Every Bloodsucking Thing In Sight

I’m very easily overwhelmed, depleted by the infinite midrash accompanying Bob Dylan. I make flippant comments about how it will be in the year 4018:  I will be vindicated and the great minds of the day will agree with me that Knocked Out Loaded is a superior album. In 4018, the first thing we teach each new extraterrestrial species we meet is the words to Ain’t Talkin‘. But, regrettably and seriously, there are far too many people like myself who do feel that we’re sharing time and space with someone whose art moves us enough to capture our responses to it, and document it, and explain it, because we simply believe that someone even in 2018, and then in 2038, and then in 2098, will feel the same way and want some company and some information. And  there are so, so many of us, and keeping up is so, so tiring and such a distraction from the art itself. It’s a special kind of fatigue and demoralization that sets in when you feel obliged to keep up with the books and the interviews and the articles and the blogs and the photos of Bill Pagel, god bless him, renovating the Zimmermans’ little Duluth house in the hopes of getting it listed in the National Register of Historic Places before 4018.  And you still can’t give up trying to say something about what passed through you the last time you listened to, oh, Dignity.

Clinton Heylin–high on the list of Obligatory Midrash– dons his Ephod, tirelessly composes, and produces the second volume of his annotated  catalogue of the original songs of Bob Dylan, their sources, occasions, intentions, effects, and values. The book is titled Still on the Road, a pretty clear falling-off from the title of the first volume, Revolution in the Air. The revolution, the transformation, which even occurred in the air and unbound by laws of gravity, apparently is done.  We’re still moving along, though, with all that being on the road implies: some liberty, some desultoriness, some adventure, some bickering,  some discovery, some tedium, all  governed by maps and the rules of the road and gravity.  I went straight to  Dignity, a song of particularly self-replenishing gloriosity for myself.  Heylin performs the necessary rituals on this song, in a brisk tour de force demonstration of his many fluencies:     “In one of those rare candid sections in his autobiography,”:  Clinton Heylin can evaluate the quality of intention in Dylan’s utterances. “It could be argued that the one song which defined the general artistic direction on all four of Dylan’s all-original eighties albums ended up being discarded–leaving a gaping hole at the heart of each released artefact”–Heylin’s critical acumen diagnoses the artist’s decisions and  determines that recordings are  whole or incomplete artefacts, and declares prognoses and/or prescribes remedies. “From now on the recording history gets messy”-– Heylin’s research provides reliable chronologies of events.“On the track sheet, it even says ‘transfer [to both channels?] and boost,’ like it needed highlighting”—  Heylin understands recording technology. “On March 29 [1995], at a show in Brixton, London, he delivered the definitive ‘Dignity’ vocal..”–Heylin’s access to Dylan’s recordings and performances is comprehensive, and his judgment is reliable. “JJ Jackson…turn[ed] the song inside and out without ever once getting in an inspired vocalist’s way”–Heylin can read a live performance  cool and vernacular:   we can get  thoroughness and accuracy from other sources, but Clinton Heylin can be a hip critic on top of all them facts. And so Clinton Heylin, his Ephod spattered righteously with the entrails of Dignity, rests, and turns to his next purpose–Handle with Care.

For right now, I’ll stick with Dignity. Dignity’s etymological  roots are in honor, and privilege, and worth, and proper, and fitting. Honor is exalted, privilege is the propers of superiority, but just proper is just correct. We don’t find this word comfortably to hand these days: we may use it to  describe an elderly person who is well-groomed and uncomplaining. We may use it to describe,  in a faintly disingenuous way,  someone whose posture,  grooming,  and elocution remain presentable despite sustained public humiliation, or suffering, or both. Dignity in currency today  describes my relief and gratitude that your appearance does not embarrass me nor make an unpleasant appeal to my sympathy. To acknowledge your dignity also buys me a penny’s worth of  self-love–I relish for a moment my own compassion, and the gracious taste required to know dignity when I see it. I am not a churl, am I.

