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Bob Dylan, Tangentials, and Eephus's Review Thread 2019: The Nobel Poet And A Fine Essayist With A Musical Corpus

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After The Band

Sinematic - Robbie Robertson (2019)

I can't think of many artists who've tried as hard to escape their musical legacy as Robertson.  I don't believe he's ever released any post-Band material that sounds remotely like his old group.  This record continues his flight away from Big Pink with a high gloss production by Robertson and Bjork and Tricky producer Howie B.  As the title Sinematic implies, the album is like a soundtrack to a set of imaginary movies.  There's a song about The Shadow and one set in Shanghai.  Robertson wrote some classic songs for The Band but on this record it seems like he's just telling somebody else's stories.

The biggest problem with all of Robertson's solo work is that he isn't a very good singer.  The Band had three better singers to interpret his songs.  Robertson brings in Van Morrison to duet on the Mafia pastiche "I Hear You Paint Houses" but most of the time it's just Robbie.  He singing often consists of talking in a hoarse whisper that tries to suggest intimacy but comes off more like an old guy wearing an expensive leather jacket driving a Tesla.

The song I liked the best is his John Lennon tribute Let Love Reign.  It's an alright song I guess but the album didn't move me.  The Levon Helm album I listened to last month was better.

Boz is OK.

 

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And the Band played on.

Jericho - The Band (1993)

With The Last Waltz, The Band made a huge hullabaloo about breaking up but few fans would condemn them for returning to the scene of the crime 16 years later.  Richard Manuel had committed suicide in 1986 and Robbie Robertson was too busy hanging out with Bono and Scorsese so three-fifths of the group got back together to record Jericho.

Robertson and Manuel were the songwriters of The Band which created a problem with material.  But it's easier to find songs than singers.  There's a cover of one of Dylan's best "lost" tracks "Blind Willie McTell", some blues and pop standards, a couple of instrumental, etc.  The songs are solid and well suited to the group's roots and talents. 

I've never heard any of the Band's post-reunion material but I'm glad I came around to this one.  It's a fine record that's probably as good as any of the later albums from the original lineup.  The Band was always their strongest when their multiple singers traded verses and harmonies.  Even with half the singers gone, Levon Helm and Rick Danko can still make magic happen when they sing together.  They even included a song from an 80s session with Richard Manuel on vocals.  My only criticism is pacing.  Like a lot of albums from the early CD era, the album suffers from a bit of bloat.  It's 56 minutes long and five of the twelve numbers clock in at over five minutes.  A little editing would have helped but we still finished it in two walks.

Tonight's song is a cover of a Springsteen song Atlantic City.   It's a song that's been recorded a lot but The Band's version in the top echelon of Springsteen covers.  The lead vocals from Levon add a country boy in the city vibe to the lyrics.  The accordion, organ, mandolin and Danko's harmony vocals fit the song perfectly.

Bosley has been busy tonight.  We went out to dinner with friends so Boz protested by peeing on the kitchen floor while we were out.   After dinner, we were hanging out in my daughter's apartment and he peed there too.  You can't really get mad at a 14 year old dog who gets stuck under chairs and behind doors but I'm just glad we don't have carpeting.

Edited by Eephus
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You can probably skip this post

Rock & Roll Resurrection - Ronnie Hawkins (1972)

The Band was The Hawks before they were The Band.  Ronnie only recorded nine songs with that lineup and they aren't here.  His resurrection probably owes a bit to the success of his old Hawks but whatever the circumstances, he made a couple of albums for Monument in the early 70s.  This one is almost all familiar rock 'n roll oldies recorded with a crack group of Nashville sessionmen including Boots Randolph. 

If you've seen The Last Waltz, you know Ronnie's schtick.  He hoots and hollers and has a good old time.  Other than a sappy country weeper that closes the album, the songs all rock.  It's good fun for its brief 25 minute duration but it's about as inconsequential as an album can be.  It seems more like something out of 1964 than 1972. 

I'll leave this one here tonight:  a driving rendition of Memphis, Tennessee.  If you can't find a Dylan song, Chuck Berry is the next best thing.

I ordered some diapers for Bosley today.

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9 hours ago, Eephus said:

You can probably skip this post

I honestly tried to, but the TV had the impeachment hearing on. I needed a diversion.

 

Lawdy Miss Clawdy - The various shout techniques used are impressive, imo. I also dig the beat and piano. And sax; nice sax.

Memphis, Tennessee - Nice. I enjoyed it. But, it don't hold a candle to Chuck, John & Yoko on Mike Douglas. Sorry - but truth.

Ain't That A Shame - Solid. My pop is a huge Fats Domino fan, and I have heard this song a lot.

Diddly Daddy - The alliteration is tongue tying. I tried to sing along; not easy. Enjoyed, regardless.

 

Not bad at all. Enjoyed the listen.

 

 

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9 hours ago, Eephus said:

I ordered some diapers for Bosley today.

This made me think of something that I have been researching. I am looking for a good "pet jersey" of my new fav team - Balt Ravens (Lamar Jackson and all) - but have never bought pet apparel before. Have you ever bought boz anything like this before? Any reccomendations?

Pet Boz for me.

