To fill in his non-rose slots, he used two grass songs. I don't think grass ought to count as a flower. Then the only other plant/flower I remember him doing was tulips. In keeping with the first syllable of the word, he played two tulip songs. Duke Ellington, "Tulip or Turnip." And Tiny Tim, "Tiptoe Through the Tulips."
I felt that "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" was the emotional high point of the show. We know from reading "Chronicles" that Bob Dylan was friends with Tiny Tim, and introducing the song, he swept aside the superficial view of Tim as just a joke. He was a great historian of music, Dylan said. He knew a lot of songs that were available only on sheet music, and when he died, he took a lot of songs with him. It's not like Tim died in a fire of burning sheet music, so I don't really understand how the music was lost, but it felt very profound and poignant when Dylan said it.
At the end of the show last week, when this week's theme was announced, I tried to guess which songs he'd play. The first flower song that sprang to my mind was that atrocious song about going to San Francisco and making sure you show up already besprigged with flowers. Then I thought of the song that deeply enchanted me when I was a young girl: "Sweet Violets." I wrote about it back here, embedded in a long simulblog of an episode of "American Idol" where the contestants had to sing songs from the year they were born:
I start thinking about what songs would be available to me, if I could be on the show. I'm way too old and I'm a horrible singer, but still ... Here's the list from my year, and my song from that list is "Sweet Violets." I remember hearing it once. I was in bed and overheard my parents playing it. I loved it deeply and the next day asked my parents about it. They told me, it was not for children and I couldn't hear it. Was it about sex? Death? Oddly, though I've always remembered it, I have never bothered to find the song and listen to it. I can still hear it in my head from that one listen, but I've never heard it again. I rush over to iTunes. The Dinah Shore hit is not there (only a Mitch Miller version). Ah! here are the lyrics. It's a bizarrely veiled filthy song from the past! Good thing my parents protected me, or protected themselves from having to deal with my questions.That's an unusual old song, and it has a flower other that rose, tulip, or grass. Too bad he missed it.
Next week the theme is cars. If I had to bet on one song -- taking into account that Bob likes to tell the life story of the singer -- I'd bet on "Rocket 88." But that wasn't the first car song that popped into my head when I heard the theme. (What was yours?) That was "Little GTO." Looking up the lyrics, I land right on a page of "Muscle Car Songs." Nice! I should have thought of "409" first. My office number was 409 for a long time, and I thought it was really cool that my room number was a Beach Boys song. Students would ask me what my office number was, and I liked to say "It's a Beach Boys song." No one ever said, "409!" But it would have made me happy if they had. I would have picked up good vibrations.
Having found a page of muscle car songs, I think of looking for a page of death car songs. That fateful night the car was stalled upon the railroad track... I couldn't stop, so I swerved to the right... We were buggin' each other while we sat out the light/We both popped the clutch when the light turned green/You shoulda heard the whine from my screamin' machine!... Look out! Look out! Look out! Look out!...
Wait. That last one's a motorcycle. Can motorcycles get in on the car theme -- the way grass got in on the flower theme? Or it motorcycle crashing a very special theme for Bob, due for it's own show some day.