Exhuming Bob 2: With One Hand Waving Free

December 19, 2007

A Critique

Exhuming Bob 2:

With One Hand Waving Free

by

R.E. Prindle

TEXTS

Scaduto, Anthony:  Bob Dylan  1972

Shelton, Robert: No Direction Home 1986

Heylin, Clinton:  Behind The Shades Revisited 2000

Sounes, Howard:  Down The Highway 2001

Marcus, Greil: Articles and Essays.

Prindle, R.E.:  Essays

 

Come on, give it to me,

I’ll keep it with mine.

-Bob Dylan

 

     Time to tackle a few basic assumptions.  For instance what is the conception of freedom as entertained by Bob Dylan and latterly his alter ego, Greil Marcus.  Both are Jews so freedom must be examined in the context of the Jewish understanding of the term and contrasted with the Gentile understanding.

     With the emergence of the supremacy of cultural differences in the United States made stark by the doctrine of Multi-culturalism such a definition seems to be demanded.  Cultural expectations are quite different.  What is freedom for Jews is not freedom for others.  My concept of freedom differs markedly from that of Dylan, Marcus and their fellow Jews.

     As is pointed out by both Sounes and Heylin Dylan’s given Jewish name is Sabbatai.  That means that his father was probably of the Sabbatian-Frankist Jewish sect.  This sect holds that the messiah can never come until the Jews have expelled all the evil from their souls.  Therefore they should commit any and all crimes in the effort to purge their souls of evil.  In other words apparently according to Frankist beliefs there is, oh, about a quart and half of evil in a Jew which once that is poured out their souls will be purged of evil.

     In his 12/30/04 review in Rolling Stone of Dylan’s Chronicles Vol. I Greil Marcus quotes Dylan recollecting a saying of his father:

     Quote:

     “My father,” Dylan writes of Abraham Zimmerman, “wasn’t so sure the truth would set anybody free”- and those words sound down through the book.

     Unquote.

     Marcus goes on to say:

     Quote:

     This isn’t just the stiff-necked Jew turning on Jesus pronouncing that “the truth shall set you free.”

     Unquote.

     Thus we are led to the core of the issue.  If the truth won’t set you free, what will?  This seems to be an internal Jewish problem as at the time Jesus is quoted he was merely an itinerant Jewish prophet speaking solely to his fellow Jews as a Jew while demanding recognition as a prophet.

     It is often forgotten that prior to Paul’s universalizing of the teaching of the Jew, Jesus of Nazareth, the Jesus cult was confined to the Jews.

    The Jewish Jesus cult only became Christian after it was grafted on to the Greek Kyrios Christos cult and therefore became Christian through the association with Aryan Greek religious thinking.  Christos means merely the Expected One, the same as the Jewish term Messiah and the Moslem Mahdi.  Who are you going to believe, right?

     So, the question is what Truth did Jesus have to offer to his fellow Jews that would set them free and free from what?  This seems to have been a problem that Abraham Zimmerman was pondering.  As he was most likely a Frankist the struggle would have been between expelling the quart and half of evil by committing it while rejecting ‘the truth’ as expounded by the Jewish would be prophet, Jesus of Nazareth.

     The Jews reacted violently to Jesus and his message causing his death, then persecuting his following attempting genocide on them.  So whatever ‘truth’ Jesus sought to impart to his fellow Jews was thoroughly rejected.

     Symbolically Dylan whose personality was divided between the goiish world of Hibbing and the Jewish world of his father speaks of ‘dancing with one hand waving free.’  Which hand?

     There is quite obviously a terrific conflict going on in Dylan’s mind from then to now.  Not only was his father probably a Frankist but Bob was sent to a Jewish summer camp over several years.  This was Camp Herzl.  Theodore Herzl was the founder of the Zionism that captured the Jewish identity in the twentieth century.  Bob attended those camps in the decade or so after the realization of the Nazi extermination camps.  He must therefore have been indoctrinated with the paranoia of post-war Jewry.  When he is described as ‘plenty Jewish’ he obviously endured heavy indoctrination with the endless showing of heaps of dead bodies being pushed around with bulldozers.

     So then, ‘one hand waving free?’

