viernes, 31 de octubre de 2014

Present (III)


On my return from Dylan’s recital, I read again the opening fragment of the brown notebook he gave me when he bid farewell. Seeing 1st of April ´67 puts my life into perspective. Intuition inflamed in a blinding flash, it sheds light on what is a sad revelation.

     That all these years I have followed his career closely, been at many of his concerts and crossed several continents to the rhythm of his tours, always burdened by the writing of other books, unable to tackle the one awaiting me, germinating in the darkness of a suitcase.

     And that it is only now, watching and listening to him soar over the relative coolness of a Central European stage in his performance tonight, his harmonica moving me like never before – not more, but somehow different. Only now, when the idea of another form of farewell settles itself over that leave taken at my caravan door, and heightens my thankfulness for that written gift; only now, will I take on the writing of this; will I dare amalgamate his texts with mine, sift them together with a catalogue of goodbye songs-stories which started in '67 and have only deepened with time.

     I decide to recreate conversations, atmospheres, reinvent a world of happy days assisting the prodigy, days which the company of summer ´67 helped bring about so many evenings in a basement, out of which four conspiratorial musicians look on impatiently at Dylan on the stairs, going up, coming down, sitting sometimes on a step -tilted head, a pencil in one hand a typed page in the other- knowing that they were sharing a treasure.

martes, 28 de octubre de 2014

Back Pages - Brown Notebook (a) 1.4.1967


    The editing of the film is progressing.
    It will be a document to eat.
    In the mornings,
    arguing with Howard and Robbie
    about the meaning of that
    may take us hours.

    In the afternoons, I play.
Sometimes Maria accompanies me with her chocolate-coloured tambourine,
sometimes Jesee drifts off by the amplifier,
sometimes Sara looks at us, caressing her belly as round as a moon.

I try out chords to test my voice.
My voice now, with nobody listening.
Manchester + the Triumph dying on Striebel Road
[defending yourself by attacking, then disappear].
Only I can hear that, no one else could sing from there.
I hear it -my voice,
I listen to me -something has changed, and not.
What was different with the band around?
What would it be like to listen to us playing together now?

Rick told me at times they get bored.
Howard needs them less and less,
he says we've already filmed enough material
and we should now focus on the editing
of the edible document. 
We have time.
We all have time, and I also look forward
to listening to myself
surrounded once again.
I want to know what has changed, or not.

I'll ask them to come round and play in the evenings
from time to time,
after the kids are in bed.

There's enough place in the Red Room,
four and twenty windows,
a wet bar
and a couple of sockets for whatever comes up.
They'll feel glad.

A certain way to miss each other
consists in wanting to know
what we would be now (what we would be again?)
along with those who once were part of us.

Tomorrow is Sunday, a good day to start.

domingo, 26 de octubre de 2014

Present (II)

I had settled in that caravan shortly before spring '67. Luck and a good relationship with the owner of the house allowed me to stay in the shadow of Big Pink, in the rear, when it wasn’t yet called that or in any other way, because its name is its own history and it was just beginning to be written in those days. The owner was the same friendly and confident lady who told Rick about that home while he and Richard were still living in a motel in Woodstock that she also owned, and eventually rented the house to them. My intention, unknown to anyone, was to start writing Dylan's biography, for which I had collected materials for a couple of years. I also wanted to get new and update information to write about his life during that high-spirited period at Woodstock and its surroundings, in respect of which he seemed to be reaching outside voluntarily.
     I accumulated these materials in a huge notebook and I alternated them with personal reflections, impressionistic and sometimes banal notes on the everyday life in that pink island in the Catskill Mountains. I would never get to publish them as soon after I decided to finish the first volume of the biography with the date of the accident, July '66, and since then, I have not been able to complete the following next. For decades, this voluminous notebook, along with a smaller paperback diary-log, in which some goodbye stories gradually emerged, shared with Dylan’s brown notebook the narrowness of an exiled suitcase in a damp attic with no windows. I kept them together, his present, my memory, and the pain of incomplete goodbyes, as the three relicts from '67. Over time, I did not even realize how stems and roots started to grow and joined them as convergent branches of the same trunk.