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1 hour ago, Man of Constant Sorrow said:

This made me think of something that I have been researching. I am looking for a good "pet jersey" of my new fav team - Balt Ravens (Lamar Jackson and all) - but have never bought pet apparel before. Have you ever bought boz anything like this before? Any reccomendations?

Pet Boz for me.

Boz was never much for clothing.  The kids tried dressing him when he was younger and he'd spend all his energy trying to get the shirt off.  In his current state, I could probably get away with it but he has enough troubles.

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Another tribute

Endless Highway: The Music of The Band - Various Artists (2003)

This compilation follows the typical format of tribute albums.  A bunch of artists record cover versions separately and they get thrown together.  On these collections, I'm happy to get about a 33% hit rate of songs that aren't forgettable or worse.  I counted four out of the seventeen tracks that I'd like to hear again.  They're a pretty diverse set.  My Morning Jacket's version of The Band's last great song "It Makes No Difference" follows the original very faithfully but MMJ emphasizes the power chords more.  Thread veteran Rosanne Cash delivers a nice rendition of "The Unfaithful Servant" that starts quietly and builds beautifully.  Death Cab's version of "Rockin' Chair" takes some liberties especially during a lengthy instrumental coda.  I guess Jakob Dylan's contribution qualifies as well but I'm a friend of the family.

But the standout of the compilation for me comes from an unlikely source, The Roches.  The sisters take on Acadian Driftwood, Robbie Robertson's epic of the French Canadian diaspora.  The cover follows the original pretty closely but strips the song down to its essence.  One of the things that made The Band special was the effortless, natural mixing of their voices in song.  That's also always been The Roches' stock in trade.  I always liked the song but the Band's versions both on Northern Lights... and The Last Waltz box have a lot going on.

As tribute albums go, Endless Highway is pretty meh.  There were some songs I would have skipped if we weren't playing by official Bosley thread rules.  People who dig jam bands might enjoy the record more than I did. 

Had a nice conversation with a woman who takes in senior rescue dogs.  She suggested getting human incontinence pads, cutting them into thirds and using them as doggie diaper liners.  The longer you live, the more you learn.

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11 hours ago, Eephus said:

Boz was never much for clothing.  The kids tried dressing him when he was younger and he'd spend all his energy trying to get the shirt off.  In his current state, I could probably get away with it but he has enough troubles.

Thnx. I am guessing that Slappy won't mind the jersey too much. He's pretty stoic in that regard. 

I'll post a pic once I get the jersey. If lucky, we may be able to wear it for the ... oops ... not gonna jinx 'em.

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5 minutes ago, Man of Constant Sorrow said:

Thnx. I am guessing that Slappy won't mind the jersey too much. He's pretty stoic in that regard. 

I'll post a pic once I get the jersey. If lucky, we may be able to wear it for the ... oops ... not gonna jinx 'em.

I know I'm projecting but I think most dogs look embarrassed when they're wearing clothes. 

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Finishing off The Band tonight

Before The Flood - Bob Dylan/The Band (1974)

It's a live album recorded over two nights at the LA Forum in February 1974.  Although it's billed as Dylan and The Band, they only play together on sides one and four of the original LP version.  Side two is all Band songs while side three consists of an acoustic mini-set from Dylan along with three more songs from The Band. 

Like other Dylan live albums, their joint numbers are kind of strange and non-definitive.  I think they take everything too fast; the tempos mostly range from galloping to breakneck.  Two of the three Dylan's acoustic songs are really fast as well.  Dylan's vocals seem shouty to me.  At times, he sounds like a singer doing a parody of Dylan with a weird overemphasis of certain words and comically elongated vowels.  It's kind of hard to describe but it's quite pronounced and different from his studio recordings.  Maybe he was excited to be there or maybe he was just taking the p###.  The Band's solo numbers fare much better.  Danko's voice is pretty shot but the group is in energetic form. 

The last paragraph sound like I didn't like the album which isn't the case at all.  Dylan is never boring and The Band is probably the greatest of his many great supporting groups.  It could have been stupendous but it's mostly just interesting.  The best number for me was their version of Highway 61 Revisited.  Levon Helm's drumming is sensational here.  He's not doing anything fancy or technical but he drives the engine, makes the song breathe and swings like crazy.

We're trying the diaper thing tonight.  I trust Boz at night (generally) but I want him to be used to them before the next time we leave him in the house alone.

 

Edited by Eephus
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It's new release day!

Cotillions - William Patrick Corgan (2019)

I could have gone with the new/old/posthumous albums from Leonard Cohen or Harry Nilsson for a more direct Dylan connection but when I heard Billy, sorry William Patrick, Corgan put out a singer/songwriter album, my interest was piqued.  I was never a big Smashing Pumpkins fan other than the drummer but Corgan is an Olympic class weirdo with an interesting worldview, so what the hell I took his new record for a spin.

It's not really Dylanesque more than any guy singing behind an acoustic guitar is.  The best songs for me were the ones that stuck closer to that tried and true format.  Towards the end of the 61 minute long record, there were a few more elaborate numbers with a string section that probably should have been left as outtakes but we're talking about the guy who released Machina.  Corgan usually has a tendency to whine when he sings but here he keeps his Festerisms to a manageable amount.  I did have a tough time following the lyrics, Corgan's singing is harder to decipher than Dylan's and the words I could make out didn't make a lot of sense.