     As Jesus’ message to the world was that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son this notion was in conflict with the traditional Jewish notion that God so loved the Jews exclusively that he made them his chosen people.  The plea of the Jewish prophet Jesus of Nazareth to his people may well have been to come out of the isolation of their chosenness to join the rest of humanity and become ‘free’ of a ridiculous prejudice.  This the Jews refused to do choosing to eliminate the messenger instead.

      Abraham Zimmerman obviously understood this but chose the Frankist approach rather than the Jesusite.  As Greil Marcus so aptly noticed he seems to have been successful in passing this notion on his son.  Bob himself, it seems to me, has lived his life in the most represhensible manner running roughshod over everyone, indulging his evil impulses.

     A key issue that Heylin emphasizes is what happened in the summer of ’59?  This was the summer of Bob’s graduation and a year before he spent the summer in Colorado.  The period seems to have been one of extreme psychological turmoil as Bob’s Jewish persona took over his life.

     It seems pretty obvious that Dylan committed some crime around his graduation for which he was sent to the Redwing Reformatory of Minnesota.  Heylin accepts Beatty Zimmerman’s explanation that Abraham for some reason voluntarily sent Bob to a reformatory in Pennsylvania.  This makes no sense to me.  As we know Bob committed more than one theft in the year after he began at U. Minnesota.  I think it more likely that he appropriated something of someone else in Hibbing and ‘kept it with his.’  What it could have been must have been pretty serious to send a first time offender  to the reformatory for a couple months expecially at the age of 18. 

     It seems possible if not probable that the offence was not Bob’s first and that he had been let off with a warning on earlier offences.  At any rate Bob wrote a song concerning the walls of Redwing.  It would seem likely that he was familiar with them from the inside.

     If so he didn’t learn his lesson as he took to theft at Minnesota.  It is also interesting that he also sang ‘why am I always the thief?’  The Pankake record theft at Minnesota was a most ill-considered and egregious theft as the material ‘kept with his’ led directly to him.  Bob continued his thefts in Colorado where when the police were called, according to Sounes, he went into a real panic.  The panic may have been caused by the fact that if the Minnesota police history became known, as a second offender and an adult, he may have been facing a more serious sentence and that in the men’s prison rather than the boy’s reformatory.  Realizing he had outworn his welcome Bob skipped back to Minnesota.

     When Pankake was tracking Bob down he discovered that a lot of people were looking for Bob.  Why would they be looking for him?  Either he owed them money or they too were missing something that Bob was ‘keeping with his.’

     Whether Dylan actually wanted to go East to meet Woody or whether the times were changing enough that it was opportune for him to skip Minneapolis requires further investigation but it is probable that it was time to move along.

     His mental turmoil was such that people posted an unwanted sign upon their hearts whenever he came around.  Heylin quotes Bonnie Beecher concerning an incident that would have made me want to leave the planet.  Apparently in mid-day Bob got so drunk that he collapsed in the middle of a campus sidewalk soaking in his own vomit.  Beecher was more than a good friend to him in helping the besotted boy to his feet.  When Dylan later described his song Like A Rolling Stone as pure vomit his mental state in both instances must have been the same.

     At any rate at this point Dylan took his problems to New York City where he began to live out the most improbable of fantasies although in an almost 100% Jewish milieu.

2.

Go to:  Exhuming Bob 2-2 Detourning The Folks

8 Responses to “Exhuming Bob 2: With One Hand Waving Free”

  1. Oh Mercy Says:

    holy hell.
    I though part two was weird, part one is just insane!

    really dud, get help.
    Please

  2. R M Says:

    What really stands out about all this is that the music business is literally littered with broken souls. Some are on “the nightshift,” while others “surviced” in a sense. Only marginally, in most cases. And yet, SOMEBODY literally made billions off of these kids over the decades. You can go back to the very beginning of recorded music right through the rock era to the iPod era, and the song remains the same. Just saw the two living Beatles (the very idea of that gives me shivers: how could there BE only two living Beatles in the first place? Besides the point, I suppose), and when Larry King asked him “what helps” with his current personal messes, Paul quite rightly told him “not talking about it.” Frank Sinatra was just lucky; two failed attempts on his own life. Elvis . . . ’nuff said there. Michael Jackson was a genius child destroyed to the core and is drowning in red ink and sleeping on other people’s sofas, after all that cash rolled into CBS-Sony, not to mention that he’s not got one dime from the early years in royalties. And now the rappers kill each other because the business is run by criminal vultures. It never ends. It’s about time the artists got together for real and took a hard look at the whole mess. And then do something about it.

