What manner of demon are you who can churn out brilliant piece after brilliant piece like this!
Congrats on your new site. You have inaugurated it with panache.
One correction: I have been to Clear Lake, IA. It is a swell town, but lay in no valley of any sort, one of death or otherwise.
Yearly people trudge through the snow to visit the cornfield where the plane went down.
This is so great. And I am putting it out on social media because I’m pretty sure you aren’t 😄.
On Page 9 of POMs there is a mention of Buddy Holly--that Elvis Costello shared some resemblance. Now we know Bob also saw himself in Buddy Holly, thanks to your essay. Terrific job and very useful as a companion to the book.
Fantastic; so good to see people engaging with this book on its own terms instead of just assuming the song selection is some sort of "canon." (also of note here: "Teenager in Love" was written by Doc Pumus).
Nice article. Just to add to Peter’s catch, Holly is also mentioned in Dylan’s essay on Poor Little Fool. But I think your overall thesis is right on. Looking to read more!
Brilliant, again. Yes, you are telling us, not Bob, but someone needs to do the heavy lifting. Most readers of PoMS are not going to make these connections without you. And it’s clearly intentional. For those of us wanting to know the deeper levels of Dylan’s art, your essay is invaluable. Many folks are probably content with the tip of the iceberg, but I think it’s incredibly cool that Dylan has included some extra, more cosmic content for fans willing to dive under.
My own interest, as I once wrote you in an email, is the deeper layers of that mystical land called “Key West.” I’m bringing out a book soon with my discoveries, but here I’d like to point out a connection to Buddy Holly in that lovely song, and so to your themes here.
Yes, he mentions “Buddy” directly of course (and all the rest), but I’m thinking more of “Mystery Street,” where, supposedly, “Truman had his White House there.” Well, no. Truman had his White House on Front Street. Where Harry does live, for sure, is on the “Mystery Street” in Bob’s head, as described in Chronicles. There, Dylan describes sitting, as a child, on the shoulders of his uncle, and being “mesmerized” by the politician, as he gave a speech in Duluth’s Leif Eriksen Park, on the Superior lakeshore. This is one of the places Dylan takes us with the “Mystery Street” and “Truman” references in “Key West.”
But why? To bring us also to Holly. For one, “mesmerizing” is the same word, as you cite above, that the singer used to describe Holly in his Nobel speech. Spellbound. Mysterious. And next, Leif Eriksen is just across the way from the Duluth Armory, where Truman had appeared earlier that day, in 1948, and where Bob would have his fateful encounter with Holly 11 years later.
The “Mystery Street” of “Key West” is another of Bob’s below-the-surface references, tripping the “observant” listener back and forth in time. Another tribute to Buddy, and the power of song to change lives.
But, as we know, the dude contains multitudes. “Mystery Street” doesn’t only refer to Holly and that mystical transference of musical destiny. It also takes us directly to the song’s “convent home” and a message that the singer has left for us there, via his abiding interest in the personalities and moral quandaries of Civil War era America. More on that later . . .
Thank you for your insights, Grady! Incredible stuff!
And here’s Harry, and the Duchess of Duluth:
Brilliant ruminations, Graley, on the paradoxes of time, memory, and history that coalesce, for Dylan, in popular song. I especially was intrigued by Michael Ochs' book, and it got me thinking of how the desire for some tangible connection to the past most old, single photos can evoke is at play too in our drive to re-play songs, over and over. Sculpting with time -- something Dylan seems to have been aware of, or at least intuited, when he began composing off old melodies. That wasn't "just the way it's done," I think, for Dylan, but it was a kind of haunting and inhabitation, not to be taken lightly.
After reading your two PoMS pieces (which both gave me chills), I get the impression you’ve had your own crossroads meeting - possibly adjacent to RobertJ/Buddy/Bob’s. Perhaps in your dreams?
Graley, you continue to write the most insightful pieces on this book. While others are still grappling with the basics, you go deep. What a wonderful piece to start off the venture of Shadow Chasing, I'm so excited to read more! Thank you!