The Swedish Academy says it has given up trying to reach Bob Dylan, days after it awarded him the Nobel Prize of Literature. The Guardian, 10/17/2016
Bob Dylan has accepted the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature, the Swedish Academy said, adding that getting the prestigious award left him speechless. Billboard, 10/29/2016
Yesterday evening the Swedish Academy received a personal letter from Bob Dylan, in which he explained that due to pre-existing commitments, he is unable to travel to Stockholm in December and therefore will not attend the Nobel Prize Ceremony. The Swedish Academy, 11/16/2016
In honor of Mr. Bob Dylan, who is scheduled to receive tomorrow, in absentia, the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature, I submit this personal anecdote.
When Bob Dylan stepped onto the stage at the Au-Rene Theater at the Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale two weeks ago, the crowd stood and applauded.
I, on the other hand, remained in my seat, shaking the ice loose in my whiskey.
This wasn’t the first time I’d seen Bob Dylan in concert. That was 10 years ago at the Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, FL, and it was dreadful.
That spring night, Dylan mostly stood on a dimly lit side of the stage with his guitar, and labored through song after song with the least amount of interest, his face shadowed by a large black hat.
There was no greeting. There were no pleasantries. I don’t recall that he ever once turned to the crowd.
Our friends walked out early. My wife and I stuck it out for one encore but we were miserable. We argued on the way home.
The next morning, we talked about it. What a disappointment, she said. Well, I replied, it’s always a risk when you have certain expectations of an eccentric like him.
Bad night? Sure, but devoted and forgiving Dylan fan nonetheless.
My big-hearted affinity for Bob Dylan started in October 1999.
I was engaged to another girl then. She was lovely and I imagined a good life with her at first, but as the months passed, I began to drift. I considered the possibity of relocating to a new city. Denver, San Francisco, anywhere but where I was. On the outside, I may have kept it cool with friends and acquaintances but inside I was crumbling.
It was around that time that I discovered Dylan, that is, I discovered my first Dylan record album, at a book sale at the Coral Gables Public Library, a two-record compilation titled Greatest Hits, Volume 2.
Released in 1971, “Volume 2” was once dubbed the album that best represents what Dylan has “wrought in popular music, as a composer, lyricist, and performer.” [Rolling Stone Record Guide, 1983].
I paid a dollar for it.
With a marriage engagement hanging by a thread, I found solace in Dylan’s music, and in particular, one song – Don’t Think Twice Its All Right.
Countless love songs have been written throughout history. Even Dylan wrote long songs, but this song is not one of them. This is a break-up song. Honest, crude, and unapologetic. (About the song, Dylan once wrote,“It’s a statement that maybe you can say to make yourself feel better.”). It was exactly what I needed.
By November that year, I had typed the feel-better lyrics and tacked them to a bulletin board above my desk next to a digital map of Northern California and a photo of a desert tree near the Grand Canyon.
By December, the song had become a personal anthem. Whichever action I needed to take, whatever consequences would come, I needed to be selfish, I needed to move on. It would be all right.
Greatest song ever? Probably not. Probably not even Dylan’s best song, but, it doesn’t matter.
At the concert in Fort Lauderdale two weeks ago, the set list consisted of many songs I didn’t know from his last two albums, Tempest  and Shadows In The Night . Of course, he could have, and was entitled to, perform any of the more than 650 songs he has recorded since 1961.
The unpredictable Dylan opened the show with the single Things Have Changed from the 2000 film Wonder Boys, a somewhat obscure song (save for the fact that it won an Academy Award for Best Original Song).
He grinned. He even kind of danced. Already, this show was feeling good.
Then he strutted to a piano, removed his hat, and began playing another tune. He hit a few keys I knew. I sat up in my chair and turned to my wife and said, I think I know what’s coming.
And then it came.
