the state of things

 

Another Wet Day in Warsaw

by Douglas Lindsay - 09:23 on 24 September 2008
Do you think the guy who invented the phrase ‘credit crunch’ gets paid royalties every time someone says the words ‘credit crunch’ on tv? Every night he sits in front of the news and as soon as the newsreader or correspondent says ‘credit crunch’, he turns to his family and says, ‘I came up with that. Yep, that baby’s all mine, I don’t mind telling you.’ And his wife and kids all roll their eyes and make vomiting noises and curse the day their dad invented the phrase.

I remain, and always will, a novice at the Bob Dylan game. I listen to the music and that’s about it. Don’t read the books, don’t travel the world watching the concerts, don’t collect unofficial bootlegs. I’ve seen him twice in concert and have 430 Dylan songs on my iPod. Since it’s the case that two years ago I had no Dylan songs on my iPod - well, to be honest, I didn’t even have an iPod two years ago, but if I'd had an iPod, it would’ve had no Dylan songs on it - it’s slightly freakish to have so many now, but not that freakish.

When I was making the lead character of Lost in Juarez a Dylan addict, I exaggerated my own Dylan obsession. Turned the 430 iPod songs into 1256, and the two concerts I’ve been to into 157. This seemed freakish enough for someone who was supposed to be genuinely addicted to Dylan, in the way that people are addicted to alcohol or fish suppers. Typically for me, at the time I didn’t really do much research. I didn’t check out how often your average Dylan freak goes to see him in concert, or how many Dylan songs it was possible to have on your iPod if you were a ferocious bootleg hunter, much in the way that I’m not. Typical authorial laziness on my part.

(The spellchecker on my laptop says that authorial isn't a word, but it is. The spellchecker on the Mac acknowledges this.)

There’s a strand running on the Dylan message board All Along The Watchtower at the moment, discussing how many times people have been to see the man. There’s someone on there who has seen Dylan over three hundred and fifty times. Another guy says that he met a bloke at a recent gig who had been close to 500 times. To see Dylan. Live.

Holy crap! Those are scary numbers. And it’s made me realise how un-addicted to Dylan Lake Weston must appear to any Dylan fans who read the book. Non-Dylan fans, of course, would read it and think, ‘Wow, a character who’s seen Dylan 157 times, that’s freakish, what a weirdo.’ Of course, however, real life is much, much weirder.

For the second edition - which at current rate of sales will be due some time in the third millennium - I’ll be sure to alter the text so that Lake can have a gazillion Dylan tracks on his iPod and have seen the man in at least one thousand concerts. As Dylan has averaged over a hundred a year for the past eighteen years or so, this isn’t impossible.

There’s probably a lesson in all this about properly researching a subject before writing about it....but I just can’t work out what it is...

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