  3. R M Says:

    One more thing. While I deeply respect the fine work here, I have one little kick about it. Read on. Meanwhile I am especially grateful for someone using some COMMON SENSE when dealing with the various “officialdom” freaking out when confronted with a son’s clear charge that the his lyrics are factual (something Dylan almost always DENIES). I mean, “Red Wing.” Hey, how about THESE: “God said to Abraham, KILL ME A SON – Abe say “God, you must be puttin’ me on”/God say: “Abe, when you see me comin’, you better run!”/Abe say, “Where you want this killin’ DONE!?@#%$#%”?/God say “Out on HIGHWAY 61!!!!!!!!!!!” Red Wing is DIRECTLY on Highway 61, separated only by the barbed wire. (There may have been times in its long history when the wire was down. But he is clear that the “Walls” are generally wire, period. And electrified. How you gonna keep those kids confined without SOMETHING?!? Ludicrous. Of course there were “walls” of a type. Plus a hole for solitary, which a bipolar kid was gonna get thrown in for sure. And a cryptic “screen,” and much more deeply detailed description. Old ’40s movies, my butt! Nothin’ like this in ’57’s Jailhouse Rock!!!!!!) Are other people just stupid? He had no reason to reveal this years after the song had been buried. And by whom? And shoot, Dylan does not generally reveal: he likes to conceal. But this one is pure, “thick description.” I wrote my dissertation on a popular artist of the 20th century (no, not Madonna, and not Elvis, and not Dylan, and oh, look it up). I have read about 300 Elvis books, and God knows how many about others. Greil Marcus was my first inspiration. I am not a neophyte at this. But I can’t stand a secret that seems to beg you to “get it.” So I tracked it down.

    Dylan rarely engages in what I would call “vulgar realism songwriting,” (and that’s not always a bad thing, don’t get me wrong; it’s just not HIM is all), and this song, buried and hidden until the artist was well into middle age and just said IT. Once unburdened, Mr. Lonely had “no secrets to conceal”; that long nightmare appeared to have ended for him. If they don’t want to believe him, well, that’s their problem. I know what thick description looks like, and I know what a “stereotype” looks like, and this is no “stereotype” nor is “a friend’s” memory. You know how many college kids have come into my office or wherever, and said “my sister has this problem,” and “oh, a girl is beating me up,” and, in writing, “uh, my buddy wants to kill himself because he’s 19, and his father is 38, and he’s afraid he’ll NEVER get away from him, and what should “my buddy” do?” Amid thick description of the “buddy’s” gruesome travails. This was almost 20 years ago, and I always wonder if the kid survived his life. I figure Dylan’s song was written when he was quite young: quite a bit before “Freewheelin,” which tossed the song.

    And stunned, I would assume, his mother said “oh, no! We sent Bobby to that nice Devereaux in Pennsylvania . . .” Where are all the Pennsylvania references in his songs? Metaphors, anything. Puleeze. They shopped around, but I imagine the judge was not interested. You got that one right as rain. And I am glad of it. I have always felt that young Bobby’s tall tales seemed like he was running away from some horrid secret. Running like the breeze, but still trapped (with one hand waving free! And the other arm grabbed hard by his old man). Hell, the general public did not really know Elvis’ father was in Parchman ’till after his son’s death. BIG SECRET. MUST NOT TELL. So what? It doesn’t matter anymore. It explains a lot, and that’s good. End of that part of that story. And, believe you me, THIS explains A LOT. I hope Joan Baez, who recorded it, and seems to have no genuine bitterness for the young Bobby (similar to a number of wronged ladies in his life, oddly: they ought to be mad as hell – but for some reason, they speak today with great warmth and even bold affection). Hell, it must have been hard to remember that baby-faced kid and then learn of this later. Maybe, for some, years later.

