moves almost fifty years forwards linking Dylan´s slamming of the
door at Big Pink to the bewildered echo that followed his silence
after being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature a few weeks ago.
The noise then and now this thundering silence full of resonances
provoke in my soul a similar feeling -as antagonistic modes of
eloquence, anyway. Though separated by reverb and by decades of time,
they were contiguous at the end of that scene about a biblical bet
initiated by a stranger with a dusty voice. This is what I remember
accepting the challenge with his laconic response, Dylan had
disappeared into the house leaving behind the echo of an angry
gesture that raised a murmur of voices in the groups close to the
back door. He soon reappeared at the threshold, his figure sculpted
in a silence that resounded in the air silencing everyone before him.
First loudness, then echo, then nothing, successive chapters in
Dylan´s special rhetoric -that night of July 1967 and these nights
of autumn 2016: "Sometimes
the Silence can be like the Thunder."
at the door, his mute eyes looked for me among the crowd, some people
already beginning to retreat back into the shadows. I approached with
a gesture that mimicked a half-smile, my shoulders shrunk, my hands
open. He raised his own hands: in his left he carried two pieces of
paper, a pen and a pencil; in his right, a mandolin which he propped
up against the door. His silence extended the time. For a while, with
a chill, I felt that Dylan was looking straight through me. My breath
faltered but I managed to keep quiet until I heard him say:
“Let's have that bet, Nar. We both agree the quotation is from the
I find it hard to believe that you know the Bible better than I do,
and I still don´t understand why you had to contradict me in front
of all these people. What were you hoping for? An applause, a medal,
the Super Bowl of annoyance, maybe?”
not in the business of collecting trophies. The truth is I had no
interrupted me, raising his voice and tilting his head in a defiant
“The absence of intention does not free you from its consequences,
Nar, and that man in black by the fire has thrown down a gauntlet
going to have to pick up!”
over and handed me the pen and one of the two pieces of paper,
roughly, without giving me the option to refuse or even choose.
do a blind bet. We´ll both write down what we want from eachother if
we win. Thesize
of the prize doesn´t matter. Do you get it? See you in a while.”
turned and walked to the front entrance of Big Pink, where he had
parked his car. His silhouette, as it moved away, was once again
carved in silence. A rolled up piece of paper hung from his left
hand: a still blank edict.
fifty years later, as I write these notes by the big round box that
would eventually become my trophy from the bet, I imagine a memory of the future: another paper, this time framed as a Prize diploma. Maybe more S i l e n c e .
overcame me. When I awoke, beside me there were only Ash and Richard,
under a blue blanket. The sound of several guitars, maracas and some
congas reached us softly from an area close to the back of the house.
Someone was singing a song that started off talking about some news -
an accident, a photograph.... This song had been chasing me around
for almost two months, wherever I went, with its succession of
fragments apparently unconnected and its impacting final chord.
and their dog is going to want to cover that song, even without the
piano, and if not, time will tell. Anyway, fire's dying out. See?”
said Richard after a while.
I replied. “I need to go get some cigarettes anyway.”
found some dry branches and a couple of logs nearby so it was easy to
rekindle the fire. As the flames began to grow, I began to see
through them, little by little. They made a glow beyond the colors of
the burning wood; it was kind of a tonality related to an acoustic
sensation that seemed to rise out of the crackle of the fire itself.
My synaesthetic rush eventually settled on a voice which at first I
could not understand. As it approached, that voice took shape as a
singe those eyebrows of yours Nar, this time you will!”
crossed on the other side of the fire, heading for the back entrance
to the house. In front of it, the people who had been playing that
perturbing song were now forming a circle around the man with the
out-of-place hat, who was just at that moment telling the end of his
story and quoting excitedly from what he said was the Book
lord, I stand continually upon the watchtower in the daytime, and I
am set in my ward whole nights. ”
couldn´t help but hear it as he walked past them to get to the
house. From the door, with a gesture as if in slow motion, he turned
to counter the man in black:
not the Book of Revelation.
was listening to every word even as I was walking back to Richard and
Ash. Suddenly I found I´d stopped, and in a very loud voice, I heard
not right either. It´s Isaiah,
yes, but chapter 21, verse 8.”
fell silent. A sea of eyes was on me. Dylan's shone brightly, his
do you dare?!” he called out as he opened the door.
was about to reply I´m not sure what, when a dusty voice shook
you are so sure, why don´t you place a bet?”
