Friday, 21 October 2016

'I was so much older then,I'm younger than that now '

A short wallow in nostalgia, with all the appropriate cheesy cliches to record the latest Nobel Literature laureate.The fact that Bob Dylan,who  was awarded the prize last week has been the recipient of so much abuse and rancour is good reason to celebrate his award.
Indeed if Bob had been of a nervous disposition, or a shy retiring Labour MP he would have probably reported the critics to the National Executive and sold his story to 'The Sun'
Crowds of mournful critics have bleated out of every orifice that Bob is no poet ot writer and should never be allowed into the world portals of 'literature'
Most prominent amongst the arbiters of literary taste has been the Scots born novelist Irvine Walsh- whose claim to fame is the semi-literate novel 'Trainspotters' or some such tome.
Well,can you remember a single word the numpty has ever written ?
If he is the measurement of modern literature then indeed we've need for the zeitgeist !

I can measure my cultural awakening (classy huh!) to my early encounters with Dylan.The cliche 'soundtrack of my life' is something more than another banality.
I grew up in London in a Scots working class Communist household.The earliest 'soundtrack of my life ' was the curious eclectic discordance of Paul Robeson,the Red Army Choir, Jimmy Shand and his band and because my Mum liked his voice Jim Reeves.
It was ever so ,there is a curious bit of the psyche of all Scots  that they appear to have an unhealthy affection for country and western music.
Now it could of course be the simple affinity between Celtic fiddle music and the tunes and stories that the early settlers took across to the mining communities in Pennsylvania, Virginia and Kentucky,a style we romantically describe as 'blue grass'.
Or of course it could just be an attachment to slushy sentimental pap,after all.Consider the stirring airs of Irish popular music and what passes for the same in Scotland.How can you compare 'A Soldiers Song with Andy Stewart singing 'A Scottish Soldier' -FFS! 

But as I grew older whilst still enjoying Paul Robeson I was moving into political activity,and that meant going to YCL socials where everything was sedate and almost genteel-a scratched recording of the Red Army Choir was often on offer or a visit to a smoky back room in a North London pub where bawdy folk songs were wailed by bearded blokes with their fingers stuck in their lugs in the style of Ewan McColl or American union songs in the style of Pete Seeger.
Interesting how smoky back rooms are often depicted as the backdrop to revolutionary conspiracies-we know Uncle Joe liked his pipe-but did old LD Trotsky puff away on a cheroot ?

Of course in my more proletarian incarnations a tacky scout hut on the Holloway Road was a venue where we swirled around like demented hornets singing 'I'm 'enery the eighth I am,'enery the eighth ...' whilst a mediocre four piece played out of tune.
Around the age of fifteen or so I forsook much of my musical heritage when I found Dylan.My Saturday job was in Islington Central Library, a much coveted Saturday number where we were paid handsomely-35/6 a day,a rate for schoolkids that the union Nalgo negotiated for us (in those days unions even protected part time schoolkids and we weren't even members)
The average Saturday wage at the time in grim North London was £1.00 a day so my  £1.75 was a cut above.
I also learned how to carry an armload of books that went over my head and found out the hard way what it was to be bawled at by a head Librarian (to this day I can remember Bob Crumpton's unique command of the English language)
Across the road was a record shop, and with my first 35/6 in a wee brown envelope I went in and invested in my first wholly owned LP of my own choice , and for 15/6 I possessed Dylan's second album 'Freewheelin' Bob Dylan'.
The soundtrack of my generation.
I suspect there are few of my age who are unaware of so much of his repertoire and who cannot forget the inspiration that Bob gave us, through the civil rights fight,the Vietnam war,the fight against apartheid and all the domestic and international struggles we lived through and fought through.
Of course there were others that followed,Phil Ochs,Joan Baez,Tom Paxton  McColl and Seeger and then the generations that followed.
There were other styles and genres that followed and arguably have also changed people's lives.
But like Bob:
"I was so much older then,I'm younger than that now."

Perhaps 70 is the new 25!
And Irving, if you think your a writer......up yours!   

No comments:

Post a Comment