Live as if you were already dead.
All I can do is be me, whoever that is.
1. About the Dead Man and Dylan’s Names
Who were Elston Gunn and Blind Boy Grunt, Bob Landy and Robert
Milkwood Thomas, Tedham Porterhouse and Lucky Wilbury, Boo
Wilbury and Jack Frost—who was Sergei Petrov?
When the Swedish Academy gave him the Nobel, the grumps got huffy
and, wouldn’t you know it, the squares got hip.
Ah, but the dead man is the one who knows what it’s worth and what it’s
not worth, so too the performer who thought up “The Never Ending
The dead man knows that being a grownup means knowing that things
The dead man understands in his bones that a lifetime is an interlude, not
yet a flagged sixteenth in a century of whole notes.
To bend the genres as Dylan did meant holding up the sky and spending
We do not ask for propriety when the music starts, nor for civic good, nor
do we await the return of sounds traveling a spherical universe.
We do not ask the music of the spheres to notate the progression of
dissonance to harmony and back—it would take forever.
Who is Bob Dylan, and who was Bob Dylan, and who will have been Bob
It is not incumbent upon the artist to know, nor need a witness come forth.
2. More About the Dead Man and Dylan’s Names
The Dead Man holds that what are known as the blues are only the first
blues, and that hands-up gospel, the lost souls of country, the
rebellious arousal of rock, and the helpless loves of The Great
American Song Book are also the blues.
The Dead Man will not argue in words, for music always wins.
It’s the Dylan of true rhymes, iambics, songs that go on breathing where
others stopped, choruses that became marching orders—not the
staging, but a voice like straw and lungs like an accordion that could
The Dead Man, like Dylan, does not linger in expectation, he too changes
keys and forms, he lightly sings his lines and hums in private,
waiting for the new thing to find him.
No one knows better than the Dead Man the backward looks of an
audience that craves the all-time favorites.
The Dead Man is neither a fanboy nor a follower, but is out front with his
He knows it when he hears and sees it—music breaking through the noise,
and the analysts in wet shoes.
When lightning hits, the critics simmer and fizzle.
The Dead Man knows that for the artist who reimagines himself some luck
is bad luck, as are someplaces, so why stay there?
Not to remain a Zimmerman, then, who may be the backstage usher who
tells his children he once met you.