I turned, a face like a mask held my gaze fixedly under that huge,
black hat. Dylan stopped still against the open door, his head cocked
to the side. With great parsimony he finally lit his cigarette.
it be so”
he said after a couple of neverending seconds. Then he entered Big
Pink, slamming the door behind him.
so many years, that slam still echoes in my head as the shot before a
duel, and I hadn´t even chosen my weapon. Dylan had chosen it for
me. If we ever met again, I would ask him if he still remembers the
next scene. Like I do tonight. In black and white.
voice thundered from inside Big Pink. We looked around at each other
as if feeling for something in our pockets.
and turn this off, Garth! The fucking tape‘s
the quiet that followed, a silent gesture from Garth left me in
charge of the fire while he went into the house.
was that?” asked a dusty voice.
was the man with the out-of-place hat. He was afforded no reply -
instead everyone rushed to fill their glasses- until Garth and
Richard reappeared and, shoulder to shoulder, from the doorway,
offered their respective versions of the incident:
one of those tapes we‘ve been recording
in the basement, the system can get temperamental at times…”
explained Garth in a conciliatory voice.
just my way of saying hi, you assholes! I‘m
saying 'hello' through someone else, it‘s
the best way I can think of to let you know you chose the very worst
day to come and hang out, for fuck‘s
reacted to Richard‘s increasingly cracked
voice, until a girl who was standing by me, next to the fire, broke
the silence with a question as naive as she looked:
but who the hell is that Tiny Montgomery anyway?”
laughter and lukewarm toasts of lukewarm drinks ensued until Rick got
up and holding a freshly-lit torch approached the girl who’d
asked the question and offered it to her with a smile, adding a
have to stay a while longer, Julie, if you really want to find out.”
Julie took the torch into her hand, trying not to burn herself, an
almost sergeant-like voice, amplified by microphone, was broadcast
from one of the open windows of the living room:
guys, I don’t think it’s
such a great idea to be airing in public what we’re
privately plotting down in the basement. Not so soon anyway. How
about we let the speakers create a more suitable ambience for this
meeting of friends?…Thank you everyone for coming. Rick! Put
something quality on to fit the mood!”
was Robbie. And following this welcome speech, he waltzed out of the
house through the living room door -his arm around the fabulous
Dominique- and with hardly a word to anyone, grabbed the best bottle
of champagne and headed straight over to sit by a tree. Luckily,
the music Rick had chosen -evocative, luminous- began at once to be
heard from the speakers that Richard -with so different a purpose-
had placed on the sill and by then, the light was sufficiently scarce
and the ethereal inputs sufficiently strong to allow conversation to
flow without anyone feeling they had to perform for anyone else. Some
people even started to dance.
had returned to his place in front of the fire and just then Simone
and Ash appeared, saying hi from the door of my caravan and pointing
into it. Without saying a word, Garth gave me leave to go greet them.
Nar! Thanks for calling us, the party’s
looking good… I’m getting bored lately
in Zena, you know? You two aren’t really
coming much, are you, so it’s cool to get
together tonight with so many… 'beautiful' people. Dylan is coming
too, right? Well, we’ve put some beers in
the fridge and the rest of the provisions are in the backpack under
the table, and…”
stop already Ash!” interrupted Simone with a crooked grin. “It’s
great to see you again, Nar, and this caravan always gives off a good
vibe... Give me a hug!”
