st. louis

I started writing this on an airplane last night, shooting toward St. Louis, toward my sons, my husband. It was an uneventful trip; I just stepped in and out of assorted conveyance and then I was in Bill’s arms, and then Wyatt was sitting on my hip at five in the morning, wondering about breakfast.

On the flight, I finished reading Ruth Reichl’s gorgeous book Tender At The Bone, and was touched by the acknowledgement in the back; “Everyone I have ever known has helped me write this book.”

I hear that.

Thanks to the glory of the Internets, I learned today that Sara Dylan was in the room when Bob Dylan recorded the master vocal track for the song Sara, off of the record Desire.

Did you know that? I find it heart-wrenching; the record came out in 1976; they split up soon after the recording, and were divorced, bitterly,  in 1977. Did she know, did he know, when he sang that gorgeous love song, that it was a dirge? “Don’t ever leave me, don’t ever go…”

Thinking about that led me to listen not only to Desire, but to Slow Train Coming (which I actually remember coming out in 1979) and the sound of the music caused Bill to ask, “who is that playing guitar?”, and I guessed, “Stevie Ray Vaughn?” But of course it was Mark Knopfler. On the whole record. How did I not know this? I was disappointed, thinking of how it would have enriched me to have known that, but of course I am enriched in retrospect.

Here is some lovely Mark Knopfler work, on Once Upon A Time in the West, from Communique.

Reading the Wiki entry for the Desire record,  I learned that Emmylou Harris sang on it, uncredited (I’ll have to listen for her, in fact I think I can already hear her singing behind Dylan on One More Cup Of Coffee, just thinking about it) and I also accumulated the exciting fact that the reason that Dylan put a real band together was that he saw Patti Smith perform with her band (before she even made her first record) and was so stunned by the chemistry she had with them, and with the clear and unique sound they had created together, that he knew that he had been missing something important by only working with studio musicians.

All very fascinating!

Thinking about Dylan losing Sara made me want to think instead  about Dylan having fun, recording with George Harrison and Roy Orbison and Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne, as the Travling Wilburys. I had no idea that their sessions were filmed; I have to go watch them ALL. (Here is an explanation of Wilbury history for those of you yet to discover those excellent two albums…)

Bob Dylan and George Harrison singing together in the song Inside Out

Kurt Warner was on my flight from Phoenix to St. Louis. Warner, with his painful earnestness, always left me a little flat. If he played well, it was God’s Game, as if Jesus himself threw the winning passes. If he played poorly, it was his own sorry fault, and he spoke of himself very badly, almost as he felt as if he were worthless scum that sometimes rose to glory when God slipped him on like a skin suit and threw those touchdown passes. That strikes me as counterproductive, a recipe for misery rather than enlightenment, and I would ask him about it, but he is in First, and I am in the Emergency Row in Coach.

No one I talked to about my recent string of stunning insights, such as realizing that my body had it’s own set of beliefs and instincts, separate from those that occupy the life of my mind, gave the slightest hair of a rat’s ass, which is amusing. People probably thought I was high. I may have been or may not have been, who cares? Even though I know that the body can carry memories, I’m still touched to realize that it can worry. I know I’m a slow study. But I doubt my new tender feeling toward my sarx will fade; just like learning that the sound of Slow Train was Knopfler-driven, the awareness is permanent. I reassure it with my mouth guard; it can pretend to close like the gates of a locked city, and when it falls asleep, as it must, I can slip out, like smoke, and travel where I will.

It’s funny, because it seems that all of my life is reduced to sneaking past something; when I was young, I snuck past my parents and teachers, now that I have children, I sneak past them. When my bones relax into sleep, I sneak past the gates of my skeleton.

Ancient wisdom is so buried in our frantic world that I am grateful for anything I can find, small scraps of common sense like bits of Roman glass in the dirt of a souk.

A detail of an excllent Godzilla weather vane from West Coast Weathervanes, thanks Kim Van Antwerp for the tip.



12 thoughts on “st. louis

  1. Actually i did give a rat’s ass and had never thought of my night time dreaming in that way. I love my dreams especially because I fly all the time and the thought of not being able to get back in my body is sort of scary! Very thought provoking as usual. :)

    • Oh, so you know exactly what I mean, and you know that physical shock of return… I meant that the people I talked to about it didn’t seem to care, they were just amused.

  2. Thanks for re-Wilburying me. The lyrics those guys came up with individually were enough to blow me away, but together they were incredible. And the music was classic, timeless. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall during those recording sessions. You know it had to have been like a musical fraternity.

    “Maybe somewhere down the road a ways,
    You’ll think of me and wonder where I am these days,
    Maybe somewhere down the road when somebody plays,
    Purple Haze”

    • One of my favorite lines!

      Also, did you notice in that video for End Of The Line, that Roy had already passed away? He’d done his vocal track, I guess, but they just had his photo on a table in a frame, and his guitar in a rocking chair, gently moving with the sway of the train.

  3. As a writer and author and all around word nerd, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for my new favorite word, “sarx.” Actually, any new word I find is always my favorite. Sarx sounds rather ancient Egyptian, doesn’t it?

    I also want to add my thanks to Zoe’s for re-Wilburying me.

    All this talk reminds me of the first time I saw Dylan. He wasn’t well-known, save for a few of us eccentrics. He played for a giant crowd of about 200 of my fellow oddballs. He was alone, an actual one-man band and literally had percussion instruments strapped to his knees. He was beautiful.

    • Sarx is Greek. It means body; or more particularly, the flesh of the body, so I am not really using it properly when I include my skeleton, but I took a little leeway. And it certainly reminds you of the egyptian word sarcophagus, “body-case.”

      I learned the word from Laurie King- if you haven’t read her, don’t wait.

      I would have loved to have seen Dylan; I only saw him once, in 1986 (the True Confessions tour) and it was good, but not what you saw. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers opened for him, which of course opened the door for the whole Wilbury thang.

Comments are closed.