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Bob Dylan, Tangentials, and Eephus's Review Thread: Ella Fitzgerald, Top Of The Marquee

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Just now, otb_lifer said:

best examples would be bands who never quite evolved or shifted gears like Bob did ... most notable to me would be Van Halen and the Ramones ... Ozzy era Sabbath, as well. 

I was also thinking the bands in the eighties that bordered on glam/hard raunch but were really hair bands at heart. Bands like L.A. Guns, Faster #####cat, and yes, Guns N' Roses. 

G N' R's first album is easily its best. So is Motley Crue's, IMHO. 

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Just now, rockaction said:

I was also thinking the bands in the eighties that bordered on glam/hard raunch but were really hair bands at heart. Bands like L.A. Guns, Faster #####cat, and yes, Guns N' Roses. 

G N' R's first album is easily its best. So is Motley Crue's, IMHO. 

well, not necessarily saying the debut efforts of the three i mentioned were their best ... but one could surmise that they never really deviated that far from the templates evident in the initial forays. 

we talkin' Zep here as well, methinks. 

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Posted (edited)
21 minutes ago, rockaction said:

I'm definitely thinking that Freewheelin' is a nice compromise between where he started out and his own voice being the main focus of the music. Cut your teeth and hone your critical ear performing traditional folk and Americana, venture out into your own voice later. Ahhh, yes. Freewheelin' sounds like the album to own.

In the liner notes you will read....

Hank Williams

Muddy Waters

Jelly Roll Morton

Lead Belly

Mance Lipscomb.....who wasn't discovered until 1960, but was old enought to have recorded in the 30's.

Big Joe Williams

Woody Guthrie

Lightnin' Hopkins

When it comes to the track....Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance.  Dylan...."first heard that from a now dead Texas blues singer, I can only remember that his first name was Henry

He also does Corrina Corrina....a song made famous by Bob Willis.

It's real obvious at the start he was very much into those who had influensed him, those he grew up listening to, not that most kids listen to them old blues/country, apparently he did.

I think it's real important we know this about Dylan.

 

That Henry was one of the oldest to ever record....Henry Thomas....whoiwas born in the 1880's, story goes he was wandering hobo.

Edited by ZenoRazon

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2 minutes ago, otb_lifer said:

well, not necessarily saying the debut efforts of the three i mentioned were their best ... but one could surmise that they never really deviated that far from the templates evident in the initial forays. 

we talkin' Zep here as well, methinks. 

Ah, I see. Yeah, I pretty much agree with you about your e.g.'s.

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Just now, ZenoRazon said:

In the liner notes you will read....

Hank Williams

Muddy Waters

Jelly Roll Morton

Lead Belly

Mance Lipscomb.....who wasn't discovered until 1960, but was old enought to have recorded in the 30's.

Big Joe Williams

Woody Guthrie

Lightnin' Hopkins

When it comes to the track....Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance.  Dylan...."first heard that from a now dead Texas blues singer, I can only remember that his first name was Henry

He also does Corrina Corrina....a song made famous by Bob Willis.

It's real obvious at the start he was very much into those who had influensed him, those he grew up listening to, not that most kids listen to them old blues/country, apparently he did.

I think it's real important we know this about Dylan.

Yeah, I'm aware of some of that, unaware of others. 

As for the bolded, I don't think I disagree with you at all, Zeno. I'm sure Dylan'd think it was really important, too. 

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1 hour ago, ZenoRazon said:

Who said anything about record companies?  I have no doubts he could see the potential to make more $$$$$ (for Bob) if he got more rocker and less folkster.

 

It's great that Dylan spent almost his entire career signed to Columbia.  There aren't any issues with gaps in his streaming catalog or out of print material like there are with many other artists.  They've also done an excellent job compiling his outtakes on the Bootleg Series.  So thanks again John Hammond for the forethought.

He released Planet Waves and Blood on the Tracks for Asylum but CBS bought back the rights from Geffen to keep the catalog intact.

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1 hour ago, rockaction said:

I do get why you'd pick a first album as representative of the artist, but the theory I'd be putting forth is both non-absolute and contingent on the album being an original album of originals. 

Right, having songs written by Dylan is the essential part of exploring Dylan. 

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1 hour ago, rockaction said:

Yeah, I'm aware of some of that, unaware of others. 

