15 October 2016

"If I had to choose my favorite Bob Dylan song, it would probably be 'Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues'. That’s the one that begins, 'When you’re lost in the rain in Juarez / And it’s Eastertime too'. It conjures up a Touch of Evil', Roberto Bolaño sort of situation, with a dark tourist urban legend embedded in one verse: 'Sweet Melinda / The peasants call her the goddess of gloom / She speaks good English / And she invites you up into her room / And you’re so kind / And careful not to go to her too soon / And she takes your voice / And leaves you howling at the moon'. I don’t know why I love the tune so much. Possibly because I’ve traveled to places that, in retrospect, I feel lucky to have gotten out of alive. But the song is more than a cautionary ballad about a corrupt, social-disease-ridden border town. It describes a state of mind. I never once taught at a summer writers’ conference without becoming obsessed with a line from that song, about someone named Angel, just arrived from the coast, 'Who looked so fine at first / But left looking just like a ghost'. I’d hear it the way Dylan sang it, with a full stop after each word: Just. Like. A. Ghost! And then I’d look at my pale face in the mirror. (aqui)

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