jueves, 31 de diciembre de 2015

sábado, 5 de diciembre de 2015

Caravan (15) Early July 1967

           Standing  on  the  steps of the  caravan, the  sun  is  drawing  circles  of  light  over my closed eyelids. I have still not awakened from the dream that last night ended a long, conclusive journey, my consciousness tries to fill in the last stage of the return when a magenta voice makes me open my eyes. Rick, smiling.
     - Hiya, Nar! Long time no see! Where've ya been?
     - It´s a long story...Ya could say I've been a pilgrim, visited a couple of places, got back last night. How 'bout you?
     - All good, enjoying the summer, basement's getting better all the time. There's a good vibe and Dylan's super inspired, ideas pouring out non-stop...A couple of days back he gave me some more lyrics he's almost finished: Give it some rhythm he said, so that's what I'm doing.
     - So, what's it about?
    - The truth is I'm not sure myself...Well, there are verses which talk to a 'you' and they rise up around a wheel...It's on fire and about to explode. And I'm trying to shore up that feeling of imminent danger with the bass, so he can ride it with his voice. Anyways, if you come by the basement tonight, you can hear what it is sounding like at the moment.
       - And what would Dylan say if I turned up again?
     - Nothing, I suppose. You're lucky he likes you. Yes, it does happen sometimes! Why the face!?
      - How can you be so sure?
    - Well, the other day he asked about you...And once I heard him say you have the “right attitude, that you too prefer “old news.
     - What did he mean?
     - You'd better ask him. Here he comes.

      Dylan is walking past the kitchen entrance. He stops for a moment, at the door, as if looking for something or someone. Walking now towards the caravan his dark glasses hide the tracks of his eyes.

martes, 29 de septiembre de 2015

What about 65-66? Back Pages – Brown Notebook – End-September 1967

Sometimes it's not enough to know the meaning of things.

Sometimes we have to know what things don't mean as well.

                           I   stopped   trying   to   figure   everything   out   a   long   time   ago.

domingo, 6 de septiembre de 2015

Back Pages - Brown Notebook - Early July 1967

Our conclusions
should be
more drastic

Won't you come see me //  us
in the basement
again ?

sábado, 29 de agosto de 2015

C h r o n i c l e

An entry in this blog
is like a dream,
and you try to make both come true.
They're like strange countries that you have to enter.

W  h  o     s  a  i  d     t  h  a  t    ?

domingo, 12 de julio de 2015

Present (X) End of The Spanish Tour


And yesterday
you said in Spanish

"  V E I N T E    M I N U T O S  "

and then you smiled

before disappearing
heading north

But, sooner or later, one of us must know

viernes, 3 de julio de 2015

Present (IX) - Spanish Tour July 2015

The gamble begins: I set off for Spain.

The caravan of the past travels to the present :
A paradox on wheels, it stops time moving in the wakes.

Barcelona, Zaragoza, Madrid, Granada, Córdoba, San Sebastián,
six places from East to North,
the silhouette of a bird traced onto a map.
Eight summer days,
a calendar of Sundays.

The emissaries are sent,
the gift I carry with me:

I would swap your notebook for a book with mirrored words,
each concert for faith in the miracle.

Let us wish each other a good trip.


martes, 23 de junio de 2015

Back Pages - Brown Notebook - Spanish Song

S P A N I S H     S O N G

Ramona's melody
longing for the boots of Spanish leather
Spanish Mary's enigma

Mix in equal parts
and dare to shout it all
in Spanglish


Winning a bet in Spain, Nar :

shifting landscapes
changing the date of the moment

domingo, 14 de junio de 2015

Caravan (14) End-June 1967

     From inside the caravan, I watch Dylan arrive in a cobalt blue Chevrolet. I tune my Ibáñez again and let a long while pass before heading to the basement. From the top of the steps I listen to them play a couple songs. I gather my strength to begin the descent. I inhale deeply and start to go down, as if submerging. Rick sees me first, he hails smiling before I even get to the bottom.

      - Hey there, Nar! Cool. You brought your guitar.

      Dylan has his back to me. He´s talking to Garth. He takes what seems like forever to turn round and face me.

      - Well, well... the famous Salvador Ibáñez. Turns out these guys were telling the truth after all...

     I lift the instrument in my left hand, holding it out towards him. He does not move, just asks sarcastically,

      - Are you just a collector or do you actually play?

