Saturday, November 20, 2004

Something For The Weekend

For once, one of those 'Greatest.....' lists had me shouting 'Yes!'
Bob Dylan's 'Like A Rolling Stone' has been named the Greatest Rock'n'Roll Song Of All Time. For me, its mysterious charms have never palled since the day it was released although I've never understood why I like it so much. At least I now know, courtesy of Rolling Stone magazine, that "no other pop song has so thoroughly challenged and transformed the commercial laws and artistic conventions of its time, for all time."
Perhaps one sign of its greatness is that there have been so few cover versions. The only one I know is by the Rolling Stones. The Dylan original is so perfect it would be folly to mess with it and nobody can sneer and snarl as sexily as Dylan.
My original 1965 single (pictured) is badly warped but plays beautifully. The stylus rides up and down as though on the Blackpool Big Dipper, yet pleasingly in sync with the rising crescendos of the swelling Hammond organ that drives the song. I last played it on Bob's 60th birthday. I've just played it again and suddenly I was 14 again, listening to lyrics I didn't fully understand but somehow knowing that pop music would never get better than this. And so it has proved.

Once upon a time you dressed so fine
You threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn't you?
People'd call, say, "Beware doll, you're bound to fall"
You thought they were all kiddin' you
You used to laugh about
Everybody that was hangin' out
Now you don't talk so loud
Now you don't seem so proud
About having to be scrounging your next meal.

Today the Lupin barnet has been restored to a length now apparently known as a 'No 4'. (Memo to self: must check if 'barnet' comes from High Barnet in London). The local barber has one serious failing for a member of his profession: he cannot cut hair and talk at the same time. So the clippers frequently fall silent while he discourses on the usual topics beloved of barbers: holidays, football, etc. This means that even a 'quick trim' can turn into an epic and the usual copies of The Sun and Hello in the waiting area have had to be supplemented with copies of Middlemarch and War and Peace.
His takings are boosted by the large numbers of elderly men hereabouts with no short-term memory. This means they needlessly visit him on a weekly basis.
He's taken to asking me if I have anything planned for the weekend and I can't work out if this is a genuine enquiry or is a variant of 'something for the weekend, sir?' I've been daring myself to reply: "goin doggin' down the park, so make it two packets" but this is a village and people would only start shouting 'Woof, woof' at me in the street.
At the end of his ministrations he always tilts the mirror so I can't see my incipient bald patch. It is such small acts of kindness that make life bearable as the Grim Reaper is warming up in the wings.
Carlo the houseboy has struck up an unlikely friendship with a boy who works at the local garage. This is evidenced by oil stains on his T shirt, a faint aroma of Swarfega and a new fluency in English idiom. Today, when I asked him to de-fluff the tumble drier he told me to fuck off. As a consequence, permission for his weekly 30-second phone call to his mother in the Phillipines has been refused.


At 8:54 AM, Blogger JonnyB said...

Quite right. It's magnificent.

I always preferred the live version on 'Self Portrait' - beautifully shambolic. But perhaps because I heard that first.

Peter's right. Very nice blog.

At 10:57 AM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

Thanks. A pub singer in these parts used to do a good version of it but told me he had trouble remembering the lyrics. But Dylan himself often departs from the published version. Hope I don't get sued for quoting a verse. Still, as the song says: when you ain't got nothing, you got nothing to lose.


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