As for the bolded, I don't think I disagree with you at all, Zeno. I'm sure Dylan'd think it was really important, too. 

Right, I am also acknowledging it's important. I just don't think that makes it automatically the best entry point. 

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2 hours ago, ZenoRazon said:

Where are  you getting the greatest song writer of our time from?

I can't say this enought, there is plenty of time to delve into....BEST OF/ESSENTIAL/DEFINITIVE Bob Dylan, but.....that comes after you are introducted to just who this guy was and what he was all about.  See him at his start, that is how I;d want somebody to bring it to me.  I want to see where it all started right off the bat. And since I knowe all about Bukka White, Blind Lemon Jeffeson, I can see he must have seen a bit of an historian since those cats recorded long ago, something I wouldn't know listening to his later stuff.

 

That is my assessment and it's a pretty mainstream view. There are others one could argue, but in terms of lyrical song construction, Dylan sure has a strong claim to the throne. I don't think who Dylan was at age 21 is any better an encapsulation of Bob Dylan is than an album from age 25 or 35. It's fine if your approach is to always start at the beginning, but it's not the only way to do it and may not always be the best. Just like you are saying the blues/folk background is essential for understanding Dylan, so is the literary influence and his self-titled album is severely lacking in that department. 

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1 hour ago, otb_lifer said:

well, not necessarily saying the debut efforts of the three i mentioned were their best ... but one could surmise that they never really deviated that far from the templates evident in the initial forays. 

we talkin' Zep here as well, methinks. 

Yes. The Beatles deviated and are not a band represented well by their debut. If anything they have stood the test of time because they continued to stray from their roots. On the other hand, starting with Foo Fighters debut album is a perfectly logical spot since their albums are all pretty interchangeable and no song from one album would really sound out of place on another. 

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Mr. Contrary here.  Why not start with Dylan's most recent recordings and work your way back from there?  That way, you can get his wheezing version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's This Nearly Was Mine over with early on.

Or not :shrug:

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2 minutes ago, Ilov80s said:

That is my assessment and it's a pretty mainstream view. There are others one could argue, but in terms of lyrical song construction, Dylan sure has a strong claim to the throne. I don't think who Dylan was at age 21 is any better an encapsulation of Bob Dylan is than an album from age 25 or 35. It's fine if your approach is to always start at the beginning, but it's not the only way to do it and may not always be the best. Just like you are saying the blues/folk background is essential for understanding Dylan, so is the literary influence and his self-titled album is severely lacking in that department. 

I need to know what Gene Autry sounded like back in his blues singing days, before he was a singing Cowboy.  So I have. I wouldn't want to .....he sang them blues?

When Conway Twitty first started out he was more rocker than country, I need to know this and have heard the music.

Kenny Rogers started out in a rock band The First Edition, that was a very important time in his career, I need to know this.

You can do it anyway ya want obviously, I need those origins, I need to know it all so I do. Hell, Waylon Jennings was a Cricket in with Buddy Holly. I need this kind of thing.

Bob Dylan is talking about a dead Texas blues cat named Henry,  that is all he can remember.  That guy was Henry Thomas a wandering hobo who recorded some songs around 1928, he was born in the 1880's. Little stuff like that makes the music more interesting to me.

 

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2 minutes ago, ZenoRazon said:

I need to know what Gene Autry sounded like back in his blues singing days, before he was a singing Cowboy.  So I have. I wouldn't want to .....he sang them blues?

When Conway Twitty first started out he was more rocker than country, I need to know this and have heard the music.

Kenny Rogers started out in a rock band The First Edition, that was a very important time in his career, I need to know this.

You can do it anyway ya want obviously, I need those origins, I need to know it all so I do. Hell, Waylon Jennings was a Cricket in with Buddy Holly. I need this kind of thing.

Bob Dylan is talking about a dead Texas blues cat named Henry,  that is all he can remember.  That guy was Henry Thomas a wandering hobo who recorded some songs around 1928, he was born in the 1880's. Little stuff like that makes the music more interesting to me.

 

I think we all agree that it is cool and adds a lot of richness to art. I am fully on board with this. If there is a director or actor I like, I often will watch movies I know will be weak just to see something old they did, see  how they approached it, see their evolution, etc. My point has always been that being first doesn't necesarily mean it makes for the best place to first dip the toes in. For many, it is actually a bad place because the artist hasn't quite found their footing or matured to reach their potential and it is only with more practice that they hone their craft into something special and unique- like Raymond Chandler writing short stories for years before he is able to  get his prose down and craft it into a novel of genuine quality. 

