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The BobFather: A Family Saga

‘I never . . . I never wanted this for you, Jakob.’

Jakob Dylan

Jakob Dylan

Michel Linssen/Redferns

Scene: Interior. A dimly lit, lavishly furnished room outside New York. DON DYLAN sits at his desk with his capos MCGUINN, DONOVAN and ROBERTSON, as well as his son JAKOB. They wear suits dark as night. Don Dylan carries on his shoulder a Siamese cat, which he strokes absent-mindedly. Consigliere NEIL YOUNG moves to the chair nearest the desk.

YOUNG: I have the Beck notes here. He’s known as the Slacker. He’s a top sampling man. He buys the records from thrift shops in Sicily and hires American producers to process them into the voice of a generation.

DON DYLAN: [Waves his hand in the air casually] This sampling is a dirty business. And I believe it will destroy us in the years to come.

JAKOB: There’s a lot of money in that white funk.

DON DYLAN gives him a long, silent glare, then turns to the capos.

DON DYLAN: I have a sentimental weakness for my children, and I spoil them, as you can see. They sing when they should listen. I must say no to Signor Beck.

ROBERTSON: I found out about his bodyguards, the Dust Brothers. While he’s with them, he’s untouchable.

DON DYLAN: Then we will make the Slacker an offer he can’t refuse. So let us not talk falsely now; the hour is getting late. My son Jakob is the new head of the family. You have faith in my judgment? I have your loyalty?

McGUINN: Yes, Bobfather.

ROBERTSON: Always, Bobfather.

DON DYLAN: Then be a friend to Jakob, and do as he says. He has all my confidence. But I’m a superstitious man. And if some unlucky accident should befall him if his videos should disappear from MTV, or if he should somehow end up opening for Counting Crows – then I am going to blame some of the people in this room. And that I do not forgive. Now, listen to him.

JAKOB: The family is giving up all its interests in the grunge business. Neff Young is no longer consigliere. He’ll be our man in Northern California. That’s no reflection on Nell, but that’s the way I want it. Besides, if I need help, who’s a better consigliere than my father?

The capos kiss DON DYLAN’s ring. Young goes over to JAKOB.

YOUNG: Jake, why am I out? I’m the one who kept things going when you didn’t want to get mixed up in the family business. I got the family into grunge – I even got that Cobain punk to sing a Leadbelly song!

JAKOB: You’re not a wartime consigliere, and things may get rough with the moves we’re trying. You’re out, Neff.

Exeunt. JAKOB and the DON remain in the room alone. Jakob moves to the armchair near the desk. The DON opens a bottle of Brunello di Montalcino and pours himself a glass. He strokes the cat and fiddles with his harmonica holder.

DON DYLAN: Are you here, Jakob?

JAKOB: I’m here, Pop. I’m with you now.

DON DYLAN: How are your wife and children, Jakob?

JAKOB: They’re good, Pop.

DON DYLAN: And your roadies? Are you spending time with them? Because a man who does not spend time with his roadies can never be a real man.

JAKOB: The roadies are fine, Pop.

DON DYLAN: Remember, the man who comes to you to make the Beck deal is a traitor.

JAKOB: I know, Pop. You told me.

DON DYLAN: Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Don’t follow leaders. Watch your parking meters.

JAKOB: I already know, Pop. What’s the matter? What’s bothering you? I told you I can handle it; I can handle it.

DON DYLAN: [Shrugging sadly] I never . . . I never wanted this for you, Jakob. I worked my whole life – I don’t apologize – to take care of my family. And I refused to be a fool, dancing on a string held by all those big shots. I don’t apologize, that’s my life, but I thought that when it was your time, you would be the one to hold the strings. Senator Zimmerman, Governor Zimmerman – something. There just wasn’t enough time, Jakob, wasn’t enough time.

JAKOB: We’ll get there, Pop, we’ll get there. With one headlight.

Fade to black.

This story is from the December 25th, 1997/January 8th, 1998 double issue of Rolling Stone.


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