Sunday, November 23, 2008

Positively Dylan: The Lackow-Levinsons

video
from the youtube description:
from 1964 at the Newport Folk Festival: The Original Singers: Cordell Reagon, Bernice Johnson-Reagon, Charles Neblett and Rutha Mae Harris were organized during the Albany, Georgia Movement. They traveled over 100,000 miles spreading the message of freedom and raised funds for SNCC. Miss Harris and Miss Johnson are natives of Albany,Georgia and sang with the best. Here they are with Joan Baez, Peter, Paul and Mary, Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger. This group traveled with Dr. King and were instrumental in helping people of color earn their right to vote
.
How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
Yes, n how many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, n how many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they're forever banned?
The answer, my friend, is blowin in the wind,
The answer is blowin in the wind.
How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, n how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, n how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin in the wind,
The answer is blowin in the wind.
How many years can a mountain exist
Before its washed to the sea?
Yes, n how many years can some people exist
Before they're allowed to be free?
Yes, n how many times can a man turn his head,
Pretending he just doesn't see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin in the wind,
The answer is blowin in the wind.

I recently learned that Arlene Levinson, nee Lackow, is a big Bob Dylan fan and with her husband Bob, acknowledged Dylan experts. They host a radio program called Positively Dylan. From the WHPC FM (Long Island) program guide
(Monday & Friday 6pm) Hosts Bob and Arlene Levinson play the compelling music of Bob Dylan. Both new and long time fans will enjoy hearing their interesting analysis and commentary in addition to all of Dylan’s familiar groundbreaking songs.

An excerpt from a piece that a fan of theirs, Mary Ellen Walsh wrote at workingmother
Some women are football widows. You know the hubby is holed up, eyes glued to the TV no matter where—family Sundays or facing TV screens out to dinner in restaurants. Jeez! How many times my friends have heard in a minute, after this play! They are widows, alone until the season is over. Me, I’m a Bob Dylan widow. I can’t wait out the season because it never ends. My husband Tom is passionate about Bob Dylan. Let me explain conversations that go like this…“How far are we going daddy?” My son Robert moans while driving in upstate New York to visit family. “We’re going all the way, till the wheels fall off and burn,” Tom answers from the song Brownsville Girl. Or our friend’s daughter’s birthday is Cinco de Mayo, the 5th of May. Tom croons, “I married Isis on the 5th of May,” from Isis. Wow, it’s dark at night, earlier each day. “It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting theeere,” says Tom from Not Dark Yet which has many spin offs into “Are they here, yet…NO they aren’t here, YET, but they’re getting there,” and so on. I’ll spare you the rest. I hear the incarnations of all that is holy in Tom’s voice. Hon, he was the first person to put two versions of the same song on one album—Forever Young. I’m taking a shower—come out soaking wet—Tom’s there, Need I tell you, he broke the 3-minute song formula for 45s with Like A Rolling Stone, paving the way for Hey Jude and Stairway to Heaven. In the middle of watching "American Idol" Tom whispers…Without Dylan, none of this music would exist. And the older Tom gets (42) the worse it is. He cannot tolerate new music, which to him means anything recorded after 1984. Except, of course, for Dylan who Tom says just keeps morphing and ages well like fine wine. It all started when we re-met (we grew up together--a long story) in October 1994, Tom invited me to the third night Dylan performed at Roseland. I declined and you’d think I struck him by saying… “I don’t really like Dylan.” The blow more shocking than Dylan going electric. But we began dating anyway despite my bad taste in music: Lou Reed, the Talking Heads, Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin and Pearl Jam. Somehow, I had to pass initiation by going to Dylan concerts with Tom like Ellen Barkin in the movie Diner where she had to take the football test. I had to be converted to exorcise years of bad music out of my soul. We saw Dylan every which way, with a ten-gallon hat on, with an “electric” band, with Van Morrison or standing on his head...smoking, not smoking…cries of but he’s different every night. Tom even serenaded me while strapping on a harmonica in a metal neck rest and sang Dylan tunes, while driving, as we headed from New York down to D.C. for a friend’s wedding. Six hours of touch and go traffic crooning Girl of the North Country and Desolation Row. Okay. Okay. ENOUGH. “Yes, I’ll marry you.” Years went by. There were many Dylan moments like the time Tom was ghost white and deathly ill and I had to check him for a pulse during the Twyla Tharp does Dylan thing his mom got tickets for us to see. He was gripping the armrest so tightly breathing deep La Maze-class breaths and I thought he passed out from loathing. “It’s a desecration. How could he agree to this?” But over this past year, Tom would come home joyfully on Friday nights. Not because a grueling week was over, not because he was happy to see me—which he was—but because of BOB. A DJ from 90.3 FM Nassau Community College’s radio station here on Long Island who plays—you guessed it—nothing but Dylan and takes requests. Requests! Tom was in heaven. This guy was like a giant encyclopedia brain of nothing but Dylan facts, songs, snippets of lyrics with obscure live versions. Every Friday night between 6 and 8, we eat dinner listening to BOB spinning Bob. DJ Bob Levinson is quite a guy. Other than knowing all things Dylan, and broadcasting two Dylan shows a week (Mondays taped and Fridays—live), He writes for Isis a Dylan only magazine and put together a cool DVD “Walking Tour of Bob’s history.” This walking tour includes places still in existence and some that aren’t: Lion’s Head, Cedar Tavern, Gaslight CafĂ© in Manhattan. BOB even taught an NYU class on Dylan. It was Valentine’s Day. Tom requested Tomorrow Is A Long Time for me. The next week, our son Robert called in requesting Mr. Tambourine Man. The week after that was our daughter Kelly with Like A Rolling Stone. Then our friends, who love Dylan (Betsey's another Dylan widow) came to visit. They called in Most of the Time. Not only did BOB oblige our every whim, he actually sent us a bootleg of an October 1994 Boston show Tom and Gary saw. Should I be jealous of DJ BOB and Dylan? Never. It’s that little place Tom needs to go to, as he puts it… “Dylan’s music scratches that itch on your soul.” I respect that and don’t feel like a widow at all. Dylan is so much a part of our lives. I've grown to love Nashville Skyline, my favorite album...and of course Just Like A Woman, especially by Richie Havens, makes me cry every time I hear it! Then, I finally called in and requested Bruce Springsteen doing Dylan to which BOB selected Chimes of Freedom. Beautiful….Thanks Bob Levinson. We set a place for you at our table every Friday night. Thanks 90.3 FM! To call the show...516-572-7440.

a link to the syllabus of a course that Bob and Arlene taught on Dylan

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