Saturday, August 11, 2007

Being Bob

"There must be some way out of here", said the joker to the thief
"There's too much confusion", I can't get no relief.
Businessmen, they drink my wine, ploughmen dig my earth
None of them along the line know what any of it is worth.

"No reason to get excited", the thief he kindly spoke
"There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke
But you and I, we've been through that, and this is not our fate
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late".
All Along the Watchtower

The cynical reviewers harp on about the ageing audience, and lack of intimacy , or the clinical nature of his performances in Bob Dylan's current tour down under. His re-working of the songs, far too many in nearly 50 years of performing to reach everyones favourites, also cops some flak.

None of it matters. Not to him. And not to those who experience the essence of a living legend performing the way an artist does best: with creativity and surprise.
Since when is music just for the young? Yes, each decade I see him is a different show, and each one has a magic all its own. Auckland sold out its first show last night, and after a stint over in Australia, he is due back for two more shows at the end of the month in a small theatre. He must be doing something right for that kind of demand. And for someone who has been called everything from god to the spokesman of his generation, the lyrics say it all:

You fasten all the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion'
As young people's blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud.
Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good?
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul.

Masters of War

That was Vietnam, now it is Iraq et al. The words mock and they taunt, they make you think. His backup band as tight a R&B unit as you will ever see. No, rock concerts are not as they were 30 and 40 years ago, and a commercial pall hangs around some of the concrete arenas like a bad odour, totally inappropriate for the man who set the tone launching an important cultural revolution in the last half of the 20th century.

He says what he needs to say, plays what he likes to play, and does it with truckloads of class.
For me, that is enough.

Winter creeps slowly along it path towards conclusion in the Southern Hemisphere, with warmer and longer days pointing towards Spring, albeit the skies still frequently showering us heavily, and keeping the ground too wet to work for us growers.

Waiheke Island only has about 7000 inhabitants full time, and in the winter, it is isolated and removed from the mainland by a 30 min boat ride, and everyone feels it. Especially when the weather cancels the ferries, which is not too often.

One of the things I like most about living in a small rural community (at least this one) is the fact that so many people wave as they drive past. I don't know who they are, most of them, but it doesn't really matter. They are saying hi and smiling, content in the knowledge that they too, are experiencing something unique in todays urbanised and industrialised world. there are no traffic lights on this island. No MacDonalds and no Wal Mart. Refugees all of us, it's as if we all have a very special friend in common.


I take the opportunity to embrace the solitude available, and though I have been called a bit of a hermit by more than one of my friends, it is not an exclusionary practice, but one borne out of both desire and circumstance. It certainly has its benefits, not the least of which is an ability to practice the art of living in harmony with my environment, which at times can be a challenge. It's both serene and wild, a small island in a big ocean,
and I don't want to miss any of it. Right now, the clouds hang low and dark, pellets of rain pounding down from one of many showers today, and in between welcome sunny periods to walk and refresh from the onslaught of power that so characterises the natural beauty.

Hare Mai.

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