The standout track is Jubilee, a western number accompanied by a fiddle and a ghostly steel guitar.  I doubt I'll ever listen to the album again but I added Jubilee to my 2019 songs I like playlist.

Boz is wandering around here somewhere.

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Finishing the job

Triplicate - Bob Dylan (2017)

Somewhere along the line I decided to skip the two most recent Dylan albums where he covers the Great American Songbook.  I don't remember the reasons, especially since the first album I posted about in this now tired format was Shadows In the Night where he covers the Great American Songbook.  I've listened to his other covers album but I made exceptions for Triplicate and its predecessor Fallen Angels.  I'm going to right that wrong before the Dylan Xmas album and listen to some other artists take on the standards.

Perhaps I excluded the songbook records because I was intimidated by Triplicate.  It's a three disc set with 30 songs over 95 minutes.  Did I mention it's sung by a 75 year old man?  It took Boz and me three walks to finish and I guess it was worth it.  Triplicate is an endearing record with a good old soul.  Wistful isn't among the top 100 adjectives I'd normally apply to Dylan but it fits him here.  His song choices generally tend toward saloon songs.  When they swing, they do it gently.  I realize old Dylan's voice is kind of an acquired taste but I think he sounds great on these numbers.  He knows he has no upper register so he'll drop an octave when he needs to.  His phrasing has always been special so he's able to convey emotion without a lot of exertion. The arrangements fit the material and the singer; Dylan recorded with his touring band augmented occasionally by a small horn section.

It's a very consistent collection but 30 songs is just too much of a good thing.  It was tough to pick a favorite but I went with Once Upon a Time, a song I've enjoyed when performed by Tony Bennett and Sinatra.  Dylan obviously doesn't have the pipes of those guys but his reading of the song holds its own.  There's an excellent live version of the song from a televised tribute to Bennett.

Tomorrow is dog diaper day for real.  We have to go away for about three hours and we're leaving Boz in the house to fend for himself.  He got warmed up for it by getting stuck under the bed tonight.

 

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15 hours ago, Eephus said:

Triplicate - Bob Dylan (2017)

This time, I did my listen before I read any of your review. The first thing that came to mind was Bennett and Sinatra. I am a fan of both - have been for a long while. 

My favorite track was The Best Is Yet To Come.

 

Also, I loved the write up of Cotillions - but nothing on the album really stood out to me. Not bad, but not memorable either.

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3 hours ago, Man of Constant Sorrow said:

My favorite track was The Best Is Yet To Come.

Good one.  It stood out as of the swingingest songs on the album.  All the ballads wore me out after a while.

 

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1 hour ago, Eephus said:

Need @rockaction back to update the OP

A less polemical choice you will not find, sir.  

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Another trip down memory lane

Both Sides Now - Joni Mitchell (2000)

I was a bigger Joni than Dylan fan in the 70s and 80s but lost track of both along the way.  I've seen this album in the crates but assumed it was some kind of greatest hits compilation rather than Mitchell's take on American pop standards.  Joni has always swung toward jazz so I had my hopes up high for her versions of the classics.

When Dylan sang the Great American Songbook he claimed the songs as his own.  They had a distinct homemade feel; nobody would ever mistake them for the originals.  Mitchell's approach is different.  She recreates the lush sound of the original with tons of strings--some of the songs feature a 70 piece orchestra.  Joni's voice sounds great but the little pleasures of her phrasing and how she slides into a note sometimes gets lost in the epic scope of the arrangements.  She threw a couple of her own compositions in as well but they aren't remarkable.

There's a lot to admire here.  The arrangements are gorgeous and the musicianship is top notch.  Mitchell was 57 years old when she recorded this.  She's lost some range but works in a contralto that's somewhere in the vicinity of Helen Merrill and Julie London.  I'd rather listen to the originals, Mitchell's interpretations are too much like imitations for my tastes and I miss Mitchell's unmistakable guitar playing.  My favorite song was Comes Love, which was originally written for the Broadway musical Yokel Boy, starring Phil Silvers and Buddy Ebsen.  Billie Holiday did an incredible version as well.

The doggie diaper experiment wasn't entirely successful but at least he didn't get stuck anywhere while we were away.  It rained here today for the first time since well before the beginning of this thread.  I wonder if Bosley even remembers what rain is because he seemed puzzled by it when we went first outside today. 

 

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I'm taking a few days off for the holiday.  Thanks for reading the thread and giving me something to focus on  during our slow walks.

Here's some thread-related music with a Thanksgiving theme.

Alice's Restaurant Massacree - Arlo Guthrie (1967).  Still brings some laughs after all these years.

The Last Waltz - The Band (1978, updated 2002).  It happened on Thanksgiving Day 1976.  There's a four hour edition on Spotify with songs that didn't make the film.  I've only listened to the additional Dylan material but there are a bunch more songs from The Band, two from Joni Mitchell and one each from Neil Young and Van Morrison.   The poetry performances aren't included.

 

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Enjoy your holiday break, Ee.

I dug the Joni Mitchell. I'll decide my fav after the break. 

Meanwhile, your Arlo synchronized well (imo) with a track that was playing on one of my Spotify "You're Daily Mix" playlists. I'm guessing that it popped up because I have been playing so much of your stuff. I liked it a lot. 

