Sunday, August 26, 2018

Dylan's Tribute to John Lennon Keeps Rolling On

I was in Mexico City when it happened. The next morning I was walking across the Zócalo, now called the Plaza de la Constitución, a massive open square that spreads before the Palacio Nacional (National Palace) in the center of the city. As in many big cities, magazine stands abound, with the day's newspapers proclaiming their various headlines. On this day, as I walked across the square I couldn't help but notice the size of the headlines on every newspaper in every news stand.


I was stunned. I had liked all the Beatles, acquired their various solo albums after the breakup, but it was Lennon with whom I most resonated, on many levels.

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When the album Tempest was released, I'd intended to write about this song, but wanted to share the lyrics and they weren't immediately available. Reading them today my eyes moisten with the incredible power of this tribute. It captures so much about a sensitive man who broke from the easy path of pop expectation and chose to find his own way.

Listening to Dylan's songs you find numerous places where he bares his soul so openly it's almost shocking. Most of us prefer safety, hiding more than we wish to risk revealing. In this regard, Dylan and Lennon were kindred spirits, willing to reveal rather than conceal. And so Lennon gave us songs like Cold Turkey, Jealous Guy and Beautiful Boy. And like Dylan he didn't mince words about how he saw things, as in Give Peace A Chance and Workingman's Hero.

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"When you do something beautiful and nobody noticed, do not be sad. For the sun, every morning is a beautiful spectacle and yet most of the audience still sleeps." --John Lennon

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Much has been written about the friendship Dylan shared with John. It was on this day in 1964 that Bob Dylan met John Lennon and the Beatles for the first time in the Delmonico Hotel. Whether a legendary or over-hyped moment in time, it was no doubt an inevitability. Here's a Guardian article from the 50th anniversary of this moment. The Andrew Harrison article is titled When Dylan met the Beatles – history in a handshake? Harrison downplays it's significance. Yes, Dylan allegedly turned the Fab Four on to pot for the first time, or least that's the myth that has gone circulating in the smoke rings of many a mind. So be it.

Harrison states: "On Friday 28 August 1964, in a room in the Delmonico hotel at Park Avenue and 59th in New York City – at a rendezvous brokered with a keen eye to a story by journalist, mutual friend and assiduous self-publicist Al Aronowitz – the Beatles encountered Bob Dylan for the first time."

It's my understanding that there was a mutual respect taking place as their careers swirled through the tempestuous times they found themselves in....

All this to say I believe this to be a good day to remember John Lennon, as Dylan renders him here in this touching tribute.

Roll On John

Doctor, doctor, tell me the time of day
Another bottle’s empty, another penny spent
He turned around and he slowly walked away
They shot him in the back and down he went

Shine your light
Move it on
You burned so bright
Roll on, John

From the Liverpool docks to the red light Hamburg streets
Down in the quarry with the Quarrymen
Playing to the big crowds, playing to the cheap seats
Another day in the life on your way to your journey’s end


Sailing through the trade winds bound for the South
Rags on your back just like any other slave
They tied your hands and they clamped your mouth
Wasn’t no way out of that deep, dark cave


I heard the news today, oh boy
They hauled your ship up on the shore
Now the city gone dark, there is no more joy
They tore the heart right out and cut it to the core


Put down your bags and get ‘em packed
Leave right now, you won’t be far from wrong
The sooner you go, the quicker you’ll be back
You been cooped up on an island far too long


Slow down, you’re moving way too fast
Come together right now over me
Your bones are weary, you’re about to breathe your last
Lord, you know how hard that it can be


Roll on John, roll through the rain and snow
Take the right hand road and go where the buffalo roam
They’ll trap you in an ambush ‘fore you know
Too late now to sail back home


Tyger, tyger, burning bright
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
In the forest of the night
Cover him over, and let him sleep


Copyright © 2012 Special Rider Music

"If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there’d be peace." --John Lennon

Related Link
James L. Spiegel Examine's Dylan's Tempest

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