Sunday, April 13, 2014

"... just like you always smiled before ..."

(Cropped from a drawing by Allen Say from Emma's Rug)

Last night I dreamed that I standing in a small cozy kitchen at night. A young girl to the left of me at the kitchen table was drawing in pencil on a piece of drawing paper.  We were talking about the process of learning to draw.  Bob Dylan was sitting quietly and staring into space across the table to the right of me.  I was saying that learning to draw is like learning to play the guitar and takes practice.  Bob Dylan looked up sharply, made eye contact with me and said with a quizzical smile, "Uh, yeah."

Monologue by Bob Dylan from the early 1960s:

“First time I ever worked in East Orange, New Jersey.

Folks never go to East Orange, New Jersey; it’s a horrible town. I went there to play in a coffee house in East Orange, New Jersey. It was a chess playing coffee house out there. It was so bad…uh…so bad, people playing chess out there. Uh…that’s all they thought about out there was chess and chess and chess. People come up to me, you play your song, you play you a real quiet song. In the middle of the song you hear “Check”, [female laughter in background] And “Hey, that was a good move” and all kinds of stuff like that.

Hey folks it was so bad I had a little dream out there the first night I worked about this chess playing stuff. I dreamed I went to work out in East Orange, New Jersey, and, uh, about time I quit in two days I went there to ask the guy for my money. I says, “Can I have some money, I worked two days for ya?” He says, “Uh… Well OK, we don’t pay you money around here though” I says “Uh, yeah?” He says “Well” he says, uh, ”Yeah, we pay ya chess men”, I said “Uh, well give me my chess men then, I worked two days”. I sort of…didn’t really figure, I thought he was lying at first, but I took it anyway. He gave me a king and a queen for working two days. I said “Fine, that’s OK”.

So I took my king and queen and went down to a bar, nearest bar I could find. I walked in the bar and I ordered a pint. I… I got on the bar, “Bartender”, I says “Can I have a pint?” I’ll be damned if he didn’t give me a pint. He asked me for the money. I gave him my king and queen. I’ll be damned, you know he took that king and queen, threw it under the counter, and brought me out four pawns, two bishops, and a rook for change.

That’s a little story about East Orange, New Jersey.”

Now let's listen to the frogs singing in the night:


Anonymous said...

That's a very funny story about East Orange, NJ. My father was born there. Much of his extended family lived there. It's probably even worse now than it was in Dylan's song-time.

Nick said...

Your frog music took me back to a strange week I spent in a very odd hotel in Corsica 10 years or so ago. Odd because the staff all left to go home at 10 pm - all of them - leaving the hotel to the few guests who were there, and to a million vocal frogs who sang all night in the grounds to comfort the disconcerted, abandoned guests. A beautiful but weird place and experience that I can't forget.

Tara said...

lovely frogs in the night....

East Orange, isn't that where Edison had his lab? I visited it once, long ago.

I think it's cool you get nocturnal visitations from Mr. Dylan.

am said...

robin andrea -- Interesting that you father was born in East Orange. When I very young and first heard Bob Dylan mention East Orange in a song ("So long, New York. Howdy, East Orange"), I thought he making some kind of obscure joke about Orange County, California.

Nick -- Thank you for your frog music story. Frog music takes me back in time, too.

Tara -- Bob Dylan has visited my dreams for a long time (-:

"... I'll let you be in my dreams if I can be in yours ..."
(Bob Dylan, from "Talking World War III Blues")

I checked on Google. Thomas Edison was in West Orange. I hadn't noticed the connection at all. Thanks for making the connection!

bev said...

Enjoyed reading about your dream and the East Orange story, and then Nick's frog story. I love how stories often spawn others.

I've stopped by to visit your blog many times over the winter, but have been unaccountably silent here and elsewhere. Not sure why, but it seems to be passing.

Liked seeing the photo of your work space on the header of your blog - especially the musical instruments. I would like to know something about the darker, longer mountain dulcimer. Have you had that one for very long? This winter, I bought a mountain dulcimer on ebay. It was not quite finished and the story was that it was built about 25 years ago by a native builder in the Carolinas. I bought fiddle tuning pegs and stuff for a nut and a bridge. Larry did some work on it. I still have to do a fret leveling and dressing - something I will attend to once I am at Round Hill. I wanted a dulcimere that could be played guitar style, so chose a tear shaped style like yours.

Take care, bev

am said...

bev -- I've been hoping to hear from you again. Happy to see your recent blog post.

Good to know that you have bought a dulcimer and will be playing it soon.

I bought my tear-shaped dulcimer in around 1976 from a friend who lived in Santa Cruz at the time. It is signed inside with:

by R. E. Popelka
Santa Cruz, California
April 1974 No. 60

I was never able to play it very well at all and recently learned that it is one of the larger dulcimers, made for a hand with more reach than mine. It is much easier to play my smaller dulcimer. My smaller dulcimer, although easier to play and to tune, does not have the exquisite tone of the large dulcimer.

The wooden tuning pegs on the large dulcimer are very difficult to manipulate for tuning. They need to be chalked, and I haven't taken the time to do that.

I wasn't able to learn to play the large dulcimer in guitar style, but here is my favorite dulcimer player and teacher who plays in that style:

My dulcimer playing leaves much to be desired. My dulcimers and ukulele have been idle recently. I've been making better progress with the autoharp. Playing musical instruments does not come easily to me, but my clumsy attempts at trying to make music give sustenance to my heart (-:

bev said...

Thanks for writing about your dulcomers! I think mine would be about the size of your larger one. It's true that it requires quite a reach to play. I plan to play it much like Robert Force - yes, I enjoy his playing too! I find that I tend to move from one instrument to another - perhaps it goes with the seasons. I like playing my native flute outdoors but not indoors. I play the fiddle more at the Nova Scotia house which has really fun acoustics. The tenor banjo and tenor guitar get played about the most as I take them to jam sessions. Last autumn, I got a dobro guitar and that has encouraged me to sing more. One of my favourite songs is one that I am sure you linked to here on your blog - Jakob Dylan's "Everbody's Hurting". I play it and "Ripple" and some others all the time lately. Yes, you are so right - music does give sustenance to the heart!