06:38:29 pm on
Thursday 25 Jul 2024

Murder Most Fowl
Bob Stark

Bob Dylan is back. This time he’s revisiting the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK). It took me a couple of listens. Here are my first impressions.

In some ways, a brilliant yet curious choice, to write about an incident so immediate at the time but one which has kinda faded, emotionally. maybe that’s his point, connecting our lives backwards yet forwards beyond all the history that followed ... the ending of a generation with one last hurrah for the hope of Camelot that was shattered and from which we never recovered or failed to carry forward the torch. Well, you see ... gotta work it out. The final statement from our pied piper?

Hard to criticise the Jester. In that regard, a few quibbles: a few lines and more so; rhymes, I thought were lazy; the mistake all writers make, that is, finding a rhyme for the sake of finding a rhyme. Well, Little Bobby Zimmerman has been guilty of that before, so we forgive, again, in the totality of this courageous work. 

I also wasn't convinced of much of the intent or the content of the final verse, but I get it now on second listen. It is what we do in any tragedy, looking back in the moment; we play our favourite records for comfort and meaning, in this case, a murder most foul. 

If Dylan wanders a bit in tempo or in phrasing, the ends justify the means. We were then and still are on very rocky waters; hence, the ebb, flow and turbulence, perhaps, of the underlying music. This after-all is a eulogy performed as if in the moment of or, perhaps, re-capturing our original grieving. For 15 minutes and 56 second, one is riding the waves, no distractions, completely focused on the message, as we should be. Put away your metronomes. They will serve no purpose here. Time is forever broken.

Every one of an age remembers where they were on hearing the news of the assignation of JFK, his death. We were glued to their electronic aquariums for days on end. Alas, with so much water and blood flowing under the cathedral bridges ever since, maybe it is hard to grasp the meaning/purpose of this dark reminder from the past, which for many was, as suggested by Bob, the loss of faith, hope and charity. 

Woodsworth wrote: "The world is too much with us, late and soon ... we lay waste our powers ... we have given our hearts away ... and we are up-gathered like sleeping flowers; for this, for everything, we are out of tune; it moves us not." 

Under the guiding hand of Dylan, we need to be jolted from our sleeping, and reminded that history is not a cold forgotten body in a faraway grave.

The Beatles did come and hold our hands, giving us a new hope, in a time of mortal sadness. For me personally, the more relevant final Grassy Death Knoll of our generation was the assassination of brother Robert Kennedy. Altamont post-Woodstock and then Kent State, the final de-icing of the beautiful cake that we had unfortunately left out in the rain; the final blowing of the trumpets signalling our generation's spiritual demise. 

As I have written, while fearlessly plagiarizing Willie the Shake, one of my characters in a play, who "comes to praise AND to bury the 60s," but is hesitant to speak to the assembled Millennials, laments ....

"My heart is in the coffin there with the 60s, the undiscovered country, from whose bourn no hippie traveller shall return ..."

My faith, as well as the faith of my characters remains in a new circling of the cosmic wheel. Greta and others of her generation, who are raising again the banners of hope and change. 

Yin and Yang. Out of darkness comes the light.



Bob Stark is a musician, poet, philosopher and couch potato. He spends his days, as did Jean-Paul Sarte and Albert Camus, pouring lattes and other adult beverages into a recycled mug, bearing a long and winding crack. He discusses, with much insight and passion, the existentialist and phenomenological ontology of the Vancouver 'Canucks,' a hockey team, "Archie" comic books and high school reunions. In other words, Bob Stark is a retired public servant living the good life on the wrong coast of Canada.

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