“In Search of Nineteen Sixty Something” — a poem by Joel Glickman

June 12th, 2022

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The publisher’s copy of Bob Dylan’s 1966 album Blonde on Blonde

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In Search of Nineteen Sixty Something 

………………….In the jingle jangle morning I’ll come following you.
……………………………………..Bob Dylan

How much music can one get
out of a tambourine all by itself,
given that voice which sounds so much

like the loose change dropped
into an old jelly jar you labeled
First National Bank

which sat back on a cracked Formica
counter-top beneath a kitchen shelf,
time out of mind?

But if you call it out, just leaving sleep,
in any cold and cloud-gray dawn,
you never fail to hear it or some other song

which snuggles up against your good ear
like a faithful thread-bare teddy you have
carried through a long and often stupid life.

And how too can you not, upon listening to
Suzanne takes you down to her place by the river,
not yearn to be there with her, near the water?

Was somebody supposed to teach you better?
What should you not have done
or have been doing instead of jumping

into LP record cover art to run there
with your icons, fabled footloose vagabonds?
Perhaps you’d have been better off

amassing what meager fortune that you could
on a Dinky Town sidewalk in the Minneapolis summer
or down in Mobile or St. Augustine any time of year,

busking dimes and dollar bills beside
your battered banjo case lying open-mouthed
at your feet, had your feet not been instead

stumbling through academe for years on end, leaving
heartbreak in their wake, not the least of these, your own.
Wasn’t somebody supposed to teach you better?

That’s still crap, but here’s the math, now seen so clearly
as you cruise down Main, looking in the rear-view,
listening to AM radio—more oldies and less news:

Everyone will love x people and, of those, manage to
hurt y among them. One should try at the very least
to keep the second number less than equal to the first.

Had you done so, of all the things that could
have happened, perhaps the worst one might
have been that America’s horse with no name,

which came trotting along through the desert in ‘71
would have died of thirst instead, waiting
for the sixties to get its shit together

and stop Pied Pipering the Tambourine Man,
get over itself and go inside at last, shed the fringes
and bell-bottoms and take a bath and end.

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Joel Glickman taught music including jazz history and the jazz band at Northland College, Ashland Wisconsin, from 1974 until retirement in 2017, where he has resumed teaching about jazz again, part time. He has written and published poetry over a wide range of subjects. Primarily a classical clarinetist and folk singer-song writer and banjo player, his jazz and saxophone skills lag behind these. He resides in Ashland with wife Susan and their Bichon, Madeline.

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Listen to Bob Dylan perform “Visions of Johanna” from Blonde on Blonde [Columbia]

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Click here for information about how to submit your poetry

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