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2 minutes ago, ZenoRazon said:

I need to know what Gene Autry sounded like back in his blues singing days, before he was a singing Cowboy.  So I have. I wouldn't want to .....he sang them blues?

When Conway Twitty first started out he was more rocker than country, I need to know this and have heard the music.

Kenny Rogers started out in a rock band The First Edition, that was a very important time in his career, I need to know this.

You can do it anyway ya want obviously, I need those origins, I need to know it all so I do. Hell, Waylon Jennings was a Cricket in with Buddy Holly. I need this kind of thing.

Bob Dylan is talking about a dead Texas blues cat named Henry,  that is all he can remember.  That guy was Henry Thomas a wandering hobo who recorded some songs around 1928, he was born in the 1880's. Little stuff like that makes the music more interesting to me.

And there's no reason, in dead seriousness, why you shouldn't be allowed to pursue that or be discouraged from it. Indeed, finding an artist's influences is always an important endeavor into understanding the artist, if one is a completest. I used to do that with every band I listened to, and I'm now one of the more knowledgeable people about garage rock/punk if you take away the internet from folks (why you'd do that is another question -- one might not be spontaneously conversant, but get more things or bring other things to the table aside from deeply held or spontaneous knowledge). But if one is searching for an entry point -- that one album that does it for most people or is most emblematic of the band or artists them, him, or herself -- then the best is likely one full of originals for the most part. 

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2 minutes ago, ZenoRazon said:

I need to know what Gene Autry sounded like back in his blues singing days, before he was a singing Cowboy.  So I have. I wouldn't want to .....he sang them blues?

When Conway Twitty first started out he was more rocker than country, I need to know this and have heard the music.

Kenny Rogers started out in a rock band The First Edition, that was a very important time in his career, I need to know this.

You can do it anyway ya want obviously, I need those origins, I need to know it all so I do. Hell, Waylon Jennings was a Cricket in with Buddy Holly. I need this kind of thing.

Bob Dylan is talking about a dead Texas blues cat named Henry,  that is all he can remember.  That guy was Henry Thomas a wandering hobo who recorded some songs around 1928, he was born in the 1880's. Little stuff like that makes the music more interesting to me.

 

No one is saying knowledge isn't good. 

Every artist is defined in part by his or her influences and relationships.  Dylan's musical journey has probably been more complex than most.  There are other ways to explore it than a straight chronological rehash.

I personally enjoy skipping around his catalog and watch sections of the jigsaw puzzle emerge.

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15 minutes ago, rockaction said:

And there's no reason, in dead seriousness, why you shouldn't be allowed to pursue that or be discouraged from it. Indeed, finding an artist's influences is always an important endeavor into understanding the artist, if one is a completest. I used to do that with every band I listened to, and I'm now one of the more knowledgeable people about garage rock/punk if you take away the internet from folks (why you'd do that is another question -- one might not be spontaneously conversant, but get more things or bring other things to the table aside from deeply held or spontaneous knowledge). But if one is searching for an entry point -- that one album that does it for most people or is most emblematic of the band or artists them, him, or herself -- then the best is likely one full of originals for the most part. 

I really do doubt "most people" know all that much about the music Bob Dylan was influensed by. Who was Bukka White?  Well he was a cousin to BB King and a great guitar player with a growling vocal delivery from the Delta, first recorded in 1930. So you can listen to what....."most people"...listen to or do it my way and hear what those who know the music Dylan was influensed by.  Those who can totally delve into where Dylan was going there.
 

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22 minutes ago, Eephus said:

No one is saying knowledge isn't good. 

Every artist is defined in part by his or her influences and relationships.  Dylan's musical journey has probably been more complex than most.  There are other ways to explore it than a straight chronological rehash.

I personally enjoy skipping around his catalog and watch sections of the jigsaw puzzle emerge.

There is no right/wrong way to do this, you like that jigsaw puzzle while I need to see where it all came from right off the bat, not a real big deal at all.

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I started in the middle with highway 61 and desire as they lent to me from a friend.  Went back and forth through the catalogue since.  