Well, it ain't no use to sit and wonder why, babe Even you don't know by now And it ain't no use to sit and wonder why, babe It'll never do somehow When your rooster crows at the break of dawn Look out your window, and I'll be gone You're the reason I'm a-traveling on But don't think twice, it's all right. And it ain't no use in turning on your light, babe The light I never knowed And it ain't no use in turning on your light, babe I'm on the dark side of the road But I wish there was somethin' you would do or say To try and make me change my mind and stay But we never did too much talking anyway But don't think twice, it's all right. So it ain't no use in calling out my name, gal Like you never done before And it ain't no use in calling out my name, gal I can't hear you any more I'm a-thinking and a-wonderin' walking down the road I once loved a woman, a child I am told I gave her my heart but she wanted my soul But don't think twice, it's all right. So long honey, baby Where I'm bound, I can't tell Goodbye's too good a word, babe So I'll just say fare thee well I ain't a-saying you treated me unkind You could have done better but I don't mind You just kinda wasted my precious time But don't think twice, it's all right.
That night, there would be no disappointment, there would be no fight. The ice in my drink had broken loose and dissolved into my whiskey.
Copyright © 2016 Long Play Miami
Last Saturday was Record Store Day, a day to pay homage to the vinyl record and the independent record shop. The idea for Record Store Day (or RSD) was born in 2007 at a gathering of independent record store owners in Baltimore, Maryland: their mission was simple – maximize awareness towards an industry and culture that was racing towards extinction. According to www.recordstoreday.com, RSD is a day “for the people who make up the world of the record store — the staff, the customers, and the artists — to come together and celebrate the unique culture of a record store and the special role these independently owned stores play in their communities.” Guess what? Its worked. This year marked the 7th consecutive year for RSD. Approximately 2,000 record shops from around the world celebrated with parties and concerts and opened their shops to larger-than-normal crowds of record enthusiasts looking for new releases or re-issues. Miami’s finest record shop – Sweat Records – reported on Twitter witnessing “MADNESS” this past weekend (the vibe, not the London band with the 1982 hit single “Our House”); hundreds of record fans stood in line and braved the early morning showers to get their vinyl fix. Similar RSD enthusiasm was documented in cities across the U.S., Europe, and Asia.
Vinyl record sales have been trending upwards each year. Its very common today for musicians to once again include vinyl record releases of their music. And demand is growing. Record sales figures are projected to reach $9 MM this year, up from $6 MM in 2013, and $4.5 MM in 2012. Yes, those are small figures compared to the number of iTunes downloads but nevertheless a remarkable and impressive achievement in this digital age.
Nostalgia aside, plain and simple, there has always been something unique about record buying and record playing that far exceeds the joy one gets (or I get) from the CD or iTunes. I’m talking vinyl love here; real, tangible love.
Back when I was a kid, this is how I spent the best parts of most Saturday afternoons at the mall, while my mother shopped at the woman’s clothing store next door:
Maybe you have a similar memory.
Flipping through the latest albums on display at the record shop, pulling one out to view the cover art or the song list before placing it back and flipping some more until the next one catches your attention. Finding the one or two albums that made all the sense in your little world.
On the car ride home, new record on your lap, you tell your mom to drive faster. You secretly curse every red light along the way.
At home, you remove the plastic wrapping, pull out the record sleeve, study it – the graphics, the liner notes – and when you’re ready to hear the music, you tilt the sleeve to let the record slide out onto your hands. You hold it firmly but with care from the sides so as not to tarnish it with fingerprints. You might even inspect the record for any dust particles still hanging on to it.
You turn the record player on and gently place the disc on the platter fitting the center over the spindle so that it pokes through and secures it for what’s next. The turntable is ready. You press the spin button, turn the volume way up, place the needle on the record, and await the bull-rush sensation when the needle comes in contact with the first sonic groove.
I love vinyls. Around 1997, I began a deliberate effort to ‘collect’ records and curate my own collection for years to come. I thought the days of LPs and 45s were numbered. So I began a buying spree. Local libraries, garage sales, estate sales, and small record shops from as far away as Toronto. I made it a point that every business trip include a visit to a neighborhood record store.
However, today the majority of my collection is comprised of three separate private collections that I acquired from previous owners who either passed on or just wanted to move on. I have given each collection a name as a tribute and token of my appreciation to its previous owner. They are:
1. The Steve
2. The Lourdes
3. The Raul
As an ode to Record Store Day and vinyl love, in general, I will be posting a story about each of these collections in the coming weeks.
The first post will feature the most recently acquired.
The Raul Collection
[New York club DJ/record producer 1978-1988]
Principal Genres: Disco, Freestyle, Soul