     Meanwhile, my life was deflecting paths that had little or nothing to do with the dreams and ideals of whom, during the "summer of love", had rented that caravan to be near Dylan, the artist that drove many of them.

sábado, 18 de octubre de 2014

Caravan (2)

 When his car disappears behind the trees of the road, I go into the caravan and prepare my breakfast while I watch the closed notebook on the table. I try to put off the moment when to start reading, savoring the uncertainty of what its contents may be. I do not want to make suppositions, I only contemplate its dimension, its rare color, and the marks usage has left on its cover and corners. Halfway through the second cup of coffee, I open the brown covers with trembling hands. On the first page there is a drawing: two figures with a schematic silhouette shout on both sides of a star-shaped wheel; another figure which appears on its back observes the scene and cries out an exclamation of surprise. No comment offers a hint, just a few strokes of a childlike simplicity highlighted by the use of three cartoon balloons drawn in a hurry. I start turning the pages over and discover that this is a book of notes, some of them headed with dates beginning on April 1967, approximately a month after, in this caravan, I started writing the first chapters of the biography; the daily notes about life in [or behind] Big Pink and some outlines for the farewell stories. I like his calligraphy, this is the first thing I note, and then I start to understand how much it intrigues me and unsettles me to know the content of these pages.

      I go for a walk to the creek, hoping that the fresh air can drive away this distress. The notebook remains on my bed. I smile when I realize that it is almost the same color as the blanket, just a little bit lighter than the ink 
used by Dylan in his writing.


jueves, 16 de octubre de 2014

Present (I)

I never had him as close again, never got to talk to him again. As I published the first volume of the biography, one of his agents let me know that it hadn’t displeased him, nothing more. This goodbye scene in the back part of that pink house, which was the home of the greatest miracle of the summer of ‘67, has accompanied me throughout my whole life as part of the movie of a dream, like the dream of a movie that ends with a perfect farewell. I found myself mulling over this idea during some of my sleepless nights in the caravan, sometimes talking to Richard and other times writing short stories about the distinct facets of goodbye -from vanishing until absence, including oblivion and its outskirts-, unable to note more than a meager repertory of incomplete farewells that would go on to amplify with the passing of the years and -I couldn’t have known it then- the tenacity of the losses.

The manner he chose that morning to greet me by leaving showed that, yes, perfection was possible in the act of distancing oneself, and in a double sense: because it would be definitive and because his farewell, closing that dreamlike movie, had placed into my hands a gift that opened the door for me to invent another one, others… And I would know what to do with his present, he’d said.

Dylan was sure of it.

sábado, 11 de octubre de 2014

Caravan (1)

      “Just came to say goodbye, Nar. I’m heading off for Nashville and don’t expect you’ll still be here when I return, seeing as how it’s starting to get too cold to keep sleeping out here.”

This he says to me from the stairs of my caravan - his right foot on the third step, his elbow propped on his knee, his hand caressing the brim of his hat. He doesn’t want to come all the way inside, doesn’t have the time for that, but has something to share.

      “Uh, listen, we’ve done a lot of talking these past weeks, right?, and your presence here has become less and less questionable. I didn’t much like having you here in the beginning, as you know, and when I found out your reasons for hanging around Big Pink, I damn near threw you out. But once we really started getting to know one another, you won over my respect. I leave you with that. And with this…”

From the pocket of his jacket, he removes a brown notebook and extends it to me with his left hand and a half-smile.

      “You’ll know what to do with this, surely, seeing how those of us who write are also expert recyclers.”

He tips his hat to me gently, his head leaning to the right and turns to go. As if in slow motion, he begins descending the slope and I hear him say “Good luck!”

Dylan is gone.