Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Zapruder, Winter, Dylan, & Young

Easy-breezy into December second. Neil Young’s new live album from 1968 is being released today. But lately I’ve also been thinking a lot about Bob Dylan’s recent work, specifically his last three records. I’ve been thinking of the difference between Bob Dylan and Neil Young. I’m thinking of the difference in Biblical terms: Bob Dylan is Old Testament and Neil Young is New Testament. That’s what I’ll be thinking about for the rest of the day, I think.

To help me into that, here are two more poems I like very much. Poems about America and snow.

Matthew Zapruder
American Linden

When you’d like to remember the notion of days,
turn to the barn

asleep on its hill,
a red shoulder holding the weight of clouds.

You could stand still for so many moments.
So little is over and over required,

letting the wind brush your crown.
The lathes of tobacco swing into autumn.

Swallows already discuss the winter.
I know you are tired of imagination.

All that clumsily grasping the sunlight.
Aren’t you tired of bodies too?

Whenever it rains, they fall from the sky
and darken your window.

Clutching each other they call out names
while you sit in the circle thrown by a lamp

and pretend they are leaves.
The potatoes cringe and bury their heads.

Do you see them?
They know where to return when hoofbeats come.

Like you they were not born with pride,
they were born with skins made of earth.

Their eyes are black, and they sing out of tune,
quietly, under the snow.

* * *

Jonah Winter
from The Continuing Adventures of Andrew, the Headless Talking Bear

Dead human bodies, in a sense,
being the snow-covered road you take to an island
where all the palm trees and postcards suggest
something’s coming to an end:

the world, dark as a Caravaggio
Christ being lowered from the cross
upside-down, at night, no sign of God
or light – and yet, something illuminates the faces,

something coming to an end, a candle,
for instance, we’re not allowed to see – “Ah!”
you say, disrupting my slide show. “But isn’t
the artist an orchid juxtaposed against

a black wall? Or am I in the wrong
century? Why’s it so quiet?


At 12/02/2008 7:45 AM, Blogger Andrew Shields said...

I've just listened to Love and Theft and moved on to Modern Times. "Someday Baby" is playing as I type. Such brilliant stuff!

At 12/02/2008 8:12 AM, Blogger Mathias Svalina said...

Does BD's born again phase affect thinking about him as OT? Or do you see his phases as sort of neatly segmented separate things?

At 12/02/2008 8:59 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Mathias -

Oh I don't know... It's certainly OT since the 90s. But even when I'm thinking back to his early work, and his born-again phase, the actual vibe was still the OT vibe of vengance and a God that smites . . . while NY's vibe has always been more of the NT thing, but maybe that's just because he's always been much more of a hippie.

I'm listening to a playlist right now of just NY and BD, and there is such a different tone to them. Even in sings that are in some ways similar, like NY's "Powderfinger" and BD's "Knockin' on Heaven's Door."

At 12/02/2008 9:48 AM, Blogger M. C. Allan (Carrie, to most) said...

LOVE this Zapruder poem, John. Thanks for posting.

At 12/02/2008 12:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last month, when BD played here in Winnipeg, he made a point of taking a cab to see NY's old residence (just blocks from where I am now!)and wound up getting the full fan's tour from the current owners. The story received a lot of coverage in Canada, but perhaps not down in the States. Here's the local news link:


At 12/03/2008 7:20 AM, Blogger JeFF Stumpo said...

Nice coincidence - Zapruder just read here (Texas A&M) last night...

At 12/03/2008 8:34 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...


Texas A&M! I've been meaning to ask you about A&M. My brother went there, and I spend a lot of time in the Austin area (I'm heading there in a week, in fact).

Zapruder has written some wonderful poems.

At 12/03/2008 10:08 AM, Blogger Oliver de la Paz said...

So when BD went Electric, what OT moment is that?

Speaking of NY, did you get the new album? I'm biding my time.

Love the Zapruder poem.

At 12/03/2008 11:44 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...


Yeah, I'm waiting as well. It's great and all, but I'm waiting.

When Bob went electric, Gomorrah fell. Just sayin'.

At 12/03/2008 4:43 PM, Blogger Oliver de la Paz said...

JG, your interpretation of the OT is very similar to mine. Let's form a fundamentalist movement, eh? You can be the chief lobbyist. I'll be a zealot in the background holding signage.

At 12/06/2008 9:24 AM, Blogger JeFF Stumpo said...

Hi John,

Sigh, I keep forgetting to check "Email follow-up comments" on blog posts. I then completely forget about said posts (excuses include working on dissertation, moving to New Hampshire this Monday, and releasing my album).

Aside from what you already know - Austin and A&M are not just worlds but dimensions apart - what d'ye want to know? :-)

At 12/06/2008 12:07 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Well, since you're moving to NH, that pretty much answers it.

Luck to the album.


At 12/06/2008 1:36 PM, Blogger JeFF Stumpo said...

If you know anybody teaching performance/spoken-word poetry, pass on the link. Thanks!


Post a Comment

<< Home