Bournemouth International Centre
28th June 2006
(I put this away at the time, wrote it just for a couple of friends. I did so because the negative storm from Dylan forums is huge. But we started discussing this elsewhere, and I’ve pulled it from the depths of my hard drive. The set list is correct, by the way, but you have to work it out!)
This guy loved music all his life, and when he died he found himself outside the pearly gates. A kindly guy in a long robe patted down his pockets, removed thirty-five quid, gave him a card ticket and told him to walk that way, but reminded him that no recording devices nor photography were allowed. Puzzled, he walked along a corridor and found himself in a large warehouse with a flat floor, full of people. More and more pushed in, and he stood there for half an hour. The lights went out and Fanfare for The Common Man blasted out of the PA. He listened through it. It finished, it was still dark, but nothing happened for another ten minutes, except in the crowd someone spilled beer down the back of his leg.
Eventually a few musicians filed on the stage in the distance. By standing on tip toe he could just see their heads. The women next to him, a foot shorter, were simply staring at the smelly armpits of the men in front of them. The musicians picked up their instruments and a wizened, unshaven old man hobbled up to the microphone, and everyone shouted in excitement, then the old man sat down at some keyboards and he couldn’t see him at all. The old man started croaking in a horrible gravelly voice. They played several numbers, and though the backing musicians were clearly pretty good, every song sounded exactly the same as the one before. A guy tapped him on the shoulder, ‘At least he’s not playing guitar. Last time the worse bit was when he stood up and played electric guitar. He took the solos though it was obvious that the other two guitarists on stage were far more adept than him. Be thankful for the keyboard.’
The material puzzled him. The words sounded like hugely significant extracts from the soundtrack of his life, when he could catch them, but the tunes had gone altogether. There were lines that cried out for a melody … I ain’t gonna work on Maggies Farm no more … wears an Egyptian ring it sparkles … brains in a pot they’re beginning to boil … you gotta a lotta nerve to say you are my… can this really be the end? … you build your big bombs you build your death planes … wish I was back in the city … do you, Mr Jones? … it’s all new to me, like some mystery, could even be like a myth … your long time curse hurts but what’s worse … I’m all used up and the fields … in every grain of … the girls all say you’re a worn out star … you know you only used to get juiced in it … there must be some way out of here …
But there wasn’t. Some way out of there. Finally he turned to an angel wearing an orange shirt with SECURITY emblazoned on it. ‘Sorry,’ he said, ‘who is that?’
The angel turned to him, ‘Him? Oh, that’s God. But some days he thinks he’s Bob Dylan.’
The story is based on an old joke. At the time I wondered if you needed to know the original to make sense of it. Here it is:
A guy died and found himself outside the pearly gates in a long line of people. It shuffled forward very slowly. Then suddenly a man wearing a blue pinstriped suit pushed his way to the front, pushed people rudely aside, commanded loudly ‘open the gate’ and strode into heaven.
The guy asked St. Peter, ‘Who’s that?’
‘Oh, that’s God,’ said St. Peter, ‘But some days he thinks he’s a surgeon.’