Maggie's Farm - Rage Against the Machine (2000)

 

Edit: Gonna pour one out for rock today, too.

Edited by Man of Constant Sorrow
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Unsurprisingly, Dylan was my most listened to artist on Spotify in 2019.  I spent 83 hours this year listening to the man.

Continuing on the standards tip I listened to The Jerome Kern Songbook by Ella Fitzgerald.  It's been kind of sporadic with the holidays, some rainy nights and prepping for the FFA 2019 year end draft.  I'll have to go back to Ella in order to write something up.

Boz seems increasingly confused.  He's getting stuck under or behind things multiple times per day.  Sometimes I find him walking around in circles in the center of the room.  He's still a good boy though.

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Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Jerome Kern Song Book - Ella Fitzgerald (1963)

When old rock singers tackle the standards, they enter a crowded arena.  The greatest singers of the 20th century are sitting in the clubhouse with definitive versions.  Ella is certainly one of the greatest voices America has produced.  She's powerful and expressive over a broad vocal range and was able to still sound flirtatious towards the end of her career.  She was 46 when she recorded this record; the seventh of eight song books devoted to pop composers.  I had a cassette with the "Best of" the song books but I'd never listened to this one.

I think it's interesting in retrospect how legacy artists responded to the growth of rock 'n roll.  On this album, Fitzgerald seems blissfully unaware.  It has a classic swinging sound that could have happened twenty years earlier.  The recording quality is much better, especially of the rhythm sections with a nice woody sounding bass.  Kern wrote the tunes and a variety of lyricists wrote the words so it may not be as cohesive a set as some of the other song books.  But the songs have a terrific literate quality with rhyme schemes you'd rarely hear in rock 'n roll.

The album is great although it's a bit too ballad heavy for dog walking.  I'll leave A Fine Romance here for the thread.  It has a nice relaxed swing courtesy of Nelson Riddle and a vocal that perfectly compliments the witty lyrics.  The song was originally written for Astaire and Rogers.  Ella had previously recorded a more up tempo version with Louis Armstong but I like the song book version better.

Boz threw up his morning feeding today but seems OK now.  Maybe he's pregnant.

 

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On 11/28/2019 at 8:36 AM, Man of Constant Sorrow said:

Edit: Gonna pour one out for rock today, too.

For THE ROCK, or just ole rock? 

Eh, I think I gotcha. Thank you, homie.  

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Songs I Wish I Had Sung - Bing Crosby (1956)

Bing has bona fides as the greatest interpreter of popular songs of the 20th Century but has largely been usurped by Sinatra in popular perception.  Crosby was a dozen years older and began his career in the 20s.  By the time the LP era started, Crosby was in his 50s and while still in fine form vocally, he was an artist of another time.  Sinatra was able to reinvent himself and stay relevant while Bing became the guy who sang White Christmas.  It's too bad because Crosby is a wonderful singer.  He was one of the first Caucasian jazz singers and has a innate sense of phrasing.

This collection takes songs made famous by others and recreates them with the Crosby touch.  Bing perseveres through some rather clunky arrangements.  If you hung in through my Dylan writeups, you know I don't like it when background singers challenge the star.  That happens too often for my liking on this album.  The strings veer perilously close to EZ listening territory and Bing follows along.  He sounds extremely relaxed on the ballads, so much so that he reminded me at times of the old SCTV sketch where Perry Como sings while reclining on a couch.  The handful of mid tempo songs fare a bit better but it's an album for old people.

I liked Crosby's renditions of Bob Hope's signature tune "Thanks for the Memory" and Ted Lewis' "When My Baby Smiles At Me" but I'm going to spotlight Blues In the Night.  It's both the jazziest number on the record and one that illustrates my complaints about the arrangements.  Bing swings effortlessly and does a little whistling besides.  He had previously recorded the song in 1942.  I think Bing's voice sounds a little better on the earlier record.

Boz is wearing us out.  It's like having a baby in the house again.  He woke up four times last night and we can't just let him wander anymore because he gets stuck.  I finally ended up taking him to the spare bedroom so Mrs. Eephus could get some sleep.  It was a nice gesture but I couldn't calm him down.  Weather permitting, tonight I may take him for a midnight walk to try and tire him out.  I'll probably listen to the FFA 2019 draft mix instead of more standards.

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Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin - Willie Nelson (2016)

Willie has recorded a number of Great American song book albums since his huge crossover hit Stardust in 1978.  As the title suggests, Summertime sticks to the songs of Gershwin.  The arrangements here are simpler than Stardust and oddly similar at times to Dylan's standards records.  The Western Swing elements are mostly hidden here, only surfacing on "They All Laughed". 

I understand why modern singer-songwriters have returned to the standards as they grew older.  There's an undeniable craftsmanship to these songs.  They're more sophisticated than most rock 'n roll melodies and lyrics.  Songwriters like Nelson, Dylan and Mitchell have been banging out tunes for over half a century.  They can better appreciate the artistry of Gershwin, Porter and their contemporaries.

