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  • Stephen Daniel Arnoff

Season Two - Ep 1 | Life or Death: Why Charlie Watts and Bob Dylan Matter



[Listen to Life or Death? Why Charlie Watts and Bob Dylan Matter.]


Rock and roll mortality has, like all things rock and roll, its own grandiose myth. The Twenty-Seven Club is perhaps the most famous, that tale of a cluster of rockers who left this world at seven and twenty years while leaving behind a deep legacy and many ghosts. This episode looks at the other side of rock and roll mortality. What happens when rocker-founders live to a ripe old age and only then move on?


Do we fight death, challenging it from the tops of our heads to the bottoms of our boots? Or do we take flight away from it, escaping in the denial of our choices and vices. We're tracking Dylan, a poet of mortality since the start, from those first footsteps to all the way to Knock Knock Knocking on You-Know-What's-Door.


Though they may model the flighty bad boys tendency of rock and roll, angling away from aging despite its unwavering call, the Rolling Stones still have a way of expressing dilemmas of longing in impossible situations with heartbreaking grace like they do in this tune, one of their best.



He did not dig rock and roll, but he roiled in many of its favorite topics, including speculating about the very end. He writes in Everyman, a modern riff on the medieval morality play:

Atlantic waves from a hundred yards out in the wild ocean all the way in to shore. Oh, the abandon of it, and the smell of the salt water and the scorching sun! Daylight, he thought, penetrating everywhere, day after summer day of that daylight blazing off a living sea, an optical treasure so vast and valuable that he could have been peering through the jeweler’s loupe engraved with his father’s initials at the perfect, priceless pallet itself--at his home, the billion-, the trillion-, the quadrillion-carat planet Earth! He went under feeling far from felled, anything but doomed, eager yet again to be fulfilled, but nonetheless, he never woke up. Cardiac arrest. He was no more, freed from being, entering into nowhere without even knowing it. Just as he’d feared from the start.

And one more for Mr. Watts from those who knew him best.