Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 4th 2016 Contents Oh God said to Abraham, "Kill me a
Abe says, "Man, you must be
puttin' me on"
God say, "No." Abe say, "What?"
God say, "You can do what you
want Abe, but
The next time you see me comin'
you better run."
Well Abe says, "Where do you
want this killin' done?"
God says, "Out on Highway 61."
Well Georgia Sam, he had a bloody
Welfare Department they wouldn't
give him no clothes.
He asked poor Howard, "Where can
Howard said: "There's only one
place I know."
Sam said: "Tell me quick, man, I got
Ol' Howard just pointed with his
And said: "That way, down on
Well Mack the Finger said to Louie
"I got 40 red, white and blue
And a thousand telephones that
Do you know where I can get rid of
And Louie the King said: "Let me
think for a minute, son."
And he said: "Yes, I think it can be
Just take everything down to
Now the fifth daughter on the 12th
Told the first father that things
"My complexion," she said, "is much
He said: "Come here and step into
the light"; he says: "Hmm you're
Let me tell the second mother this
has been done."
But the second mother was with
the seventh son
And they were both out on
Now the rovin' gambler he was
He was tryin' to create a next
He found a promoter who nearly
fell off the floor
He said: "I never engaged in this
kind of thing before,
But yes, I think it can be very easily
We'll just put some bleachers out
in the sun
And have it on Highway 61."
(Bob Dylan---Highway 61)
I was headed for Sandy Grande
on what must pass as Highway
Uno, when a laughter-cracked
northern English accent rose from
the BBC World Service, recalling
the recording of Bob Dylan s sem-
inal 1965 album Highway 61
Revisited. Genius, like most things
in life, is easily forgotten or taken
for granted---until we get a slap in
the face with a wet fish. Taking
the bends on the Valencia bypass
more than 40 years after Mr Zim-
merman took popular music by
the throat, I finally discovered
how like Miles Davis and Thelo-
Thursday, February 4, 2016 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
nius Monk---both famous for hitting
the recording studio with no sheet
music or rehearsals---Bob blew the
gates of Eden wide apart in no more
than six days of explosive creativity.
Apart from the fabled guitarist Mike
Bloomfield (who would be dead from a
heroin overdose at 37), none of the ses-
sion musicians on Highway 61 had
played with Dylan before. Some of them,
like the Nashville guitarist roped in at
the last minute to play on Desolation
Row, hadn t even heard of him. Dylan
arrived with no lyrics but a headful of
ideas and a creative will strong enough
to realise his visions.
He d already started shedding the
labels fabricated by folk music purists
and music producers for whom the
artiste was probably the lowest form of
life. Compromise was not a word in his
extensive vocabulary and very few peo-
ple, either in the music industry itself
or amongst those who consumed its
products, could get their heads round
his---probably the same response William
Blake, Franz Kafka, James Joyce, Baude-
laire or Gabriel Garcia Marquez met
But Dylan literally plugged himself
into the mega voltage, trampling down
barriers (which existed only in the minds
of the mindless), liberating musicians
and poets to explore indefinitely and in
the process voicing the dreams and
nightmares of millions.
Dylan reminds me of our own enfant
terrible grown old but still as acute and
creative as back in the days of Mancrab.
The storm in a shot glass over his Anna
Pavlova "Dying Swan" presentation is
yet another timely reminder of how we
ignore true creativity, mostly because
it s so startling we are left disoriented
and fall back on standards of medioc-
To the criticism that Pavlova has
nothing to do with the Caribbean, I
would counter that its conception fits
very well in the process of creolisation,
which more than anything else defines
Caribbean or Creole culture.
We are as ethnically mixed as we are
culturally; hybridity is our purity, if you
like. Our Creole languages, like our
musics, are fusions of European, African,
Asian and other elements.
Minshall brilliantly taps into dance
traditions of Africa (mokojumbie) and
Europe (classical ballet) with his pointed
comment not just on the mas but our
society itself, with his dying swan motif.
Instead of carping at creativity,
attempting to corral it (or should that
be control it) with meaningless labels,
we should celebrate it.
Beyond all the consumerism, violence,
greed, superficiality which characterises
our "greatest show on earth", Minshall
again reminds us of the creative pos-
sibilities of Carnival (the undying swan)
at a time when we re caught heavy-
footed in a swamp of destruction.
Peter Minshall's mas king (or queen?): The Dying Swan---Ras Nijinsky in Drag as
Pavlova, performed by masquerader Jhaw-Han Thomas. Minshall transforms the
Moko Jumbie (which leaped across the Atlantic from the West coast of Africa to
the Caribbean) into a ballet dancer. "Europe, Africa, male, female, traditional mas
vs beads and bikinis --- so many collisions were choreographed into this creation
it was thrilling," writes cultural commentator Annie Paul in a recent blogpost.
Others disagree. PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
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