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But a rock of ages pressing on against the fading of the light now seems to win readier and more heartfelt acclaim, including across generations. In part that reflects demographic, commercial and social trends. There are ever more older people, professional, influential and solvent, whose most enduring cultural loyalties were forged at a time, the ss, when aesthetic tastes began to signify not just consumer preference but ethical commitment. Whether their ideals are upheld or have been allowed to rust, the opportunity for a late encounter with those who once inspired or embodied them has special appeal.

The trends come together in the cultural marketplace. The promotion and curation of these events are themselves often a sophisticated fusion of art and commerce. A family dimension, the chance to bond with children over old passions, and neophyte curiosity about the compelling era that went before, may also be in play.

Taking Notes & Stealing Quotes on 'Beyond the Pale '

A vicarious reminder of buried feeling, or a measure of the distance between past and present, can also bring an extra frisson. The digital revolution adds further to longevity's attraction. For this revolution makes the world and the past unprecedentedly instant and accessible, while providing only a simulacrum of their inner life which only patient, extended engagement can begin to reveal.

Digitisation's mirage of nearness conceals this.

The paradox of digitisation is that its impacts are both preservative and amnesiac. It conjures the promise of an authentic reality which it cannot fulfil. A longing for the human touch is the result. The living rock of ages seems more and more the place to look. Bob Dylan, who turns 75 on 24 May, seems to personify the case, yet the secret of his unique status — as I hope to show — is that he also transcends it.

The escape begins with the singular twist he offers on artistic longevity, in that for a long time and he has been making a living through his music for 55 years he continues to perform, tour, record, play, write, and more according to an inner compulsion rather than any external need. Dylan's continuing fecundity has become his most striking characteristic. He's way beyond supply. He has, for example, just released a new album, his sixtieth if studio, live and bootleg are all included , called Fallen Angels , to whose 12 songs he brings the same crooning, melancholy delivery that characterised 's Shadows in the Night.

That ability to align his voice to the chosen material is itself a wise acknowledgment of time's work, and thus in its way a defiance of it. None of the songs in these two albums are his own composition; all except one are classics previously recorded by Frank Sinatra, on whose eightieth birthday Dylan gave a generous rendition of his song "Restless Farewell".

Procol Harum

Any new Dylan recording is big news for his devotees, but there has been much more in recent years. Dylan's "never-ending tour" has been on the road since the late s, in an endless loop across continents and cities: His paintings and sculptures have been exhibited in London and Copenhagen. His recent awards include France's Legion d'honneur in November , which followed the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama in May when the recipient's impassive mien was capped by a pat on the commander-in-chief's arm that was somehow classically Dylanesque, both reassuring and dismissive.

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The existence of Dylan's own curated archive of 6, individual items, including detailed notebooks of compositions in flight, was revealed in March It has been sold to a group of institutions in Oklahoma, and will be based in Tulsa. And there are suggestions of a sequel to Chronicles , his picaresque yet lyrical memoir published in , whose pages gleam with the translucent insight and deadpan observation also evident in the century of Theme Time Radio Hour music shows he hosted from At halfway through his current lifespan, Dylan had just produced three sublime albums the underrated Planet Waves , Blood on the Tracks , and Desire and gone on to the fantastic gospel-backed sound encapsulated by the Budokan concert of A serious embrace of faith, reverberating through his art, was just around the corner.

album: "Dead End Kings" (2012)

The scale of his achievement was already huge, the loops and curves of his oeuvre enthralling. But he was just getting going, and only in time did it become clear that, like the blues singers he reveres, Robert Johnson, Ma Rainey, or Blind Willie McTell honorific of one of his greatest songs , Dylan would be on the road, with his boots on, when the calling card came. There is, in short, so much in these years for both old listeners and new to discover. This echoes the point made in two predecessor articles, that there is more to hear from and learn about Dylan than any single person could possibly encompass see " Bob Dylan: Not so long ago, the situation was the opposite, as enthusiasts would attempt illictly to record concerts and scour the underground market for rare and precious bootlegs such as the holy grail: The fact that Manchester's Free Trade Hall was the true location , that the identity and circumstances of the famous cry were tracked down, that a stunning film of the event was unearthed and became part of Martin Scorsese's brilliant documentary No Direction Home , are now grains of a vast Dylanology whose myriad fruits include use of his song titles and lines to enliven otherwise dry academic papers in a range of fields, and indeed a fine study of the obsessives who study him, David Kinney's The Dylanologists: Adventures in the Land of Bob.

