Thursday, May 21, 2015

Three Feet Away by Phil Fitzpatrick; Duluth Dylan Fest In Full Swing

Grog Time with Cowboy Angel Blue and the music of jammin' pickup Basement Tapes Band crammed the house at Tycoons last night here in Downtown Duluth. The Basement Tapes Band includes local A-players Marc Gartman, Sarah Krueger, Teague Alexey, Veikko Lepisto and "Big Mountain." If I understand correctly this was their first gig as a team, but I get the feeling it won't be their last.

Trivia: Gartman is a singer/songrwriter from New York who now resides in Duluth, celebrating a singer/songwriter born here who made a name for himself in New York.

Whereas every night has something happening, the energy levels accelerate as we stream through the week. Tonight is the Blood on the Tracks Express (we begin boarding at 5:30 p.m. at Fitgers), tomorrow eve the Singer/Songwriter contest (preceded by a 5-7 Grog Time featuring music by Jamie Fox, 2X winner of the Dylan Days Singer/Songwriter contest), Saturday is the Bus Tour which will touch sights here in Duluth and take in Hibbing sites as well, culminating in the Acoustic Salute to the Music of Bob Dylan followed by Sunday's Bob Dylan Birthday Brunch back at Tycoon's. Scarlet Rivera, the headliner for Saturday's show will be performing in Finland Sunday eve, along with Courtney Yasmineh, Gene LaFond and Amy Grillo, among others.  Details on most of this can be found here.

I already noted that Tuesday's poetry showcase was once again an exceptional event. With other activities (like a full time job) filling most of my days, I didn't get a chance to complete my review of the Red Mug happening. Liz Minette, who mentioned the time she saw Bob in concert, read some "road poems" and pieces she had published in Blue Collar Review. And Steve Donning gave us a nice reading of Surviving Extinction. But it was Phil Fitzpatrick's Three Feet Away that I especially wanted to share here today.

All the poets referenced a Bob memory, story or insight, but this is one that Fitz performed with style. The only drawback is that the formatting here may not identically match that of the printed page. Nevertheless, read it, "listen" and enjoy.

Three Feet Away

do you remember him, our hometown boy, at the Grammies, 1998?

playing “Sick of Love” and then Michael Portnoy, the Soy Bomb Guy
a furtive glance at the idiot, not skipping a beat
only thing he gave him was raised eyebrows
but, no, what I'm talkin' about is the speech, you know -
he accepts the statue (Album of the Year, Time Out of Mind)
accepts it in that grey suit
     black collar
          white shirt
                and black colonel tie
he looks uncomfortable. . . shy. . .like it really was a time out of mind
not sure how to proceed
        eyes dart this way and that
tryin' to sort out n' separate the true believers
        from the unbelievers
                and he always knows the difference
the speech is short, he's not using notes
the ritual thanks
        he knows all the names and rattles 'em off like song lyrics
they were all with him “in the trenches,” he says
more names, and then he says “oh, just every ol' body”

then out of nowhere really, remember? When he says . . .an' he looks like he's almost done,
                         an' he says, he says “An' I'd just like to say. . .”?
“An' I'd just like to say . . .”
      and the celebration quiets
             the fidgeting stops
                    folks quit tradin' glances
                           no more yelling “Bob!” to the camera
and he's not nervous anymore
      “An' I'd just like to say . . .”
                and then . . . and then the Armory, and the Winter Dance Party
and the word “Duh-LOOTH” and then a pause . . .
and then the rest of the story, the germ, the kernel, the seed planted:
        “I was three feet away from him, and he looked at me . . .”
        he and Holly,
                   Dylan 17 an' busy bein' born,
                   Holly 22 an busy dyin' . . .

[with a Texas accent] “Hey, you, Robert Zimmerman! Ready to carry it on, Boy! Ready to make us all proud, all of us up here? Now, I'm a Texan, you're a Minnesotan, but I guess that it doesn't matter anymore—an', ah, even though I've only got three chilly nights left to make music, even though I've only just gotten started and already got a couple hits out there—and, and you're still just a scrawny high school kid stuck up here playin' gigs with Bobby Vee, and even though I can see in your eyes some kinda destiny me and The Crickets here could never imagine, and even though I'm figurin' that someday you'll do arrangements of songs by fellers like Johnny Cash and John Lee Hooker and A. P. Carter, oh, an' Bob Nolan and Curtis Mayfield and dag-gone Ian and Sylvia—but none of mine, Kid, not even one of my B-sides?? Not “That'll Be the Day,” not “Every Day,” shoot, not even “Not Fade Away”? but, wait a minute, just a guess now, I THINK that maybe you will do a rockin' version of THAT one with some California band some day. . .even though I see all this true stuff right now, it's you, Robert, YOU that's the one person in this ol' building who can keep the music from dyin', who can sing the truth around the world, an' I don't just mean about injustice and treatin' people right an' all that, no sir: you'll be singin' about love, too—like I am right here tonight . . .

      every day, it's a-gettin' closer/Goin' faster . . .make it every day, Robert, . . .
      now that one's mine, but maybe you can try another one, somethin' like this one here:
      why wait any longer for the one you love/When he is standing in . . .
                       see what you can do with that one, Bobby . . .

look at you, you down there, busy bein' born 

and me up here—with these great guys, my travelin' buddies 
up here busy . . . busy dyin' 
         time to get busy . . . Bob Dylan . . . 
                   time to get busy time to stay busy 
                             and not fade away . . . “

[Dylan, again] “I just have some kind of feeling that he was, a . . . I don't know how or why but I know he was with us all the time when we were making this record in some kinda way . . .”

an' then Daniel Lanois takes the mic, and intones that “the words were hard, they were deep, they were desperate, they were strong”

of course they were,
       he was only three feet away

* * * *

Don't let the train leave the station without you. 

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