    Dylan seemed to want to shake the weight off of his shoulders, but once he told too many tall tales in running from the major true one, like “the boy who cried wolf,” the world yawned and absolutely refused to believe it. I surfed over to a Red Wing historical site and they HATE it. NOT TRUE, they scream. Wasn’t it that, uh, Billy Shakespeare who first warned about “protesting too much” (sorry for the paraphrase and the uncool pun). Sure, I guess his parents searched around for an out-of-state placement in a “nicer” place, but if you were the judge and the kid was “technically” ok to go by age (if the offense preceded his birthday!), then he figured the boy would be straightened up by a what Heylin calls a “short, sharp, shock.” In the song, it seemed like a LONG two months, of course. He was a kid. I hate it when people do these awful things to adolescents and then later do not even believe them! I am a teacher-professor, and I have seen too much pain in “older” adolescents. Too much. Which is why this is not a mere ethnic deal to me, and I am a proudly Jewish woman who proudly puts up a 6-and-a-half foot Christmas Tree. And I won’t defend, explain, or anything.

    I guess I mean, neither Abe nor Bobby killed Christ. Can we move on from that to the serious and oft-ignored problems of kids in the 20th and 21st centuries? Whatever happened 2000 years ago, whatever people think happened, I really think that for a ’50s adolescent like Bobby Zimmerman, the ancient cultural depths of the thing really didn’t matter all that much. He wanted to be James Dean, just like millions of kids and their pissed-off parents, and since he was a genius, he did pretty good. Damn good. Sure, he was hoping for a glamorous and very youthful end, and thank God he didn’t get his wish. Gosh, when he said he identified with the pathetic, hunted, beaten, accused, and shot-in-the-belly “Oswald,” I doubt that had anything to do with his religious ideation – or political, certainly. He just saw a stray caught in a spider’s web and eaten alive. (Jack Kennedy himself probably would have felt bad for the self-proclaimed, lawyerless young ‘patsy’ if he knew. He was a “hung-up” “rake” himself!!)
    I mean, I don’t want to be rough, so please understand when I say it’s like saying that Joseph Jackson was “being black” when he did vile things to his children! “Cultural thing,” my arse: easy excuse for the inexcusable. I am not saying your work is not awesome; it is. I just have certain reservations about the ethnic/religious core.

    Bob Dylan was a fifties kid who didn’t want to be living in the past, be it a Jewish shtetl, or amidst Midwestern platitudes. And he had problems, ala Dean: in his case at the time, “sticky fingers.” He’s not the only big star with this in his past! This is an American story, and when I see a mystery, I either find it, which I did, or it just doesn’t exist. This one you got right: the song is pure “thick description”: Dylan is not usally an anthropologist in this sense. The lyrics are excruciatingly detailed and mired in the type of realism he usually avoided, and there is no other explaination that makes sense to me. You got that one right, IMHO.

    In any case, I can tell you from experience on campuses, that the horror scene (the drunken, vomit soaked kid on campus, early) at the U. of M. is worse than anything I have seen or even heard of and I went to a southern state U. for my undergrad work – a football school! Saw some pathetic stuff, but I have never seen something like that on a schoolday at high noon, either as student or professor. You simply cannot make something like that up – it goes beyond. And it’s been a LONG TIME now and I have seen a lot. The kid was in desperate need of some genuine love, and despite his fuzzless face, and babyish appearance, it seems that after the summer of ’59, he was destroyed – in some ways, forever. I just had to find out what destroyed those parts of him even as his artistry shined. So that brought me to your site here. And to my own common sense in figuring out the matter and seeing someone else who saw it as I did.

    Yes, yes, that biblical tale of obedience carried to its furthest extreme ever since I first pilfered my first Gideon Bible (oh, come ‘on, even Jesus himself would have loved the gorgeous golden paisly covers from the late ’70s!), I couldn’t deal with a man who could be THAT obediant, and so Abraham always bothered me. At every Bris ceremony, I secretly muttered bitter thoughts in my mind, while smiling and patting folks on the back. The dawn of patriarchy: the LAW of the FATHER. One time, I had to teach a class immediately following, and I let loose on this obediance business, big time: I am a Ph.D. sociologist. But you can take ethnicity and religious-cultural heritage of any artist far beyond where it belongs: in THIS case, squarely in the face of what can only be described as a “passive-aggressive” but clearly abusive father. Even an old gilfriend told a mild-mannered biographer that Bobby seemed quite afraid of his father, but she didn’t know if he hit him or not. I don’t care what “Abe” or God says on this point: I say “DUH!!”

