All Along the Telegraph. A Bob Dylan Tribute Volume from the 1980s
While visiting my mother’s house, I found a copy of this, which I must have purchased as a teenager. Co-edited by established music writer Michael Gray and dedicated Dylan obsessive John Bauldie, this is a deliciously eclectic collection of minutiae and serious scholarship. It sports misheard lyrics, off the cuff quotes, sleeve notes together with Allen Ginsberg and Christopher Ricks.
John Bauldie, I’ve since discovered, was a fascinating character who ran his Dylan Fanzine, The Telegraph, out of his house in Romford, persistently claiming that Bob Dylan read it himself on a regular basis. Bauldie died young, following the crash of an ill advised and ill piloted visit to his other great obsession in life – Bolton Wanderers.
The book gives a fair sense of the flavour of The Telegraph, and when I am old friendless, I will devote myself perhaps to collecting every issue of this, or some such other magazine. The book collects comments on Dylan by the likes of John Berryman and Philip Larkin, investigates the controversy over his ill-timed Live Aid comments, as well as describing the experience of filming Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid.
The book sports a preface by England fast bowler Bob Willis, which perhaps the supreme editorial coup of the project. Bob Willis, of course, added Dylan as a middle name by deed poll back in the mid sixties. And of course, Bob Dylan Willis repeats his assertion that seeing Dylan perform live and close up was more exciting than taking all those Australian wickets at Headingly back in 1981.
Above all, finding this dusty book from my teenage years restored – not my sense of the sublime and the ridiculous – that has never been more acute than it is right now – but rather the memory of a time when I didn’t know the difference (and neither I suspect did John Bauldie. When I was a teenage Dylan fan, there was no such thing as Dylan trivia, because nothing was trivial. Perhaps that’s the key to teenage existence – a kind of high seriousness thinly disguised as cynicism and a hypersensitive determination to regard everything as desperately important every minute of the day.
That’s an exhausting mode of being, and I’m well out of it, but decades after the event, I’m allowed to miss it a bit.