I have almost finished reading Robert Adamson's autobiography Inside Out. Adamson started writing poetry in prison and he recounts how he first starting writing; what he was reading, the people inside who gave him reading lists, lent him books and broadened his understanding of contemporary poetry. It is quite a journey, but one of the things that stuck with me was his delight when they got speakers at the prison and he started to hear music in his cell for the first time, even if the "screws" chose the stations.
He writes about a "young man" called John Laws who was mocking Bob Dylan's inability to sing, and to support his argument Laws played a small part of Dylan's "Only a Pawn in their Game" (see the above clip).
For Adamson, those first few lines "seared themselves across my brain like fire:
A bullet from the back of a bush took Medgar Ever's blood.... I'd never heard anything like it before... It spoke to something deep inside of me. I felt like I'd been waiting to hear it all my life."
A finger pulled the trigger to his name.
One of the first things Adamson did when he got out of prison was buy a Dylan record, and then save for a record player and then a typewriter. I always thought that "Only a Pawn in their Game" was a powerful song, but reading Adamson's autobiography makes me think about how it profoundly changed and inspired people; as well as the countless other Dylan tracks that continue to inform, influence and inspire. And I love the clip, 1963 Newport, he is so young.
PS. If you are in Brisbane on the 30th of his month you might want to help celebrate Kerouac's birthday with some poetry at the Confit Bistro. See Graham's blog for details!