    (Oh, and Jews are paranoid because the statistics are very clear that “they” really ARE out to get us! [I refer to skinheaded hate groups and suchlike – and to nothing beyond – we only come in second; black folk are first as always].)

    You’re doing hard, good work,
    Don’t let the “Culture Wars” creepos
    stop you from your Dylan studies,
    All the best,
    RM in Cali

  4. reprindle Says:

    R.M.

    Your first response set me thinking and your second is so packed it will take me time to digest it all.

    Your first set me thinking along the lines of an essay exploring the idea of The Boulevard Of Broken Dreams. You probably have heard the old song. I have the Ferlin Husky version I listen too. The guy emotes. That combined with Larry Hosford’s Everything’s Broken Down would be the backbone of the essay.

    Your take on Dylan and his father-son relationship has opened doors for me.

    I’ll have to see what I can come up with.

    Many thinks for taking the time to respond so fully.

    R.E.

  5. R M Says:

    Oh my gosh, thank you. Sometimes, things jump out at me so clearly, and when people try cover up the obvious, it ticks me off BIG TIME. I have heard Dylan’s and Baez’s versions: hers first, and the first time, I truly got chills. I have been listening to Dylan, like most people at least my age since I was about 14, and I NEVER got chills before. What else is there to say?
    Big thing to chew on: the Keyston Kops/Marx Bros. deal when Dylan’s bike “locked up”; he was being followed by one or two women after a massive fight with Grossman over 64 more tour dates of being booed and called “Judas” just when he needed to sort out the mess he had made of his personal life (knocking up a young lady while madly in love with Baez, and I truly believe he was, but he was completely crazy by then: no clear thinking even possible. But I am sure Grossman and EVERYONE had been warned not to inform his parents in the event of a “biggie” — you might say. And Abe was on the phone with Shelton “my boy, my boy!” and that. I suppose such parents DO love their kids, but not in ways that, well, normal parents can comprehend. Dylan had clearly given earlier instructions. Listen, if you hit an oil slick, either on a bike, motorbike, or car, how exactly is it that the brakes simutaneously “lock up.” I used to ride a bike everywhere in college, and I his sand a lot, and went down and scraped my knee/leg. No breaks. The very idea is terrifying. What’s cool is that he didn’t get his “James Dean” way . . . probably saved some kids’ lives when, in similar positions, they decided that having such an “accident” is just dumb. You lose either way.
    I think of Elvis a lot in this. Vernon was pressed continually to use Tennessee’s (sp?) outmoded “civil committment” law to lock up an adult. In ’69, he hired a “double agent” to spy on his son, but, even after the divorce,when things got SO bad that ELVIS GOT BOOED! Didn’t even remember it, though. Vernon could not do it. He kept talking about how cruel his own father had been to him all of his life. He said something cruel, and likely true that cut like glass and left his son sobbing, but he couldn’t do the deed. And he was left in the corner of a shower wailing “my baby’s dead, my baby’s dead!” Some people just do not know how lucky they are. Dylan had NO love; Elvis was surrounded by it, and chafed at it. (He did get into BIG trouble at home when he offered Johnny Cash “legal diet pills” that he got from HIS MOTHER’S MEDICINE CABINET!