Summertime is a lovely album with a casual relaxed feel.  Willie's voice is a natural treasure.  In my mind's eye, I can see him tilt his head and sing out the side of his mouth as he stretches for a high note.  Willie occasionally picks a few bars on Trigger but his longtime harmonica player Mickey Raphael is the most prominent instrumental soloist.  I could do without the duets with Cyndi Lauper and Sheryl Crow who aren't really simpatico with what Willie is up to.  Ironically, the song with Lauper is "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off".

Tough to pick a favorite but I'll go with Someone To Watch Over Me.  It's a perfect love song that Nelson recorded previously on Stardust.  The 2016 rendition is better I think.  Willie's voice has an added poignancy and the sparse arrangement suits the song better than the strings and organ that accompany Nelson on the Stardust version.

I can hear Bosley walking up and down the hall of our apartment.  When I don't hear him, I need to check whether he's in his bed or stuck somewhere again.

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Sentimental Journey - Ringo Starr (1970)

This album may have been the first example of a Rock superstar tackling the Great American Songbook.  Ringo had just turned 30 and lost the best gig of his life.  He wasn't a writer or much of a singer but by re-recording the standards he found an excellent gimmick to launch his solo career.  George Martin assembled a group of A-list arrangers including Quincy Jones, Elmer Bernstein and John Dankworth.  They're a strange mix with Ringo's humble voice but it sort of works.

There's a difference between this and the standards albums from Dylan, Joni and Willie.  Where they approached the songs with reverence for the songwriters Ringo is just having a larf singing the tunes from his parents' record collection.  It supplies a light, humorous touch that's still present when Ringo is murdering "Stardust".  I'm spotlighting Bye Bye Blackbird because its arrangement by Bee Gee Maurice Gibb covers a lot of ground in 2:13.  It starts off accompanied by a strumming banjo a builds to a huge big band finale.  I think Starr approach fits better with the songs charted by pop arrangers like Gibb and Richard Parry. 

This is probably the least of the first post-breakup albums from the four Beatles but it's still a fun listen.  I've listened to McCartney, The Plastic Ono Band and All Things Must Pass dozens of times but I'm pretty certain this was my first pass at Sentimental Journey.  I can't say I'll ever listen to it again but I'm glad to have heard it tonight.

I think the Bosley diaper experiment is ending in failure.  We went out to see X last night and were away for about four hours.  In that time he somehow managed to escape the diaper and pee on the floor in front of our bedroom.  When I came in the door after the show it played out like a play in two acts:  first the discarded diaper and about five feet further along the puddle.

 

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Tonight I listened to Dylan's 2016 standards album Fallen Angels but I still had Spotify on shuffle from the FFA year-end mix.  Rookie mistake.  By the time I realized my mistake, we were on the way back home.  Good thing it's only 37 minutes long. 

Boz met a 15 year old hound named Gus tonight.  Gus wasn't doing too well.  He and Boz stood about six inches from each other for about 20 seconds before wandering off in different directions.

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Fallen Angels (2016)

Dylan also won the Nobel Prize in 2016 so this is some kind of a record unless Niels Bohr put out a gramophone disc.  Fallen Angels is the second of three albums exploring American Pop standards (or the second of five if you count Triplicate as three).  I think it's the best of the three although it's been months since I listened to Shadows In the Night.

The format is familiar, stripped down arrangements with his touring band sometimes augmented by a small horn section.  I think the song selection here is more varied than on Triplicate with some jaunty rhythms including a swinging version of "That Old Black Magic".  Maybe Triplicate just wore me down but I remember it as more ballad heavy than Fallen Angels, which is pretty ballad heavy itself. 

I've come to really enjoy old man Dylan.  He's in fine form here and seems to be enjoying himself tremendously which hasn't always been the case.  Dylan doesn't do much press these days but I'd be curious why he chose the songs he did.  There are some familiar standards but he throws in a number of songs I'd never heard before.  One of those gets the spotlight tonight: On A Little Street in Singapore sets a mood and employs a lyric to draw you in but ends quickly after only 135 seconds.

If you've followed the thread, you know I love trains.  Mrs. Eephus bought me a model railroad a few Xmases back but she went with HO scale in our N gauge apartment.  We don't have enough table space for a layout so the floor is the only option.  I finally broke it out this year and set up a loop around the Xmas tree.  I'm having more fun with it than a man my age should. Fortunately, Boz is cool with it.  In his younger days, Bosley would have declared war on it but he's pretty imperturbable these days.

And now it's just Dylan's Christmas in the Heart, Bosley and me.

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7 minutes ago, Apple Jack said:

Bob Pollard!

Hey, Bobs...there's an idea for the hopper.

Today would have been Bob Stinson's 60th birthday

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Christmas In The Heart (2009)

I guess it's fitting that @timschochet started a new Dylan thread on the day I completed the cycle first begun on June 1st.  Dylan's Christmas album is kind of a silly platform from which to pass the torch but it's as good as any.

It's remarkable to transition from his 2016 & 2017 Great American songbook albums to this one from seven years earlier.  Dylan's voice is much rougher here and lacks range on the high end.  The recovery of his vocal chops over the past decade has been a minor miracle.  The Christmas songs probably would have sounded better with his rehabilitated voice but it's a surprisingly endearing set.

