I am aware that long ago I wrote that after summer 1967, the Big Pink days, I did not have any direct contact with Bob Dylan. Disguising reality to increase poignancy is a recognised choice for years of literary history and a highly effective tool in the land of the documentary and its tributaries, as Scorsese has just shown us in his “alchemic mix of fact and fantasy” broadcast on Netflix. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, “rolling thunder” is an image that for Native Americans means “speaking truth”, and Dylan loved knowing this, according to Larry Sloman. Now, in 2019, I want to tell my own truth as an integral part of that caravan full of music, giving myself the same freedom to interweave lived experiences and dreams, the ideal and the memory, what happened and what could have been.
This spring, while the media was brimming with images full of invented colours (that of the Netflix poster, those that would make up the booklet for the collection of CDs from the RTR and so many others), while waiting for June to arrive to find out what Scorsese and the Bootleg Series had done with that fragment of the past shared with Dylan, I reread, time and again, that notebook with the brown covers that he gave me in 1967, when I hitched my caravan at the doors of Big Pink for a few months. To say goodbye, on the last page he had written a kind of advance welcome, surrounding it with four schematic but prophetic drawings. I smiled when I looked at them tonight, while I listened to how This Wheel's On Fire links into Hurricane and then into All Along The Watchtower in the fourth take of the second disc of the recently published The RTR: The 1975 Live Recordings, which gathers together part of what was rehearsed on 21st October that year in the Studio Instrument Rentals from New York. Dylan's voice, stitching together the past and the present with the thread of Scarlet Rivera’s violin, makes the wounds of time scar over once more.
If your mem’ry serves you well,
we were goin’ to meet again and wait ...