  6. R M Says:

    Oh my gosh, thank you. Sometimes, things jump out at me so clearly, and when people try cover up the obvious, it ticks me off BIG TIME. I have heard Dylan’s and Baez’s versions: hers first, and the first time, I literally got chills. It is still a frightening song, richer in thick description than almost any Dylan song I know. “The screen”? What the hell is *that*? So much there. I have been listening to Dylan, like most people at least my age, since I was about 14, and I NEVER got chills before. What else is there to say?
    Big thing to chew on: the Keyston Kops/Marx Bros. deal when Dylan’s bike “locked up”; he was being followed by one or two women after a massive fight with Grossman over 64 more tour dates of being booed and called “Judas” just when he needed to sort out the mess he had made of his personal life (knocking up a young lady while still deeply involved, and I believe still in love with Baez, but he was completely crazy by then: no clear thinking even possible. 7 and a half months on, and BOOM, secret shotgun wedding. I keep thinking about the college Freshman who must have looked about 12 or 13 years old passed out at midday, soaked in liquor-stinking vomit . . . as a prof., I just can’t get that horrible image out of my mind). But I am sure Grossman and EVERYONE had been warned not to inform his parents in the event of a “biggie” — you might say. And Abe got on the phone with Shelton “my boy, my boy!” and all that. I suppose such parents DO love their kids, but not in ways that, well, normal parents can comprehend. Dylan had clearly given earlier instructions. Listen, if you hit an oil slick, either on a bike, motorbike, or car, how exactly is it that the brakes simutaneously “lock up.” You don’t touch the brakes!!! I used to ride a bike everywhere in college, and I hit sand a lot, and went down and scraped my knee/leg bloody a few times. No brakes involved unless you wanna fly. The very idea is terrifying. What’s cool is that he didn’t get his “James Dean” way . . . probably saved some kids’ lives when, in similar positions, they decided that having such an “accident” is just dumb. You lose either way.
    I think of Elvis a lot in this. Vernon was pressed continually to use Tennessee’s (sp?) outmoded “civil committment” law to lock up an adult. In ’69, he hired a “double agent” to spy on his son, but, even after the divorce he did not act,when things got SO bad that ELVIS GOT BOOED! YUP! In Houston. Didn’t even remember it, though. (He sure “got stoned” that time in more ways than one!) Vernon could not do it. He kept talking about how cruel his own father had been to him all of his life. He said something so cruel, though, and likely true that it cut like glass and left his son sobbing, but he couldn’t do the deed. And, on the day of reckoning, he was left slumped in the corner of a shower wailing “my baby’s dead, my baby’s dead!” Some people just do not know how lucky they are. Dylan had NO love; Elvis was surrounded by it, and chafed at it.
    He did get into BIG trouble at home when he offered Johnny Cash “legal diet pills” that he pinched from HIS MOTHER’S MEDICINE CABINET! John immediately called Sam Phillips, worried about the kid doing this at such a young age, and Sam called Vernon during a tour. Is it any wonder that Johnny Cash is not actually ON the so-called “Million Dollar Quartet” album: only the picture, and Elvis won’t look at him. I personally heard one of his guys say that Gladys threw a hot iron at him when Vernon confronted him at the door when he got home. He was quick enough to dodge the iron. Those words he said to his son near the end of his son’s brief life were “you’re killin’ me, just like you worried your momma to her grave.” Elvis did not argue, or even seem to be angered, according to Billy Smith, his cousin, and the only one allowed in the room. He just buried his head in a pillow and sobbed. He knew what he had done. And he knew why she was afraid of his going into the service, where the drugs got insane. She was right. He proudly told an Army buddy, after getting under the table pills near base, “it’s not what you know/it’s who ya know!” Ten years later, he somehow got himself into THE OVAL OFFICE, insisting on “the federal credentials” or he wouldn’t leave town! (You can’t con a conman; it was just revealed that the badge was a FAKE! And he thought he pulled quite the heist.)
    But he died. Surrounded by love, and yet he died. There are some mysteries that can NEVER be solved.
    Oh, one more little thing: according to Talmudic Law, Elvis was Jewish. No, I am NOT kidding. Look it up. Straight maternal line to a “Burdine” woman. Not too far back. He knew it.
    Many thanks again.

  7. reprindle Says:

    R.M.

    If you mean Vernon was thinking of committing Elvis, thank god he lacked the fortitude. I doubt Elvis could have been helped at that late stage in his life anyway. The guy never got beyond his teen fantasies. Probably couldn’t. I couldn’t have borne the fact of Elvis being committed. Better he should die young.

    If you’d like to read an interesting and terrifying story of committing someone to an insane asylum, if you’ve got the time, go to my reprindle.wordpress.com blog. Check the R.E. Prindle archive then choose Our Lady Of The Blues Book VII Clip 2. You should find the scene at Atascadero interesting. The bit about the pier is based on Mac Wiseman’s Waiting For Ships That Never Come In. Dylan hints that the song was a major influence on him also. Dewey actually quotes a verse.

    That episode in my novel shows how close people can come to the edge of the abyss without falling in. Bear in mind the story is a novel. I am not Dewey although there may be some close similarities.

