Songs Of The Day 5/6/2016: Sebastian Cabot – “It Ain’t Me Babe” + “Like a Rolling Stone”

Quarterly Covers Report – A lot of people, they come up to me and ask me, "Paul, are rock lyrics poetry?" And I momentarily look up from my bottle of Cristal and toss 'em a hearty but not too condescending laugh and say, "Of course not. Rock lyrics are functions of meter and rhyme, they're merely conveyances of information designed to work in consort with the music. Stop asking me dumb questions, Ms. Gaga."

Then they say, "Screw you, ointment bait. What about Dylan?"

"Ah-ha!" I laugh, but this time in full-on patronizing mode. "Dylan? He'd agree with me! He'd agree with me one hundred percent! He's a songwriter. When you are constrained by the elements of musicality -- even if you're dipping into weird-ass free-jazz stuff -- you're bound to some kind of structuralism in completing your lyrics, and you must abandon the implied rules, or more often lack of rules, that poetry espouses. I'm sorry, which one of you Mumfords is the dad again?"

Then they say, "That's a squeegee load of gelatinous crap, old man! Dylan's best lyrics transcend the limits! They sound just as powerful when they're read as when they're sung!"

"Aaaaaah," I nod, the right corner of my lip upturned, mashing into my cheekbones in gorgeous disdain. "You, my friend, have never heard Sebastian Cabot, have you?"

"No, I haven't, and I'm not your friend, Puddles."

"That's okay, I'll charm you somehow, Fetty Wap. Sebastian Cabot was an Englishman who played a butler named French on a family sitcom called Family Affair. Half his time was spent chasing around this very unattractive doll named Mrs. Beasley. I think the doll was a replacement mom for the girl. But that's beside the point.

"Cabot did this entire spoken-word album of Dylan lyrics. I don't know whether he did it because he truly wanted to or some lackey in A&R thought it would be a great idea. But it wasn't. I mean, he didn't fumble any lines or anything, but the combination of his dramatics and remoteness from the form and material in question... well, let's just say they later landed on a compilation album called Golden Throats and the title was not intended as a compliment. So if Dylan lyrics can't be read by a professional orator and hold up, then they can't be poetry."

Then they go, "Posh! What canker smites your flapping orifice, sergeant? Do your mandibles ever clamp? An ambitious cad might this Cabot fellow be, but 'tisn't whether he glazed the syllables of our nobleman with honey or with Splenda, but whether he grasped the boundlessness of art itself. Whether 'twas one of him or one of his associates did spin the threads of this project into silk or sap, 'tis more than you, dear besotted harlequin, have yet to bestow upon our revolving home! 'Til it is you issuing forth in beauty, truth and perception, mind the aim of your thorns, for perhaps it better serves to be turned towards your vinegary garments, o miserly grouser!"

And what can I say to that but, "Touché, Mr. Bieber... touché."

Popular Recent Posts