Some Young Lazy Slut Has
Charmed Away My Brains
Thoughts on Bob Dylan's Modern Times

 

 

 
By Ray D'Ariano
 
 

I sent Gail a few CD's I knew she and Stanley would welcome: the new Dylan, "Modern Times," and the debut from Pink Martini, "Sympathique." She phoned to say she loved the Dylan. She heard it once and hadn't gotten into the lyrics, but thought the singing and music was terrific.

I explained my copy was in the CD player in my car and that I planned to get into it during my drive to Manhattan the next night for the Pink Martini concert at Town Hall. Gail hadn't heard Martini yet, but she stalwartly recommended that I not drive and take the train instead. It seemed the entire mob of world leaders were in town for some big time media circus at the United Nations. As a result it was next to impossible to get around the city particularly by automobile.

By suggesting I take public transportation she was trying to reduce my stress and possibly prevent me from mowing down and killing innocent pedestrians in a fit of urban road rage.

I appreciated her apprehension, but one does not travel to a Pink Martini concert by train. The ride home would surely be a mood killer as we traveled with inebriated executives who smelled of their 25 year old secretaries and worse.

The next night I was cruising down the West Side Highway and the thoughts started out small. What if Gail was right? What if I can't get across town to the theater? What if I got caught in a jam where the streets were blocked off so some visiting dignitary's caravan could get through? I wish they'd move the U.N. out of New York. The organization has been a failure ever since it's been in existence. I haven't liked the place since I was involved in an unfortunate incident that took place back in the 70's. Here's what happened…they were taping some kind of World Peace Music Festival. The Bee Gees, who were the hottest act in the world, were headlining. I was in the music biz and since we had an artist, Donna Summer, on the bill we were invited to attend. So I went to the General Assembly and sat through Abba, John Denver, Olivia Newton John and others waiting for the Bee Gees.

When they finally came on they were lip-syncing! A tape played and the brothers Gibb were on stage faking it. This wasn't the Blues Magoos on Upbeat! This wasn't freakin' American Bandstand! This was the International World Concert For International World Peace or something like that! This was the hottest act in the world at the U.N.!

When I articulated my displeasure to my assistant and complained "They're not singing live!" it spoiled the illusion for the Ambassador from some third world nation who was sitting in front of me. He stood up, pointed at me and began to scream, "You don't belong to see the Bee Gees!"
In a flash Security Guards surrounded us!

Long story short… I was thrown out of the U.N. I think I'm banned for life, and my distaste for the place lingers.

While I'm on the subject, the day after the gridlock, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez spoke at the U.N. and called The President of The United States the devil. I don't care what your opinion of Bush is…it was disrespectful, and childish, but that's the U.N., a place where the leaders of the world can gather to call each other names.

Be that as it may, he also said something I agree with, "Maybe we have to put the United Nations somewhere else; maybe a city of the south. We've proposed Venezuela." Great idea Hugo! Take the whole goddamn place down there. Take all the kings, princes, emperors, all the spies, the electronic bugging equipment, hell, take the whole God damn ugly building and the idiot who told me "You don't belong to see the Bee Gees," and move it on down to Venezuela. Then maybe decent, hard working New Yorkers will be able to drive their cars and walk on the street without all the international gridlock.

Moving closer to 44th street, a paranoid compulsion began to sweep over my mind. What if some dignitary's motorcade cuts me off? I'd be stuck for an hour and miss the start of the concert. FORGET IT!

There was no problem, but, but, but the thoughts began to escalate. What if I decided to speed through a gap between two vehicles in the motorcade and just then one sped up and I ended up crashing into Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's limo!? Then I'd miss the concert, but I'd also spark an international incident that would start World War Three! Too far out? Yeah, yeah, I had to get a grip, that probably wasn't going to happen. I'd get arrested, of course, interrogated, probably put on trial for an attempted assassination, and to show good faith to the rest of the world, convicted, and sent to prison for the rest of my life. No, no, no…this is just obsessive catastrophe thinking. Forget it…. there's nothing wrong.

I couldn't shake the imagined scenario. So I turned up Dylan's Modern Times CD, just in time to hear the line, "I'M SO HARD PRESSED, MY MIND TIED UP IN KNOTS, AND I KEEP RECYCLING THE SAME OLD THOUGHTS."

Dylan singing about exactly what I was going through at that precise moment…it put a smile on my face and eased my insanity.

The line is from a Carl Perkins-style, country-blues cut called "Someday Baby." It reminds me of the old John Lee Hooker tune "Boom Boom."

I made the left onto 44th and decided to let the CD roll from where I picked up on it. There's a cool piano opening on "Workingman's Blues #2."

Dylan sings, "The buying power of the proletariats gone down." I never heard the word proletariats in a song before. He also sings, "Sometimes nobody wants what you got, sometimes you can't give it away," and "Sleep is like a temporary death" …. all in one tune!

44th was like a parking lot, so I took a right on 9th and down to an almost deserted 42nd Street. I guessed that Ahmadinejad wasn't going to see The Lion King. From the CD… "Beyond the Horizon" played. It sounded like a chestnut from the 1940's. "Beyond the horizon at the end of the game, every step that you take I'm walking the same." A lot of guru's believe all of humanities problems are a result of us forgetting that we are connected to the Divine Intelligence. Dylan aka The Source lays it all out with "Beyond the horizon or the treacherous sea, I still can't believe that you have set aside your love for me." Later he sings, "There's always a reason why someone's life has been spared." Interesting thought while driving down 42nd Street.

