Jim Carroll workshop continues – 3 – (Bob Dylan)

This weekend, following on from last weekend, transcription of the 1980 Jim Carroll music and poetics workshop at Naropa continues.

For the two previous segments – see here and here

JC: And also I mean, like, people, eventually, knew where his [Bob Dylan‘s] influences were coming from, whereas they didn’t know where Lou (Reed)’s influences were coming from. Not as many people had read Delmore Schwartz as Allen Ginsberg and Rimbaud. And so, I don’t know, there were certain songs of Dylan’s which just got…I lost faith in, for a while, you know. And then I realized… I mean, that was when I was first writing lyrics ( – and it seemed, before that, I could always listen to music as a fan, you know, whereas, from the time I was fifteen, I had to read as a writer – always making little notes, stylistic notes, you know, being envious of this (or that), you know, (like putting, just, like, five exclamation-marks in a paragraph by (Vladimir) Nabokov or something, – and then…and then putting “So what?” after that!)

But then there was, like, this whole thing with.. When I went.. when I started to get into (with) music. Suddenly, I couldn’t be a fan anymore and just listen. I had to deal with all of those petty envies, you know – “Shit, I could have… if I had that music, I could’ve written better lyrics!”.. or ”You know, he should have paused in that phrase in there. he could’ve gotten (plenty) more power out of that, he should have waited for the power-chords to crash before he hit the rhyme”, you know. And, you know, this thing about “Why is this guy making it? – that song sucks, you know, it’s not that commercial stuff,” you know. I mean, So..

But, after a while you come to peace with that, just as, when you’re a writer, and you just, you know, start to like a lot broader range. Like, when I first read the Don Allen anthology, I had a much shallower range of who I liked in it than I did if I picked it up now. You know,(I think now) I could find something in everybody’s poems there, (something) that I really like. It took me, like, say.. I mean, say – I think, you know…

John Wieners (1934-2002)

I loved John Wieners poems so much. And, at first, when I read them, I just didn’t “get” The Hotel Wentley Poems”, in that.. you know.. (And) I had to see (them) later on, (like, from some of (via) his later poems), when his Selected Poems first came out, (in, I think, in 1972, from Grossman) [Editorial note – a new Selected Poems selection was issued recently (2015) from Wave Books] – You know, I can look back on The Hotel Wentley Poems. I like the later poems more, but, then, he was just creating his own history by that, you know. So, I was going back to The Hotel Wentley Poems and saw the power in them from his later poems.. I mean, that happens all the time. I think it’s like a (Jorge Luis) Borges notion that, you know, Kafka makes.. that he uses an influence that he got from Nathaniel Hawthorne, or something. Then he makes Nathaniel Hawthorne (sense), you know, like using that idea and copying an idea, simply making Nathaniel Hawthorne’s work stronger when you read it – So the future poet provides strength and kind of rewrites the works of the past writers constantly, you know . ( (But) You’ve got to make a few charges here and there, or else…)

Bob Dylan

But… So I guess the thing to do now, since I’ve been mentioning (Bob) Dylan so much, we’ll play a song, which I think.. –

[To Student/technicial assistant – Well, I’m not going to… I’ll play.. And then I’ll play a Phil Ochs song....]

Well, anything on Blonde and Blonde. Like I say, I think he hit a different stride with that, you know..I mean he came to terms with that frantic quality which he had to leap into. I mean, it’s an incredible breakthrough that he had, you know – with this folk scene, getting hassled by everybody about it. And so… But, Bringing It All Back Home?.. I mean, some.. I didn’t trust some of the images there – they were too easy. After a while, I thought they were too amphetamine-driven, you know (but (ha!) we’ve all fallen into that!)

But, this song [“Love Minus Zero, No Limit”], you know, is an honest song –
(Actually one of Lewis Warsh’s favorite songs, I believe..) …

[Student/technical assistant: This starts out loud this time, do you want me to turn it down? – JC: Well, let’s wait, put on the..I think it’s the fourth (track) (on Bringing It All Back Home)

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately twenty-six minutes in and concluding at approximately thirty-three-and-three-quarter minutes in]

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