     - Well... I´m not too bad, they say. And yes, I´ve got a few guitars, but this is my favourite. I won a bet, a long time ago, in Spain.

    - Quite a story, I´m sure. You might wanna save it for another day. OK? Now, let´s listen to this Ibáñez. I wanna carry on with the songs we got planned for today – old, mysterious, even tragic... that´s the vibe. Know this one?

     With his twelve-string acoustic he starts strumming a melodic wave ridden by a whaler I know well: Bonnie Ship the Diamond. I respond by joining in and a surprised look fleets across his face. Without a word, he looks at the band, indicating that they should follow suit. One by one they come in with their instruments, except Richard who remains seated in silence at his drums. So intense is the feeling from hearing us together on the deck of that ship that I am about to lose time when Dylan - his voice aflame- gets on to the chorus a second time:

So it's rise up my lads
Let your hearts never fail
When that bonnie ship the Diamond goes
fishin' for the whales

      We finish up and Bob looks at me for a few seconds, his head cocked to one side. Rick smiles, giving me a thumbs up. Standing next to his drums, in silence, Richard takes a photo.

      In the newspapers, and for months now, space ships like flags have been taking off in a race to set foot on the moon. In the basement, just this evening, on board his ship, I have just landed.

sábado, 6 de junio de 2015

Caravan (13) End-June 1967

   Rick has come round and announced I can go back down to the basement this evening to hear them play. We´re sitting outside the caravan, on a blanket spread out on the floor. Whilst we drink our coffee he tells me about the traditional Irish and Scottish songs they’re working with along with a few from the vast American repertoire – which includes Canada he emphasizes – and he´s telling me how he flips out adding a bass line to melodies which may be hundreds of years old whilst Dylan tries out arrangements which not everyone finds easy to follow. I let him talk, as if I didn´t already know a large part of what he was telling me just from listening through the open windows of the basement.

      - Sometimes Dylan feels like trying out his 12-string acoustic or letting Richard add random percussion or use his Rickenbacker lap steel, which sounds goddamn good. Oh, by the way, on the subject of guitars, Bob didn´t believe me the other day when I told him you had a Salvador Ibáñez. He thought we had made it up. He said it couldn´t be an original, that if it was, you wouldn´t have it lying around in your caravan which half the time you leave open. And, you know what? When he says stuff like that it makes me think… I can´t imagine him talking like that a couple of years ago. It seems to me that time is making him distrustful, I don´t know…
     - Well, if what you say is true, he must have his reasons, don´t you think?, I say half-respectful half-smiling.
     - I suppose so…

       Rick replies without looking at me. He´s picked off a branch from one of the elm trees, and is drawing something in the damp earth. We join in a reflective silence for a long while until suddenly I hear myself say:

      - Hey! I have an idea! How about I bring my Ibáñez down to the basement this evening?
      - Fucking great! - Rick´s laughter lights up his eyes -, I can´t wait to see Dylan and Robbie’s faces! Got to go, talk later, I need to go down to town to buy some stocks. See you !

      He leaps up and runs off towards one of the cars parked outside the front of the pink house. He´s left the elm stick on the blanket. Next to it, etched in the earth, is a picture of a boat carrying an octahedron, a diamond as big as a whale.

domingo, 24 de mayo de 2015

Present (VIII) Birth-man-day

                                                     Happy birthday, Dylan !

jueves, 21 de mayo de 2015

Back Pages - Brown Notebook - Time

                                                                            T I M E …

                                                             You can do a lot of things
                                                     that seem to make time stand still …

                                                                             but of course, you know
                                                                                       no one can do that.

N  o  w
I'm invoking that magic
through music,
from a basement.

I  n     t  h  e     f  u  t  u  r  e
I will invoke that same magic again
through images too,
from the movies


my own film to stop the time

a monologue before a camera
talking about this
thirty years later.

sábado, 9 de mayo de 2015

Present ( VII )

      I´ve just been trying to remember my conversation with Richard on the night I discovered a new flavour and he made up a new name for me. We´d also shared some secrets and even a couple of surprises like when I told him I´d decided to miss Monterey because just the possibility of being allowed down into the basement was a much bigger thing for me than going to the festival.