He's produced a rather old fashioned Christmas album with no original songs.  He uses his band from Together Through Life sweetened by a seven voice choir.  I'm usually more cold than hot on Dylan's backing singers but the choir generally works to the songs' advantage.

There's not much you can say about the material.  I think he fares better on 20th Century Pop songs than on more traditional carols except for his very curious reading of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" .  On the carols,  he sounds a bit like a hobo who wandered into church on Christmas morning.  "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" is particularly lame.  Dylan's version of 1960 novelty number "Must Be Santa" is a lively polka with a fun video.  It's also the closest he's ever gotten to Jewish Klezmer music of his ancestors.  But the final Dylan spotlight shines on The Christmas Blues, a little performed song written by Sammy Cahn for Dean Martin.  Dylan and his band cut to the loneliness of the lyrics more effectively than Dino did.  It gets the nod as the closest thing to a definitive version of a song on this album.

I've been at this for over half a year.  According to Spotify, I listened to 83 hours of Dylan this year.  Triplicate, Fallen Angels and this one probably put me over 85 hours.  It's been fun and enlightening; I've gotten a much greater appreciation of the man and his talent than when I started.  I'm also glad I commemorated my time with my aging dog.  Reading back through some of the older entries makes me sad about how much Bosley has lost since summertime.  He's now unable to take the stairs and his wanderings are much more aimless.  He's a sweet old pup that continues to enrich our family and I treasure our time together more than I did when he was younger.

So this is it for Dylan for now.  I still have the Bootleg Series and a bunch of live albums but I'm off the clock.  I'll keep this thread going through the end of the year with some Christmas albums from Dylan adjacent artists.  I'll start a new album listening/dog walking thread in 2020 but I'm unsure of which direction we'll take.  Thanks for following us.

 

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A John Prine Christmas (1994)

Prine was one of many singer/songwriters labelled as "New Dylans" in the early 70s.  I guess his plainspoken voice is kind of similar to Dylan's but Prine's lyrics have always been more literal than metaphysical.

It's kind of an odd Christmas album with only two holiday standards among its eight tracks.  Instead the album opens with two songs refereneing his divorce which happened around Christmastime a few years earlier.  I'm happy he's put that behind him and moved on but it's not really the universal message of the holidays.  It's seems like Prine had to stretch a little to make this album length.  There are three live tracks including a non-seasonal duet with Margo Timmins of the Cowboy Junkies and a re-recording of "Christmas In Prison" from one of his early albums.

So it's not great art but it has heart and a sense of humor.  Album closer "A John Prine Christmas" starts with spoken word reminiscing about his childhood, segues into Away in a Manger and plays out as a polka.  But my nightly selection is Silent Night All Day Long a country waltz that sounds exactly like you'd expect a John Prine Xmas song would sound.

Bosley made it up the back stairs this morning.  It was slow going but he made it.

 

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On ‎12‎/‎19‎/‎2019 at 12:22 AM, Eephus said:

Christmas In The Heart (2009)

I guess it's fitting that @timschochet started a new Dylan thread on the day I completed the cycle first begun on June 1st.  Dylan's Christmas album is kind of a silly platform from which to pass the torch but it's as good as any.

It's remarkable to transition from his 2016 & 2017 Great American songbook albums to this one from seven years earlier.  Dylan's voice is much rougher here and lacks range on the high end.  The recovery of his vocal chops over the past decade has been a minor miracle.  The Christmas songs probably would have sounded better with his rehabilitated voice but it's a surprisingly endearing set.

He's produced a rather old fashioned Christmas album with no original songs.  He uses his band from Together Through Life sweetened by a seven voice choir.  I'm usually more cold than hot on Dylan's backing singers but the choir generally works to the songs' advantage.

There's not much you can say about the material.  I think he fares better on 20th Century Pop songs than on more traditional carols except for his very curious reading of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" .  On the carols,  he sounds a bit like a hobo who wandered into church on Christmas morning.  "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" is particularly lame.  Dylan's version of 1960 novelty number "Must Be Santa" is a lively polka with a fun video.  It's also the closest he's ever gotten to Jewish Klezmer music of his ancestors.  But the final Dylan spotlight shines on The Christmas Blues, a little performed song written by Sammy Cahn for Dean Martin.  Dylan and his band cut to the loneliness of the lyrics more effectively than Dino did.  It gets the nod as the closest thing to a definitive version of a song on this album.

I've been at this for over half a year.  According to Spotify, I listened to 83 hours of Dylan this year.  Triplicate, Fallen Angels and this one probably put me over 85 hours.  It's been fun and enlightening; I've gotten a much greater appreciation of the man and his talent than when I started.  I'm also glad I commemorated my time with my aging dog.  Reading back through some of the older entries makes me sad about how much Bosley has lost since summertime.  He's now unable to take the stairs and his wanderings are much more aimless.  He's a sweet old pup that continues to enrich our family and I treasure our time together more than I did when he was younger.

So this is it for Dylan for now.  I still have the Bootleg Series and a bunch of live albums but I'm off the clock.  I'll keep this thread going through the end of the year with some Christmas albums from Dylan adjacent artists.  I'll start a new album listening/dog walking thread in 2020 but I'm unsure of which direction we'll take.  Thanks for following us.

 

Long live Boz - great job and an enjoyable read.

