Bob’s Your Uncle

On October 16th 1993, Madison Square Garden played host to the 30th Anniversary Celebration Concert for Bob Dylan. The who’s who of Stars that played Dylan’s songs that night is incredible; Eric Clapton, Tom Petty, George Harrison, Chrissie Hynde and on and on and on it went.

But that’s not what I want to talk about. I instead want to talk about an incident that happened at the after-party that night in Tommy Makem’s Irish Pavilion. When Liam Clancy approached Bob Dylan to thank him for the inviting the Clancy Brothers to perform, Bob asked him to sit awhile.

Liam hesitantly mentioned to Bob that the Brothers were considering recording an album of Dylan’s songs in a traditional Irish folk style. “Would you object?” asked Liam.

Dylan was thrilled. “Liam, you don’t realise, do you man? You’re my fucking hero, man”. “Global Music Icon Bob Dylan”’ declared the Irish Folk group, the Clancy Brothers, his musical heroes. Dylan understood the roots and traditions of his art. He cared where the music came from and what it said…

I wonder do we know anything of the roots, traditions and values of our political classes. In this election season of tribal party politics, do those people who “lent their votes” to other parties in 2011 understand what this means going forward.

While Fine Gael are well known as the Blue shirts, do people know what this entails and how it was true then and is true now. Think the fascism has gone away? Not on your Nelly! We have current Fine Gael representatives gloating about keeping their area “Traveller Free” and others saying Immigrants that loose their jobs should be deported. Do you remember Fine Gael’s Darren Scully, who in 2011 said he would not represent his Black African constituents? You might remember he was allowed resign, rather than be sacked, and allowed rejoin the party late last year in order to run again. The fascist’s “haven’t gone away, you know”.

Labour have wandered so far from their roots as to be unrecognisable as the party of the Working Class. Even worse than the betrayal of their history and traditions, was the betrayal of their 2011 pre election promises. Water, Property, Debt Renegotiation, Protecting Public Services and on and on it went.

No wonder Fine Gael is desperate to continue in Government with them, who wouldn’t want a little sibling you can blame for everything and still keep sweet for less than a half mauled jaffa cake?

I’m not sure where to start with the roots of Sinn Fein, do we go back to Arthur Griffith or skip to the 1970’s manifestation? Either way, I despair from not what I hear from the party, but rather from what I DO NOT hear. Arthur Griffith was notoriously cantankerous and fighting with his colleagues was his favourite pastime. Sadly, today’s Sinn Fein too often substitute obsequiousness for obnoxiousness. Dissent is good for the system! I mean seriously, how hard would it have been to come out on the Special Criminal Court media storm and say “Sinn Fein disagrees with Non Jury Trials. However, we regrettably accept that the country, currently, is not yet capable of protecting witnesses and jurors. But should Sinn Fein come into power we will work over our term to fix the justice system and allow for a more equitable and safe court system”?

That wasn’t too hard was it???

As for the soldiers of destiny… that’s a whole other piece. I need a pint!

Let’s go back to 1993, and Tommy Makems Pub. As the two men recount their youth and get steadily drunker, Liam Clancy summons the courage to ask Bob Dylan one more question. This question had waited over 30 years and Liam felt secure enough now to ask it. When they were younger men in Greenwich Village, Liam had a girlfriend named Cathy. Bob had always been a womaniser and Liam had carried suspicions a long time. “Bobby, were you screwing Cathy?” he asked.

Bob looked at him, sighed and said “Man, she loved you. But she was lonesome. I gotta admit, man. I did comfort her”.

Clancy, hurt passing behind his eyes, picked up a guitar and passed it to Dylan. “Come on, here’s a guitar. Sing me a song.” They drank and sang until Seven a.m. when Tommy Makem’s son declared it was time to go home.

And out they went, arm in arm, into the morning sun. Liam Clancy knew his roots, loved his traditions and was not going to let any toxic past poison his future. No Siree Bob.

Tony Groves Feb 2016




4 thoughts on “Bob’s Your Uncle

  1. “a little sibling you can blame for everything and still keep sweet for less than a half mauled jaffa cake?”

    Ha, class, great analogy!

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