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The Mighty Quinn

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Third time is a charm, at least that is what I am hoping as this is my third attempt at hosting the MM Music challenge.  Bob Dylan’s songs are filled with people, some are real and others are imagined.  Bob also uses many characters from literature, fables, folklore, and because of his timeless lyrics that communicate messages of peace, sting ex-lovers and tell freewheeling stories of Shakespearean heroes, he won the Nobel Prize in Literature.  In today’s song, ‘The Mighty Quinn’ (an Eskimo) arrives and this changes despair into joy and chaos into rest, and attracts attention from the animals.  Dylan’s song is memorialized a movie that most people will never watch.

In the song the mighty Quinn (an Eskimo) arrives, and this changes despair into joy and chaos into rest, and attracts attention from the animals.  Dylan is widely believed to have derived the title character from actor Anthony Quinn’s role as an Eskimo in the 1960 movie The Savage Innocents.  Dylan has also been quoted as saying that the song was nothing more than a “simple nursery rhyme.”  A 2004 Chicago Tribune article claimed that the song was named after Gordon Quinn, who provided editing assistance on Eat the Document.  Bob Dylan wrote the folk rock song ‘Quinn The Eskimo’ during a recording session with his band in July 1967 for The Basement Tapes sessions.  It is a slow-moving, sorrowful-sounding tune with odd lyrics, and Dylan did not release it publicly after writing it.  Dylan’s version of ‘Quinn The Eskimo’ came out on his 1970 album Self-Portrait.

Like many songs that Dylan wrote, this song can be about anything you want it to be, but there are various ideas circulating about regarding to the actual inspiration for and meaning of the Eskimo character in this song.  Many people believe that the song is in reference to the actor Anthony Quinn, who played an Eskimo in 1959 film The Savage Innocents.  The Grateful Dead occasionally played this song at some of their shows.  The most popular story involves a wild LSD party that The Grateful Dead hosted in a New York City hotel, where Bob Dylan attended as one of the party guests.  The hotel received several complaints about the party noise and one of the guests at the hotel was the actor Anthony Quinn.  When Quinn reportedly complained about the noise from this drug-fuelled party, that inspired a partying Dylan to write this strange and funny song and Dylan fashioned the song around him.  The line in the song, “But when Quinn the Eskimo gets here, everybody’s gonna wanna doze”, could be saying that Anthony Quinn was a stick in the mud party pooper, spoiling all the fun.

The second popular interpretation is that Quinn is based on the Sheriff of Dutchess County, NY named Larry Quinlan, who reportedly helped to arrest the American psychologist Dr. Timothy Leary and a group of his associates who were experimenting with LSD.  Sheriff Larry Quinlan, did raid the Castalia Foundation land in Millbrook, New York where Timothy Leary was arrested along with his group of hippies.  Quinlan confiscated all the LSD and other drugs at the scene.  Timothy Leary was like the High Priest for Millbrook’s Castalia Foundation which was named after the intellectuals’ colony in Hermann Hesse’s book Das Glasperlenspiel (The Glass Bead Game), that was set in the Alpine province of Kastalien around the year 2400.  The line, “all the pigeons gonna run to him” could mean the stool pigeons who ratted out Leary.

The third theory about Quinn says that the same 2004 Chicago Tribune article named Gordon Quinn, co-founder of Kartemquin Films, who worked with Dylan and Howard Alk, but was not given credit for his editing assistance on the Dylan documentary Eat the Document.  Before Woodstock and Monterey Pop, there was Festival.  From 1963 through 1966, Murray Lerner visited the annual Newport Folk Festival to document a thriving, idealistic musical movement as it reached its peak as a popular phenomenon.  Kartemquin Artistic Director and co-founder Gordon Quinn met Lerner after moving to New York to work on Festival!  Eat the Document is a documentary of Bob Dylan’s 1966 tour of the United Kingdom with the Hawks (later to become The Band).  Sadly the documentary was rejected by ABC for being incomprehensible for a mainstream audience and it was never released on home video.

So we have three different characters that are named Quinn and the first two stories involve LSD, which is not all that surprising, as 1967 was the Summer of Love and that also meant marijuana and LSD.  Which Quinn do you think is the right Quinn and how did you come to this conclusion?  Some people say the line, “I like to go just like the rest, I like my sugar sweet” means that the narrator is a normal guy, so do you feel that way? Others say that, “But jumping queues and makin’ haste, just ain’t my cup of meat”, is about fighting the long lines to get into clubs in the 60s, did you ever have to do that?

Bob Dylan wrote ‘If You Gotta Go, Go Now’ in 1964 and Manfred Mann recorded his song in 1965 and their version reached number 2 on the UK charts.  In 1965, The Byrds’ did a cover of ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’ and the same year The Turtles covered ‘It Ain’t Me Babe’.  In 1968, Jimi Hendrix recorded ‘All Along The Watchtower’.  The Beatles Bible states that they rehearsed but did not publish ‘Rainy Day Women’ and ‘Positively 4th Street’ for the Let It Be album.  The British band Manfred Mann heard that Dylan was freely offering some of his songs to other bands, and they decided to look into this further.  They met in a publishers’ office and they considered covering ‘This Wheel’s On Fire’, but Manfred liked ‘Quinn the Eskimo’, recognizing its potential and he was able to convince the rest of the group into doing this song.

