Things Twice, the book — now in html

I admit it: the chords part of dylanchords may be in a decent state (apart from the use of frames, which is sooo last century), but the articles are a mess. There’s the collected pdf volume, the selected links on the Self-ordained Professors page, the blog posts here, and the introductions to some of the albums.

I’ve now decided to do something about it. Here’s the state of affairs:

  1. Things Twice — the book. This will always be the definitive version. If/when I do revisions to articles, this is where they are made. The layout is more pleasant than in any of the other formats. It’s a pdf file, currently c. 2 Mb.
  2. Self-ordained professors. This used to be where new stuff appeared, but that is no longer the case. Static html is not the most versatile format to work with, and when I moved on to greener pastures, the versions that were left here, became more and more obsolete. I therefore opted for the radical approach: the articles on the Self-ordained Professors page are now converted versions of whatever is found in the pdf version. This makes them an inferior option, for several reasons: some of the layout is lost, the images are of a horrible quality, and the way the footnotes appear is a bit cumbersome (and I care a great deal about my footnotes!). All in all, this should only be an option if you don’t fancy a 2 Mb download.
  3. Finally, there’s Things twice — the blog — this place right here. This is the place for experiments, drafts, work-in-progress. In other words, it will never be the final version of anything, but it’s where you have a chance to comment. There has been a time when there was more activity here than now, but let me also take this opportunity to say that some of the articles could not have been written without — and others have become immensely better thanks to — the feedback I have gotten from you at the blog.

14 thoughts on “Things Twice, the book — now in html

  1. Sorry I’ve been commenting like a mad man but time hasn’t been piling up the struggles and scrapes and I’ve been escaping to your site. Wonderful format on Things Twice. Would you think of expanding the songs and album liner notes? They’re a real treat when you come by them and it would be great if whenever you clicked EACH album, Mr. Ostrem’s liners were prominent. And a note from all petit- bourgeoisies like myself thank you for the website and (1) not trying to sell us things (2) focussing on one subject (i.e not blogging about your toothpaste in the mornings and your views on the modern world NOT in relation to Bob Dylan) and (3) managing to have a site that doesn’t exploit African and Asian children (but that’s really just (1) again. Are you going to publish your book? P.S. sorry for calling you “young Eyolf” a throwback from when I liked Jphn Lennon (I was so young!)

  2. And sorry for inadvertently letting your comments end up in the spam harvest. For some reason, which I haven’t quite figured out.
    I’m glad you like the format — I do too. It’s kindof a protest against certain web usability standards (“much text is bad”, “cram as much as possible into the first screen”, etc.). I’ve started to include a couple of pictures, but essentially, I prefer to let the text supply the images. I probably lose a number of clicks because it is “boring”, but then again, I don’t do it for money.
    To your questions:
    Liner notes: yes, I think I will. Although I’m not going to write something just to fill in the blanks — only if I think I have something to say. But I have a couple of new ones in the making …
    Publishing: yes, if someone wants it. I’ve done a couple of half-hearted attempts, but without really pushing it.
    About your (1) and (3), those are very conscious decisions. As for (2), I do actually blog about things other than Dylan, as the site motto clearly states — including my views on the modern world (of which I consider Dylan a part). The “other stuff” is mostly computer stuff. In fact, half of the entire traffic to the blog goes to my comparison of LaTeX, Word and OpenOffice/Writer. But one thing you will never find here, is pictures of cute cats and reports about what I saw on the bus today. So in that sense, you’re right.
    Thanks for commenting. It’s nice to see someone else’s name than my own in the “Recent comments” column.

  3. Well if Bob Dylan played a cat on a bus in his new album you’d have to include it. The cultural shock would destroy the foundations of musicianship (musicians have ships). In the long long long run for your site, you could have a “Bob and the Bible” article or section linking all his biblical quotes in songs. I swear to god that man loves his bible and I personally want to know why he loves his bible so much. He’s always singing about it. I mean come on Bob: widen your literary pallete.

