Happy birthday, Bob

You don’t know me, but I’ve listened to your music from the beginning. I liked everything about it until one day you switched to rock. Too many joints that day, Bob? I came back later and I’m still here except now I’m too hard of hearing to listen to music. Wanted to hear “Rough and Rowdy Ways.” No dice, don’t think twice, it’s wall right.

Back in the old days, I wanted to write you a letter demanding that you stay away from Joanie. She didn’t know me either, but I also listened to her music from the beginning. While riding on a train goin’ west. I fell asleep for to take my rest. I dreamed a dream that made me sad, concerning Joan Baez who said the war was bad but that we weren’t destined to protest it on the same streets on the same days.

Everything I did for years seemed to have one of your songs or Joanie’s songs tied to it. The songs didn’t cause me to do what I did; they just seemed to fit my prevailing moods. Yet, I always wanted to escape the constraints of college and follow Mr. Tambourine Man. I listened for that jingle-jangle world before heading out to my paper route into the realities of Betton Road and Randolph Circle.

And today you’re still here. That makes me happy because so many people are gone by now. I may be nearly deaf, but I still hear your music in my mind. All of it. Thanks for all that. Oh, and congrats on the Prize, you know which one I mean.


Malcolm R. Campbell

Publisher: Thomas-Jacob Publishing


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In the jingle jangle morning

The song has a bright, expansive melody and has become famous for its surrealistic imagery, influenced by artists as diverse as French poet Arthur Rimbaud and Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini. The lyrics call on the title character to play a song and the narrator will follow. Interpretations of the lyrics have included a paean to drugs such as LSD, a call to the singer’s muse, a reflection of the audience’s demands on the singer, and religious interpretations. – Wikipedia

Bob Dylan released “Mr. Tambourine Man” in March 1965 in his “Bring It All Back Home” album when I was at the last place I wanted to be (college), tied down, I thought, by an ancient canon of learning that was taught and graded in an ancient style of “education” that did not meet my needs nor my temperament. What would have met my needs would have been saying “to tell with all this” and then telling Mr. Tambourine man “I’ll come following you.”

Five years later, Gordon Lightfoot released a song with a similar intent, “Minstrel of the Dawn” on his “If You Could Read My Mind” album when I was–once again–in the last place I wanted to be (the navy) freshly returned from Vietnam and a war I did not support then serving (ironically) on the staff at the navy’s boot camp where I helped prepare others to go to the place I just left. I soon became a conscientious objector and left the navy having become a convert to the minstrelsy of the “Minstrel of the Dawn” in the jingle jangle of a new morning.

Because of my belief in dreams, I am nothing if not impractical, and heavily influenced–actually under the spell–of these two songs for a lifetime, and while I cannot duplicate the quality of the songs, much less an old-time Troubador, I have always infused their spirit and spell in my work. That is to say, I lead my characters astray and want to hypnotize readers into following them–as Lightfoot says–“While the old guitar rings.”

Some have said Mr. Tambourine man is about losing oneself to drugs, a notion that Dylan denies. Like most writers, I’m dealing something more dangerous than drugs: words and stories spun into haunting and irresistible dreams. If the government ever figures out the truth about stories, they’ll either ban them or heavily tax them.

If you read fiction, you know that stories are written to make you “forget about today until tomorrow” while trying to “get into things more happy than blue.” There are side effects to such stories that are more dangerous than those attached to Fentanyl and Oxycontin: addiction to freedom and dreams. I’ve been prescribed Oxycontin at least three times and never got addicted because stories were always a much great temptation.

Money-wise, the street value of stories is less than the street value of Fentanyl and Oxycontin. However, I should mention that there’s no cure for stories. It won’t matter because, in your jingle-jangle mornings, you’ll be too far out in space to want one.


Click on my name to see the stories in my bag.






Tempting you with words and tambourines

Like Gordon Lightfoot’s “Minstrel of the Dawn” and Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man,” storytellers are always tempting you to follow them, as though through faerie rings, to the farthest reaches of tall tales, music, and imagination. We can’t promise you’ll return the way you were when you left the everyday land of logic, but you’ll find yourselves reborn in just the way the god of your heart intended.

For temptations from my website, I invite you to click on this picture:



Now is the time for your tears

Stared at the person who killed for no reason
Who just happened to be feelin’ that way without warnin’
And he spoke through his cloak, most deep and distinguished
And handed out strongly, for penalty and repentance
William Zanzinger with a six-month sentence.

The judge in Bob Dylan’s “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll”

Those of us who listened to Bob Dylan’s songs in the 1960s knew that Hattie Carroll was a real person who was killed by a man who was drunk and who said he had no memory of the crime. The song, typical Dylan, certainly expressed how many of us felt about the light sentence.

stanfordI can’t help but think of this song when I think of  the absurd, six month sentence handed down to Brock Turner for his rape of an unconscious woman in the Stanford University case. There is outrage over this: as there should be. Turner’s father has added to the outrage by calling the rape “20 minutes of action.” The victim, whose name I hope we never know, released a powerful statement that no words of mine can possibly enhance.

Updated 6/9: NBC news reported today that Turner will leave jail three months early due to good behavior.

At the end of Dylan’s song, he sings, “now is the time for your tears.” In terms of Brock Turner, we are past tears into outrage. The tears, though, are for the victim whose life will be forever changed no matter how she works past the terror, shame and scars. I don’t know where the judge’s brains were at when the sentence was concocted, but they appear to have been sitting in the same commode with the prevailing notion that rape is the fault of the victim rather than a brutal crime that’s the fault of the rapist.

This sentence was just as sexist as the Hattie Carroll sentence was racist.


Isis Bookstore vandals must be stupid

Here’s the news story that caught my attention: Bookstore named ‘Isis’ becomes target of vandalism

IsisbooksEven though this Denver bookstore has been around for thirty-five years, some bumpkins think it’s associated with the recent terrorist group ISIS.

The store has been hit four times recently: does this mean one stupid vandal hitting the store over and over or multiple stupid vandals hitting the store one time each?

The terrorist group is giving the Egyptian goddess Isis a bad name, not to mention spoiling the 1975 Bob Dylan song by the same name.

This Dáesh (ISIS) logo seems hard to mix up with the bookstore's logo.
This Dáesh (ISIS) logo seems hard to mix up with the bookstore’s logo.

The the bookstore’s owner said that “the goddess represents women, healing and magic, and she says it’s a fitting name for a store that features books and gifts from all types of world traditions and spiritual sources. The shelves include Christian, Hindu, Native American and Pagan texts, to name a few.”

Obviously the vandals have never heard of the goddess, much less noticed that nothing about the store (inside or out) looks like it has jihad sponsorship. The logos don’t look the same either, even if one is color blind as well as stupid.

At times I wonder how it is that the facts and myths that were once basic common knowledge are shrinking. On the other hand, maybe the criminals who targeted the store wouldn’t know squat in any era.