for coming, and for the victuals. Dylan hasn’t
turned up yet, Ash, we‘ll have to wait and see if he does…”
-that annoyed look made me smile-. “If you like, let‘s get
something ready and go and hang out with folks. I’ve
been looking after the fire so far and have hardly spoken to anyone…”
said Ash. “You go, I’ll follow in a
and I grabbed some beers from the fridge and went up to the circle
closest to the caravan. It had formed around a red-bearded man
sitting on the floor and singing with an almost too-sweet voice. He
played a beautiful Martin. Some guy asked in a low voice who it was
and Simone shot him an ignoramus look, without deigning to reply. A
group of girls looked on in fascination. It was too embarrassing to
stay so we moved to the next group from which raucous, contagious
laughter could be heard. A quirky-looking guy was telling what
appeared to be a very amusing story. When were close enough, we saw
it was Tiny Tim, who liked to drop by Big Pink now and then. He was
making everybody laugh, except a very young girl who looked terribly
sad. When he'd finished his story, Tiny sang a song for her,
something about Memphis. His falsetto and the ukulele ended up making
joined us bringing provisions. We moved around, thinking we’d
share them with a group where two friends of Dylan -Neuwirth and Alk-
were holding court on the topic of cinema whilst ten or twelve people
listened in awe around them. Bad vibe, except from Richard, who was
happy to see us.
can’t bear those two when they get
talking so crazy. Let’s go somewhere else
to try this supper you got here!” -his giggling made him
cough for a while and he didn‘t even
walked a little way into a less well-lit area, gesturing Rick to come
over. He joined us bringing one of the best-looking girls at the
party. Sally she said her name was. We spread out a couple of
blankets under some trees and there we stayed, sharing the best
moment yet of the evening: an intense feeling of closeness.
a long and snug silence, Sally shot out with a question which caught
us quite off-guard:
you think this 'summer of love' stuff includes people like us on the
East Coast having parties like this?”
this? What? Hmm. This ain’t exactly a
party, is it baby, well, not yet anyway...” was Rick’s
answer as he lay down next to her and started to kiss her.
baby, ooh-ee!” Richard briefly sang. “We can work on having a
toasted as the laughter rose and just then I felt very lucky to be
there, in that place at that moment in time. And I still feel that
tonight, 49 years on, as I look at my face reflected in the mirror of
a brown hatbox which once belonged to Dylan.
- la voz de Richard tronaba desde el interior de Big Pink, todos nos
mirábamos como tanteándonos la ropa-. ¡Ven a apagar esto, Garth!
¡La puta cinta se ha encasquillado!
el silencio que siguió a aquel grito, un gesto mudo de Garth me dejó
al mando del fuego mientras él se dirigía hacia el interior de la
¿Qué ha sido eso? -preguntó una voz como polvorienta.
el tipo del sombrero extemporáneo. Se quedó sin respuesta -todo el
mundo corría a rellenar sus vasos- hasta que Garth y Richard
salieron y, hombro con hombro, desde el umbral, ofrecieron sus
respectivas versiones del asunto:
Era una de las cintas que estamos grabando estos días en el sótano,
el equipo a veces tiene sus caprichos … -explicó Garth, con su voz
¡Es mi manera de saludaros, gilipollas! Os estoy diciendo „hola“
por personaje interpuesto, es lo mejor que se me ha ocurrido para que
entendáis que habéis elegido justo el peor día para venir a
petarnos esto, joder...
reaccionó a la voz cada vez más quebrada de Richard, hasta que una
chica que estaba a mi lado, junto al fuego, rompió el silencio con
una pregunta tan inocente como su propio aspecto:
Vale, pero ¿quién coño es ese Tiny Montgomery?
entrecortadas y brindis indecisos en vasos con cubitos ya derretidos,
hasta que Rick, levantándose con una antorcha que acababa de prender
en el fuego, se acercó a la chica de la pregunta para ofrecérsela,
añadiendo a la sonrisa una pista prometedora:
Julie: tendrás que quedarte un rato más si de verdad te interesa
Julie recibía la antorcha intentando no quemarse, desde una de las
ventanas abiertas del salón surgió una voz casi marcial,
amplificada por un micrófono:
En todo caso, gente, no creo que sea buena idea andar aireando tan
pronto lo que estamos tramando en privado en el sótano de esta casa.
Mejor usaremos estos altavoces para crear un ambiente más propicio a
esta reunión de amigos... Gracias a todos por venir. ¡Rick!
¡Pínchate algo a la altura de las circunstancias!
