In 2004, Jason Varitek and I had a moment. I was at a tour at Fenway prior to flying from Boston to London. As we were leaving, Tek was getting out of his car in the players’s lot. He saw me. I saw him. We had a moment. And then the Red Sox won the World Series. Coincidence? Hardly.
Last weekend, Bob Dylan and I had a moment. I got to see him perform live for the first time. Actually, it was more like I had a moment and Dylan was there, but you take what you can get.
I was the youngest person there. I neither wore tie dye nor did I have a walker. Dylan wore calvary pants. He played a keyboard for most of the night. He sang Tangled Up In Blue. I have red hair. I have blue eyes. I could be the entangler of that song. That’s me–having a moment.
But the real moment is when you realize what he is saying about the possibility of love.
Then she opened up a book of poems
And handed it to me
Written by an Italian poet
From the thirteenth century
And every one of them words rang true
And glowed like burning coal
Pouring off of every page
Like it was written in my soul from me to you
Tangled up in blue
The key? A poet from 13th century Italy. Dante. Which means that Dylan’s Blue is the equivalent of Beatrice–a woman who Dante barely knew and who married someone else just as Dante did. Nonetheless, Dante devotes his life’s work to Beatrice, just as Dylan has to get back to Blue some day.
The moment I saw her I say in all truth that the vital spirit, which dwells in the inmost depths of the heart, began to tremble so violently that I felt the vibration alarmingly in all my pulses, even the weakest of them. As it trembled, it uttered these words: Behold a god more powerful than I who comes to rule over me!
Dante describing the first time he met Beatrice. His love for Beatrice, he says, causes him to write what is perhaps the most beautiful work of poetry that exists, The Divine Comedy. In it Beatrice’s love saves Dante from an eternity in Hell. She takes the place of Christ for him and mediates his path to Paradiso.
Dylan’s Blue is divorced. She maybe helps kill her husband. She is a stripper. She is attached to a man who has slaves. Not really all that Christ-like.
But that is Dante’s and presumably Dylan’s point. If we are motivated by love, the particular and even sordid details of our lives can be beautiful and a source of redemption. Dante has Beatrice take the place of Christ. Pretty scandalous for 13th century Italy. Blue ties Dylan’s shoes. She gives him a work by Dante to read. She mediates a the same path that Beatrice walked for that 13th century poet.
Hope to see Tek when in Boston this weekend. Really would like to win the Series this year. I’m still having my moment.