At Broadway and Times Square I couldn't make the left I needed so I continued down 42nd Street. On the CD…"Nettie Moore"… a folk song with just too many words and images here to think about in one listening, but it is fun to hear the man who wrote, "Don't think twice, its alright" advising us now that "You can do what you please, you don't need my advice. For you call me dirty names, you better think twice."

I was stuck in gridlock between 6th and 5th, and moving further and further away from my destination. At that second Dylan's voice sang: "Everything I've ever known is wrong."

I made an illegal U turn, drove up to and made a right on 6th. I maneuvered across to the left lane, left on 45th, right on Broadway, right on 44th, down the block and into the parking lot. The tune that accompanied this part of the journey was "The Levee's Gonna Break." It is a cover of "When The Levee Breaks" by Memphis Minnie with some new lyrics from Bob. The chorus is the same. "Some people still sleepin', some people wide awake." This may be the message of the entire work.

My bride and I ducked into a little bistro for a pop to unwind. She ordered a pink martini and all was well with the world. Half-hour later we were in our seats surrounded by a diverse New York audience. The two hours that followed were remarkable.

Pink Martini are hip, fun, sexy, intelligent, elegant and from Oregon.

In 1938 Benny Goodman played Carnegie Hall and swing music arrived. In the summer of 1975 Bruce Springsteen and the E Street band exploded after their gigs at The Bottom Line. On September 18 and 19, 2006 Pink Martini performed their breakthrough concerts at Town Hall.

The ingredients of this musical cocktail: jazz, neo-classical, Cuban rumba and lounge with a dash of Japanese film noir and Brazilian street music.

The show began with the group's mastermind, Thomas Lauderdale, a fellow who resembles Ozzy and Sharon's kid, Jack, and a young Elton John, lead the orchestra through a brilliant version of Bolero. The crowd responded with the first prolonged ovation of the evening.

Then the band's vocalist, the sultry and intoxicating China Forbes, cast her spell over the crowd with songs like "Amado Mio," and the haunting "Que Sera Sera" from their debut CD "Sympathique." This sensuous talent has it all - the look, the sound, and the element of mystery. She will be a superstar.

Every member of the unit are amazing talents. They are not sidemen and each is a key element in the Pink Martini experience. Recently on their web site, Lauderdale put out a call for trombone players explaining that, "Pink Martini occasionally needs musicians who are able to tour when our core members cannot. We are currently looking for a trombone player."

 
 
China Forbes

"Ideally we are looking for musicians with a strong classical background who are interested in global music and jazz (leaning away from Modern jazz and more toward Louis Armstrong and Harry James). Interests not related to music, as well as proficiency in a foreign language, are encouraged."

It's not "Drummer Wanted - Must have van," and it explains what this group is all about. The concert also included selections from their second CD, "Hang On Little Tomato" including that track inspired by an old Hunts Ketchup commercial.

As the Bee Gees once sang, "its only words and words are all I have," but mere words cannot describe this band. See them whenever you can; buy their CD's and enjoy. They promise a new one in March.

When we got back in the car the Dylan CD was playing. "Isn't Talkin'" has Dylan singing, "I am tryin' to love my neighbor and do good unto others, but, oh mother, things ain't goin' well." a perfect line to hear as a cop prevents us from driving by a hotel because some foreign big whoop is staying there.

The CD ended and cut one, which we didn't hear before, kicked in as we went through some back streets headed for the Bronx River Parkway.

It started with some drum fills. It's a blues/country shuffle called "Thunder on the Mountain." It seems that Dylan cried when he thought of Alicia Keys and claims he's been looking for her.
I heard he met her at a TV show.

She probably flirted and asked, "Why don't you write a song about me?" Bob smiled and replied, "I really don't know enough about you to write an entire song about you. How 'bout if I mention you in one of my songs?" Alicia pouted, "Oh, alright, but can it be in the first cut on the CD?" "You got it honey."

Maybe it's just that "I'm wondering where in the world Alicia Keys could be" rhymes with "I've been looking for her clear through Tennessee."

As we passed the Bronx Zoo we heard "Spirit On The Water." Bob becomes Hoagy Carmichael on this really cool late night groove. I bet China and Thomas would appreciate it. There's playing and then, like the cherry on the sundae, Bob asks, "You think I'm past my prime?" Then challenges, "Lets see what you got." Nuff said.

We move to a Sun Records-style rocker, a tribute to Muddy Waters, "Rollin' and Tumblin'." Here he sings, "Some young lazy slut has charmed away my brains." And "I did all I know to keep you off my mind." Now did he get involved with the lazy young slut to keep the other woman off his mind or is she the one he's trying to block out? What guy can't relate to this situation?

The first few words of the next cut, "When The Deal Goes Down," contains the title of the 5 Satins greatest hit, "In the Still of the Night," and we hear Dylan confess that "My bewildered brain toils in vain." After this wonderful tune I'm back to where we first joined the CD with "Someday Baby." Having just heard Dylan's greatest album, and earlier a career changing concert, I pulled into my parking space and thought, I love this country.


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