In 1963, Manfred Mann formed with a line-up featuring Paul Jones on vocals and harmonica, Mike Vickers on guitar, flute and saxophone, Tom McGuinness on bass and Mike Hug as the drummer.  The group’s name comes from their South African-born keyboardist Manfred Lubowitz, who was an accomplished jazz pianist.  They had a hit in 1964 with ‘5-4-3-2-1’ and they got their first number one with ‘Do Wah Diddy Diddy’ which was written by Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry and they also had success with ‘Sha La La’, a song that was an American hit for the Shirelles.  Paul Jones stepped out of the group to start a solo career and he was replaced with Mike D’Abo and then the band covered Dylan’s ‘Just Like A Woman’.

Mike D’Abo, Mann’s lead vocalist at the time, recalled that this song was “sung in a rambling monotone but Manfred was a brilliant arranger and very good at extracting the meat from a song.”  D’Abo later admitted to having little clue as to what the song’s lyrics actually were, and he said that the process of putting their version together from Dylan’s original was “like learning a song phonetically in a foreign language.”  The flute intro is played by the German musician and producer Klaus Voormann who had worked with the Beatles and was Manfred’s bassist at the time.

In the 1960, the Drama Action movie The Savage Innocents, starring Anthony Quinn as Inuk, a primitive Eskimo chief who had no experience dealing with Western civilizationan, offers his wife, Asiak (Yôko Tani), to a visiting Christian missionary as a courtesy, which is a custom of his people.  When the missionary refuses this offer with disdain, this act is taken as an insult which brings shame on both the Eskimo and his wife and the angered Inuk Eskimo hunter attacks and accidentally kills the priest.

Come all without, come all within
You’ll not see nothing like the mighty Quinn
Come all without, come all within
You’ll not see nothing like the mighty Quinn

Everybody’s building ships and boats
Some are building monuments, others are jotting down notes
Everybody’s in despair, every girl and boy
But when Quinn the Eskimo gets here, everybody’s gonna jump for joy

Come all without, come all within
You’ll not see nothing like the mighty Quinn

I like to go just like the rest, I like my sugar sweet
But jumping queues and makin’ haste, just ain’t my cup of meat
Everyone’s beneath the trees, feedin’ pigeons on a limb
But when Quinn the Eskimo gets here, all the pigeons gonna run to him

Come all without, come all within
You’ll not see nothing like the mighty Quinn
Come all without, come all within
You’ll not see nothing like the mighty Quinn

Let me do what I wanna do, I can’t decide ‘em all
Just tell me where to put ‘em and I’ll tell you who to call
Nobody can get no sleep, there’s someone on everyone’s toes
But when Quinn the Eskimo gets here, everybody’s gonna wanna doze

Come all without, come all within
You’ll not see nothing like the mighty Quinn
Come all without, come all within
You’ll not see nothing like the mighty Quinn

Come all without, come all within
You’ll not see nothing like the mighty Quinn
Come all without, come all within
You’ll not see nothing like the mighty Quinn

The challenge today is to focus on this song and use it for inspiration in any form of creative expression (including but not limited to short stories, poems, lyrics, artwork, photography, (etc.).  Alternatively, if you are a musician, and you have played this song solo or in a group, it would be awesome if you could post a video to showcase your own work. You could write about how you learned to play the chords or how you learned the lyrics.  There is no need to stick with this song, as if there is another Bob Dylan or Manfred Mann song that you like to write about, that will be fine, so basically this writing challenge is wide open.

Eskimo sexuality is tribal, and that was even more true before outside influences changed it, and since the men were gone for long periods when they were hunting, wife sharing was a common practice.  If you would like to write about Eskimos and their lifestyle, or if you have ever giving someone an Eskimo kiss and you want to share that, then go ahead.  If you want to write about Anthony Quinn, or Sheriff Larry Quinlan, or Gordon Quinn, or the Grateful Dead, or wild parties, or Timothy Leary, or LSD, all of these topics would be appropriate.  If you saw the movie The Savage Innocents, or the documentary Eat the Document, then add your thoughts about this.  Write about the penguins from Happy Feet.  Write a story about how you survived a nuclear holocaust by eating Eskimo pies.  Write about the recent mid air collision in Alaska.  You could also write a song parody where you swap out “Quinn the Eskimo” with “Trump the Sycophant”, or something else.

Dylan Hughes has next Friday, May 24 with her First Line Friday and then I will be back on Friday, May 31 with another MM Music Challenge where we will discuss the song ‘Teach Your Children’.  When you are finished writing your post, create a ping back to this post, but you can also place your link in the comments section below if you desire.  This Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie MM Music challenge has a special feature called Mr. Linky, which I sort of have working now, however it only works if you click on that square object below the picture.  This will allow you to instantly link your post after you click the square just below the Mr. Linky Picture which is supposed to be a Button, and then follow the directions that are given.

