re: EDLIS Café Duende

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May 9, 2011, 1:04:03 PM5/9/11
Does Bob Dylan have duende?

A term common enough in Spanish speaking countries is duende. It does
not lend itself to translation. But does Bob Dylan have it?

The term became significant with a lecture in 1933

If you need a cheat sheet to read the original try

While touring with La Barraca, García Lorca wrote his now best-known
plays, the Rural Trilogy of Bodas de Sangre (Blood Wedding), Yerma and
La Casa de Bernarda Alba (The House of Bernarda Alba). He distilled
his theories on artistic creation and performance in a famous lecture
Play and Theory of the Duende, first given in Buenos Aires in 1933.
García Lorca argued that great art depends upon a vivid awareness of
death, connection with a nation's soil, and an acknowledgment of the
limitations of reason. "Then I realised I had been murdered. They
looked for me in cafes, cemeteries and churches .... but they did not
find me. They never found me? No. They never found me."

May 9 at 8:26am

Dawn Lonergan Schmidt

The short answer is yes.
May 9 at 10:29am

Ron Chester

Well at first, I thought Ed might just be trying to dazzle us with his
multilingualism. But I started looking at his links, half expecting to
walk into an etching of a western battle, guns a blazing.

But no, this is a fascinating and new-to-me look at our Bob. His
wikipedia link illuminates this interesting concept and I started
there, quickly learning that Nick Cave said, " Bob Dylan has always
had it. Leonard Cohen deals specifically in it. It pursues Van
Morrison like a black dog and though he tries to he cannot escape it.
Tom Waits and Neil Young can summon it. It haunts Polly Harvey. My
friends the Dirty Three have it by the bucket load. The band
Spiritualized are excited by it." So there's Cave's answer to Ed, same
as Dawn's. Those first two, Dylan & Cohen, are easily my most favorite
and Young is very high on my list as well. So this is certainly worthy
of further study.

The video Ed points to is an interesting example, that of Bob
performing a Hunter/Garcia song, not one of his own. The subject
matter of the song qualifies under the four points that Lorca
enumerated. But the duende "is a power, not a work" and an alternative
to virtuosity or normal standards of performance, seizing "the
performer but also the audience." And for me the most enticing
description is the one that says, "it dilates the mind's eye, so that
the intensity becomes almost unendurable. . . There is a quality of
first-timeness, of reality so heightened and exaggerated that it
becomes unreal."

Now THAT I have experienced, whether it is called duende or not, where
Bob catches on fire, setting the audience on fire, creating that
moment that is then co-created by us all. That's what brings me back
to see Bob over and over. I'm sure it's also what keeps Bob himself
coming back after all these years, which he described in one of his
dreams as "... numbers were burning." This is what one can experience
from live performance that one can't get from spinning a disk or
flicking on the radio, the reason you have to go to the live shows!

The audience video Ed linked to is great, a long steady focus just on
Bob, who stands and delivers the song with his own acoustic guitar
playing. Remember, virtuosity is not what duende is all about. I was
surprised to find that when the video finished, the next one that
Google served up was a snippet from the end of the 60 Minutes
interview, where Bob says he's still out there fulfilling his destiny
and holding up his end of the bargain he made years ago with "the
Chief Commander," which the person who posted the snippet to YouTube
altered to mean the devil. Of course it's that last word that made the
connection for the Google robot.

So my long answer is "Yes, Bob has it" and it's what makes Bob so
Special and why we still go to see him after all these years!
May 9 at 3:26pm

Kay Smith

Bob & "Duende"
May 19 at 5:54am

Ron Chester

And there is what has become my favorite example of Patti Smith

And note that at the very start, Patti says, "Let's have, let's do one
more song, we'll have a great festival." It's "Let's do," let us do,
not we will do. And I believe the "Us" is Patti, her band, and the
audience. She always includes the audience in a big way.

Two minutes into the performance, the audience begins to catch fire,
which inspires Patti to greater passion and by five minutes into the
song she and the audience are performing the song together. Just short
of six minutes in, the taper is rightfully drawn into shooting video
of the audience, not just Patti, as they have become performers as
well, and then she is enthusiastically thanking the audience. "Thank
you!! I'm at the place of my ancestors. I'm bucked down!" and the rest
is pure love and joy.

She thanks her always guitarist, Lenny Kaye, and then "Be! We the
People!" And at the very end she thanks the crowd again with,
"Attitude, ya got the good attitude!"
about 3 months ago • Delete Post
about 2 months ago • Report

Frances Downing Hunter

Yes, yes, yes, he's always had it. Again, back to DESIRE. And yes,
even Leonard Cohen has it, and it does pursue Van Morrison like a
black dog, the dog that bit Jim Morrison to death and Janis Joplin
too, and hell hounds Joe Cocker, but Dylan nailed it. He didn't fall
in accidentally. No, it can't be defined, but Dylan's music & lyrics
define it on Isis & One More Cup of Coffee. Changing of the Guards is
full of duende. I'm going to bed. Romance in Durango is totally,
utterly, sentimentally duende.Tell you a secret: I never tied Dylan to
duende before tonight. I just knew there was something intangibly
Latin inthe music when he wanted it there. It took me back to Gregory
Peck & "Duel in the Sun." Now I can name it. Thanks Ed for introducing
me to the site.
about 2 months ago • Report

Kay Smith
about 2 months ago • Report

Ed Ricardo

No thanks to me, I just help out around here with the chores. Thank
you Frances for joining us. Not an academic venue with academic rigour
or peer review, but everyone here is very interested in what is
happening with courses about Bob Dylan on offer around the world. And
in academic views on the topics we discuss.

