Bob, Bourbon, and Books: 75 Years Young

Bob, Bourbon, and Books returns for Bob Dylan’s 75th birthday!

Bob: “Ain’t Talkin’”

Daniel Ford: “Love and Theft” and “Modern Times” offer plenty of dark tracks best consumed with a glass full of brown fire. “Moonlight,” “Lonesome Day Blues,” and “Workingman’s Blues #2” spring to mind immediately. However, nothing offers the bleak landscape and weary growl of “Ain’t Talkin’,” the final track on “Modern Times.”

If Dylan had never wrote or recorded another album, “Ain’t Talkin’” would have been one hell of a swan song. Spanning more than eight minutes, it evokes epic ballads like “Highlands,” “Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands,” and “Desolation Row.” Unlike those songs, “Ain’t Talkin’” fully embraces its despair, promising no hope in a world gone wrong. 

“Ain't talkin', just walkin'/Through this weary world of woe/Heart burnin', still yearnin'/No one on earth would ever know.”

Dylan sings of sick mules, absent gardeners, desired revenge over a father’s death, and, of course, “that gal I left behind.” He’s walking to escape the terrible burden of heartache, vowing to get her “out of my miserable brain.” Dylan’s rasp marks the dirge’s slow unravel into oblivion; it goes down as smooth as cheaply distilled rotgut. 

“Ain’t Talkin’” is also about what happens when you’re finally out of time to fully purge your mind and spirit of all the demons you’ve accumulated along your rough rode. What more can you do than walk through the hours you have left with a glass of bourbon in your hand, thinking,

“The suffering is unending/Every nook and cranny has it's tears/I'm not playing, I'm not pretending/I'm not nursing any superfluous fears.”

Bourbon: Elijah Craig 12-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

David Pezza: Bringing back the triple B in honor of the title man’s 75th calls for a classic bourbon, one with a history and a pedigree. Elijah Craig is an old school bourbon that hasn’t lost any of its touch. Distilled at Heaven Hill Distillery (in its current form, since the end of Prohibition), Elijah Craig gets its name from an 18th-century Baptist who was incorrectly named the inventor of bourbon. It’s one of those bourbon’s that you’ve completely forgot about, until it’s your only viable optional at the bar top. And then you remember, holy shit, this is good bourbon.  

Elijah Craig can hold its own with the better brands like Maker’s Mark, Buffalo Trace, and Woodford Reserve. What differentiates this bourbon, in my opinion, is its bite. It’s your grandfather’s bourbon. It wants nothing to do with those new-age, smooth-as-hell, artisanal bourbons made in some hipster’s loft in Brooklyn…or is Queens the new hipster central? They’re spreading! 

Elijah Craig packs a punch, but has an unmistakable cherry cola/cinnamon flavor to it, perfect for opening day of fishing on the chilly water or after a long morning of shoveling out the car. This bourbon, like Bob, has helped generations leer life straight in the eye, and maybe even provide a little bit of courage to get us through.

Books: Finders Keepers by Stephen King

Dave: Finders Keepers is King’s second installment in what has come to be known as the Mr. Mercedes trilogy. King’s foray into the crime/murder/mystery genre, Mr. Mercedes, has spawned what might be some of King’s most exciting fiction in a decade. 

The book’s main action picks up tangentially from the events of Mr. Mercedes, following the incarcerated thief of a literary genius’ house and the son of one of the victims from the first novel’s inciting incident. King manages to encompass a compelling and all but spate mystery plot in the trilogy’s main movement. King is truly in rare form. By the book’s resolution, you feel satisfied by the neatly managed story you’ve just finished and faith in King’s ability to pick up right where he left off in the third installment, but leave it to the master of mystery to reward that faith in a style befitting his legacy.

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