      Afterwards, I´ve just been flicking through Dylan´s brown notebook again, re-reading my reflections from the beginning of this journey on losses and goodbyes which the passage of time has woven into a story at times resembling a landscape in ruins. I say to myself there would be something undignified about avoiding the place one writes at. But equally it would be disloyal to let dust dull the gleam of a shared treasure.

      I am lazily tapping out that last sentence – one needs to measure the precise calibre of adjectives as lethal as these- when my computer screen announces that an email has just come in. Sometimes, whatever it is that we call providence comes disguised as half a dozen words:

                            Bob Dylan on Tour : Upcoming Dates“

      I check tour dates and locations, smiling widely now till I realise I´ve been looking out of the window for quite some time. On the other side is the locked door of the garage, and beyond, the caravan that used to shine in the evening sun round the back of Big Pink in the summer of 67.

      I force my gaze back to the screen to look through my files for Lo And Behold! I put on my headphones, turn up the volume ... And then I also count up to thirty.

domingo, 26 de abril de 2015

Caravan (12) Mid-June 1967

      I´ve surfaced from the basement and sat down on the steps of my caravan, trying to digest my experience of the last couple of hours. A huge, yellow moon rises over Overlook, making the mountain appear as an animal lying at its feet.

      My ears still ring with the chords of Waltzing with Sin: played half-way through the session, twice no pauses, and at times – I´m thinking now, didn´t really notice it then- the voice of Dylan had an almost outlandish aplomb for someone who has just turned twenty-six. My eyes have been etched with a series of images of men and instruments assembled in a camaraderie which blots out the outside world. The basement has become through their music a sonic submarine navigating the waters of joy. I´ve spent a couple of hypnotic hours there, and having just emerged – forgive myself my brimming with stressed words- and not having quite caught my breath, I hear Richard´s voice call out behind me.

      - Good evening, Nar. How was the trip today?
      - Hi Richard. It was fabulous. Sad you weren´t there....
     - Well, I stayed upstairs, sleeping, and then went out to the woods, you know, to think about my „Upstairs, Downstairs“ ...
      - Yeah, how are the lyrics coming on?
     - So so. It´s difficult to capture that nebulous image, I was telling you about the other day, in words, you know, Dylan going up and coming down and sometimes apparently suspended between two levels ... He has a way of floating the rest of us can only dream of doing … How about getting that guitar of yours out?
      - Alright. You want something to drink?
      - I´ll go. I´ll get us a bottle and some paper. Back soon.

     Somewhere between unsteady and nimble on his bare feet, he walks over to the house and returns with an amber coloured bottle with a pretty red sash.

     - Here´s the guitar, I say, handing it to him whilst he passes me the bottle.
      - Grand Marnier. You like it?
      - I don´t know, never tried it.
     - Well, from now on you´ll always be in my debt, you´ll see, he says with conviction and more than a little irony, whilst he starts strumming my guitar.

      I go into the caravan and bring out my two best glasses and some ice.

      - Serve it as is, it´s better without.

      So I do. He takes his glass, looks at it for a moment and then lifting it, proposes a toast.

      - To „Nar of the Caravan“, chance visitor to a surreal basement!

      We both laugh before our first sip, which delivers into my mouth the dense and bitter essence of oranges from another world.

      - Fuck, that´s good!, I exclaim in surprise.
     - Told you it would be, you´ll always thank me for it, he says draining his glass, with a smile. And now, listen: „Upstairs, Downstairs“, umpteenth version.

      The five chords of the song I heard a few days ago have been adorned with arpeggios and some changes of rhythm; the text is slowly shaping around a chorus which brings out the bluer shades of his voice. When he finishes, he keeps his eyes on the moon, which has left a narrow gap now over the mountain. I dare not break the silence but pour another drink and wait for him to return. When he does, he lights up a smoke. The flame of the match lights up his bottomless eyes. After a couple of tokes, avoiding comments on the song, he surprises me again with an unexpected turnaround.

      - That thing around your neck, Nar... You were right, it does look like mine, he says pouring himself another glass.

      I need a few seconds to come up with an unequivocal reply that does not sound too rude.