Robbie, que tras su discurso de bienvenida salió por la puerta del
salón abrazado a su flamante Dominique para, sin apenas saludar a
nadie, ir a sentarse junto a un árbol llevándose la mejor botella
de champán de toda la fiesta. Por suerte, la música elegida por
Rick -evocadora, luminosa- empezó a sonar enseguida por
los altavoces que Richard -con tan diferente propósito- había
colocado frente a las ventanas, y para entonces la luz ya era lo
suficientemente escasa y los inputs etéreos lo suficientemente
fuertes como para que las conversaciones fluyesen sin que nadie
tuviera que sentirse como público de nadie y alguna gente empezara a
bailar. Garth se había vuelto a colocar al mando del fuego, y justo
entonces aparecieron Simone y Ash, saludándome desde la puerta de mi
caravana y apuntando adentro. Sin palabras, Garth me apremió a
levantarme a recibirles.
¡Hola, Nar! Gracias por llamarnos, esta fiesta tiene buena pinta...
En Zena me aburro bastante últimamente, ¿sabes?, Simone y tú
tampoco os pasáis tanto por allí, así que mola juntarnos esta
noche entre tanta gente „guapa“... ¿Va a estar también Dylan,
no? Bueno, hemos metido cervezas en la nevera, el resto de
provisiones están en esa mochila, debajo de la mesa, y …
¡Para ya, Ash! -interrumpió Simone con una de sus muecas-. Mola
volver a verte, Nar, y además esta caravana siempre me inspira buena
onda… -añadió dándome un abrazo.
Gracias por venir, y por las vituallas. Dylan todavía no ha
aparecido, Ash, ya veremos si se digna... -su gesto contrariado me hizo
sonreír-. Si os parece, preparamos algo y salimos a mezclarnos con
la peña, hasta ahora me he estado ocupando del fuego sin apenas
hablar con nadie...
Hecho -dijo Ash-. Salid ya, yo voy enseguida.
y yo pillamos unas cervezas de la nevera y nos acercamos al círculo
más próximo a la caravana, formado en torno a un hombre con barba
pelirroja y voz casi meliflua que cantaba sentado en el suelo
acompañándose con una Martin preciosa. Alguien preguntó en voz
baja quién era y Simone le llamó ignorante con un simple gesto, sin
dignarse contestar. Algunas chicas lo miraban fascinadas, daba casi
vergüenza seguir allí, así que nos movimos hasta el siguiente
grupo, del que provenían unas risas agudas y contagiosas. Un tipo de
aspecto estrafalario estaba contando una historia al parecer muy
divertida. Al acercarnos vimos que era Tiny Tim, le gustaba pasarse
por Big Pink de vez en cuando. Estaba haciendo reír a todo el mundo,
excepto a una chica muy joven con un aspecto muy triste. Al terminar
el relato, Tiny le dedicó una canción que hablaba de Memphis. Su
falsete y su ukelele hicieron que la chica acabara por sonreír.
se nos unió trayendo provisiones. Nos movimos, pensando en
compartirlas con el grupo en el que dos amigos de Dylan -Neuwirth y
Alk- se habían enzarzado en una discusión sobre cine que mantenía
en tensión a las diez o doce personas que los rodeaban. Muy mal
rollo, excepto por parte de Richard, que se alegró al vernos.
No hay quien aguante a estos dos tíos cuando se rayan así. Mejor
nos vamos a otro lado a probar esa merienda que traéis ahí -la risa
le hizo toser durante un rato sin que él pareciera darse cuenta.
alejamos un poco hacia una zona menos iluminada, haciéndole una seña
a Rick. Se nos unió acompañado por una de las chicas más guapas de
la fiesta, Sally dijo llamarse. Extendimos un par de mantas bajo unos
árboles y allí estuvimos compartiendo entre los seis lo mejor de la
noche hasta ese momento: una intensísima sensación de cercanía.
un largo rato de silencio, Sally disparó una pregunta que nos dejó
fuera de juego:
¿Pensáis que lo de „verano del amor“ nos incluye también a la
gente que en la Costa Este celebramos fiestas así?
