Tuesday, January 14, 2020

#14 / Good Advice From A Review Worth Reading

Back in October of last year, I attended a Bob Dylan concert in Frost Ampitheatre, at Stanford University. I traveled to the concert with my son, and with Santa Cruz County Supervisor John Leopold. John recently alerted me to the fact that Dylan gave a similar concert in Brooklyn in November, and provided a link to a review of that concert, published in The Brooklyn Rail. The review was titled "Bob Dylan in the Bardo." 

The "Bardo," for those not familiar with the term, is defined as "an intermediate, transitional, or liminal state between death and rebirth." I thought that The Brooklyn Rail review, by Raymond Foye, was terrific, and that it is well worth reading. Foye's review of the show in Brooklyn captured what I experienced at Frost Ampitheatre, too: 

Going to see Dylan has always been like consulting the oracle. The set lists always seemed designed to tell you something about where you are in your life at the moment. It's wise counsel, inspired. The rest is up to you.

In his review, Foye said that "the shows have gotten much more tenuous and ethereal," and that:

For the first time I realized that this is a very old person on stage. Bob's youthfulness and vitality have always covered that up, but no longer. There are moments when he is center stage in the lights where you see a shaky and fragile side one never saw before. For the first time I got the sense that this isn't going to go on forever.

To become ever more aware of our own shaky, fragile, and transitory experience of life - for so it is, has been, and always will be - is to arrive at an insight of great value. All of us, always, are "in the Bardo," and Dylan has always been one to remind us of that fact, and of our existential situation. We might try to forget it, but that's where we are.  

Not too long ago, I wrote a blog post about a favorite Dylan song, "Under Your Spell." Here's how the Bardo is described in that song, in which Dylan properly orients us to the geography of the place in which we find ourselves:

I’d like to help you but I’m in a bit of a jam
I’ll call you tomorrow if there’s phones where I am
Baby, caught between heaven and hell

The final verse of that song, my favorite, is the killer verse for me:

Well the desert is hot, the mountain is cursed
Pray that I don’t die of thirst
Baby, two feet from the well

There you have it. We find ourselves, inevitably, right in the middle, in "the Bardo," "caught between heaven and hell." 

We need to make our choices and do our deeds with this always in mind. Foye notes, in his review, that Dylan has informed us, in another one of my favorite songs, exactly what this means for the actions we take in life. 

Here's good advice from a review worth reading:
It's now or never, more than ever. 

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1 comment:

  1. I agree with your assessment-felt like the Frost show might be the last time i see him, it was so memorable as well...


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