Bob Dylan photo illustrates THE DISTANCE BETWEEN RIGHT AND WRONG.

THE DISTANCE BETWEEN RIGHT AND WRONG

How do you measure the distance between right and wrong? Does it vary like the moon’s distance from earth? Or is it exact like Einstein’s E = mc2? Can you be a little bit wrong? Or almost right? Big Brother’s Ministry of Truth in Orwell’s 1984 convinced the oppressed that 2+2=5 and did so in […]

DON’T LOOK BACK

If someone shouts, ‘don’t look’ or ‘don’t look back,’ the natural instinct is to turn and have a good look. When the Sea God Poseidon caught a glimpse of Medusa, it was a disaster. She was a beautiful young priestess with golden curls falling over her pretty shoulders and served in the temple of Athena […]

Dylan poses illustrate the album The Times They Are a-Changin’.

THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN’

In 1964 I was sixteen. I bought a black rollneck sweater and a pair of Cuban heeled boots from Anello & Davide in Coven Garden. I read The Outsider (L’Étranger) by Albert Camus. I learned how to talk with a cigarette balanced in the corner of my mouth and heard The Times They Are A-Changin’ […]

Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney illustrate the song She Belongs To Me.

SHE BELONGS TO ME

When Paul McCartney was asked in HMV’s ‘My Inspiration’ campaign to name the songwriter who had most inspired him, he chose Bob Dylan and said his favourite track was She Belongs To Me. It was an incisive choice. As young guys – before they were famous – they must have had similar experiences with those […]

Bob Dylan and Brigitte Bardot when they were young.

BOB DYLAN AND BRIGITTE BARDOT

Bob Dylan and Brigitte Bardot were outriders, rule breakers, iconoclasts who became icons of the sixties revolution. When Dylan in 1965 played Like a Rolling Stone at the Newport Folk Festival, this electric tidal wave was a manifesto, his resolve to take folk, country and jazz out of their boxes and meld them into the […]

Dylan at Newport in 1975 shows it is important to just be yourself

JUST BE YOURSELF

People may tell you to just be yourself, but what they usually mean is ‘just be like me.’   It is human nature to believe we have made good choices and our children should set off down the same path. The reverse is also true – clever sons rue the errors of their fathers and […]

BOB DYLAN PLAYS LITTLE RICHARD illustrated by bob at the piano.

BOB DYLAN PLAYS LITTLE RICHARD

Bobby turned on the radio late one night in 1957 and the sound of Little Richard hammering out Tutti Frutti over over the airwaves changed his life. Tutti frutti, oh rootie / Tutti frutti, oh rootie, ooh Next day in the storeroom at the back of his father’s appliance store in Hibbing, Minnesota, he blew the dust off […]

Dylan at the piano shows THE ENEMY OF THE UNLIVED MEANINGLESS LIFE

THE ENEMY OF THE UNLIVED MEANINGLESS LIFE

I’m the enemy of the unlived meaningless life. This line struck me like the unexpected blow with the cane Zen teachers use to spark fire in the souls of acolytes on the edge of Nirvana. I thought: who am I? Where have I been? Where am I going? Has my own life been full and worthy, […]

Dylan album cover Freewheeling illustrated THE ANSWER IS BLOWIN’ IN THE WIND

THE ANSWER IS BLOWIN’ IN THE WIND

Blowin’ in the Wind was a song drifting through the ether waiting for someone to reach out and grab; a lyric ‘that the times seemed to call forth,’ to quote critic Greil Marcus. Dylan scribbled the words down in ten minutes, he said. ‘If I hadn’t written it, someone else would have done.’  Blowin’ in the Wind is […]

Dali holds Josep Pla illustrating JOSEP PLA WAS MY FIRST SPANISH TEACHER

JOSEP PLA WAS MY FIRST SPANISH TEACHER

Josep Pla was my first Spanish teacher. If I drop the odd anachronism into the conversation, don’t blame me, blame the great Catalan writer, journalist, bon vivant and, it has been said, forerunner of magic realism.  It all started after spending Semana Santa climbing the dirt track to Sant Pere de Rodes with my wife […]