To be fair, it’s art theft–and jewel theft–and not Damien Hirst shout-outs, but it stuck out to me. And the song is processed cheese, but totally justifiable and enjoyable, especially if one is living on a solid diet of Bob Dylan, at least for a day.
So, a little bit ago, a couple of my friends were having a debate on Twitter about whether or not it would be an honor to be the woman who inspired Blood on the Tracks. Obviously, the person to ask that question would be Sara Dylan, who probably doesn’t want to talk about it very much. But the question was a good opportunity to revisit the album, which is one I tend to binge on and then leave alone for a while. I tend to find “Simple Twist of Fate,” despite the fact that it’s one of the most obviously fictionalized narratives on the album, almost too unbearably sad to listen to:
Bad timing between two people who are trying hard to love each other is one of the sadder things I know. And I have a hard time feeling like it would be an honor seeing yourself in “Idiot Wind,” which is one of those I’m-having-a-bad-moment-and-need-to-be-vicious songs:
But I could see being honored by “You’re a Big Girl Now,” which is both one of the most emotionally honest and articulate songs on the album, at least to me:
The song has a rare clarity, I think, it’s absolutely full of the pain that it’s about, there is no remove here, but there’s an impressive depth of perception. “Love is simple / To quote a phrase / I’m learning it these days” is a wonderfully humble lyric. ”I’m going out of my mind / With a pain that stops and starts / Like a corkscrew to my heart / Ever since we’ve been apart” captures the fever-like sensation of heartbreak perfectly, even if it is a little melodramatic.
And while I can’t really imagine being the inspiration for “Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts,” I have to mention it because the song is the source of my obsession with lyrical inflection. If you listen to the whole thing, it’ll become clear that Dylan has very pronounced patterns in each verse:
Until, that is, he hits the line “Lily had already taken all of the dye out of her hair.” It’s a great line in and of itself, and a strong advancement of the narrative. But, unless I’m crazy, it’s also the only real exception to Dylan’s pronunciation patterns, and it’s a lovely one.
But then, none of you need me to tell you that Blood on the Tracks is a great album. I’m still not sure I’d want to go through the emotional experiences that produced it (I feel like Bob Dylan would be exceptionally difficult to end a relationship with), but I’m glad someone did, for our collective benefit.
In Cleveland, the fight revolves around several thousand dollars a year in salary for each player. But implicit is a debate over the worth of exquisitely trained musical artists in our society and how much we are now willing to pay for them.
That’s of course one of the issues at stake in stories about funding for the arts across a wide variety of disciplines, from the broad decline of the news business, to the closing of the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis. But there are other questions here, too. If salaries rapidly decline in music and art, as they have in journalism, symphonies, galleries, etc., risk losing out on a huge amount of talent. For example, journalism has become such a costly career to pursue, full of unpaid internships, low starting salaries, and fellowships that require the people who take them to have independent sources of income. Those financial entry barriers are not inconsequential, and they limit the kind of people who can decide they want to pursue a career in journalism. Given the costs of training and equipment to go into classical music, if salaries fall, the entry barriers are even steeper.
But I think one thing that stood out substantially to me about this story was the fact that the Orchestra musicians feel comfortable potentially striking at all. Given the high social capital culture jobs have, and the terrible state of the economy, I’m impressed that the musicians aren’t worried about getting fired or disciplined, or losing public approval for striking. I guess when the profession’s in peril, someone’s got to take a stand.
Because somehow I missed that Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls is engaged to Neil Gaiman (which makes SO MUCH SPOOKY SENSE) until she took off a lot of her clothes on the red carpet and the Fug Girls pointed it out (NSFW, duh.). I’m not a Dresden Dolls devotee or anything (though Amanda did go to my high school, and they have been generous enough to play benefits for our incredible drama department), but “The Jeep Song” is up there on my list of favorite breakup songs of all time, is is in many ways the silly encapsulation of how I felt about much of ninth through twelfth grade:
All of this nostalgia aside, though, I actually didn’t think Dana Goodyear’s profile of Neil Gaiman in this week’s New Yorker was very good. Maybe it’s just that Gaiman isn’t someone I wanted to know more about, and I didn’t know that until I read the piece, but I felt like it was a fairly surface look at a complicated artist, unlike Goodyear’s brilliant deep dive on James Cameron. I love Sandman so much it’s difficult for me to talk about, the emotions just run too deep. It’s impossible that the person who created it could be as moving as the work itself.