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Light of the Stable - Emmylou Harris (1979)

Emmylou's body of work is another tangent that I considered following in the second half of this thread but never got around to it.  This Christmas album came pretty early in her career while married to the album's producer Brian Ahern.  The collection is split almost 50/50 between traditional and new material but since they never stray far from the story of the Christ child, the transition is relatively seamless. 

The arrangements are similar to the quieter stuff from Harris' early albums.  Her angelic voice is at the center but she's helped by unobtrusive harmony singers and whatever version of The Hot Band she had at the time.  There's a definite bluegrass tint but without an emphasis on picking.  Tonight I'm choosing her version of O Little Town of Bethlehem for sentimental reasons.  It was one song I remembered from the Xmas mixes I put together for our family.  It started on cassettes before moving through a few generations of MP3 players.  I'm pretty sure we skipped CDs.  It's on Spotify now but at 683 songs, it's grown too unwieldy as playlists tend to do.  Cassettes involved tough decisions.

Light of the Stable is a fine album.  You could do worse when choosing music for when you wrap presents.

We went to a party tonight but had to leave early to check on some old dog.  He had peed in the kitchen but was asleep in his bed when we got home. 

 

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Christmas At The Ranch - Ben Keith & Friends (1994)

This album was entitled Seven Gates when originally released.  I had a copy on CD and probably still do somewhere.  I used to like it and haven't heard it in years.

Ben Keith was a perennial Neil Young sideman on steel guitar and dobro.  He played on one Dylan session in the early 70s but it didn't surface until the Bootleg Series.  Keith's friends include Young, Johnny Cash and a host of professional players. 

What can you say?  It's a Christmas album with a mix of secular and religious songs, the slight majority are instrumentals.  The music is extremely laid back.  As you'd expect, there's lots of steel guitar and dobro.  The great Mickey Raphael plays harmonica on a number of tracks.  Cash takes a shot at "The Little Drummer Boy" which has never been a personal favorite.  This version trudges along for nearly seven minutes.  Young's version of "Greensleeves" is a few ticks shorter but at least has a children's choir. 

My favorite song is Keith's take on Blue Christmas. It's more country than Elvis' version but it's real pretty nonetheless. 

Bosley has always been pretty good about the Christmas tree.  We used to put it on a coffee table to give it more height against our 12' ceilings which helped but we never had any tree disasters due to Boz.  Our last dog Charlie was always knocking ornaments off and eating tinsel.

 

 

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We Three Kings - The Roches (1990)

No Dylan connection here.  Just beautiful three part harmonies on too many Christmas carols.  24 songs over 58 minutes are a third too high on both counts.  But hey, there are no residuals to be paid to Handel and the sisters probably had been singing these songs together since childhood.  I prefer the acapella stuff because the accompanied numbers have some cheesy sounding keyboard.  Somebody got a new synth for Xmas.

I can't get away from "The Little Drummer Boy".  All four albums I've listened to have that on it.  I believe it's the only common song.  This version is probably the best of the four but I can't stand the pa-rum-pa-pum-pums.  I'll shine the spotlight on the Roches' rendition of Winter Wonderland because it manages to be beautiful and silly at the same time.

SF has always been a bit of a post-college town.  If anything, it's gotten more so in recent years.  The neighborhood has cleared out for the holidays as the young rich kids have gone back to where they're from.  The restaurants and bars are empty and the sidewalks are safe for old dogs.

 

 

 

 

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Merry Christmas all. 

Since we are stepping away from Dylan for some holiday tunes, I will submit my all time favorite. 

The Nutcracker

My cousin took me to see it when I was 5 or 7 or so. It was my first Ballet. The dancers movement seemed unreal to me.

In my later years, I likened the effect to the trails produced from a good acid trip. 

I passed the Electric Nutcracker Test. 

Can you? 

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9 hours ago, Man of Constant Sorrow said:

Merry Christmas all. 

Since we are stepping away from Dylan for some holiday tunes, I will submit my all time favorite. 

The Nutcracker

 

This Nutcracker was the version my kids grew up with, which probably is true for most 90s kids. 

My daughter's favorite Christmas song is Brian Setzer's version 

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On the other hand, this is one of my favorites

How to Make Gravy - Paul Kelly

The great Australian singer/songwriter captures the treasure and the trash of the holiday.

I make gravy for Bosley every few days out of kitchen scraps and broth or water.  A couple of spoonfuls on his kibble makes his day.  Chicken gizzards are his favorite although he really seems to enjoy the last bits of tuna that I rinse out of the can.  I've got a turkey thawing so there are some giblets in Bosley's future.  He's been a very good boy this year.

 

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With the year drawing to a close, I thought I'd listen to some 2019 releases with some Dylanesque bits about them.

U.F.O.F. - Big Thief (2019)

Two Hands - Big Thief (2019)

I guess any singer/songwriter with a guitar is slightly connected to Dylan, although Adrianne Lenker's music reminds me more of Neil Young than Dylan.  Big Thief pulled a power move with two albums released in a calendar year.  Dylan did a similar flex four times between 1963 and 1973 but not since (unless you count previously recorded but unreleased material).  Both Big Thief records are very solid without much filler.  Friends of the thread know I'm not a rankings guy.  Other people on the board can quantify between their 38th and 39th favorite songs while I can't decide which of these two albums I like better.  U.F.O.F. has a stately beauty about it while Two Hands seems a bit rawer emotionally.  I think I'll have to listen to them again.

