Blog Dylan: A Hard-Boiled Rain’s A-gonna Fall

I am a Dylan nut.  In fact I am a Dylan nut, who is the son of two Dylan nuts.  In fact I am a Dylan nut, who was the grandson of a Dylan nut*.  So I do have some form here.

Over the years I have read and discarded a few tomes on the man himself and I still think his own Chronicles is really the only Dylan book you need.  Rather than reviewing one of those vinyl thingys, or even one of those book thingys I wanted to share with you the best description of Dylan’s voice I have ever happened across.

Blog Dylan Murakami 01

It is taken from Haruki Murakami’s Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, his 1985 novel that nobody except me seems to like very much.  As you can guess I am arrogant enough to know that means everybody else is simply wrong and I am right.  Murakami is probably my favourite living author and this was his fourth novel and a strange one, even by his own standards.  It is split between a story set in a very near future Tokyo about a man who carries information locked into his memory for a living, written in a hard-boiled cyberpunk style and a fantastical tale set in a shadowed fable of a world.  There is a clever reason for all of this which I shan’t spoil for you in case you read it one day.

Murakami’s books are liberally seasoned with music, his first job was in a record shop and he ran a jazz bar with his wife for 7 years and a number of his protagonists discourse knowledgeably about it, particularly the nameless narrator of Hard-Boiled Wonderland.  He hires a car and buys a lot of tapes for it, one of which is a Bob Dylan collection that he plays when he is checking out the controls.  The lady at the car rental describes Dylan’s voice thusly,

‘No, I really like his voice,’ she said. ‘It’s like a kid standing at the window watching the rain’

I love that description as much as the narrator does.  It captures the plaintive observant, uniquely other nature of Dylan’s voice at least in his early works.  I often think back to it when I listen to the man.

Blog Dylan Murakami 02

Book Spoiler Alert: The narrator dies thinking about the rain on the windscreen of his car and listening to Bob Dylan, in a beautifully written and wonderfully resigned scene, echoing the rental lady’s description of the voice.

Blog Dylan Murakami 03

‘No, I really like his voice,’ she said. ‘It’s like a kid standing at the window watching the rain’

820 Down (still).

This post is part of the Blog Dylan series of posts conceived and organised by Danica over at her excellent Living a Beautiful Life blog.  Thank you for asking me.

*my grandmother went to the 1969 Isle of Wight Festival solely to see Bob Dylan.  My parents were horrified because in those days people over the age of 25 just didn’t go to gigs or festivals, they genuinely thought she might die if exposed to high volume music and vibes; very different times.

33 thoughts on “Blog Dylan: A Hard-Boiled Rain’s A-gonna Fall

  1. Just when I thought we couldn’t love you any more, you drop Murakami on us! Brilliant!

    I haven’t read that particular book, but the first part of the the premise (“set in a very near future Tokyo about a man who carries information locked into his memory for a living, written in a hard-boiled cyberpunk style”) sounds a lot like Johnny Mnemonic. Of course, I know that was William Gibson (and OMG I LOVE WILLIAM GIBSON) but it still occurred to me.

    My lovely wife and I have this converdsation every now and then, about Dylan, Neil Young, how they can’t sing. I say they don’t have to be good, they already are. And it’s weird, ‘cos she LOVES Tom Waits. Ah well.

    Great post, sir!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love Murakami! But both of his books I’ve read referenced classical pieces. I’d never expect him to weave Dylan into a book.
    Might have to put this one on hold at the library.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve only read Murakami’s ‘what I talk about when I talk about running’ but I recall you also recommended Norwegian Wood, so both that and Hard-Boiled are now on my to-be-read list.
    I get excited when I see band Ts in movies & when songs/artists are part of the dialogue in books. And if his books are liberally seasoned with music references, sold!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No thank you for organising this. Yup, sorry about the death bit – you might be better off trying to forget that bit happened.

      (to be honest, due to the way the book works, it isn’t much of a spoiler, honest)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My pleasure! Thank you for dreaming up the winning title and your wonderful contribution.

        The death bit is okay, I’m sure. I’ll do my best to erase that bit of info from my memory — before it’s locked in.

        (I do understand what you mean. Deaths aren’t necessarily defining moments in books.)

        Liked by 1 person

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