Sunday, 27 October 2013

Dylan and music

There are two historic rooms in which I would like to have been a fly on the wall. The first was the hotel room in Chicago which Louis Armstrong hired so that he and Bix Beiderbecke could jam together, something which two men of different skin pigmentation could not have done in public (or even on shellac) in most of America at that time.

The other - come to think of it, not far removed in time - was at 5 Cwmdonkin Drive, Swansea, where school-friends Dylan Thomas and Daniel Jones would create imaginary worlds, play word games and fling bits of poetry back and forth. I was reminded of this link between poet and future composer when I heard Cerys Matthews' 99th birthday tribute this morning. She and guests emphasised the musicality of Thomas's verse, and how it in turn inspired musicians.

Earlier, on BH, it was sad to hear even Swansea citizens associating the name first of all with consumption of beer and not with the fine craftsmanship of his writing. Auden, for instance, a sloppier writer in my opinion, was also a drunk, but he is remembered foremost as a poet, if only for "Night Mail" and "Stop all the clocks". One hopes that over Thomas's hundredth year, print and broadcast media will restore perspectives and kill some legends.

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