You don’t know me, but many were the times when you saved me from insanity and inanity.
Let us rewind, if you’d allow me. I was a teenager, firmly believing that Noel Gallagher was the height of musical genius, convinced that Oasis was the answer to the grim-faced middle aged people who assured me rock’n’roll was dead. Those were the days when I wore oh so proudly my Che Guevara t-shirts, when I had paint up to my hair, when I used to say that I was born way too late. I wanted “music in the cafés at night and revolution in the air” (allow me to quote you, My dear, dear Bob, your songs have entered my blood stream a long time ago, and Tangled up in Blue is just one of my many you-related obsession).
Then someone (whom I will never be able to thank enough) introduced you to me, and something shifted. Quite literally. I could never get over your lyrics, your out of key voice, your mystic touch, your political stance, your love letters, your pure joy, your out of this world melancholy. The sad thing in life is that you never know when something important is happening to you, you go along quite happily along the lines of your day, thinking this is just another normal moment in my normal life, you go along and you just don’t pay attention, only to blame this forgetfulness and lack of focus, as I’m blaming my own carelessness at this very moment, cursing myself for not paying attention to your first song that was ever played to me. As things go, I can’t say, my dear Bob, if it was Never Say Goodbye (“you’re beautiful beyond words, you’re beautiful to me, you can make me cry, never say good bye), or Mr. Tambourine Man, or one of your hundreds of amazing songs.
However, what I do remember, is my everlasting emotion when listening to Tomorrow is a long time, my feverish enthusiasm to the Times They Are A-Changing, my giggles when listening to your young, fresh, so out of tune voice on All I Really Want to Do. What I do remember is how I thought for a very long time that Just Like a Woman was the sexiest song that was ever written, your voice caressing the words, turning them into a sugary lullaby.
What I do remember are A Hard Way’s Gonna Fall lyrics. I’m sure you remember them too:
And what did you hear, my blue-eyed son?
And what did you hear, my darling young one?
I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin’,
Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world,
Heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin’,
Heard ten thousand whisperin’ and nobody listenin’,
Heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin’,
Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter,
Heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley,
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard,
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.
Today in Palestine, my dear Bob, and around the world, hundreds of thousands are whispering, their plea growing louder: Please, do not go and play in Israel in June. Please, like Elvis Costello and Gil Scott-Heron, take one last stand against an oppressive regime that is, everyday, killing, starving, discriminating, threatening and scaring an entire population. Israel has and still is violating Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, its executionneer’s face well hidden by the complacency of the International Community.
Civil society, on the other hand my dear Bob, is no fool and a whole movement is standing up against oppression.Thousands of people will be asking you on your birthday not to go and play in Tel Aviv, not until the Separation Wall (deemed unlawful by the International Court of Justice in 2004) is taken down, not until your palestinian fans are allowed to come and see your concert without passing through dozens of checkpoints, if they make it at all.
So join us. And tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it.