful eyes
(oh such nitemares)
an I shall wake in the mornin an try t start lovin again
I got a letter from Pete an he closed by sayin take it easy but take it!
I thought about that for an hour or more.
when I reached my conclusion of what it really meant
I either cried or laughed (I cant remember which).
I will repeat the same an add "give it easy but give it"
an I'll think about that for an hour an at the end either cry or laugh
(I'll write you another letter an tell you which one it is)
all right then
shaloom an vamoose
I'm off agian
off t the hazzards an lost angels an minneapoilcemen
an boss towns an burnin hams an everything else
combined an combustioned for me...
tryin t remain sane at all times
love to agnes
she is one of the true talents of the universe
I've always thought that an would like t see her again some time
love t everybody in your house
softly an sleepy
but ready an waitin