Thursday, October 25, 2007

Bob Dylan/Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

I completed Bob Dylan’s Chronicles: Volume One this morning. Any dude wanting a chronological account of this hipcat’s life will be disappointed as the book focuses on just a few periods. The height of Dylan’s fame – the mid sixties, I guess – is not mentioned and other important events (his motorcycle crash, his relationship with Joan Baez) are skirted over in a sentence or two. Much of the book features the pre-fame years, his burgeoning musicianship, the folk clubs in Minneapolis and New York and how varied influences (notably Woody Guthrie, Bertolt Brecht and Robert Johnson) combined to create his sound. The book ends as Dylan signs to Columbia and hooks up with manager Albert Grossman. In between, a couple of weighty sections dwell on the making of 1970’s New Morning (an album I confess I’d never really heard of) and 1989’s Oh Mercy! (which I’d heard of but not heard but now want to) and go into immense detail about the formation of individual songs and sounds. It’s a fabulous read, not just for the mesmerizing subject matter but because of the slightly rambling, conversational tone in which it is written. I could almost imagine the great man whispering his confessions in my ear as I turned the pages. I don’t class myself as a massive Bob Dylan fan although I really appreciate a lot of his stuff: I played Bringing It All Back Home over breakfast and am listening to Modern Times as I pen these words. I’m now keen to acquaint myself with Oh Mercy! and maybe one or two other albums that have passed me by (Time Out Of Mind, Love And Theft, Desire etc.)

I baked a marvellous pineapple upside-down cake earlier this week. This was the first cake I have cooked in my life and, by all accounts, proved a minor triumph. It was a very sweet item, packed with sugar both to sweeten the sponge and to caramelise the pineapple. It was devoured more like a pudding than a cake with cream adding to the overall scene. It gave me a touch of heartburn but it was worth it. I might make another soon. My card modelling and bakery experiments haven’t changed my life but I’ve enjoyed trying out new things. What next? Patchwork quilting? To be frank, I wouldn’t mind learning to knit or crotchet.

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