  4. When you say “only if I have something to say”. What do you mean? Do you mean something new ,or something personal? If it’s personal enough its always new enough. You can’t be new and subversive nowadays and the beauty of the web (and bootlegs as you mentioned) is that you can rewrite the crap out of them if you don’t like it. I cant imagine you not having anything to say about Desire and Street Legal (the 60’s trilogy has indeed been done to death. But you could do a “Dylan the Deconstructionist” slant). For example “I think Dylan’s best singing is on Desire and Rolling Thunder (the latter being the superior). Desire stories (yes i just used “story” as a verb) the crap out of other story albums and yet its “stories” contain questionable biographies “Joey”, “Sara”, “Hurricane”. It is (chord-speaking) probably his most straight forward album with major and minor chords, no capo and all standard tuning. A departure, but also lyrically it is a stand-alone album (probably closest to John Wesley Harding) because its lyrics are not complex but yet remain opaque: “Time is an ocean but it ends at the shore””. Ok, so eyolf this is a piece-of-shit comment made up on the spot, but do you get my general feel. Write, write and write and if its rubbish: burn the mother- Best wishes, A Fan

  5. I mean: If I have something I want to tell someone about the album, which they may not have thought about themselves, maybe even something which they may not have the background or knowledge to be able to think about, but which I think might do them good to know. I’m not concerned about being new or subversive (cf. this post).
    Re. Desire — was it something like this that you had in mind? :)

  6. I do mind. That’s not what I wanted. Its your site and I even said it was an awful illegible comment. Why did you put that rubbish up? It doesn’t even have proper sentences. You’re killing me.

  7. Sorry about last night’s comment. I was in the middle of a movie and was just shocked. But IF I am going to be embarrassed could you give me another shot at disgracing myself on my terms. Ignore, edit and do it all mercilessly if you feel that way BUT this is how I really feel about Desire:
    “Five years ago I visited Torreveigas, Spain, a cheap sunshine tourist-trap with about a hundred english and Irish pubs and the population proper probably had five monoglot Spaniards. It smacked of sunburnt taxi-drivers and whenever I’d go into a shop and buy El Pais or a package of cigarettes I’d invariably receive a cockney greeting or a tomatoesque Irish man questioning where I hailed from. The only time it seemed like Spain belonged to itself was when the cracks in the pavement would grow rank with weeds and the dust and sand would co-mingle and swirl spitting at your eyes: then you knew the land was foreign to you no matter what artifice tourists planted.
    My Argentinian father naturally despised it as he couldn’t escape our pale or scarlet skins but I liked it; you could buy english confectioneries, Irish papers and eat paella all at once and the spanish girls would humour me while I fumbled horribly with their mother-tongue .
    At night it was a different game: the spaniards lived their life without tourism. They ate

  8. at long tables till two in the morning and the men wore only shorts and the women only shawls. It was on one such midnight walk that I heard a double-bass slapped, a violin bowed violently with crescendo and the unmistakeable ring of an A Minor and then three spanish voices crying out simultaneously “HOT CHILI PEPPERS IN THE BLISTERING SUN” and it struck me desire isn’t a “spokesperson of a generation album”, this wasn’t an I’m Bob Dylan’s soul” album, or the much more frequent “I’m not really Bob Dylan” album. This was a peasant album (I mean that in no disparaging way, peasant songs endure and will always sound good) an album for ALL people, even more so than Johnny Cash who somehow managed to be all things to all Americans, Irish and Nordics simultaneously. this “peasant” appeal was confirmed for me by the guitar on the album: only major and minor and not a capo in the house and very few flourishes. Desire has songs to be sung, not to be learned, bettered or fiddled with. From the ubiquitous busker on a windy street (Grafton Street for me) wishing he could only sneer out the “and the newspapers, they allcame along for the ride” to the Christian chanting “Oh Sister, am I not a brother to you/ And one deserving of affection” to the jaunty young man striding to the ballad and snarling “I cursed her one time and I rode on up ahead” to all us wannabe gypsy’s trying to manage the vibrato in the verse “Your voice is like a meadow lark/ But your heart is like an ocean; mysterious and dark”. Bob Dylan has never been so straight-forward about the big things

