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The [Friday] Papers

Passages from the latest interview of the greatest artist of all time:

"I was born in Duluth - industrial town, ship yards, ore docks, grain elevators, mainline train yards, switching yards. It's on the banks of Lake Superior, built on granite rock. Lot of fog horns, sailors, loggers, storms, blizzards. My mom says there were food shortages, food rationing, hardly any gas, electricity cutting off - everything metal in your house you gave to the war effort. It was a dark place, even in the light of day - curfews, gloomy, lonely, all that sort of stuff - we lived there till I was about five, till the end of the war."

*

"Rock and roll was indeed an extension of what was going on - the big swinging bands - Ray Noble, Will Bradley, Glenn Miller, I listened to that music before I heard Elvis Presley. But rock and roll was high energy, explosive and cut down. It was skeleton music, came out of the darkness and rode in on the atom bomb and the artists were star headed like mystical Gods. Rhythm and blues, country and western, bluegrass and gospel were always there - but it was compartmentalized - it was great but it wasn't dangerous. Rock and roll was a dangerous weapon, chrome plated, it exploded like the speed of light, it reflected the times, especially the presence of the atomic bomb which had preceded it by several years. Back then people feared the end of time. The big showdown between capitalism and communism was on the horizon. Rock and roll made you oblivious to the fear, busted down the barriers that race and religion, ideologies put up. We lived under a death cloud; the air was radioactive. There was no tomorrow, any day it could all be over, life was cheap. That was the feeling at the time and I'm not exaggerating. Doo-wop was the counterpart to rock and roll. Songs like 'In the Still of the Night,' 'Earth Angel,' 'Thousand Miles Away,' those songs balanced things out, they were heartfelt and melancholy for a world that didn't seem to have a heart. The doo-wop groups might have been an extension, too, of the Ink Spots and gospel music, but it didn't matter; that was brand new too. Groups like the Five Satins and the Meadowlarks seemed to be singing from some imaginary street corner down the block. Jerry Lee Lewis came in like a streaking comet from some far away galaxy. Rock and roll was atomic powered, all zoom and doom. It didn't seem like an extension of anything but it probably was."

*

"From 1970 till now there's been about 50 years, seems more like 50 million. That was a wall of time that separates the old from the new and a lot can get lost in this kind of time. Entire industries go, lifestyles change, corporations kill towns, new laws replace old ones, group interests triumph over individual ones, poor people themselves have become a commodity. Musical influences too - they get swallowed up, get absorbed into newer things or they fall by the wayside. I don't think you need to feel bummed out though, or that it's out of your clutches - you can still find what you're looking for if you follow the trail back. It could be right there where you left it - anything is possible. Trouble is, you can't bring it back with you, you have to stay right there with it. I think that is what nostalgia is all about."

*

"I'm sure it has, there's always some precedent - most everything is a knockoff of something else. You could have some monstrous vision, or a perplexing idea that you can't quite get down, can't handle the theme. But then you'll see a newspaper clipping or a billboard sign, or a paragraph from an old Dickens novel, or you'll hear some line from another song, or something you might overhear somebody say just might be something in your mind that you didn't know you remembered. That will give you the point of approach and specific details. It's like you're sleepwalking, not searching or seeking; things are transmitted to you. It's as if you were looking at something far off and now you're standing in the middle of it. Once you get the idea, everything you see, read, taste or smell becomes an allusion to it. It's the art of transforming things. You don't really serve art, art serves you and it's only an expression of life anyway; it's not real life. It's tricky, you have to have the right touch and integrity or you could end up with something stupid. Michelangelo's statue of David is not the real David. Some people never get this and they're left outside in the dark. Try to create something original, you're in for a surprise."

*

"Minnesota has its own Mason Dixon line. I come from the north and that's different from southern Minnesota; if you're there you could be in Iowa or Georgia. Up north the weather is more extreme - frostbite in the winter, mosquito-ridden in the summer, no air conditioning when I grew up, steam heat in the winter and you had to wear a lot of clothes when you went outdoors. Your blood gets thick. It's the land of 10,000 lakes - lot of hunting and fishing. Indian country, Ojibwe, Chippewa, Lakota, birch trees, open pit mines, bears and wolves - the air is raw. Southern Minnesota is farming country, wheat fields and hay stacks, lots of corn fields, horses and milk cows. In the north it's more hardscrabble. It's a rugged environment - people lead simple lives, but they lead simple lives in other parts of the country too. People are pretty much the same wherever you go. There is good and bad in most people, doesn't matter what state you live in. Some people are more self-sufficient than other places - some more secure, some less secure - some people mind their own business, some don't."

*

"I was traveling down a different path and already my consciousness had been recast. I had heard Lenny Bruce and Lord Buckley and had read Ginsberg and Kerouac, so I had a heightened sense of being. I was hanging out with a different crowd too, more stimulating and free-spirited - real live poets, rebel girls, folk singers - it was a self-ruling world, aloof and detached from the mainstream. I had been bailed out of the past and had broke free, I wasn't going to go back to that other place with button down shirts and crew cuts for anyone or anything. "

*

"Because of the pressure to conform."

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Beachwood Photo Booth: Descending Darkly
Something wicked this way comes.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Passages.



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Posted on March 24, 2017


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PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Beachwood Photo Booth: Bus Stop.


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