It is a tough game for you, you know Bob Dylan if he were to comment
would ridicule and mock the process you engage in and yet you also
know he would be proud it happens but would never ever show that. Much
like his dread that bootlegs take away control of what he presents to
the world but that is balanced by his huge pride in being the most
bootlegged artist in the history of music. Enrico Caruso eat your
heart out!

Do post as much as you can on your course in the EDLIS Café Discussion

Academic Courses Offered on Bob Dylan and his Work

Toby Thompson is here, his course is mentioned there.

If anyone knows of other courses do post them in that thread. There
was a web page listing a huge number of courses current and past but I
lost track of it years ago. Anyone? Anyone care to build a simple new

And Frances let me know how many introductions you want, people vary,
I can do between 1 and 1,546. :-) You will want to know Ron Chester,
the EDLIS Bibliographer, who everyone sends any book or article
information to if it is not in the bibliography. And seeks advice
from. He is lazy, he claims there are too many books and he has work
and all that sort of procrastinator talk. And EDLIS Lyrics is a person
with no name, but invaluable to many here and in other places when a
lyric query stumps the gurus. Clive if you have music storage problems
and need advice, his solutions are Rolls Royce in style and drive very
well. I assume Bob Dylan academics tend to have many terabytes of Bob
Dylan music and his influences. And you probably have dispensation
from some copyright law too. And you write your Dylan purchases off
against tax! (Crazy Chester is also the EDLIS Tax Advisory agent.)
Welll I am not going to list all 1,546. Oh, but most importantly if
you play there is a live Internet Hootenanny. Music is about
partcipation we hope. Cornbread Bob.
about 2 months ago • Report

Frances Downing Hunter

Ed, I enjoyed the duende discussion last night as much as I have
anything in a long time, and I'll be happy to have all the facebook
friends you want to send, but send them to my Downing Hunter page
because it only has about 50 people on it. The FDH page is getting
overloaded. I also have some blog pages including Mid South Writers,
Writing Lessons, and a Downing Hunter fan page for a North African
travelogue I'm doing right. I'm in a Delta airlines lounge in NYC now
awaiting a 9:30 flight to Cairo. I so enjoy reading your discussions,
such vibrant, enlightened, people, and new friends.
about 2 months ago

about 2 weeks ago • Like • • Unsubscribe

• Vasile Lupu and 3 others like this.

Mary Kelly
Yes, worth restarting.

The Greed Sheriff got Ed's duende Silvio performance by Bob Dylan.
Anyone able to point a URL at the one he chose in the wild in the free
world somewhere?

20 April at 12:19 • Like
Kay Smith My original url no longer works for
Bob and Carlos Santana ( Blowing in the Wind )
27 April at 11:56 • Like
Laurita Nancy of course he has it...always has had it! have no idea,
yet, what it means. haven't gotten that far. but if it's a good
thing...bobby's got it. he is all things good.
Saturday at 18:25 • Like • 2 people
Martin Golan He's sure got it in this version. I've often thought Bob
relates more to the audience overseas than he does in America.
Saturday at 20:04 • Like • 1 person
Ron Chester Talk fast if this interests you. It will very soon be
disappearing off the bottom of the Wall.
Yesterday at 01:33 • Like • 1 person
Tara-Jane Hulligan Zuk
To me, duende is the darkness, the emotional rawness, the proximity of
(and battle with) death, the deep mystery of the unanswered questions.
"Dark sounds, behind which in tender intimacy exist volcanoes, ants,
zephyrs, and the vast night pressing its waist against the Milky
Way." (Lorca)

This is the quality of Bob Dylan's music that some critics and
listeners do not understand. Duende is exactly the word to describe
the effect of Dylans voice for example. For with Dylan his power is
not in technical perfection. Duende is about the emotion, the fire,
the pain, the human tragedy, the joy, the easily-crushed fragile
tenderness that never sinks into sentimentalism, the intimacy... the
ability to touch deep in a way that superficiality can never do.

Duende also means genuineness and authenticity. The ability to convey
regret and pain, joy and disillusionment, speculation and knowledge,
truth and fiction… the value of a silence and the meaning in a sigh or

It is the power of a moment in time. As Lorca said, "’s
impossible for it ever to repeat itself, and it’s important to
underscore this. The duende never repeats itself, any more than the
waves of the sea do in a storm."

An artist does not succumb to duende, they battle all the way to the
edge of rationality and back, knowing human limits of intelligence the
entire way. 'Angel' represents the superficial style and virtuous
elegance, 'Muse' is the accepted classical norms of creativity and
form. But duende is the spirit and power from within that changes
perception and leads to spine-tingling transformative art.

Yesterday at 17:26 • Like • 2 people
Ron Chester Excellent Tara. The core of it I think is your last quote.

"But duende is the spirit and power from within that changes
perception and leads to spine-tingling transformative art."

Spine-tingling transformative art.
23 hours ago • Like • 1 person
Tara-Jane Hulligan Zuk
Thanks Ron :-)

And yes, Johanna, 'duende' was originally a fantasy-type troll figure
or spirit.

22 hours ago

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