Así, ¿cómo? Para empezar, esto no es exactamente una fiesta,
cariño, al menos todavía -fue la respuesta de Rick antes de
tenderse junto a ella y comenzar a besarla.
'Ooh, baby, ooh-ee' -entonó brevemente Richard-, ¡haremos todo lo
posible para que termine en juerga!
entre risas, y yo sentí que tenía una gran suerte al estar en aquel
lugar en aquel momento. Es lo que sigo sintiendo esta noche, 49 años
después, mientras contemplo mi imagen reflejada en el espejo de una
sombrerera marrón que una vez perteneció a Dylan.
the middle of this summer night, a large, round box eyes me
questioningly from its place on the table. It´s been open for a
while now, overflowing with photos, reflecting my cocked head in the
mirror on the inside of the lid. This reflection of a top hat and
narrowed eyes retells me the story of that night in July 1967 when -
without quite believing it – I had the bad luck of beating Dylan at
weather was very hot, and in the morning we went swimming in one of
the streams near Big Pink. There was a group of about six or seven of
us; I remember a blonde girl and someone with a camera. Hamlet was
with us and Rick played with him; he ended up diving into the water
in his striped t-shirt, happy as a kid. Somebody
took some great photos of him. Richard
had preferred to stay back home to wait for Dylan in order to go over
a song on the piano. We couldn´t persuade him to come with us, that
song mattered more to him than anything else at that time. It was to
be called Tears
I got back to Big Pink that afternoon, I slept for a while in the
caravan. It was the smell of burning wood that woke me from a desert
dream. I went out and saw Garth was lighting a fire, just a few
was your siesta, Nar?” he asked me with a grin. “Look, I´m about
to hit 30 and I was thinking I might have a party out here tonight
with some people. Dylan said it´s ok. If you want to invite someone,
you can call from here.”
I´ll see. If you need anything, just let me know -I went shopping
yesterday and I´ve got everything in.”
I´m sure we´ll find a use for it.”
sat down to smoke on the steps of the caravan and spent a while
thinking about who to let know. Then I went into the house and made a
couple of calls. Simone was at a farm in Woodstock. Ash was spending
time in Zena, with some friends. They were surprised by the
invitation, but when I assured them that it was Garth´s idea and
that Dylan had okayed it, both said yes straight away, promising to
bring “all the necessary provisions”.
was all the laughing about?” I heard Richard ask behind me as I put
down the phone. His
voice sounded sort of fogged over.
I was just inviting some friends to drop by tonight, Garth just
proposed that we…”
yeah? Well, I'm not in the fucking mood to have this place full of
people today, you know?”
wrong is that Dylan just fucking stood me up again! He didn´t show
up here all day and we were supposed to finish that song… And, it´s
urgent, at least it is for me.”
He can still turn up later, right?”
But 'later' is never 'on time'. He should know that.”
left without another word, turning his back to me whilst he lit a
cigarette. I understood he wanted to be alone. I put a hand on his
shoulder, fleetingly, and went back to the caravan in silence.
was starting to fall and people were beginning to arrive bit by bit.
I hardly knew anyone and preferred to avoid introductions, so I
decided to people-watch instead whilst I helped Garth keep the fire
going and waited for Ash and Simone to show up.
came out of the kitchen door carefully balancing an enormous glass
ice-bucket overflowing with ice cubes and was soon greeting everyone,
with hugs and knowing laughs: Girls with hair that matched the
colours on their dresses and guys holding bottles and orange mirrored
sunglasses which they´d end up forgetting on tables next to empty
glasses and full ashtrays.
of the men, who arrived on his own and didn´t join any of the small
groups that were getting together, caught my attention: he was
wearing a hat that seemed out of place amidst the fading sunlight and
increasingly animated voices. And he didn´t take it off even when,
voice after voice, the crowd fell silent due to the sound now coming
from inside the house. Richard had opened the windows to the living
room and placed two speakers on the sill. The unexpected music turned
the scene to stone. A band of rockers manning a ship heading for the
unknown: instruments in freefall and vocal experiments somewhere
between a joke and a groan.