Greatest song writer of our generation hands down, imo.  Skillful, lyrical and satirical, biting, cunning and witty, playful, romantic and thoughtful.   A true troubadour with a rapscalion's wink and a gentleman's nod.

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55 minutes ago, dutch said:

I started in the middle with highway 61 and desire as they lent to me from a friend.  Went back and forth through the catalogue since.  

Greatest song writer of our generation hands down, imo.  Skillful, lyrical and satirical, biting, cunning and witty, playful, romantic and thoughtful.   A true troubadour with a rapscalion's wink and a gentleman's nod.

People gravitate to the  imagery and allusions in Dylan's lyrics but sometimes miss the humor in them.  His voice is well suited to add a raised eyebrow or wink when necessary.

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@rockaction while discussing great song writers, what’s your take on Van Morrison? I’ve probably asked before but I don’t recall. 

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1 hour ago, Ilov80s said:

@rockaction while discussing great song writers, what’s your take on Van Morrison? I’ve probably asked before but I don’t recall. 

Oh, I love Van. I like him better in his blues/garage stomp phase than his more reflective one, but Moondance and Astral Weeks are classics, so...

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1 minute ago, rockaction said:

Oh, I love Van. I like him better in his blues/garage stomp phase than his more reflective one, but Moondance and Astral Weeks are classics, so...

I wish he had one great full on garage rock album before he went into Astral, etc. His song writing chops and voice could have made something spectacular but that wasn’t his true style. Ever get into Veedon Fleece?

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21 hours ago, Eephus said:

No album writeup tonight.  I went with the album that immediately followed that RRHOF performance.  It's 1997's Time Out of Mind.  Dylan hadn't released an album of original material for four years so he had a lot of songs stored up.  The album weighs in at a whopping 72 minutes.  Bosley doesn't have the legs for the CD era so we'll have to split into two nights.

I love what I've heard so far.  It ends with a sixteen and a half minute epic called Highlands that if I've heard it before, I don't remember it in the slightest.

Bosley had a bath and teeth brushing/scraping today.  He tolerates the sink but the teeth are torture for all concerned.  I restrain him while Mrs. Eephus wields the brush and pick.  Everyone survived and Boz smells a bit better.

'

I dug back for this because I napped too long yesterday and missed a check in. Oddly, I did not miss a true write up. Ha!

 

Also, I have been thinking more about animals and their experience - after you wrote about Bosley's sunglasses. Well, I asked my uncle (who is a major cat-guy) about his cat and music. Apparently, whenever a certain song plays, his cat will stop and not move during its duration. Then - boom - back to normal. Every single time.

He said that it has been this way since the cat arrived a few years ago.

Does Bosley respond to music in any way you can understand?

I have had cats and a dog for a short while, plus insects and reptiles, etc. - but I have not yet thought of anything like this in my own pets. I have not had a pet since 2012 or so. 

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2 hours ago, Ilov80s said:

I wish he had one great full on garage rock album before he went into Astral, etc. His song writing chops and voice could have made something spectacular but that wasn’t his true style. Ever get into Veedon Fleece?

My favorite Van record. Linden Arden Stole the Highlights is one of his finest moment. Fairplay. Bulbs. You Don't Pull No Punches, You Don't Push the River. Golden.

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Apple Jack said:

My favorite Van record. Linden Arden Stole the Highlights is one of his finest moment. Fairplay. Bulbs. You Don't Pull No Punches, You Don't Push the River. Golden.

Was just posting about it in Shukes thread, the hook in YDPNP is the simplest lyrics but I’ve spent 15 years trying to figure it out.

Also you can’t include YDPNP without including Streets of Arkow, that’s just one long song imo.

Edited by Ilov80s
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2 hours ago, Man of Constant Sorrow said:

Does Bosley respond to music in any way you can understand?

He can only hear high pitched sounds now.  He can hear me jingle my keys to signal it's time for a walk but not much else.

 

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1 minute ago, Eephus said:

He can only hear high pitched sounds now.  He can hear me jingle my keys to signal it's time for a walk but not much else.

 

Can he feel lower tones at all?

Like a car engine running a few feet away?

The pounding of a bass drum?

Or can you even tell?

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Late night, short walk.  Still haven't made it to the end of Time Out of Mind.  Still love what I've heard.

