In 1972, the experimental musician Gavin Bryars made the students who were resting in the cafeteria of his school in Leicester cry, having heard behind the door, which he had forgotten to close, the voice of a homeless man reciting verses about a minimal string accompaniment sequenced to infinity. The emotional effect of that “Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet”, sung by a man whose identity could never be ascertained, is overwhelming from its simplicity. Bryars, under the influence of John Cage, conducted another similar experiment, dedicated to the sinking of the Titanic. And although Bob Dylan has not stated that he put his ear to Bryars to compose “Murder Must Foul”, the song that just emerged from his hat as a ghost in the middle of the night, fills with them the first time.
If Bryars’ lasted for 26 and 24 minutes, Dylan’s lasted for 17 minutes, so its brevity should be praised, if irony is permitted. At the structure level, this new theme also points to another of Duluth’s insistent obsessions, namely: how the hell did that guy sponsored by Jackson Browne, Warren Zevon, manage to compose “Desperados Under The Eaves”, a song that they are like three songs mounted on one, a compositional feat that he always envied. There are, moreover, melodic links between one of those songs assembled by Zevon and Bryars’ “Sinking of The Titanic”.
If you put Dylan’s next, you see that it flows with the previous ones, although with clear differences. First of all, Dylan’s flow of consciousness, in the role of black-and-white film narrator through which the first part runs, a flashback that transports us to 1963, to the «black limousine» from which John Fitzgerald greets Kennedy
in Dallas. The first stanzas point uncompromisingly to the culprits as a reckoning. Like a dog and in broad daylight. “Right there, in front of everyone’s eyes.”
The light piano accompaniment makes one think of Vangelis, while Dylan’s voice sounds especially clean, with a tone closer to the standard 4:40 Hz than his throat waterfall is capable of holding. That voice his friend David Bowie lovingly described as “of sand and glue.” In the second part of the song, vintage postcards and locations from Dallas appear, snapshots of America after the arrival of the Beatles. It is the age of Aquarius. And as in other sequence songs, a handful of images and sounds emerge that are like the statues in the museum at midnight of that story by García Hortelano.
Elvis, Lennon, the Rock & Roll Times, from Larry Williams’ Dizzy Miss Lizzy. We need songs, everything is priest, be it Fleetwood Mac or Thelonious Monk. The piano notes follow and Dylan’s voice follows, recalling the tragedy of Altamont, the angels of hell and the Rolling Stones; flying over the back roads, south of Dallas, through ghost towns like Rome, sleeping naked under a blanket of bluebonnets, those rare blue flowers that announce spring throughout Texas.
Follow the sweet, caressing, compassionate bard, remembering Oswald and Jack Ruby. Are we so different? Although in Dylan’s opinion, when he asks the disc-jockey Wolfman Jack to put on another song, there are other sequence songs involved, such as his own, “American Pie” by Don McLean or the also hermetic lyrics of “Hotel California” by Eagles. The previous songs bequeathed by Dylan are piled up in the listener: “Desolation Row”, “Idiot Wind”, “Hurricane”, the latter so calculated in his appearance. Another grain of sand.
Dylan wants you to fly over Downtown, from Elm Street in Deep Ellum to Grassy Knoll Hill. From Dealey Plaza to the fateful sixth floor. You have a visitor every morning. It is the soul of Kennedy, because even his brain stole, symbolizing the end of the age of innocence, that walk along the Trinity River with Suzy that will never return. John was taken dead to Parkland Hospital. Another scapegoat, like Patsy Cline.
In this song-river the musical, historical and cinematographic references are piled up
References are piling up, Dylan wants to cleanse our hearts and sorrow with infinite songs, from Etta James to John Lee Hooker, Guitar Slim or Marilyn Monroe, Eagles or Nina Simone. What difference does it make. After all, Warren Zevon did not jump out the window of the Gower Avenue hotel. But now it’s tragedy, so the Platters can sing “Twilight Time.” Or “let someone else bite the dust” by Queen. Or “Back to Tulsa,” by Bob Wills.
One from Brad Paisley or Junior Parker. Oscar Peterson and Stan Getz serve us. Even the Dickey Betts Allman Brothers. Charlie Parker, Art Pepper, Monk. Buster Keaton or Harold Lloyd. Ella Fitzgerald singing “Cry me a River”, Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. Nat King Cole or Terry Malloy. Elvis Presley rhymes with Shakespeare. What a great irony, landing in Dallas at an airport called “Love Field.” They killed him in the house of the rising sun. Chet Baker or Skeeter Davis on one of Cole Porter. The brave walk alone, like Kirk Douglas. Jelly Roll Morton or Little Richard. Tom Rush sings “Driving Wheel” by David Wiffen. Beethoven sounds, Eric Clapton attacks Big Bill Broonzy’s “Key to the Highway”. We march towards Georgia. The echo of old songs from old Scotland comes. Bud Powell or Lester Young. Anyway, sing a gospel, sing “Murder Must Foul.” And don’t ask what your nation can do for you. But you, for your nation. .