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.