But Dignity, the  song, embarrasses us.  The singer’s odyssey in search of honor and privilege and worth and proper teases us awfully. The hero allows us to laugh with and at him as he serves up witty images and also serves up himself as The Innocent Fool asking cops to help him, and keeps on his tireless and futile and occasionally truly heroic way.   We are amused and delighted and provoked to thoughtfulness by his quest. No version of this song is boring. And  the sound of the word dignity is central to any performance of the song.  Dylan’s magnificent enunciation of those dental consonants, “dig-ni-ty” — is  a hair’s breadth away from being thespian or pedantic. He voices the very word on the razor’s edge of parody and solemnity–what he’s looking for,  whether his quest is indeed foolish or heroic, is right there in the word every time he sings it. And this razor’s edge works through the song, and we start to hear the sound of what it may be to take something seriously. To risk foolishness and failure to find something to take seriously.

There is so much looking in this song. The singer looks for dignity, and his quest reveals others looking for it.  The song is thick with people looking through, looking into, looking for, looking within. The wise man indeed looks in the blade of grass, and finds eternity, and  the quest is over for the wise man. He is where the song should end, but that’s where it begins–the singer faces down that he hasn’t learned this lesson, and keeps looking. (If wit can be literally sublime, you don’t have to look much further than what Bob Dylan can do in fewer than 10 words.) Poor man looking through painted glass, for dignity. Here is a  poor man looking through a stained glass window. From the outside, looking through into the church,  he looks for  the worth that a community of the faithful in a house of faith promises the poorest. And he looks for the immanent and invisible dignity that faith believes is housed even in an empty church. It is the special privilege of the poorest to appeal to this immanent dignity. If the poor man is inside, looking out through the painted glass, he wonders if the dignity imputed to him, felt by him, in this space,  will endure outside that window, back in the world where he is simply another needy nuisance among millions.

Sympathy for the poor man’s looking, and the consolation he seeks from dignity,  is easy for me to manufacture. So too for  the thin man looking at his last meal — not knowing where the next will come from, nor even if it will come, and the poignant insight that the   starving’s man hunger  is less powerful than his desire for the dignity to endure his hunger with honor. These are fine-grained and clearly-felt images that I can respond to smoothly. The Englishman, though, is not so crystalline. He is certainly clear to see: combing his hair back, biting his bullet, looking within–he seems a virtuoso stiff-upper-lip  caricature.  The black hot wind is the problem. That’s the wind of Empire, blowing power and greed and something malodorous  called  *moral order*  thousands of miles from the cool and pleasant land of England. What’s his dignity, and what’s the pain he’s got to bite the bullet against? Is this a moment of self-knowledge? And that stranger in the Mexican night seems another difficult lesson in dignity and self-knowledge. He’s drawn irresistibly, as people so often are in Dylan’s songs, to a window through which  the fallen dark world appears as a true nightmare. A stranger alone in a strange place, all he sees are hideous threatening parasites–as indeed all creatures may appear to us when we’re strangers in a strange land. And he searches them for dignity, when perhaps he should question whether his own vision  may be corrupted by fear and isolation. (I’d also like to add that some of Dylan’s  lyrics offer a unique  thrill when first heard, and searching every bloodsucking thing in sight is certainly one of them.)

I like very much that the song can provide for me the experience of a quest, in which my search for dignity in the song hits dead ends as does the singer’s: I don’t know what Mary Lou could tell him, and why it would cost her her life. I can imagine, but I would be wrong. Prince Phillip will talk for money and anonymity—why is there a price, what’s he afraid of? It’s terrifically clever and suggestive, but an unnerving image also. I could be made to believe that the one true moment of dignity in the song is when the singer stands at the window, with the maid–they’ll always be silent to us, and what they see they only see together, and there is a beautiful brief calm to this tiny mystery, but it doesn’t end the quest. I know I will never have the ears to be initiated into the mystery of the tongues of angels and the tongues of men. I like very much  that in one tableau  the soul of a nation is under a the knife, and death is standing in the doorway of life, and in the same house, a man fights with his wife over dignity.  Nothing is worth the soul of a nation, or the threshold of life and death, if it isn’t worth a an argument between a man and his wife.

