independent

Tuesday 20 August 2019

The mystery of Bob Dylan's Stratocaster

SHEA TOMKINS

BOB DYLAN is no stranger to controversy. If you wish to find out some of the more interesting things that he has been accused of, or accused others of, then simply google his name, his court cases, and fetch yourself a Long Island Iced Tea; it's a relaxing read.

His most recent scuffle with the law is a very curious one, as the daughter of one of his former pilots alleges that she is in possession of the Fender Stratocaster that he brought on stage the night he 'went electric' at the Newport Festival, in 1965. It is also the most hated guitar in folk-music history, as when he electrified Maggie's Farm that night he was booed by an army of folk purists who slammed what they viewed an act of betrayal.

The New Jersey-daughter of the pilot who flew Dylan to appearances in the 1960s claims to have found the guitar in a family attic after 47 years of gathering dust, but a lawyer for Dylan claims the singer still has the Fender with the sunburst design.

The late Victor Quinto briefly flew music stars like Dylan, The Band and Peter, Paul and Mary around during the 1960s. Now, Dawn Peterson says that Dylan left the Fender behind on an airplane and Quinto took it home. She was told that her father contacted Dylan's representatives to get them to pick it up, but no one ever did. After unsuccessfully trying to verify it on her own, she turned to American TV show 'History Detectives' about a year ago for help.

For the record, Dylan's lawyer says, 'He did own several other Stratocaster guitars that were stolen from him around that time, as were some handwritten lyrics. In addition, Bob recalls driving to the Newport Folk Festival, along with two of his friends, not flying.' The results of the History Detectives' findings are out this week.

A COMPLIMENT TO BE MISSED

Summer ran its traditional course under our roof during the past week, with the young lad and younger lad's urbanite cousins leaving the comforts of the Big Smoke behind to get down and dirty in rustic Ireland for a week. Though the weather did its best to rain on their parades, dark clouds and spitting skies failed to dampen the spirits of kids who love nothing more than to frolic about in each other's company for days on end.

There's a significant age gap of about three to six years between them yet it mattered not, as the boys picked up tips on how to be streetwise from their elder relatives. For example, the young lad now knows the parental trick behind cheap cereal. Cheerios are Cheerios, Weetabix are Weetabix and it doesn't matter what colour we dye the wool (with Hoorio's or Wuttabox or whatever), it has now been lifted forever from over the young lad's eyes.

Things have also suddenly become 'useless' or 'awesome' whereas only a few days ago they were simply ' bad' or ' good'. And the day has arrived where he decides what to wear all by himself which basically means a different day, a different jersey. He has also developed on the football field thanks to unmerciful challenges by his male cousin. There was a time when his face would meet the mud and he'd lie there spitting out the grass and moaning about tough luck. Now he pops back up and seeks retribution; though not to the level of that extended to one Alf-Inge Haaland by Mr Keane all those years ago - it is no harm to see him toughening up.

But it was the parting of the ways, when the whistle finally blew on their week-long sojourn that struck a chord with me most. They embraced and waved each other farewell at the gates, and the grandmother carted them back towards Dublin's leafy ' burbs. The young lad stood and watched them turn the corner before turning, with quivering lips, and falling into my arms. Then came the tears - kids just can't hide how they feel.

It was as heartfelt a sob as I have seen him produce, and I spent the next quarter-of-an-hour comforting him, telling him it's ok to miss someone and that feeling sad when they depart is merely proof of how much they mean to him. It made me think about the last time I missed someone so much that I carried a heavy heart for days - you know the feeling, when someone leaves and without them things are never quite the same again.

I suppose with the pace of the life we live today we don't have as much time to think about friends that once upon were a stone's throw away, but now go about their business under a distant part of the same sky. If the commitments of family life don't allow us to catch up with each other as often, then surely to miss them madly is a complimentary form of compensation. Then again, what good is a compliment, if you don't have the time to share it?

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