Bombay Showcase

The unpublished biography of Bob Dylan

Don’t think twice, it’s alright. Fed up of answering calls from Rainy Day Women #12 and 35, Bob Dylan ignores the phone. His secretary announces, “It’s your mother from heaven.”

Beatrice Rutman, who died in 2000, suddenly comes alive at the news of her son’s Nobel Prize for Literature. She’s terribly upset with the criticism he has been facing, and starts singing, “Come writers and critics who prophesise with their pen; And keep your eyes wide, the chance won’t come again…”

Dylan stops her, smiles and says: “It’s alright Ma, I’m only gleaming.”

Soon, the two start singing a new creation, set to the tune of Dylan’s 1963 classic, ‘A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall’. The format is simple. The mother asks a question, and the son replies at length. Fans may sing along.

Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son; And where have you been, my darling Dylan?

I’ve been evading phone calls from academies in Sweden; Going through my Steinbeck pages of East of Eden . Felt an idiot wind blowin’, and times a-changin’; Followed Obama and Osama, Soviet maps re-arrangin’. Read rich poets who knew nothing of rhymin’; No subject, no metre, no sense of timin’. Heard of marriages held in breathless gas chambers; Visited flower-filled gardens no-one remembers… And it’s a smart, it’s a smart, it’s a smart, it’s a smart pen’s a-gonna scrawl.

Oh, what did you see, my blue-eyed son; And what did you see, my darling Dylan?

I saw dreams of chocolate, diamonds and utopia; Nightmares of blasts in Paris, famine in Ethiopia. Popes drillin’ atheists to read Deuteronomy; Nobel scientists mixin’ up astrology and astronomy. Mill, Smith and Keynes preachin’ theories of wealth; Many families shattered, no money for health. Olympic gold champions banned for dopin’; Trump-card politicians accused of gropin’… And it’s a smart, it’s a smart, it’s a smart, it’s a smart pen’s a-gonna scrawl.

Oh, what did you hear, my blue-eyed son; And what did you hear, my darling Dylan?

Heard the musical magic of Elvis, Duke and Muddy Waters; Parents advisin’ rebellious sons and daughters. Roars of mad thunder, there was no lightnin’; Comedy show hosts laughin’, it was so frightenin’. Jam-packed halls with nobody listenin’; the cries of street children nobody was Christenin’. The chimes and the birds in the temple of Shaolin; The next-door couple constantly howlin’… And it’s a smart, it’s a smart, it’s a smart, it’s a smart pen’s a-gonna scrawl.

Oh, who did you meet, my blue-eyed son; And who did you meet, my darling Dylan?

Met Lizzie Taylor when her make-up was awry; The ghost of Idi Amin who never said sorry. Met a white man in the alley, he walked a black dog; A gorgeous voice trainer, she croaked like a frog. A homeless vagabond worth millions of dollars; Corporate czars in loose knots and stained collars. Pilots who took off after six rounds of whisky; Their wives ignored them, knew it was too risky… And it’s a smart, it’s a smart, it’s a smart, it’s a smart pen’s a-gonna scrawl.

Oh, what’ll you do now, my blue-eyed son; And what’ll you do now, my darling Dylan?

I’ll travel to the land of Konark and Puducherry; sunbathe in Goa, have feni and make merry. Trek the Himalayas, settle on some misty mountain; Have local chorizo and balchao near Flora Fountain. Introduce myself to the juke box at Mondegar; endorse paan masala, and be an overnight star. Watch plastic-smiled divas trapped in cardboard glamour; teach the Bhagats and Kusnurs the basics of grammar. The critics be damned, their heads, they need to clean it: I’m a poet, I know it, I mean it, I have been it… And it’s a smart, it’s a smart, it’s a smart, it’s a smart pen’s a-gonna scrawl… And this bard will win it all.

Narendra Kusnur is a freelance writer bitten by the Dylan bug.


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Printable version | Jun 24, 2022 5:52:55 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/entertainment/The-unpublished-biography-of-Bob-Dylan/article16078656.ece