A Comforting Old Wooden Chair (Foreword to a Bob Dylan book)

(Sometime over the last few years I was approached to write a “blurb” for the cover of a book of thoughts about Bob Dylan by an Australian author, Phil Mason. I’ve never met Phil but I’ve been privileged to help him with his research. By the time the book was approaching readiness, the idea had expanded and I wrote a foreword for the book which eventually appeared under the title of “A Voice From on High”. As well as reproducing that foreword here, I take the opportunity to recommend Mr Mason’s book which can be obtained through Amazon in softcover and for your kindle.)

 

“Well I’m sitting in church
In an old wooden chair
I knew nobody
Would look for me there”

Bob Dylan – Marchin’ to the City (Disc 3 of Tell Tale Signs 1989-2006)

In 1707, Isaac Watts, the Christian hymnwriter, wrote a lyric called “Marching to Zion” in which he referred to Zion as the beautiful city of God. Now, this was long before Zion had become a short-hand for some Western European political scheme to establish a physical homeland for disenfranchised Jewish people in the middle East (a scheme commonly referred to as Zionism). It is Watts looking forward to the end of an earthly journey where all the faithful people of God, Jew and Gentile, would be gathered in to an eternal home.

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Stay with Me, Otto Preminger, Bob Dylan and The Cardinal, oh and Batman.

When I was a young child I remember seeing Otto Preminger play Mr Freeze in the ‘Batman’ TV series, a role he shared with George Sanders (who I would later enjoy seeing in earlier films as Simon Templar, the Saint) and Eli Wallach. I didn’t realise then that I would later come to appreciate his work as a director greatly. Films like Fallen Angel, The Man with the Golden Arm, Anatomy of a Murder, Laura and Angel Face are amongst my favourites of his. He challenged many taboos in the cinema and directed in a way that used lighting and musical soundtrack to wonderful effect.

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