We went to a reading at City Lights
Mrs. Eephus insisted on going early
I waited upstairs in the poetry room
in the shadow of a giant birthday card
for Lawrence Ferlinghetti

I chose a book from the shelves
and read a poem by David Trinidad
"Every Night Byron" it was called
It was narrated by a dog
A cairn terrier named Byron

I wondered what Bosley might write
but it wouldn't be fair
to expect him to find his voice
when he's so old and confused
and gets trapped under chairs

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Just now, Man of Constant Sorrow said:

Can he feel lower tones at all?

Like a car engine running a few feet away?

The pounding of a bass drum?

Or can you even tell?

We live in a neighborhood with lots of skateboards and shopping carts.  He used to go nuts when one would pass him by but he doesn't even lift his head these days.

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Just now, Eephus said:

We live in a neighborhood with lots of skateboards and shopping carts.  He used to go nuts when one would pass him by but he doesn't even lift his head these days.

I understand.

Thanks.

I'm trying to explore how music is felt and not just heard. All of this is helping.

😎

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From Wikipedia

The Northern Irish singer Van Morrison has released 40 studio albums, 6 live albums, 6 compilation albums, 4 video albums, and 71 singles.

American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan has released 38 studio albums, 91 singles, 26 notable extended plays, 40 music videos, 13 live albums, 14 volumes comprising The Bootleg Series, 19 compilation albums, 13 box sets, 7 soundtracks as main contributor, 5 music home videos and 2 non-music home videos

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Just now, Man of Constant Sorrow said:

I understand.

Thanks.

I'm trying to explore how music is felt and not just heard. All of this is helping.

😎

I'm not a dog but I still like to feel loud bass

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1 minute ago, Eephus said:

I'm not a dog but I still like to feel loud bass

:hifive:

Yeah. 

I am not a kid anymore but I remember feeling a lot more than hearing when I used to pound the stage at high volume shows.

At that level, your body touch receptors fire as well or more than the hearing (ear) structure.

Also, I think deep down and subtly, we still react to those mechanical vibrations tactually - even when it is less noticeable.

I'm still trying to find data, but I have not found much.

Music and art therapy reply on some of these things, but I don't know much about that either.

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1 minute ago, Man of Constant Sorrow said:

:hifive:

Yeah. 

I am not a kid anymore but I remember feeling a lot more than hearing when I used to pound the stage at high volume shows.

At that level, your body touch receptors fire as well or more than the hearing (ear) structure.

Also, I think deep down and subtly, we still react to those mechanical vibrations tactually - even when it is less noticeable.

I'm still trying to find data, but I have not found much.

Music and art therapy reply on some of these things, but I don't know much about that either.

I do most of my listening through headphones these days but i do miss the visceral rush of bass pulsing through my entire body.

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1 minute ago, Eephus said:

I do most of my listening through headphones these days but i do miss the visceral rush of bass pulsing through my entire body.

Ya know - I think that the body can still feel it tactually even with head phones.

Once the wave is initiated somewhere on the body it will propagate itself. Over the years, I bet you have learned to do feel this even better.

In some ways, it is more direct than transmission via the air.

 

I think this all relates to vinyl, in the sense that vinyl has a distinct wave output that is different than digital.

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In other singer/songwriter news, there's a "new" Neil Young album tonight.  It's a live recording of a 1973 concert with The Stray Gators (Ben Keith, Jack Nitzsche, Tim Drummond & Kenny Buttrey) backing him.  It's earlier in the same tour that produced Time Fades Away but the setlist has a number of songs from Harvest.

Neil's archive website is a trip.  I'm glad he's still flying his freak flag.

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1 hour ago, Eephus said:

In other singer/songwriter news, there's a "new" Neil Young album tonight.  It's a live recording of a 1973 concert with The Stray Gators (Ben Keith, Jack Nitzsche, Tim Drummond & Kenny Buttrey) backing him.  It's earlier in the same tour that produced Time Fades Away but the setlist has a number of songs from Harvest.

Neil's archive website is a trip.  I'm glad he's still flying his freak flag.

I'm gonna listen to this with head phones on.

Also, I thought of an experiment - only if you and Boz are cool with it.

Try placing the headphones somewhere comfortable on his body.

Once he gets used to it, play your favorite piece of music and imagine it playing in your head.

See if Bosley reacts.

No rush - and this is just a whim.