For me the whole quixotic romp  stops–and begins again–where the vultures feed. I’ve been down where the vultures feed/I would have gone deeper/But there wasn’t any need. All great heroes have to visit the underworld. They are heroes because they enter the world of the dead in terror of their souls, not in terror of their lives. But our Foolish Knight touches down exactly where life feeds on death, which is not the same as an underworld.  An underworld is a cul-de-sac, it is the no-turning-back, it is final. But there’s life where the vultures feed, where endless death feeds life’s insatiable hunger. This is the awful cycle, the awful conundrum, of life that would starve without death, and our hero recognizes the sheer fact of it, and realizes that even this doesn’t end his journey. All heroes must return from the underworld, back to life with the knowledge of what they’ve seen that no living man has. But our hero goes as far as any of us can go–we can all look straight at where the vultures feed,  submit to the death-eating fact of life and convince ourselves this fact makes all Quests futile and meaningless.  Or we can  return to the uproarious and neverending Search for that which is worthy, proper and fitting. Even though we can see for ourselves that we may be honoring vapors and illusions and eternal enigmas….then again, we can see for ourselves that we may not be. Admitting how much is at stake, and how hapless his odyssey has been already, our hero ends at the edge of the lake. For a moment we’re anxious–the edge of the lake? he’s given up. In the next moment we’re laughing at ourselves and our fears. He’s only starting the journey again. And we’re grateful, more grateful than we can say, but we waste all this time trying to say it anyway.

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Thoughts on the different versions of Mississippi available on Tell Tale Signs

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In the Uncut interviews, Malcolm Burn says: “I really got the strong impression that, for him, the song really wasn’t ready to be a song until the lyrics were in place.” On the topic of Mississippi, I think we have one of those songs whose lyrics have that strength peculiar to Dylan, where they offer different visions when set into different melodies: they don’t simply offer a different aural color, a different tone, different kinds of musical pleasure. Like something under ultraviolet or infrared light, when it becomes visible, and was not visible under ordinary light.

I hear Mississippi as a song of the rhythms of a life, which is of course the heart of so much of his later work. Appetite and weariness, memory and desire, restlessness and torpor–these are the forces in TOOM, L&T, Modern Times. Mississippi seems to me to present them with special clarity. The lyrics have that great wit, that vision that brings us all in: my days are numbered as well as those of the majestic old rasper singing of his own life; we’re all moving, if we’re not already there–and of course we aren’t. We all got to move, not just the singer whose only mistake is that he screwed up his own conviction here–he thought he was Already There, and stayed a day too long. So he keeps moving, even though his ship’s been split to splinters–even though he can’t save himself from drowning in the poison where there’s no past to help you make sense of the present, or give you the consolation of memories, and no future to look towards and live for. He’s going down but not in bitterness–he’s gracing his fellow sailors with gratitude and compassion. Those who’ve sailed with us, loyal and much loved companions.

The different versions of the song, the different musical life of the songs, I think give different pictures of the compassion, the tension between going-on and staying-put, the energy of the river that runs through the song. I wrote above about favoring the mighty Miss. of L&T at first, over the disc 1 version. I heard too much Lotus Land in disc 1, too much of a feeling of relief, it seemed, when the ship goes down. I hear that in the fine laziness of the guitar, the delicious swelling languor of the performance. This river is very much about dreamin’ he’s sleepin’ in Rosie’s bed.

Disc 2: sly, dry, and wise. The voice is closer to the earth, listen how he picks out “if they ain’t already there” with an edge at every word, listen to the hiss at the end of “emptiness is endlessssss.” There’s a confidence and a sharpness to this voice, not a languor. Whatever he did wrong in Mississippi, it was really wrong, and probably pretty good. The weariness here is like one of those guiltless hangovers that’s a souvenir of a hell of a good time. Say anything you want to, I have heard it all–this voice really gets that line home. The instruments cut through the vocal with more sharpness also. On this river, you see the sun glinting off the water.

Disc 3: Whole different song. Lover’s lament. What he doesn’t have isn’t for us, it’s for her. The day too long is what’s keeping him from…her. He doesn’t know or care where we’re all moving now, because she’s there and he’s not. The compassion, the benevolence is not the key here, this voice is soaring with its gorgeous pain, it is one of Bob’s great tragic vocals. This is the bluesiest version, and every line is pitched at an intensity of feeling, a romanticism, that I don’t hear in the other 3 versions. L&T is incendiary in its urgency and rawness, not the same as the eroticism in this performance. Wonderful blues lines from the guitar. All the tensions of the lyrics are united in the lover’s grief. The changed lyrics are important–the world is tearing itself apart because in his grief his eyes see only more grief, this is not the same as the universal vision of the other versions.

