Dylan, Entertainment, poetry, Writing

Free Wheelin’ with Bob Dylan

For the past few weeks I’ve been on a Bob Dylan kick. I listen to Dylan on my short commute to and from work. I listen to him at home. I started on the early stuff and am working my way through most of his albums in our collection. I have my Dylan station on Pandora although I wished it played more of him and less of his musical kin.

I listened to Blonde on Blonde, twice, because I liked it so much. Now I am on John Wesley Harding. Next up is Nashville Skyline.

Do I like every song? No. And the lyrics of some of his earlier songs are undecipherable. But I can feel what he intended. As the salesman at the dealership said last week when he handed me the Blonde on Blonde CD I left in the car: “Dylan? He was a poet.”

Yes, Dylan’s music, at least in the stretch I am now listening, is poetry set to guitars and harmonicas.

And then, there are the lines where there is no mistaking what he meant. “You better start swimming or sink like a stone, cause the times they are a-changing.” “Heard ten thousand whispering and nobody listening. Heard one person starve, I heard many people laughing. Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter.”

I recall one time when I was in college, about the time that photo of me above was taken, when I stayed a couple of days in a cabin waiting for my boyfriend to arrive. He was my first real love but like so many boys then scared away. He took his time getting to the cabin because, unbeknownst to me, he was planning to end our relationship.

So I spent my time listening to Dylan — over and over and over. You know you know an album when you can sing the lyrics perfectly and predict the opening chords of the next song. I still remember.

I’ve stuck through Dylan through his many phases professionally and personally — well, I could have done without that embarrassing Victoria Secret ad — even to now when his voice has worn into a raspy growl.

Dylan’s produced an outstanding body of work. He changed the way people made music. He inspired change, too, in those who listened.

I have a long ways to go before I’m done with Dylan.

Now about that photo: My sister Christine sent the faded black and white photo and Katharine, the photographer at the newspaper, was able to work it up digitally. I remember the pink sunglasses and the shirt. I was in college but I don’t know who took the photo or who owned the car. I would say I look a little Dylanesque in that photo. And I like the curl at the top.

Entertainment, Writing

House of You-Know-What

The question at work this week has been: what episode are you on? I, of course, am referring to the House of Cards on Netflix.

No one, thankfully, wants to be a spoilsport.

At the end of the second season, Frank and Claire Underwood completed their calculated ascension to the White House. I looked forward to Frank’s Shakespearean asides, his mocking expressions, his ruthless ambitions. What will Claire do in the third? Did Doug die? Where did Rachel go? Some scenes were shot in Northern New Mexico, where I live. How would they work into the story?

As most know, every episode of House of Cards for season three was released Feb. 27. Super fans had a choice: go on a gluttonous binge or ration out the shows to make them last a bit longer. I chose the latter. (After all, I have other things to do than watch TV.) So did my co-workers.

So when I asked my colleagues how far they’ve gotten in House of Cards, it’s been safe to talk plot and character, to critique the show’s progress only to that point.

I’ve done this before.

When my sister and I were kids, we got ahold of a Nancy Drew book. I believe it was an edition of the first, The Secret of the Old Clock. Nancy then was a high school girl who was a super sleuth. She lived with her father and a housekeeper. The author is supposedly a woman named Carolyn Keene, who was really no such person, but we didn’t care. We liked a book that featured a smart girl who solved mysteries. If only we could do something like that.

Anyway my sister and I both wanted to read the book at the same time. So we came up with a system. We agreed how far ahead we could read before we passed the book to the other. We were on the honor system until we reached the end.

So once again I find myself in a similar situation.

Last night I watched the show’s finale. And unless you have, too, I’m not going to discuss what happened or say whether I liked it or not. I’m not going to spoil it for you.

POSTSCRIPT: The photo above was taken a week ago with Hank at the wheel. After what meteorologists called “a parade of storms,” we have settled back to a sunny New Mexican winter and the snow is mercifully melting.

Entertainment, family, music

My Son Nate Livingston Makes Music

As a rule I don’t blog about my kids but I’m going to break it for Nate. My son just released his first album, Into the Madness, and I’m proud of him. Yeah, I’m his mom, but I believe it is especially good.

Let me tell you about Nate. He is one of six and the middle son. He was an interested and interesting kid, loved trucks and doing stuff with his hands. He grew up in the sticks and relished helping at the farm across the street. During the winter the town’s road boss took him along in his truck when he plowed during the storm.

Doing stuff with his hands includes making music. He started in fourth grade playing drums. We built him a drum set piece by piece. When he became an adult, he picked up the guitar and keyboard. His musical tastes changed, too, from hardcore/alt music — ah yes, there was the Nirvana phase — to indie. Like me, he loves The Beatles but his tastes are far more diverse than mine. He’s performed in public, solo and fronting a band. He plays music all the time.

Nate decided to create an album. He enlisted veterans in the music industry like brothers Charlie and Michael Braun, who have played — separately — with big-time performers like Billy Joel, Toots & the Maytals, Carly Simon, Phoebe Snow, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Hall & Oates … the list goes on. Then, there is Danny Bernini, who mixed the album with Charlie Braun. Danny co-founded Spirit House Productions after leaving The Hit Factory NYC. His production and engineering discography includes The Fray, Blondie, Notorious B.I.G., and now Nate Livingston.

Nate is joined by Cindy Bishop, who sings and plays music at her church; Jeff Olmstead, who creates “inspirational pop”; and Mathieu Perry, a versatile musician.

The end product is music with a rich sound — and an original one since Nate created each song. These days I play the album in my car to and from work. I marvel at the voice of my son, now a grown man.

By day, Nate is a union heavy equipment operator. But music is his true calling. Here’s a link to his website http://www.natelivingstonmusic.com/ where you will get a taste of his music. By the way Nate’s older brother, Ezra Livingston, created the art. (Yes, I have very talented kids.)

Enjoy the music.