    Anyway, I’m very glad Vernon didn’t follow through. Strange to say if he had it would have had a fairly serious effect on my own psychology. Not that Elvis’ early death didn’t.

  8. R M Says:

    First of all, I want to profoundly apologize for the “tech mess” last night where my computer just stopped the post and started in on posting an unfinished, unpolished post (the latter one is the “real” one). I write slowly and carefully, as you can see by the time I put into them. I used to love Usenet and the community feeling there. Now, blogging rules. Some of it is very good, clearly. You seem to be a genuine talent, though I do not know if you are a GenXer, “Late Boomer” (meaning, too young to really have experienced the sixties), or even younger, or older. In any case, Vernon was definitely not the one “considering” invoking the Tenn. law, and so putting Elvis in the only two real rehabs in the U.S. at the time: (Hazeldon [sp?] in, Minn, where Elvis DID voluntarily spend less than 24 hours before flouncing out in his DEA sweatsuit and pronouncing the whole thing “stupid, asinine. . . I am OUT OF HERE!!” or the Scripps clinic, I believe, in San Diego, where he never darkened their doorstep, even for a few hours. It was a retired cop turned private eye, paid by Vernon in ’69 to be a double agent and spy on his client, Elvis Presley (paternity suit troubles . . .). Vernon told him to “scare off his sources” out West. It didn’t quite work out, clearly. Finally, after the separation, things got very, very bad, and Vernon asked the dude to try to get friendly with his son again, somehow. Make something up or whatever, and then spy again. As before, he returned with a fully documented report, but this time angrily insisted that it had gotten SO bad that NOTHING would work except for the Tenn. law and Vernon was the only one now who could sign off on it. Vernon was of the opinion “he’ll hate me! My own father would do something like that . . . ” (paraphrasing, but very close) Anyway, at that point, O’Grady raised his voice quite a bit about the Qualudes and Elvis smashing into walls in really scary ways and something MUST be done IMMEDIATELY and Vernon, he told him, was the only one who could do it. Elvis was in his ’30s when this “project” began and ended, so if you are quite young, that might seem quite old, but Elizabeth Taylor is very much alive and a hell of a lot older! And Lisa Marie has made some of the most angst-filled music you’d ever NOT want to hear. She’s got some talent, but she’s filled with nothing but hatred, which is all she writes about: anger and hate. I think of the little girl who snuck into the room the back way and actually saw her father on the carpet (and immeidately ran to the phone to call a previous girlfriend and shout “My Daddy’s DEAD, My Daddy’s DEAD!!”), and the not-old-enough for social security older “Daddy” slumped against the shower walls, wailing about his “baby.” I almost got to see Elvis in person, but I was alone in a new place, very young and scared of the long walk back in the darkness. And within the year, he was dead. Dylan said he had an actual nervous breakdown when it happened! I didn’t, but I did have recurring dreams of banging on glass arena doors that were locked. I wanted desperately to get in. I wanted him to be alive. See, I lived down south then. From 12 to 21, I became a southerner. And it was just so palpable down there. I remember “fire alarm nights” when we had to all get out of the building in the middle of the night, and I would look northwest, toward Memphis (which I have visited a number of times, even before they opened the house: in fact, it was better then . . . I remember Vernon’s hadwritten appeal to the fans who could walk up to the Meditation Garden, or just linger on the drive and look at Highway 51 from Elvis’s point of view. “PLEASE GIVE US SOME MONEY FOR THE UPKEEP OF GRACELAND – THIS COSTS US AN AWFUL LOT.” The handwriting was very untutored and very touching. I put in a 20 the first time, I think.) I thought a lot of Vernon’s pain and unrelenting sorrow. His only “other baby” – the dead twin – was buried in a shoebox, nameless, next to other nameless infants and small kids. No preacher. No embalming. No simple marker. No NAME. I thought of the heavy heart of the 19-year-old “Daddy” leaving THAT baby behind in a Potter’s field at the Priceville cemetary in Tupelo. And how several decades passed, and the “baby” that lived was now dead. And how guilty he must have felt. Out on Highway 51, when I first saw it, the barren house repsosing next to the old “Tuffy Muffler” shop, now gone. (Inside, it does not look anything like a “mansion.”) I knew then, that THIS was America, and not having the genius of a teen Bobby Dylan, no real mode of expression at the time.