So, not just 4 different sounds, but 4 different lives. I no longer have a favorite.images

Thoughts on Tell Tale Signs

images210/8: I have been able to hear all 3 CDs straight through. Yesterday morning at around 8 I sat in the Starbucks on the southeast corner of 81st street and Broadway, listening to Red River Shore. I watched people outside going to work–more precisely, I watched nannies taking whinging children to terrifyingly expensive private schools–and I thought, oh all of you all of you, you have to hear this, you have to stop what you’re doing and hear this. A friend of mine talks about hearing Hwy 61 when it was first released and stumbling out of his house wanting to say to everyone on the street, “Do you people know this exists???” I think there are two different impulses at work in my friend and in me, both put there by Bob Dylan’s music. In 1965 (I was 4 and I am imagining here, but I put faith in my imagining) , to listen to Hwy 61 was to be forcibly pulled into a new world, an unprecedented way of communicating through music and words, and not merely to feel astonished at the novelty of a new form of expression, but to get it–to feel you’ve just learned a new language on the spot. You run out into the street to see how the guy at the newsstand on the corner can just stand there counting change after you’ve heard Desolation Row.
In 2008, what made me look with wonder at the world, is the way Dylan at this stage in his art is able to communicate the…the…the ore of human life. What he is able to get across of moments of being, whether they are moments of loss or desire or anger or bitterness or surrender or warmth or the need for warmth or forgetting or remembering–whatever the moment is, it becomes our moment and I wanted all those people on the Upper West Side to know the feeling of wanting to live fully, that this music offers. Such aliveness and appetite this music can provoke.
Some smaller and more specific thoughts:
–We knew Mississippi was one of the greats even before hearing other versions, but the way different takes hold the song up to different lights is like a revelation. In each version we now have, the tempos offer different moods for how that mighty river is flowing. On the 3rd disc, I see the river carrying ships, cargo, a steady and strong current, not wild to bursting like the L&T, but strong and steady. For me, each version also gives a different take on that “one day too long.” Here in version #3, for the first time I hear that it is only one day too long. There is a confidence and warmth in the voice, a suppleness, and I hear that, well, that one day didn’t demolish everything else he did right. Malcolm Burn (see my post on All Those Who’ve Sailed…) talks about Dylan needing to find the right lyrics, and once those are found, the song has its mind and can start to walk by itself. I think Burn nails this with great perception. Do you think it is true that some songs only reveal new faces because the light of our attention changes through repeated listenings? And some songs reveal new faces because Bob’s performance illuminates a new face to lyrics that did not seem intrinsically magically suggestive? That LARS falls into the first category and Mississippi into the second? Hairsplitting? Regardless, I am relishing the different attitudes towards time, vitality, restlessness in the 3 Mississippis.

–Can’t Wait, both of them–my immediate reaction to this was oddly similar to my first reaction to One More Cup of Coffee: Where did this voice come from??? He settles into a range higher than usually comfortable for him, and then just makes love to those lyrics. The song, which, when growled quite wonderfully on the album always comes across in the TOOM mode of feeling at the breaking point, here in this outtake comes across as feeling overflowing its banks. Placido Domingo could learn from this. In the TOOM version, I see the woman blithely tormenting him, living a fine life with her back to the singer, filing her nails, and just ignoring the winged chariot that the singer, despairing and, gosh, not young, hears all the time. But in these outtakes, who could play games with this singer? The grace of the simple lines about her having time and his having none. Where did this voice come from? I say definitely play this back to back with One More Cup of Coffee, and see what I mean.
–Tell Ol’ Bill. One of the GEMS of my bootleg collection is about an hour of the Tell Ol’ Bill recording sessions. I honestly can’t tell if this is unbroken time or some bits are spliced together. Bob talking and laughing (”I’ve got two takes left in me!”) and telling the band either to play a turnaround or not to play a turnaround, and then launching into about a half-dozen takes of this song. I love nature and time in this song, the tranquil lakes and streams he walks by, the cold, the hard ground, again the restlessness of these later songs. (Much to say on that.. The song is visual, dream-like (and many thanks to LArry Sloman’s commentary with the set, for grounding me in the fact that this is a love song–I just kept floating through the clouds and lakes…). Well, in these recording sessions, Bob is trying out different approaches, and he says, how about a minor key. And in a mere moment, his voice, the musicians, all produce a completely new song, that feels sepia-toned and heady as the major key, official version does not. Here it is for all to enjoy.
–Red River Shore. You know the songs where, you hear them once or twice and all you really know is a depth of feeling that tells you only that you will never tire of it, and never get to the bottom of it? I think this is one of them. I am going to crawl out on a looong and shaky limb here and say that I wonder of the girl of the Red River Shore will be the Johanna of these later songs–that is, she is what the singer must conceive in order to make the song happen, and her absence is exactly what the song ends up realizing.
I heard of a guy who lived a long time ago
A man full of sorrow and strife
If someone around him died and was dead
He could bring ‘em back to life
I don’t know what kind of language he used
Or if they do that kind of thing anymore
Sometimes I don’t know if anybody saw me here at all…