About newepicauthor

My About Me section is meant to provide my readers with an honest picture of myself that gives a little bit of background information on who I am and I will wrap this up with a catchy image. I am a story teller and I like to use my imagination. I am interested in many things, but a few of my favorites are watching the NFL and playing golf. I do not like onions and I always make sure that my food does not contain any. I had two wonderful parents, my dad Herb Adams was a television repairman and my mother Mary Adams was mostly a stay at home mom. They are both deceased now and I miss them. I am a retired Electrical Engineer specialized in control systems. I held many different positions because I worked mostly as a consultant. I did work as a Substitute Teacher, for a while, but the kids were awful. I am happiest when I am writing, as this gives my life has a purpose. Forming a sentence with meaningful words that articulate my inner feelings is an everyday quest for me. Every writer needs to tell their story, and all writers have their own style. All stories starts off with characters, who are able to entertain the reader. Creating realistic lovable characters is the best way to tell a story. If you are able to develop characters that become real to you, then you will know exactly what they will do say and do next and this lets your story progress to the completion. Writing changes everything and having the calling to create something new through the power of words is much more than just making marks on a page. Once written, a book can be used by many people to learn and be entertained. The act of writing can be compared to the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle as it contains an inherent fuzziness, because various people may derive different meanings from reading the same words. You can never know the true nature of written words and the best I can do is hope is that people will understand the meanings that I am trying to convey. There are no clear-cut laws on how to write and it is impossible for me to determine how my readers react to my books.

16 comments on “The Mighty Quinn

  1. newepicauthor
    May 17, 2019

    Reblogged this on A Unique Title For Me and commented:

    Seeking Participants

  2. Pingback: Nanook of the North – A Unique Title For Me

  3. pensitivity101
    May 17, 2019

    I remember Manfred Mann singing this.

    • newepicauthor
      May 17, 2019

      Manfred Mann’s Earth Band still records and performs to this day.

  4. msjadeli
    May 17, 2019

    That’s a very interesting write-up, with several viable theories. Like you said, Bob Dylan could be putting a meaningless hodgepodge into this song. Lots of food for thought on what to write about. Nice to see the new banner.

    • newepicauthor
      May 17, 2019

      Thanks Li and I forgot to include it on my I Shot The Sheriff post which I apologize for, but that Mr Linkey stuff was really frustrating me.

      • msjadeli
        May 17, 2019

        Not a problem. I see you added a line at the bottom. It looks good! I think it stands out well. Sorry you were having trouble with Mr. Linky. He can be a real b*st*rd.

  5. Pingback: Music Challenges — The Mighty Quinn — Bob Dylan — analysis – Tao Talk

  6. Pingback: My Trip To the ’60’s – eastelmhurst.a.go.go

  7. Christine Bolton
    May 18, 2019

    I loved the backstory about this song! Thanks for a great post Jim 🙂

    • newepicauthor
      May 18, 2019

      Thanks Christine and I am enjoying this challenge, especially the writing part where I get to describe songs. Some things I am not so happy about, as on my own site I have a like button for comments and that is not present here and the other thing is the notifications don’t show up in my email, so I am forced to keep going back to this post to see if anyone made any comments or added any thing.

      • Christine Bolton
        May 18, 2019

        Oh that’s too bad. A bit of a chore I suppose. See what happens when you volunteer for something! 🙂 I’m glad you did. I enjoy stories from 60s music.

      • wildchild47
        May 18, 2019

        Jim – about notifications – you need to make sure, in your Gravatar settings, that you have allowed for notifications to show up –

        1. go to your profile/account in your Gravatar, and then, click on the section called “My Profile” – make sure MLMM is listed as one of your sites – if it isn’t, you add it in the bottom section – under add WP site – (when you click on that button, it should automatically show up for you since you have access to it, as a contributor)

        2.then go to the section in the left-hand tool bar that says “Notifications” – for your MLMM site, you can set/determine which information you want and how you want it delivered to you –

        once you’ve done this, it should all work out okay – and so you should receive email notifications etc. about likes etc. and/or in your “Bell” section on your dashboard (top right-hand screen tab bar) when logged in to WP.

        as for ping-backs?

        unless Yves has changed something, ping-backs have to be manually approved by each post author – which means either the notification will show up in your “Bell” or possibly in your email (it’s been awhile since I’ve posted here, so I can’t remember, and what with all kinds of techie changes on WP – I can’t be sure.)

        the only other way to double-check for your ping-backs is to log in, go to the MLMM site, and then check the comments section in the dashboard – under “pending” – and see if you have anything waiting for you … and approve what is for your post –

        I’ve just cleaned/approved a whack of pending pingbacks and a few stray comments, – so the slate is clean again (not everyone (prompt hosts) does this regularly, i.e. keeping track etc.) … and I’ve just cleared the spam content too (every now and then, people’s responses, comments or pingbacks end up floating around in there) – but usually WP is pretty good at catching the real stuff from the spam.

        Hope this helps you out some Jim 🙂

        And very interesting posts you’re offering for the music prompt too 🙂

  8. Pingback: MLMM Music Challenge – This, That, and The Other

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