    So, I wish he had not died then. I wish he truly grew up to become A Man and solved his severe emotional problems. I can truly identify with Dylan’s statement that he couldn’t speak with ANYONE for a whole week after August 16, ’77. It wasn’t that bad for me, of course, but I totally understand it. My thinking is that despite or because of those “Tears of Rage,” he might have liked Elvis to be around to enjoy his grandchildren and the whole new century. Elvis loved technology; he only “shot” Robert Goulet frequently to get the latest and greatest TV model from RCA, free of charge. He had, like me, a TV EVERYWHERE in that house that looks so fancy from the outside and so odd from the inside (and much, much smaller). A shockingly dark, ordinary, and quite ugly kitchen, the “basement” stairs with carpet all over the walls so that the trip down resembles a journey back to the womb. I think it was not too late. O’Grady made his last plea at the very beginning of ’73, immediately after the divorce papers were finalized so as to leave it up to his Daddy. I guess Priscilla just wasn’t interested at all at that time.

    And thank you for the clarity and courage to print the obvious and shove an “official denial” in the faces of the Protectors of Minnesota. They actually forced three young inmates (oh, sorry, “students”) to “guide” the reporter around. Naturally, he titled his story “The Walls of Red Wing,” so proud of himself to say “there are no walls!! It’s just barbed wire!!” There are plenty of walls in the pictures. And in the fifties, they were just emerging from an extremely gruesome time in the history of the place, but the official story is that it took just a little longer to make things nicer because of “overcrowding.” Wasn’t their fault. “Who Killed Davey Moore?” Wasn’t anybody’s fault then either. I have a tape of the young Dylan just SCREAMING that song, “acoustic” or whatever you want to call it, with EXTREME rage at no one accepting blame. You can imagine his parents saying that it just “wasn’t anyone’s fault,” but that he had just pushed things way too far in his adolescence he wasn’t leaving for college with this damned “James Dean” attitude of his. Abe figured it really was just a short little shock; Dylan seems to remember a “killing” out on Highway 61. People have souls; even high school seniors who don’t really want to GO to college. (Recall Echo’s first night with young Bobby? He got into a locked club by sliding a knife to break in. Did it “like butta,” to quote a nice, Jewish girl from NYC. And SHE really was “nice.” Bobby wasn’t so nice; he certainly was a “bad boy,” but the kid had his reasons, and, yes, it took a wild flight off of a fast moving vehicle years later to get his head together: not to mention the extended recovery which had to make him extremely antsy after a while. But the wild ride was his own idea. Which is quite different. I love the “Harding” album, plus the “I Shall Be Released” basement demo from Big Pink. High voice there (not as high as he could actually go, but he was singing with great force, not sweetness). Strong, high, and lonesome.
    Wasn’t it Hank Williams who said in spoken word, “they too have a story to tell, these men with broken hearts.” (After which Elvis once launched into a virulent “Walk a Mile in My Shoes”: bet the grown up Bob loved that one when the full version with the Williams opening finally emerged.) I wish Elvis still could tell HIS stories, even a little. Like I said, Sinatra got lucky, and so did the the world: his best, most permanent music would come in his forties! And Dylan!! Cripes! “Not Dark Yet” and “Love Sick” and . . . whatever might come. I do not believe that life should end just because one has hit 35 or 40. Hell, I take Letterman’s position: “he (Elvis) died CRIMINALLY YOUNG!” He sounded actually pissed off about it. Honestly. He’s a bit older now, and boy, it hits when someone his age looks back. (I am nowhere near Letterman’s age! But I can certainly understand how he sees it that way. I agree.)
    I love when you can post in a friendly way, and even disagree a little, and it’s still so friendly. It’s what the ‘net was supposed to be like, I think. A place to work out thoughts, freely. “Freewheelin'”!!

    All the best,
    R M (I must leave out my name because of friends I made while writing my dissertation. I said some things in the first post that might cause a little unnecessary friction if discovered. Good friends, but not quite so open-minded about a certain subject. Good, kind people, these friends. Not the nutty fringe, for sure. Good people only. I’d bet you can figure it out, knowing I was a seventies child/adolescent, but “keep it with yours,” ok?)

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