The works accumulate, without eclipsing some of the finest earlier studies, many now neglected among them Wilfrid Mellers's A Darker Shade of Pale: The fact that so many focus on distinct aspects of Dylan's work — Paul Williams on the performances , Christopher Ricks on the lyrics , Betsy Bowden on both , Toby Thompson on the Minnesotan , Sean Wilentz on the Americana — reflect its protean character.


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Dylan has never stopped, and his accumulating later oeuvre casts retrospective light on what went before. From the very early days, Dylan strikingly took death and existential loss for subjects, one of many inheritances from the Scots-English-Irish folk ballads and southern blues that informed his repertoire. In his later years this has acquired a new plangency as he goes with the flow of time while seeking to inhabit it, live it, be true to it.

Allied to his craft, this constant search for imaginative and emotional truth whose form always changes, because life is change — is above all what makes Dylan a seminal artist. Pete Solley's right-hand synths counterfeited not the banjo down-beats, but the interpolating high off-beat jangle that we hear on the record. At Guildford in September , when the performance was dedicated to this website mp3 here , Matthew Fisher replaced this jangle with a fascinatingly nagging little barrel-organ figure mp3 here , reclaiming a sense of mystery in a number that has perhaps grown rather familiar.

Gary recalled that the studio twangling sound was originally BJ Wilson on mandolin; he also vouchsafed 'I played guitar on Beyond The Pale ' to Contemporary Keyboard , July Mick Grabham has mentioned bouzoukis in that context; but whatever its origin, that exotic, 'ethnic' effect is further emphasised by the unusual harmonisation of the first four phrases of the vocal melody. The opening chords, I, V and IV, might seem rock'n'roll standard, but despite the quickly-established minor tonality the V chord is also minor, not major as the dominant usually is.

This gives the song its 'Eastern European feel', though Alan Cartwright's oompah bass moves the ambience westward a bit into the territory of a Bavarian drinking-song the oompah bass distinguished hit single Mr Soft by Cockney Rebel … but it's a rare feature in 'serious' hits. There's something faintly exotic, to the English ear, in the melody's alternation of wide leaps and semitone steps, but we hear this in lots of Brooker songs For Liquorice John for example that don't sound remotely Jewish.

Furthermore the guitar playing is standard-issue Grabham, with some very nice fills … indeed the sequence at 1: The lurching pause that precedes the 'Who will share …' section seems to recall the characteristic hiatus that marks the theatre songs of Kurt Weill , Jewish of course.

'Taking Notes and Stealing Quotes'

In concert Brooker occasionally used these lurching pauses to indulge his fondness for comic accents: On the Five and Dime bootleg he can twice be heard singing a Dietrich-like 'Who vill share', and once ' ziss bitter cup' which also enhances the Germanic feel. The Mannheim concert, 18 January dodgily, on German territory, another 'who vill Such community clapping perhaps has European folk-music connotations. Strangely the audience in Vienna six days later another ' vill '!


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There Gary has asked them '… if we've got any gypsy violinists in the audience … we invite them up to join in this one … from the Serbo-Croats' …. Following those unusual minor dominants their impact heightened by the sudden transition to a major V chord at 'share' , the Brooker Muse goes on to auto-pilot for a spell, treading a well-worn path round the cycle of fourths Gary told BtP that bassist Matt Pegg , in rehearsal, had learnt fifty-four Procol songs and had pointed out that Brooker only uses about five harmonic tricks: This middle-eight seems to have rediscovered the sweet, perhaps naive, Brooker style that we hear at work in Shine on Brightly , A Christmas Camel , the middle of The Thin End of the Wedge and so on, songs where the melody leads the chords, rather than being fitted in over a logically-constructed chordal scaffold.

Yet there's an astonishingly bold key-change up a semitone into C minor for the final chorus … maybe this was done just to make things as difficult as possible for the hapless banjo player! So much appeal had been packed into three minutes, it must have been a great disappointment that the record didn't set the world alight.

The song was first heard live during the eight-date UK university tour that started on 28 February at Exeter University. It remained in the setlist through the promotional tours and made occasional appearances until the end of the Old Testament band; as noted above, it re-emerged — bereft of banjoing — for Procol Harum's first gig of the new Millennium at Guildford, September Thanks to Frans Steensma for additional information about this song. Procol Harum Beyond the Pale.

I admit to searching for the "meaning" of Beyond the Pale as it is one of those songs that just gives me chills.

Bob Dylan, in and out of time

But, regardless of whatever the literal meaning of the words are, or are not, for me it is the feeling the lyrics evoke. I don't have a clue as to what the lyrics mean and it seems clear that, perhaps, the song doesn't really mean any one thing.