to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free

“He’s a poet. Basically he’s a poet. He does not trust his voice. He doesn’t trust his guitar playing. He doesn’t think he’s good at anything, except writing—and even then he has self-doubts. Have you heard that thing he wrote about Woody Guthrie? That to me is the sum of his life’s work so far. Whatever happens, that is it. That sums it up.” ~ Eric Clapton on Bob Dylan

Glory Be! The man has gone and done it!

The 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature is such a crowning achievement for our favorite song and dance man. Bob turned 75 this year and is still breaking boundaries as the only singer-songwriter to have ever been awarded this coveted prize.

Aside from my inner fangirl whooping for joy and turning cartwheels at the sheer awesomeness of the whole thing, what I’m most happy about is that perhaps this distinction will inspire the average person to broaden his/her view of what constitutes “poetry.”

A rare smile!

Poetry doesn’t have to be esoteric, elitist, abstract or inaccessible. It doesn’t have to live in slim volumes with boring covers. It can be the well crafted lyrics of anthemic compositions that capture the heartbeat of personal and social history through time.

After all, poetry began as an oral tradition, much of it meant to be performed with music. To those who find Dylan undeserving, I would ask that they throw off their cloaks of intellectual snobbery and abandon preconceptions about conventional “Literature.”

Bob with his son Jesse.

“Literature” is not limited to printed novels, plays, or short stories. Talk to me about more than five decades of enormous cultural influence, words of searing truth, crackling inventiveness. Talk to me about enlarging the possibilities of American popular music.

Take the average Joe in a grocery store check-out line. Chances are he’s never read any of the Nobel Prize winning novels, but he’s heard a Dylan song or two.

A song is a poem for everyman.

I consider myself a poet first and a musician second. I live like a poet and I’ll die like a poet.

Eight years ago, the very first time I hosted Poetry Friday, I asked participants to post their favorite Dylan lyrics. I shared the 8th of Dylan’s “11 Outlined Epigraphs.” He was 22 when he wrote this in 1963:

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celebrating sir paul mccartney’s birthday with linda’s lemon drizzle cake

“Nothing pleases me more than to go into a room and come out with a piece of music.” ~ Paul McCartney

Why, hello. Thought we’d serve up some lemon drizzle cake in honor of Paul McCartney’s 74th birthday tomorrow. Please help yourself to a piece or two or three and a nice warm cuppa.🙂

While you’re sip sip sipping and ever-so-politely wiping crumbs from the corners of your mouth, enjoy Paul’s “English Tea,” which I strongly suspect he wrote just for me. See if you agree:

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Am I not a “nanny bakes fairy cakes” kind of person who tends to veer into twee at a moment’s notice? I think “English Tea” should become Alphabet Soup’s official song.🙂

Miles and miles of English garden stretching past the willow tree . . . lines of holly, hocks and roses listen most attentively.

paulnewalbumIt’s hard to believe Paul is going to be 74; he hasn’t slowed down one bit. Right now he’s in the midst of his One on One Tour, and just a week ago he released “Pure McCartney,” a comprehensive retrospective collection of his solo, Wings and Fireman work available in 3 formats: 2CD, 4CD and 4LP. The 4CD version features an amazing 67 tracks, all handpicked by the man himself.

To help promote “Pure McCartney,” he’s done a series of six virtual reality mini-documentaries filmed in his home studio in England, where he discusses backstories and recording/production tidbits about some of his songs. These can be seen in 360-degree videos or in virtual reality on a mobile app for Android or iOS.

I love how he continues to be on the forefront of studio technology. Never one to rest on his laurels, he’s always been pro-innovation (Sgt Pepper, anyone?) — the mark of a true creative, a musician through and through. When it comes to staying power and audience appeal in a rapidly changing and highly competitive industry, Paul takes the biscuit!

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billy collins, sir paul mccartney, and a summer blog break

wildair
via The Wheatfield

Ah, summer! Time to step away from the stove and laptop, relax, and stay cool.

Mr. Cornelius, 50-something Paddingtons, and I are looking forward to ice cream sundaes, fresh peach pie, reading trashy novels mind-enriching classics, growing basil, hanging out with relatives, tickling the ivories, and shopping for cool things.

Before we sign off for a bit, wanted to share this interesting video of former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins interviewing Sir Paul McCartney at Rollins College last October. They discuss early academic influences (Chaucer, Shakespeare, Keats), songwriting, poetry, celebrity, and much more. Paul shares a few naughty bits from Chaucer’s “Miller’s Tale” and sings “Blackbird” at the end.

photo by Scott Cook

I especially enjoyed hearing how the Beatles honed their craft, how John’s snarkiness complemented Paul’s optimism when it came to writing songs. Paul hasn’t lost any of his boyish charm or good looks, remains humble and grounded, and it was nice to know that had he not become a musician, he might have tried his hand at teaching English.🙂

Can you imagine walking into class on the first day of school and seeing Paul as your teacher??!!! SCREAM.

The video is about an hour long, so you might want to bookmark this post and come back later when you have enough time to get nice and comfy, sip a tall glass of iced tea, and enjoy the meeting of two brilliant minds. The students in the video remain amazingly calm throughout. If I ever found myself in the same room with both Billy and Paul, I’d probably faint dead away. Just sayin’.

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hotTEA of the week: Paul McCartney

The cute Beatle is 73 years old today!

 

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“Nothing pleases me more than to go into a room and come out with a piece of music.”
"So, if I'm cooking, I'll be steaming vegetables, making some nice salad, that kind of stuff."
“So, if I’m cooking, I’ll be steaming vegetables, making some nice salad, that kind of stuff.”
"But you know, as a kid I would have thought of a vegetarian as a wimp."
“But you know, as a kid I would have thought of a vegetarian as a wimp.”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PAUL!

Will you play us out?
(What a voice, what a face, what a song!)

 

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weekend feast: one bob dylan, one birthday, one meat ball (+ recipe)

“I think of myself as a poet first and a musician second. I live like a poet and I’ll die like a poet.” (Bob Dylan)

Just as he’s done for more than five decades, Bob Dylan is still releasing new albums (the latest is “Shadows in the Night,” a mellow collection of standards recorded live with his five-piece band), performing around the world with his Never Ending Tour, and receiving more honors and accolades (2015 MusiCares Person of the Year).

To promote “Shadows in the Night” he gave only one interview — to AARP Magazine, where he discussed his creative process and influences, revealing that he’s a big Shakespeare fan, and had he not become “Bob Dylan,” he would have liked to have been “a schoolteacher of Roman history or theology.”

When receiving his MusiCares award, he delivered a riveting acceptance speech crediting his sources of inspiration, thanking his various and sundry supporters, and even confronting his detractors. To those who would criticize his singing voice, he reminded them of what Sam Cooke said when told he had a beautiful voice:

Well that’s very kind of you, but voices ought not to be measured by how pretty they are. Instead they matter only if they convince you that they are telling the truth.

The voice of our generation — plain, real, everyman — endures. We need to hear and will always value the hard truths good poets tell.

Enjoy this bountiful three-course feast honoring Bob, who’ll turn 74 on Sunday, May 24.🙂

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