      - I am sorry, but this time it´s me who doesn´t want to talk about it. It´s not the right moment, you know?
      - That´s Ok. I understand. Better to share the good times, right?, he says offering me a light and another almost full glass of that orange and affable liqueur which – I somehow know- will always taste of longing for a night such as this.

sábado, 18 de abril de 2015

Caravan (11) Mid-June 1967

     My first session ends with Bells of Rhymney. I haven’t moved an inch in my corner, my concentration quadrupled – two eyes and two ears in solidarity with that tape recorder custodian of a treasure- and I am still engrossed when Dylan decides that that´s it for the evening.

     - We’ll leave it for today – he says looking at Garth whilst unstrapping his guitar. That bass was good, Rick. What about you, Nar, how was it for you?
      - I‘ve been loving it from beginning to end! Quite a trip, from Big River to Wales via a prison in California! Thanks for letting me share it.
      - I prefer not to have an audience in the basement, but if you promise to behave as well as you did today, maybe you could come back down from time to time. Richard says you take good photos, from your accent I suppose you‘ve travelled a long way to get here in that caravan that shines to the evening sun. Maybe you too have something valuable to share....
      - Well, I wish I ...

      Without waiting for me to finish, he throws me half a smile whilst, putting on his hat, he starts to climb the stairs. He stops on the last step but one, with a question directed at the band:

      - How about one of these days we get together with Badger Clark?
      - That’d be cool! – replies Rick lighting up a cigarette.
      - Levon would love that – adds Robbie.
    - I suppose so ... It´s not a bad idea to miss one another, sometimes concludes Dylan, who is now disappearing vertically up the stairs and into the darkness of the night.

domingo, 22 de marzo de 2015

Back Pages - Brown Notebook - Mid-June 1967

     a tongue can accuse and carry bad news

     and one man's joy is another man's pain

     so better lock your door

     and just try me plain

    'cause you ain't going nowhere 

     not today, nor tomorrow, not again

viernes, 13 de marzo de 2015

Caravan (10) Mid-June 1967

    From the basement comes a light somewhere between marine blue and ochre. I stop and take it in for a moment from the top of the stairs. They´ve finished with Belshazzar and are deciding on the next song. Robbie mentions a couple of Sun Record titles and Rick jokes about one of them, whilst Dylan´s acoustic guitar pushes its way out through the laughter: a simple progression of chords and a jubilant humming into which the rest of voices and instruments are gradually assembling.

      What I´m listening to as I tiptoe down the stairs, one step at a time, is kind of a outlaw´s melody, rocking in a perfect rhythm, held in a semicircle by a band of fellows who play to the beat of a common pulse. Wrapped up in the hypnotic quality of the melody, they don’t seem to notice that I´ve sat in a corner and am listening from the floor, with bated breath and eyes open wide (as if underwater, I remark to myself in surprise). And then, as the song is slowly brought to a close, Dylan turns around and fixes me in his stare.

      - So you are Nar.
     - Yes, hello everyone –I say standing up-. Thanks for inviting me down here...
      - Well, seems like you didn´t need an invitation to make yourself at home outside … And that shiny caravan of yours, well, it´s practically part of the landscape now, isn´t it?
      - I hope not to bother anyone ...
     - Do you mean outside or down here? We´ll see. For now, stay on the floor or grab a chair, as you like. Garth, ready to record the next one? – he asks Hudson as he turns his back on me again.
      - All ready -answers Garth-. But what´s up with Richard? Shall I go up and get him?
      - Let him sleep, don´t need piano or drums for now. Let´s go with some of the songs you mentioned before, guys ... How about beginning with I forgot? Let´s make it more Cash than Elvis, ok?

      Garth connects the tape recorder and Robbie starts up with a brief electric intro, followed by the bass, the organ and the acoustic guitar ahead of that longest of long first syllables which Dylan drags out as if resigning himself to the persistence of memory:

I forgot to remember to forget her
I can't seem to get her off my mind
I thought I'd never miss her
But I found out somehow
I think about her almost all the time
The day she went away
I made myself a promise
That I'd soon forget we ever met

      And here I am to listen to it, leaning back against the wall, smiling … And promising myself quite the opposite. 


jueves, 26 de febrero de 2015

Back Pages - Brown Notebook - Summer Solstice 1967

All these songs are connected

Nothing out of the ordinary,  just something natural

                                                                               - kind of extending the walked line

                         W  e     a  r  e     a  l  l     j  u  s  t     s  t  e  p  s

L a s t    w e e k

 in China

                                               a surprising sun

                                                   r o s e


                                                 over the desert