The Swedish Salvation Army, four pieces strong, played Christmas carols—“The First Noel,” “O Come, All Ye Faithful”–as my fellow bundled ones and I dropped coins into a cup. I have never been that fond of Christmas carols; but it was all so cinematic, good natured, and perfect that I felt myself getting misty—and the tears freezing on my rosy cheeks.
Today’s title is a line from Bob Dylan’s “Talkin’ World War III Blues” and one delivered with perfect understated irony as he discusses his dream of the world after a nuclear war with his psychiatrist. Yes, returning readers, Dylan, irony, and dreams again. Before I begin, I want to acknowledge that there is far too much to share in my self-allotted space. Therefore, I will try to get you to about 6:00 p.m., when I arrived for a dinner party with the creative folks behind the official Swedish documentary about Dylan and his Nobel. The dinner party report—which I’m thinking about calling “December 5, 2016, Part Two—Laughin’ and singin’ till the early hours of the morn”—will come your way a bit later. The sneak preview is that the documentary is terrific (in fact, the best thirty minutes into who Dylan is and why he won the Nobel Prize yet to be found; emails to the director from the Swedish Queen’s press secretary and a member of Abba have already come in to that effect) and that I was indeed at one of those tables of joy I referred to in my introduction.
Twenty four hours ago I was not entirely sure what kind of day it was going to be. Shortly after I posted “Things Have Changed,” my MacBookPro decided to go south, with a vengeance. I slept fitfully, hoping the mStore on Birger Jarlsgartan was going to be able to provide me the Apple support I needed. No dreams, just an endless loop of limited troubleshooting hypotheses. The hotel comped me brunch after I slept through breakfast and I chose to take this as both a reflection of Swedish generosity (recall the train ticket of the day before) and an omen of good things to come. As I strolled out the door, bundled up like Randy in A Christmas Story, things got even better.
The Swedish Salvation Army, four pieces strong, played Christmas carols—“The First Noel,” “O Come, All Ye Faithful”–as my fellow bundled ones and I dropped coins into a cup. I have never been that fond of Christmas carols; but it was all so cinematic, good natured, and perfect that I felt myself getting misty—and the tears freezing on my rosy cheeks. Being the working journalist and Dylan expert that I am, I focused and talked with the band for a while. We joked about the possibility of my accepting the Prize for Dylan, posed for a picture, and exchanged email addresses. “Another good sign,” I told myself as I walked toward the river.
Turning right on Birger Jarlsgartan and proceeding to the corner of same and Ingmar Bergmans Gata (I’m not making this up, film and art lovers; in Stockholm Gatae are named for film auteurs), I entered the mStore where I took a number—126—and was shortly helped by Nicolas, the Mac doctor with a Wes Anderson haircut. He solved all my problems with a new adaptor and shared some wide-ranging consultant’s wisdom with me. Regarding my computer and its memory: “You are familiar with vinyl? Your computer is like a vinyl record that has been playing for five years and sounds like crap.” Regarding Donald Trump: “I don’t have that conversation until something bad happens.” Regarding Bob Dylan and the Nobel Prize: “It’s not the music I listen to. But who else has been heard all around the world? His songs are like books.” He taught me the Swedish equivalent of dude. It’s polarn and the r is silent. I left happy and thinking about another line from “Talking World War III Blues”: In my Cadillac. Good car to drive after the war.
After a brief detour along Raoul Wallenbergs Torg (yes, in Stockholm torgs are named for architect-activists) and past the statue of August Strindberg (yes, there are statues of writer-painter-photographers in Stockholm), I returned to my hotel with tulips for my hosts and to the news that Patti Smith will be coming to Stockholm to sing “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall” and that someone yet to be named will be reading the address that Dylan has written for the event. Dylan’s people know that I am here and available. My cab driver from the hotel to dinner seemed impressed and joked with me that “Maybe next year the Peace Prize will go to Trump.” I pondered that as I rode the elevator up to the fifth floor of the director’s building.
Like I said: It was an ordinary day.