I’m transcribing this from hearing it–now, this verse brings me to me knees for reasons too much to describe. First, think of In The Garden, and then this. “Did they know?” Think of the endless conversation about states of faith and doubt that happen between these songs. Second, “what kind of language he used”–it isn’t just that this brings up a very strange and unnerving echo to LARS, but the line is such an arrow straight into the heart of a mystery. What a dreadful way to try to get across the shivers that this line can invoke when first hearing it. Much like “There’s no one here, the gardener is gone.” If they do that kind of thing anymore. This also reminds me of the Golem myths, and we may have a remarkable Bob-worthy conflation of two worlds of belief. Well, this made me cry, and I cried from facing a kind of honesty that is unlike anything else. To be able to see oneself, see the relation between yourself and faith that is so individual, and so unwilling to rewrite this relation to be consistent with your past, and then make me see it also–don’t you ever cry just from the strength of an encounter and not from its pathos?

 

The more I listen to Red River Shore–the version on CD 1–the more I head towards a comparison to Visions of Johanna. At the center of both songs is not a particular woman, but the desire conjured by the dream of a woman, and, the deeper need that is satisfied by keeping this desire alive. Both songs begin in darkness and end with what could be a sharper knowledge of that darkness?

Visions of Johanna plays out the restlessness of the imagination, the sheer motive to make something out of nothing, and the way this motive and desire can’t be distinguished from each other. The singer wittily surrenders to the night’s tricks, which are in fact the brighter visions his mind calls up in the setting of artificial light and a woman who, because she can be heard and seen and felt, is the world that tempts him not with its satisfactions, but with the challenge to his imagination: the song can be heard as a story of the wild energies of the young singer defying everything in sight with this Johanna, this inner light and hunger. He sees the life outside his window, he makes poetry from his lover’s cries, he wrenches himself from his past muttering at the wall, he visits the museums where the expressions that preceded his have a life that may break free of their cages–will his song do the same? He keeps traveling on his visions, his world breaks freer, our own minds are tested to new limits by envisioning what he sees. Can he make something truly new? Really return everything which was owed? Just as we are learning to see his visions, it’s over. What’s left are the keys that will open everything–but we don’t get what lies behind the doors they can open–and the rain that’s been falling since the song began, and the visions themselves, the tricks that happen when, as Wallace Stevens wrote, we “light the first light of evening, as in a room/In which we rest and for small reason, think/The world imagined is the ultimate good.” Dylan takes the quiet loveliness of Stevens’ thoughts and propels them with the wild lawless desire of youth, and the genius to force shapeliness and beauty out of his cauldron. Whatever Johanna is, she is what he needs to see in order to get into the cauldron.

Ain’t it just like the night–what a cool line, what a cool attitude, this is what cool is, isn’t it? I used to live above the Ramrod Bar on West Street, and someone once told me James Dean used to hang around the dives in that neighborhood, tasting some kind of trouble, and I can see James Dean making that turn down West 10th Street when he ought to be somewhere else, and saying to himself “Well, ain’t it just like the night…”

We are many light years from The Cool at the beginning of Red River Shore. This singer’s voice has a delicacy and a roughness and a gravity to it, it’s beautifully veined granite compared to the fire and ichor of the young man singing Visions of Johanna in 1965 and 66. And he is facing the night with all of his–now his vision has grown to see not only his own desire and ambitions, but the way it is for all people. Some of us can laugh at the moonlight, we can laugh down the dark. And some of us want so desperately to imagine the reality of angels awaiting us and saving us, that we accept the terrible abjection and fear that accompanies this particular desire. These are compassionate and vivid images of ways of being human: they are inclusive. This is not the Stephen Dedalus-like singer of Visions of Johanna, pressing past the common human tide into the floods of creative genius.

