Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The Basement Tapes: debt to TS Eliot?

The “Say hello to Valerie…“ verse in The Basement Tapes song Too Much Of Nothing always struck me as very clever, and very funny. But it had never occurred to me that it referenced another great writer.

Until Saturday’s TS Eliot Arena programme on BBC2, when I stumbled upon the connection – Vivienne and Valerie were the names of Eliot’s two wives.

Crowing about my discovery, I smugly turned to Gray’s Encyclopedia, entirely confident that there’d be no mention - that I was the very first fan to get the connection.

Lo and Behold!

The redoubtable Gray had been there before me. He credits recent Dylan Daily contributor Matthew Zuckerman with the discovery, first aired years ago in an article in ISIS fanzine.

Gray, Zuckerman: respect!

Gerry Smith