Hope everybody had a good Christmas.  Bosley had a pretty eventful 24 hours.  On Christmas morning, my daughter got all of us matching socks with Bosley's picture on them.  He's wearing his goggles and everything.  He accompanied us across town to Grammy's house for Christmas dinner.  She lives in the Bayview near Candlestick.  Bosley used to love riding in the car; he'd put his front paws up on the dashboard like he was driving.  The open window was a cornucopia of smells passing by at terrific speed for a little dog.  Now he seems more freaked out by the experience.   I think the motion throws off his equilibrium and he can't see anything.  He was fine once he got there.  I diapered him up because Grammy has carpeting.  We came home and watched Die Hard as a family so it was after midnight when we went to bed.  About 5:15 Bosley woke up and I drew the short straw to take him in back for his pee.  As I've mentioned previously, we have 18 steps down from our second floor landing to the small concrete backyard.  Bosley wandered off the top one and fell all the way to the bottom.  There's a motion sensor light that triggers about halfway down the stairs so Bosley's tumble finished in the spotlight.  He landed his dismount turtled on his back and proceeded to pee all over himself.  How he does that without hurting himself is an amazing stroke of dumb luck but he seemed no worse off for it today.

 

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17 hours ago, Eephus said:

 

Hope everybody had a good Christmas.  Bosley had a pretty eventful 24 hours.  On Christmas morning, my daughter got all of us matching socks with Bosley's picture on them.  He's wearing his goggles and everything.  He accompanied us across town to Grammy's house for Christmas dinner.  She lives in the Bayview near Candlestick.  Bosley used to love riding in the car; he'd put his front paws up on the dashboard like he was driving.  The open window was a cornucopia of smells passing by at terrific speed for a little dog.  Now he seems more freaked out by the experience.   I think the motion throws off his equilibrium and he can't see anything.  He was fine once he got there.  I diapered him up because Grammy has carpeting.  We came home and watched Die Hard as a family so it was after midnight when we went to bed.  About 5:15 Bosley woke up and I drew the short straw to take him in back for his pee.  As I've mentioned previously, we have 18 steps down from our second floor landing to the small concrete backyard.  Bosley wandered off the top one and fell all the way to the bottom.  There's a motion sensor light that triggers about halfway down the stairs so Bosley's tumble finished in the spotlight.  He landed his dismount turtled on his back and proceeded to pee all over himself.  How he does that without hurting himself is an amazing stroke of dumb luck but he seemed no worse off for it today.

 

I'm glad Bosley seems ok. I have missed a lot of this thread, but when I see it I always read it, and the first thing I read is the bottom of your posts to read about the day in the life of Bosley.  :heart:

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Tales of America - J.S. Ondara (2019)

Ondara has a compelling backstory.  He was born in Nairobi and emigrated to the US after winning the Green Card lottery in 2013.  While growing up in Kenya, he listened to rock 'n roll on a battery powered radio.  He claims his love of Dylan was one of the reasons he settled in Minneapolis.   Even if that's not entirely true, it has a mythological quality about it which Dylan could certainly relate to.

His music follows the time honored format of a young man with an acoustic guitar.  Ondara sings in English with a slight accent.  His lyrics are straightforward and he sings them in an exceptional voice that on occasion soars into falsetto.  To be honest, he reminded me more of Tracy Chapman than Dylan but I mean that in the most complimentary way.  It's a really good album--a strong debut from a new voice that deserves to be heard.

I'll spotlight the most Dylanesque song on the record Master O'Connor which bears a resemblance to "Masters of War".  The lyrics are disturbing but ambiguous.  It's unclear to me whether he's singing about slavery, sex trafficking or desire.

Boz had a quiet day which is a welcome change from the excitement of the past couple of days.  I froze yesterday's turkey gizzards for his future gravy needs.

 

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GUY - Steve Earle & The Dukes (2019)

I knew Earle had released a tribute to the music of Guy Clark this year but I never got around to listening to it the whole way through.  I'm glad I did because Clark was a special songwriter.  whose voice was adequate for telling his stories.  Earle is a better, more expressive singer although as he hits his mid-sixties his vocals have taken on a gruffness that's reminiscent of Dylan at the same age.

Although Earle has a darker, more politicized worldview than Clark did, their songwriting styles are similar.  The album ends up sounding very much like a Steve Earle album.  He has an obvious affection for Guy and his music which comes through clearly on record.  The selection of Clark's songs is excellent.  "Desperadoes Waiting For a Train" is a great song that any songwriter would be proud to have on his or her resume.

I'll spotlight the album's closer Old Friends where Earle is joined by some of Clark's other friends Rodney Crowell, Emmylou Harris, Jerry Jeff Walker, Terry Allen and Jo Harvey Allen.  I love the contrast between the verse and chorus and the final instrumental section that's both elegiac and hopeful. 

Minor crisis last night when Mrs. Eephus thought Boz had crapped in the house.  It turned out to be a chunk of dried mud that had been tracked in from outside.  Bosley is pretty uninhibited in his old age but we're glad this one is still mostly intact.

 

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