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8 minutes ago, Man of Constant Sorrow said:

I'm gonna listen to this with head phones on.

https://open.spotify.com/track/7CaRWMr49e7qBKSO6MQpl8

Yeah - I feel this deeper than in my ear.

I am using some Sennheiser RX 100 - old - no foam pads - I made sure R & L were proper. :D

Great song. I saw him play it live at Farm Aid in 90's. 

It was outdoors and well past dark. Really great set.

Good time.

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Eephus said:

Late night, short walk.  Still haven't made it to the end of Time Out of Mind.  Still love what I've heard.

We went to a reading at City Lights
Mrs. Eephus insisted on going early
I waited upstairs in the poetry room
in the shadow of a giant birthday card
for Lawrence Ferlinghetti

I chose a book from the shelves
and read a poem by David Trinidad
"Every Night Byron" it was called
It was narrated by a dog
A cairn terrier named Byron

I wondered what Bosley might write
but it wouldn't be fair
to expect him to find his voice
when he's so old and confused
and gets trapped under chairs

"Somehow," I thought,/"this would be better /If the terrier, that faithful narrator, was named Thomas/And the poet were Dylan"

Edited by rockaction

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7 hours ago, Eephus said:

Late night, short walk.  Still haven't made it to the end of Time Out of Mind.  Still love what I've heard.

We went to a reading at City Lights
Mrs. Eephus insisted on going early
I waited upstairs in the poetry room
in the shadow of a giant birthday card
for Lawrence Ferlinghetti

I chose a book from the shelves
and read a poem by David Trinidad
"Every Night Byron" it was called
It was narrated by a dog
A cairn terrier named Byron

I wondered what Bosley might write
but it wouldn't be fair
to expect him to find his voice
when he's so old and confused
and gets trapped under chairs

Time out of Mind is one of his best, imo. And Lanois' production is perfect for the material. Not Dark Yet and To Make You Feel My Love are as good as anything. It brings to mind his interview with Ed Bradley at the time, "I can do other things, but I can't do that." I think Not Dark Yet is a good example. Though a huge assist from Lanois on that.

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8 hours ago, Eephus said:

From Wikipedia

The Northern Irish singer Van Morrison has released 40 studio albums, 6 live albums, 6 compilation albums, 4 video albums, and 71 singles.

American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan has released 38 studio albums, 91 singles, 26 notable extended plays, 40 music videos, 13 live albums, 14 volumes comprising The Bootleg Series, 19 compilation albums, 13 box sets, 7 soundtracks as main contributor, 5 music home videos and 2 non-music home videos

They have a lot in common. Productive over a long span, play the harmonica, cantankerous, had a Christian period, deep roots in the blues

Also lots of differences. Folk vs soul, Guitar vs Sax and only one of them can actually sing 

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The Rolling Thunder box is out today.  The going rate for the 14 CD set is in the $80-90 range.  That's not a bad price but I'd probably never listen to the whole thing.

There's a ten song sampler out to the streaming services.

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9 hours ago, Man of Constant Sorrow said:

Also, I thought of an experiment - only if you and Boz are cool with it.

Try placing the headphones somewhere comfortable on his body.

Mrs. Eephus and I are going to San Diego to visit our son this weekend.  Boz is spending it at Grammy's.

I'll try it next week after he's over his separation hangover.

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4 minutes ago, Eephus said:

San Diego to visit our son this weekend.

Oooh!

Try this on your son. 

Place the earphones on him somewhere until he gets used to it...

 

;)

Thnx. Have a good time. 😎

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Just got Freewheelin'. Will check back with thoughts. Mobile Fidelity's got it sounding really clear, really quiet.

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Listened to Side One, Disc One, which has:

  1. Blowin' In The Wind
  2. Girl From the North Country
  3. Masters of War
  4. Down the Highway

Initial thoughts: "Blowin' In The Wind" doesn't need my imprimatur. It's a classic and familiar. Maybe too familiar and too plaintive for my taste. "Girl From the North Country" is a deep, beautiful cut about a girl from the North Country. This is the type of song and lyrics when I love Dylan the most. He doesn't sing in riddles, he sings earnestly, honestly, and humanely about a woman and love, the most universal of concepts. I can't help but think of the picture on the hotel wall of Barton Fink when Turturro gets writers block. The answer for Hollywood and human connection has been there all along, in his room. Write about love. But I digress.

