I don’t like Tom Waits, I can’t stand Nick Cave unless you get me high enough to tolerate the Birthday Party, I don’t enjoy Mark Lanegan, and I never really fell in love with Rowland S Howard. I will listen to the White Stripes as long as we are on a freeway, but not otherwise, and I refuse to ever put on that infernal whiny paean to self destruction, “Someone to pull the trigger” (some BODY would have been the superior word choice) by Matthew Sweet, that I was constantly subjected to at various points in time by Billy who really vibed with its’ “lets torture people with my self harming” tendencies.
I love, I care, I really do and every time someone threatens to hurt themselves it hurts me immensely, until I’m begging for mercy! I pleaded with Billy, please don’t keep on saying it and refusing to get help. Please. It is excruciating. But still he did, him letting off steam, me trying every so hard to help, to coax him into antidepressants or therapy, draining my sympathy and kindness. It was somewhere around Washington State that I decided if I was to ever give up on life and head to the great beyond I sure as shit wouldn’t complain about it first. I haven’t got endless energy to be a guy’s dumping ground for their depression, and I’m pretty sure that makes me a horrible person. Now he is clearly teetering on the brink, his condition deteriorating, he wants to live, and I’m strangely furious with him. So angry I can barely talk as the nurse holds the phone to his ear, while I try not to let the irritation creep into my voice, while tears run down my cheeks.
I’m in pain nowadays and pain makes me less guarded. Pain makes me reckless. Reckless enough to say I don’t like anything Tom Waits has ever put out and he seems like a real jerk, and Nick Cave sounds like a cut price Morrison who has got way above himself. To be fair, I have celiac disease, and previous to Waite’s “free the glutens” pisstake, I only really detested his voice and music, it was only after that incident that I developed a real personal dislike for the man
If I want whiskey and cigarettes Ill drink and smoke them myself, instead of paying for Tom to do it for me and listening to the boring results. It’s all that from the chest singing, knowing growling, faux operatic and self important. It just rubs me up the wrong way. I’m reckless enough to say Tracy Chapman is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen in my life and I spend way too long peering at her singing, wondering how she got to be so tender and real. I’m almost reckless enough to take myself to the ER. Almost. Not quite. I think I’ll wait until the Plague has gone away. I’m sure my foot won’t fall off any time soon.
So what balm is there for my pathetic limping middle aged self? The Rolling Thunder tour. Bob in greasepaint and cocaine, and Bobby Neuwirth playing at rock star. He earnt it, being Dylan’s sidekick for years, letting the other Bob bounce ideas and sounds off him. A human chalkboard. Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez crowd the Bob fan-club and lovers section of the band. The enigmatic Scarlett Rivera and her fiddle gypsy style, dripping sweet darkness into Bob’s ear. The Rolling Thunder tour is self indulgent, and bloated, hugely ambitious, and I enjoy about twenty percent of the renditions of Bob Dylan covering his own songs. Its all too much cocaine energy, flowery and intense, but it grabs the attentions, distracts and leaves you wondering what it would have been like in those hotels and tour buses. The Scorsese documentary, about one of the only things worth watching on netflix right now, is a real attention grabber. I watch it in ten minute bites, enjoying Bob telling Joni the ways things are and Joni, horribly going along with him. I want her to turn round and tell him who the Queen is. Empress Joni Mitchell. Mistress of Folk. I enjoy seeing Bob sharing a song uncomfortably with Baez, not looking like he is quite tolerating her. He is clearly enjoying himself, doing as he wishes, freed by the fact that if he never does another damn thing, he is a legend and a success. I almost wish he had stopped there. Taken his bows and swept off stage, flowers at his feet and in his hat, and spared us the 80s Street Legal disasters. Almost. Not quite. I’m quite fond of some of his later albums. Rough and Rowdy Ways seals that particular deal.
If I’m in the mood to have Rolling Thunder playing in the background, I generally turn to the 1976 bootleg, Genuine Hard Rain. If you can get past Neuwirth opening the show, playing cheesily warming up the crowd with his patter and his lame rock n’ roll, it has some gems amongst the bloated vision. It is at least worth a listen.