  9. but what’s more opaque than an ocean where time stops at the shore? Lyrically its probably closest to John Wesley Harding, but Desire is broader (even excluding Frankie Lee’s antics).
    There is definitely the twang of Amerindian swagger in Desire especially with the album art and maybe one day I’ll put my finger on it, but for now I recall only is the power of the story songs.
    One false note, if I may, would be the chorus of “Joey” when Bob Dylan questions “What made them want to come and blow you away?” Maybe the fact that Joe Gallo was a mob boss Bob. Problem solved… But even so in those dark hours when I’m honest with myself even I’d admit that it’s in keeping with the album as a whole.
    I return to Desire more than I return to any Dylan album (with the possible exception of the Bootleg series, if they count) and Black Diamond Bay is always a personal favourite (did Charles Dickens write all the verses but the last which Haruki Murakami may have taken a hand in? Did Ernest Hemingway or William Faulkner write the lady with the panama hat? This is true testament to Dylan’s and Levy’s literary prowess).

    All the songs on this album sound like they could have been written by a dead man, oddly, this makes them seem like public property, like dusty living things dragged into the light because their living cannot be denied, to be memorised by every soul with ears and a mouth (eyes optional). Nietszche said “Some men are born posthumously” on this album I can’t help but feel that Bob Dylan was born everywhere.
    (I probably should have spoken more of Jaques Levy, but I am ignorant of your work)
    P.S If you have any problems with this work please keep them to yourself. Thank you :p

  10. Ok. my below or above three comments should be considered as a whole if anyone gives a damn. Once again Mr. Eyolf I’m really grateful you put up my comment last night, but that wasn’t how I felt about the album. But its your website, your domain and i pledge alleigance. Just finished Things Twice, wonderful read. Best wishes, A Fan
    P.S Mr. Ostrem is there a prize for most comments in shortest time? Don’t answer that, I’d only blush (titter titter titter)

  11. Just to make sure: that was a joke last night, right? I think I completely misread your sardonic tone because my name as gaeilge was shiny-blue and tickable (I don’t get out much). And the first time my name as gaeilge was shiny-blue and tickable I didn’t even write proper sentences and a writer I admire mocked me :'(

  12. My apologies: I had no intention whatsoever to mock you. Yes, it was kindof a joke, but in all seriousness: I would never have put that description up if I didn’t think I could stand behind it: I know you were just jotting down something, but what you jotted down was some quite concise and fitting descriptions, such as the observation about the simple-yet-opaque language/imagery, which I found too good to be left dying in an obscure comment at a minor blog.
    My comment at the end wasn’t sardonic — it’s how I feel about the singing on the album: it’s amazingly good, and when I listen to it — e.g. the ‘It Ain’t Me Babe’ which is on Live 1975 — I think it’s his greatest singing, but when I get back to reality again, I have to say that singing-wise he never surpassed the Gospel era.

    Btw, when I saw your “Desire, part 2, section 1”, I thought that was all, and that the conclusion to your take on Desire was that “At night it was a different game: the spaniards lived their life without tourism. They ate.” Which I found utterly unintelligible as a conclusion, but quite nice, and very poetic . . . :)

  13. Thank you very much… I still wish I wrote real sentences, but such is life, as that spear-shaker said.

  14. Would you think about taking down my piece about Desire and maybe posting even a smidgeon of my 3-part-Desire-thing-a-ma-bobs? I just feel like a write twit everytime I look at the page. Btw how do you feel about greil marcus? Best wishes

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