The singer of Red River Shore returns endlessly to the girl of this vague, lyrical cliched setting. We see a riverbank, a tree, a mild blue sky, the river grey or blue and moving past this place whose simplicity is the frame for the girl. She is the creature of this timeless and indistinct landscape. She is that to which the singer cannot help returning, and so she is the opposite of Johanna: she is not the unseen motive and goal, she is not the future, she is the eternal past for the singer. The singer in VOJ could not be satisfied by Louise’s desire; the singer of RRS turns away from the many pretty maids right outside his door–overwhelmed by them–and seeks only the love of the one girl. We get only one hint of her nature, when she tells him she will not marry him, and he should “live a quiet life.” Belonging to the rushing river, she cannot give him a quiet life? (I like that line and wonder about it. )

On the singer goes, through the world, all he sees and does only returns him to the girl, every mention of her in the song should call up for us our own slope of green grass, light and shade through leaves, light on the water. The visions of this song must be a sustained and personal landscape to which we return as the singer does: a strange and impossible peace. This is very different from the strenuous and exhilarating work we do to keep up with the jelly-faced women and the fish truck.

At the end of VOJ, all that’s left are the visions and we can take this several ways: the visions have been realized, the song is born, the artist is dissolved into his art. Or, the artist has tried, but his visions, like all visions, remain his own, all he can do is show us what it looks like to seek expression with an energy never seen before. (I vote for the second reading–VOJ is the greatest demonstration of the impossibility of all art, and therefore it is not merely the greatest work of art, it is alone among all artistic expression.)

At the end of Red River Shore, the singer erases himself–he tries to make his memory-desire into some kind of truth, and here he takes a risk way more dangerous than anything the boy in Visions does: he says he’ll go back and straighten it out. And of course he does straighten it out, he exposes everything–no one remembers him, there is no memory but his own. He erases himself by confronting truth AND the dream, the art, the song, the memory continue because he never leaves the world of the song. There is a place, the Red River Shore, there was a girl, I was there, and no one ever saw me there, no one but me remembers this. How can I get across the magic of what he has done here? He exposes a dream and remains in it at the same time. The visions of the girl from the Red River Shore are all that remain, but in such a golden light of sadness, loneliness, weariness.

And there is the further, deeper magic of the allegorical verse, which merits more than I give it right now, but all I want to say is that this verse is exactly the language of the rest of the song: distant, dream-like, folk language–stripped down to nothing but fact and wonder. The singer has found himself missing, invisible, at the end of the song–and someone once could bring a person back to life, but what are the words that can do that?

So I offer this song (and I prefer the version on disc 1), its language as plain as rocks and water, its melody a quiet swell, as something on the lines of Blind Willie McTell and Up To Me–we didn’t get it on its first pass through the world, but now that we have, nothing will be the same.

 

I’ve been listening to all these Mississippis, and thinking about what is so essential to Dylan’s work that I expect it, relish it, marvel at it, and take it for granted: this would be the plain fact of Dylan’s constantly covering himself, constantly making something I knew into something I don’t know, but then again I might. I already carried on about my preference for the L&T Mississippi, but of course I’ve changed my mind, and now each of them offers me different pleasure and different meaning, and the thought of choosing one is meaningless. This has led me to think about other artists who we associate with multiple versions of their own works that we can talk about as projects, and not as drafts. Wordsworth returning to the Prelude, and the experience we can now have of reading at least the 1805 and 1850 versions running alongside each other. Monet’s Rouen Cathedral series. The changing motif of the Minotaur in Picasso’s work. These stand out for me right at the moment as strong examples of art that challenges our ideas of same and different, process and completion, part and whole. A Rouen Cathedral in sunlight and a Rouen Cathedral in shadows: if we know the Cathedral as an object we take in through our senses, then how is a shadowy cathedral a different thing from a sunlit one? Aren’t the two paintings entirely different things since they present entirely different experiences of color and depth? Thanks to Monet, these questions are not sophomoric exercises. When I look at the paintings themselves, I see paint doing different things with edges, with corners, with recessions.

I hope I haven’t lost Bob in here. If you take these 4 Mississippis, you have something considerably more involving and…and….beautiful than Monet’s project. You have 4 different lives, all told with just about the same words, a recognizably similar melody. Shifts in tempo and phrasing and vocal timbre (I hate that word) don’t just give us different moods, but different lives. Must end for the moment, but will pick up where I left off here, and if god forbid anyone is reading this, feel free to jump in