Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Craic and Bob Dylan

The Love and I talking last night about Bob Dylan and The Craic over dinner which raised a few questions/points about Craic that I’ll need you Irish to qualify. 

You see, when The Angel from the North was with us in Berlin a few weeks back, a Dylan song came on and The Love’s eyebrows were raised very high when she said:

“A few friends saw him play in Dublin a while back. Not the Craic.”

It took a moment for The Love to recover the power of speech.

“Ahem,” he said. “Really?”

“Yes,” she said, driving the knife in further. “He was amazing. But he wasn’t The Craic.”

Now if you know The Love, insinuating that Dylan is not The Craic or that Dylan is not anything – in fact, even using a negative in a sentence when referring to Dylan, is utterly sacrilegious. And I think he was especially hurt as not only had he not been witness to Dylan live himself, here we was being told that this man, this storyteller, this idol, the artist that inspired him to become a musician, this… character - was not The Craic?

“But have you heard his radio show?” he asked.

“Yes, it’s deadly,” said the Angel. “I know he’s brilliant. I love him too. But word from my friends was: Not the Craic.”

Cut to a few weeks later: The Love and I are listening to Dylan’s radio show over dinner, the one on the topic of mothers and we were laughing at the line when he reads a letter from a viewer,

“…I gave my mother-in-law a new chair, but she wouldn’t plug it in…”

and we were chuckling away when The Love shook his head and mumbled into his plate,

“Not the Craic...”

“What was that?” I probed.

“Not the Craic,” he repeated in mortal disappointment. “The philistines.”

“Hmmm,” I said, a little wary of where I was about to step. “But maybe at that concert he wasn’t The Craic. Maybe he was more straight, you know, maybe he just played.”

The Love looked at me, entirely unconvinced.

“Like, imagine Tom Waits, when we saw him in Paris. Maybe if he’d just come out and played the music straight…”

But The Love was shaking his head, and so was I. There was no way possible that Tom Waits could not be The Craic. Even if he tried. Even if he came out and played some songs completely straight he would still be The Craic as we would know he was taking the piss, or storytelling in some genius, surreptitious way.

“I don’t know Dylan as well,” I said to The Love. “But maybe you can’t suppose The Craic. Maybe it can’t be assumed. You probably can’t just decide that what they’re saying is wrong. You can’t cast aspersions on what is or isn’t The Craic. You have to be there. It is not something to be discussed or debated. It either is or isn’t, at that particular moment. It has no past or future. It is only in the present.”

“But there’s no way he could possibly have not been The Craic. Maybe he’s beyond The Craic. Ie, on an entirely other level of Craic.”

“Yeah,” I said, “But maybe being beyond The Craic is, effectively, Not the Craic.”

“I don’t want to talk about it any more,” said The Love, picking at the remnants of his risotto.

“Sorry,” I said.

Unfavourable conversations about Dylan: Not the Craic. 


  1. Easily clarified.
    1. I saw Bob Dylan live. He wasn't connecting with his audience in any way, even through the music, felt like his songs were being banged out. HUGE BD fans agreed. A disappointing gig. We weren't expecting stand-up but a look in his eye, a feeling. Nada! My friend (huge fan) actually said 'Where was the craic in that?' Reputation isn't enough to entertain. Craic, if it's there must be exposed.
    2. All I know of BD is that gig and his music.
    Conclusion: I can assure you, hand on heart that in the summer of 2000, in Dublin for 2 hours Bob Dylan was furthest thing from the craic and I should not make sweeping statements when I've had limited exposure to someone.

  2. thanks Blah. insights greatly appreciated. i think i get it now. Craic Must be Exposed. Reputation doesn't Override Anti-Craic. Exposure/performance is Everything. The Love is smiling. thanks again Blah.