The tragic novel that binds Bob Dylan and The Doors

In the 1971 masterpiece of The Doors Wife, Jim Morrison shouts the words, “Well, I feel like it’s been watching me for a long time,” with the battle cry of a frustrated builder who just found out his jackhammer was stolen but is gonna try to shake the wall anyway. This moan of the disenfranchised besieged resonates in Bob Dylan’s music as well, albeit in a very different style, but the connection between the icons is much less nebulous than that.

Jim Morrison’s purring words in “Been Down So Long” were actually taken directly from Richard Farina’s novel, I stayed so long it seems to me, published five years earlier. As if woven by the capricious fingers of fate, this book almost serves as an allegorical paradigm of the tragic side of the counterculture, weaving some of its most important figures into the picture.

In the novel itself, “Farina evokes the Sixties in such precise, witty, and poignant ways as F. Scott Fitzgerald captured the jazz era,” according to Penguin. “The hero, Gnossus Pappadopoulis, weaves his way through the psychedelic landscape, encountering, among others, mescaline, women, art, gluttony, lies, science, prayer and, sometimes, the truth. ” The proto-Fear and loathing in Las Vegas The masterpiece provides a counterculture vignette and almost foreshadows its demise, as he states: “It’s a nervous little decade we’re playing with. “

Farina wasn’t just watching the counterculture movement and translating it into flickering prose with precision, he was truly a part of it. He was a singer who became good friends with Bob Dylan and even married Joan Baez’s younger sister, performing with her under the name Richard & Mimi Baez. This inner worldview illuminates lines such as, “My elusive race consciousness doesn’t give me a fig, baby. But I endure, if you know what I mean ”, a certain fateful weight, especially given what was to happen.

Two days after the publication of her seminal work, Farina attended a book signing promoting the novel. He chatted with fans, discussed the whys and hows of the novel and how the art world seemed to be teetering on the verge of realizing the old William S. Burroughs quote: “In my opinion artists are the real architects of change, not the political legislators who implement change after the fact. In the end, the novelist left the signature behind, jumped on his motorcycle, and was tragically killed in a collision.

Dylan was saddened by the loss and would later suffer a motorcycle accident, prompting him to shy away from the zeitgeist which, as Farina said, “[mistook] induction for generation ”and regained a sense of spiritual youth, touting the message that he was“ much older then, I’m younger than that now ”. Meanwhile, Morrison was moved by the prose and the sad loss of Farina in a different way, relishing the ways of the youthful revolt in a madness of visceral creativity that nonetheless recalled some notion of the mystical spirit of the great old America. Morrison would also tragically die soon after delivering the fateful title.

As it turns out, even the novel that tied the counterculture icons together went back to the deep roots of pop culture’s past. The expression “Been down so long, that it looks like up to me”, takes its origin from the old rock ‘n’ roll precursor of the blues. In the 1928 Furry Lewis track “I Will Turn Your Money Green” he makes his way through making a lady turn pale with phrases like “I’m showing you more money than Rockefeller has ever seen” before. hinting at a darkness with “If the river was whiskey baby and I were a duck, I would dive to the bottom, Lord, and I would never come back up,” before the truth was revealed that he is terribly alone and that it purrs the now iconic line.

In 1997, Dylan came full circle with the loan of a verse from Lewis’ song for his blues anthem “Trying to Get to Heaven”, inspired by both the late bluesman and his old friend Farina. In the song, Dylan shakes the ‘… Money Green’ line with his earthy tones: “When I was in Missouri they wouldn’t let me, I had to rush out, I only saw what they let me see. “And in doing so, he seemed to tie together some long paths in history that had led culture to a particular point on the increasingly rutted roads of disenfranchised people – ala” we are maybe to be ugly but we have the music ”. This connected tale may be riddled with tragedy, but the art it spawned along the way “will last forever, if you know what I mean.”

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