Thursday, September 4, 2014

Bob the Baptiste and the Rose and the Sacred Ordinary

Tickets go on sale tomorrow for Bob Dylan and His Band in Seattle in October.  I am asking myself if I want to buy a ticket for the Sunday evening concert at the Paramount Theater, which is where I thought I had seen Bob Dylan in concert in 1981, among other years. When I go to the Bob Dylan website to look to find that concert in 1981, I am puzzled to see that according to the website, there were no concerts in Seattle in 1981, and that the two concerts in 1980 at the Paramount Theater were on November 29 and November 30.

Hmmm.  This is very odd.  My memory of that concert is that it happened not long after John Lennon was murdered on December 8, 1980.  I was 31 years old that year.  The concert was part of the "Gospel Tour." I wasn't about to become a Christian, but I was curious about Bob's newfound passion for Jesus.  I recall that I wanted to see Bob Dylan from as close a spot as possible and that I left my seat and made my way down to the steps to the left of the stage and sat on a step about 20 feet away from Bob Dylan.  As I sat there I had the thought that no matter how close I got to Bob Dylan, it wouldn't be close enough.  He was a huge part of the myth of my life, but I was not part of his life and never would be, and suddenly that was fine with me.  I didn't need to get any closer.  All I needed to do was listen at a respectful distance.

As I watched Bob Dylan sing, someone threw a red rose up on the stage, and it landed right in front of Bob.  I will never forget the startled look on his face, the way he winced, and how his entire body appeared to react in apprehension.  He moved backward as if his life were in danger.  He not only moved backward but soon paused in his singing and let his band play for awhile before stepping forward and resuming singing. Immediately I thought of John Lennon's murder and how vulnerable Bob Dylan was to the same kind of death.  His body language made me think that he was consciously (or unconsciously) aware of the real possibility of a fan killing him, too.  When I went back to my seat, I was sustained by the knowledge that I truly didn't need to get any closer to Bob Dylan, and with tremendous respect for his courage each time he walked out on stage.

How could I have that memory if the concert took place before John Lennon's death? Perhaps John Lennon's death was still quite fresh in my mind in 1992, the next time Bob Dylan played at the Paramount Theater.  Now that I think of it, it must have been 1992.  Yes.  In my mind I can only see Bob Dylan and his band on the small stage, and I don't see his back-up gospel singers anywhere.

At another concert in Vancouver, B.C., which must have been in 1993 (according the set list on the Bob Dylan website), I again left my seat.  I wanted to get closer to the stage as he sang "Girl From The North Country" as an encore.  This time the concert was not in a small theater setting.  There were no steps to sit on.  There was only a concrete platform on the left, quite some distance from the stage, where I was not alone in wanting to see Bob from as close as possible.  From that distance,  I was again struck by his vulnerability. He looked fragile.  For the rest of the concert, the sound had been so loud that it was close to being unbearable.  It had taken all my efforts to figure out what he was singing because the song arrangements were unfamiliar and jarring. For that final song, though, the sound was turned down to an intimate level, and he sang in a different voice, in what seemed to me to be a generous and humble voice. That was the last Bob Dylan concert I attended.

Now I really am bewildered.  I don't recall going to a Bob Dylan concert two years in a row, but according to Bob Dylan's website, that is what I did.  I would have thought that the last time I saw Bob Dylan in concert was in Vancouver in a later year, more like 1999.  My memory doesn't appear to serving me well.  So be it.

In the image above, Bob Dylan reminds me of an old Baptiste.  Baptiste is a character from the film, "Les Enfants du Paradis," a French film from 1945 that made a lasting impression on Bob Dylan.  Baptiste works as a mime, but in this clip with a Beatles song superimposed we see him both with his mime makeup, holding a rose, and without his mime makeup:

While looking for more images of Baptiste, I found this image,

which reminded me of the scene in "Masked and Anonymous" when a little girl sings "Blowing in the Wind."

If I know nothing else, I know that at least one thing is true -- that the sacred is in the ordinary.
(quote from the film "Masked and Anonymous")

Now and then when I get an idea for a picture, I think, how ordinary. Why paint that old rock? Why not go for a walk instead.  But then I realize that to someone else it might not seem so ordinary.
(Georgia O'Keeffe)


Here's Georgia looking through a cheese hole, and reminding me of Bob Dylan:

There is no end to the richness of the associations I have with the work of Bob Dylan.  That's just the way it is.


The Solitary Walker said...
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Anonymous said...

I love the way your make connections and the questions you ask along the way.

The Solitary Walker said...

Oh, I just loved all of this, Am!

The sacred is in the ordinary. Just one of the truths reinforced on my recent Camino.

The other great truth (or so it seemed to me at the time — too much sun?) which came home to me was that, no matter how great the apparent actual beauties of the landscape one may walk through, the real Ur-beauty lies in the distilled art inspired by or memory/internalisation of these natural beauties (and uglinesses too for that matter).

I know this makes not a lot of sense baldy and badly expressed lie this; I'll try to elucidate these insights as I recount my progress through France and Switzerland.

It's something to do with the creative and created perfection of inner beauty, rather than the random, haphazard nature of outer, worldly beauty — a religious, spiritual thing, I suppose.

am said...

robin andrea -- Thank you for seeing the connections, too. They are about love (-:

Solitary Walker -- That does make sense to me. Am anticipating what you will be posting in these days after your recent journey inward and outward.