"Masters of War" was a Pearl Jam favorite, a little overt and rancorous for this album. He is calling out those that would bring us to the precipice of war. Says Dylan, "I don't write songs which hope people will die in them, but on this one I did." "Down The Highway" is a lovely old blues-influenced song. Dylan says he was influenced by Joe Williams on the track.

Listened to Side Two, Disc One, which has:

  1. Bob Dylan's Blues
  2. A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall
  3. Don't Think Twice, It's All Right

Initial thoughts: "Bob Dylan's Blues" is a straight up blues tune, done, in his words, "off-the-cuff" like a great blues master would. It's worthy of a listen for sure. It's a segue to two of my favorite folk/blues songs ever, which are next and on this side of the album. "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" slays with the "my darling young one..." refrain, a device that allows the restless young man to answer his loving but questioning father without controversy or rancor, but earnestness and urgency. Dylan claims it was written at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis and its impending potential for world leaders to plunge the world into oblivion should it happen. "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," is a wonderfully existential love song. Love songs fall generally into three categories, in my humble estimation: there are generally troubadour-esque love ballads, songs of unrequited love, or songs of lament about break-ups. This song falls within the latter, and it shows the coming casualness with which relationships came to be met as part of radicalism in the sixties and on through the seventies. But it's a black-and-white and countrified/folk version of anguished existential shrugging rather than a day-glo, rebellious and celebratory Woodstock tone. It's also not too shrugging, as Dylan sings with a bit of bitterness. "And it ain't no use callin' out my name gal, like you never have before" and "you just kinda wasted my precious time..." are not lines one sings to someone if the protagonist is totally and completely over it. Dylan himself says he wrote the chorus addressed to himself to help get over a love gone wrong.

Next post will be Disc Two and my initial thoughts.

Edited by rockaction
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Posted (edited)

Listened to Side Three, Disc Two, which has:

  1. Bob Dylan's Dream
  2. Oxford Town
  3. Talkin' World War III Blues

Um, not too much to say about this. It's not very abstract lyrically, and is musically rather simple and stripped down.  "Bob Dylan's Dream" is kind of cool. It's about hanging around with friends and growing up and going different places, both geographically and in mind. "Oxford Town" is about southern racism and James Meredith attending Ole Miss, a legacy not forgotten. "Talkin' Word War III Blues" is lyrically driven, almost spoken-word blues, the last track explicitly so. It's never -- none of the songs on this side, which border on talking blues like this one -- have ever been my favorite type of music. Talking blues needs a whole lot of twang and soul in one's voice and a ton of rueful, Roy Rogers-esque one-liners, something Dylan doesn't quite have yet at the young age he cut this album. He's too politically serious and not wizened enough to be uproariously funny. I know much has been made of his humor in this thread, but that seems to come later than this album. I think that Another side of Bob Dylan is where that begins with the line in "Motorpsycho Nightmare" about "milking the cow," in that case, the farmer's daughter. Talking blues as a genre is also full of laments that border on whining. It's a tricky thing, one that he doesn't pull off as well as some of the older country blues folks. On "Talkin' World War III Blues" he thinks that people thinking he's a communist is the ultimate square put-down. Not really uproarious, that, IMHO. Musically, it's a really basic song without much in the way of do-si-do or square dance breakdowns that make those songs fun for the audience. It's a squonking harmonica.

That all said, it's still an enjoyable slab of music to listen to.

Listened to Side Four, Disc Two, which has:

  1. Corrina, Corrina
  2. Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance
  3. I Shall Be Free

"Corrina, Corrina" is a cover of the traditional "Corrine, Corrina," but it is arranged differently and with different lyrics, borrowing from Robert Johnson's 1937 version. It's just a simple and beautiful song. This rendition sounds great on this rig, on this system, in glorious mono. The history of the song: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corrine,_Corrina

"Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance" is another cover of an early country/blues song. It sounds like a sukey jump. It's a worthwhile song. Dylan said he was attracted to its plaintive tone. "I Shall Be Free" is more of his personal talkie blues, only this one doesn't try to rely on humor too much and is instead more observational and effective. Humor is subjective, I guess. Making fun of politicians, Dylan talks about a person trying to appeal to different identities. "He's eating bagels. He's eating pizza. He's eating chitlins. Whoooo!" It's funny, IMHO.  It's Dylan's humor when he's not trying to be a common man talking about bills to pay, but being pretty directly confrontational and sociopolitical. Dylan's failures are what most people strive for, actually, and the song winds up effective.

