Tenderly William kissed his wife Then he opened her head with a butcher knife And the swan on the river goes gliding by The swan on the river goes gliding by
Lady Margaret’s pillow was wet with tears Nobody’s been on it in twenty years And the swan on the river goes gliding by The swan on the river goes gliding by I got a sad surpise the doctor said Twenty pound baby without any head Swan on the River went lookin’ by Swan on the river went gliding by
Well the preacher was yelling, showing his hope The price was too high, so I said “Nope” And the swan on the river went laughing by Swan on the river went gliding by
When will the swan begin to sing? We’re so weary of everything. The swan on the river goes gliding by Swan on the river goes gliding by
Here’s a real rare one, The Ballad of the Gliding Swan was recorded for the BBC teleplay Madhouse on Castle Street, which the relatively unknown Bob Dylan had a role in. The lyrics were originally written by the play’s writer, Evan Jones and were rewritten by Dylan. The last known copy of the teleplay was destroyed in 1968, a standard practice by the BBC, despite the fact that Bob Dylan was world famous by 1968. A few audio fragments, recorded by viewers exist. This tape is the best sounding version.
NO WAY I HAVE BEEN WAITING SO LONG TO HEAR THIS
Led Zeppelin performing at the Cherry Tree public house in Welwyn Garden City, U.K., 1969.
The last page of a medieval book is usually a protective flyleaf, which is positioned between the actual text and the bookbinding. It was usually left blank and it therefore often filled up with pen trials, notes, doodles, or drawings. This addition I encountered today and it is not what you’d expect: a full-on drawing of a maiden playing the lute, which she holds just like a guitar. A peaceful smile shines on her face. I love this rockstar lady, so unexpectedly positioned at the end of the book, trying to catch the reader’s attention as he is closing it.
Pic: London, British Library, Sloane MS 554 (more here).
On this day in 1955, the 14-year-old African-American boy Emmett Till was murdered in Mississippi. While visiting family in the state, Till allegedly flirted with the young white shopkeeper Carolyn Bryant while buying candy. Bryant told her husband and a few nights later he and his half-brother abducted Till and brutally tortured and murdered him. His mutilated body was found three days later in the Tallahatchie river; Till’s face was unrecognisable, but he was identified by the ring he wore engraved with his father’s initials that his mother gave him before he left for Mississppi. The viciousness of this unprovoked, racially-motivated crime sent shockwaves throughout the nation. The case drew attention to the oppression of African-Americans throughout the nation and provided a name and a face to the threat of lynching. Till’s mother Mamie, a highly educated woman who went on to become a devoted fighter for African-American equality, insisted on an open-casket funeral in order to show the world what was done to her young son. Thousands attended the funeral and thousands more saw the horrific images of Till’s body. Due to the fierce reactions the murder had engendered it was a particularly painful, but sadly expected, outcome when the all-white jury in Mississippi acquitted Till’s killers, despite Till’s great-uncle openly identifying them in court. A few months later the killers, now protected by double jeopardy laws, sold their story to Look magazine and openly confessed to the murder in chilling detail. Taking place a year after the Supreme Court outlawed school segregation in Brown v. Board of Education, the outrage over the murder galvanised the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement. 100 days after Emmett Till’s murder Rosa Parks, on her way back from a rally for Till hosted by the then-unknown Martin Luther King Jr., refused to give up her seat for a white man on an Alabama bus. This sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, thus beginning the movement that would result in the dismantling of the system of Jim Crow segregation and win successes in promoting African-American social and political equality.
To live in a time when Bob Dylan is making music and still putting out really good music is to live in a time when Walt Whitman is putting out poetry, when Yeats is writing poetry, when Gershwin is presenting new songs, when Dickens is saying, ‘Here’s my latest novel’ and when Melville is putting out a little book called Moby Dick. That’s the level and that’s the privilege that we have and that’s what we should be aware of, that Bob Dylan is in the world and we have to really cherish that Bob Dylan is in the world.