Next: Wrap-up thoughts. (The thread can still go on. I also got The Times They Are A-Changing tonight. )

 

Edited by rockaction
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The Times They Are A-Changin', while not entirely well-received according to WIki, is a fine album worthy of more than one spin. Right now, as a newer album, I like it as much front-to-back as Freewheelin'. The main complaint about the album is its lack of humor and its strident protest nature. That's fine by me. The tracks where it works knock it out of the park, and the tracks where it doesn't are reductive. I'm looking at you "A Pawn In Their Game," a song about racism that uses Marxist dialectic to excuse the lower class's racism. I always found this argument -- that the rich perpetuate and sow racial discontent among the proletariat -- to vastly underestimate the intelligence of average folk, and was often used by the young and rich liberals to excuse a group of people that both were culpable and didn't need excusing for the simple fact of existing. It removes their agency. Anyway, this is Dylan at his political worst, IMHO. This sort of love of the poor was ripped by Tom Wolfe in an essay that I can remember, but can't remember what he called this tendency. It was an effective take down of this sort of thing.

But when Dylan is effective, like I think he is in "With God On Their Side," he makes typically trite points sound urgent. And for 1964, they're new to a mass audience. Wrapping up God on one side when it comes to war is nothing new, and Dylan calls out politicians. It's a constant refrain made by people, and he was criticized for being young and naive about all war, but it happens enough to get called out. The only criticism about this is Dylan is not very prescient about who are next war enemy will be. He can be forgiven for thinking it was the Russians, but 1979 will hold the key, and he misses the mark with his predictions, as often happens with topical protest songs. 

But enough of overt macro protests. Those songs are the most questionable lyrically on the album. There are others, and they are great. It would seem that the standout track, to me, is "Ballad of Hollis Brown," a song about a murder/suicide shooting of a family so perfectly harrowing it belongs in the long country tradition of that sort of song. It's really riveting and foreboding, depicting a poor farmer's killing of his family and self. I have a tendency to like that type of song for some reason, whether it's Cash's "Delia's Gone" or the Violent Femmes's "Country Death Song." It could be because the chords are often minor ones, though I'm not sure that's true. Ah, Wiki claims it's a drop D tuning that sounds like E-flat minor. That's a metal trick. (See Spoon's ˆSister Jack" -- "I was in this drop D metal band we called Requiem.")

"One Too Many Mornings," "North Country Blues," "Boots Of Spanish Leather" and "The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll" are also excellent deeper cut tracks, one about Dylan going to find his girlfriend overseas at the time and the other about the real death of a servant in Maryland, replete with all the hypocrisy and racism that existed at the time. "...Hattie Carroll" is apparently often still played live, even though, as Wiki says, it's "topical" and time-bound and very specific. I hate Zanzinger too, now, and the system that forgave. It's such a microcosm of racial injustice in 1964 that it beckons one to listen and to be outraged about the attendant story in the news.

One note: Here is where Dylan starts to get accused in the mainstream press and by his contemporaries as being a song-stealing thief. There's his borrowing of the melody line of an Irish folk singer's song in "With God On Our Side," and his use of the arrangement by an English folk singer in the English folk tradition of "Scarborough Fair" in "North Country Blues." He directly addresses Newsweek's accusation of song-stealing in the final track of Times... "Restless Farewell."

In all, the album is great, but the more topical predictions and underlying causes for his more overt songs haven't aged well as descriptions or as prescient. What the album does do, and does well, is take specific and personal sociopolitical situations and give them artistic voice. It's why "Hollis Brown" and "Hattie Carroll" are so effective to this listener.

 

Edited by rockaction
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Posted (edited)

Re: Boots, he doesn't go looking for his girlfriend overseas; he resents her leaving him and is wrestling with how to process. Ultimately, concluding after originally asking for her to bring herself back to him unspoiled, that the only thing she can bring back to him is a good pair of shoes. It's one of his finest f you songs, and especially effective as it is a love song right up until the last line. At least, this has always been my interpretation.

ETA: "Good artists copy; great artists steal."

Edited by Apple Jack
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