mjzee

Bob Dylan corner

901 posts in this topic

hotel does not really rhyme with McTell; Bob is lazy and has been for some time, I think.

and what is it we want that's God's?

and what's 'corruptible seed' ?

Dylan seems to have written a lot of his lyrics to fit his own voice and phrasing, and so what looks on the page like a rhyme that doesn't work, ends up sounding perfectly fine when he performs it. One thing I love about his lyrics is the chance-taking and humor he uses in his rhymes, like pairing Honalul-lah with Ashtabula in "You're gonna make me lonesome when you go." Dylan also read a lot of free verse poetry, and of course he listened to a lot of blues and country, where perfectly formed rhymes were less important than the overall presentation and emotional content. Dylan obviously didn't emulate conservative lyricists, like Gilbert and Sullivan, whose rhyming schemes had to be perfectly in sync, but that's part of Dylan's coolness, in my opinion. In part, that's why I posted "Foot of pride" above, which, for me, really demonstrates the rugged appeal of his words. And it's hard to resist (for me, anyway) the sarcasm, barely concealed anger, and gospel fervor of this song. The two I posted from "Blood on the "Tracks" get across Dylan's enormously powerful but unsappy way with love songs. I also REALLY like the "On the Road," Beat Generation imagery of "Tangled Up in Blue." Dylan's "impossible-to-understand" lyrics probably came out of his deep appreciation for Rimbaud, whose New Vision approach, which was taken up by the Beats and other modern poets, was in large part about uninhibited self-expression. Got more to say here, but need to take my kid to the movies.

not sure any of us know what "diddy wah diddy" means blake but i'll grant you're a Dylan enthusiast. i used to make similarly impassioned pleas for, oh i dunno... "Just Like Tom T. Hall Blues"? "New Danville Girl"? (the original recording, not the retitled "Knocked Out Loaded" abortion.) maybe even some demo version of "Caribbean Wind"? this last, from a period of misdirection, true. Both Allen Ginsberg/Dylan "Vomit Express" and Danko/Grogan "Java Blues" are far more sustaining.

at his best, Dylan has come up with some novel combinations of prosody, image etc... he's also come up with A LOT banal dogshit-- some of which is redeemed by inspired musical performances (again, return to Paul Williams, not some slumming English professor, for details), much of which is not. This is why Dylan's albums since the vigorous "Love And Theft" suck-- cornball readymades straight up & down, on the page & in the air. Cultists may find glimmers but please...

In a vast world of now easily accessible musical & literary achievement, why bother?

And in a world of brilliantly layered English/Scots ballads & world folktales and literature (try the "Baghavad Gita" or Cao Xueqin "Dream of the Red Chamber" for starters) why did anyone ever bother with garbage like "Lily, Rosemary and Jack of Hearts"? "Roll On, John" is of course deathless, yuk yuk yuk, Leos Janacek only wishes he'd been so aged & vital. Dylan's "Titanic" is so fucking awful, on every possible level, it's almost enough to make one wish they had gone down with the great ship etc.

Even at Dylan's peak btw, one was then and is now vastly better off reading any random dozen Grove Press/Evergreen books than thinking too hard about Dylan's meaning, which is almost invariably trite or commonplace. At certain times, with certain bands, the music-- and singing-- is engaging: 1963-1966; 1967 ("John Wesley Harding," mostly NOT "The Basement Tapes"-- a handful of good songs & lotsa dross-- & definitely not garbage like "Nashville Skyline")... then the great Elvis-influenced gospel bands (the words were mostly silly/doctrine but the live, with the sermons & backup singers etc, the songs cooked).

white people LOVE the song Blind Willie McTell... puts such gauzey sepia tint on the remarkable life of a sophisticated black artist/entertainer one needn't even consider it real, oops. Far less a "tribute," it's insecure yet arrogant Dylan pining for approbation, worth by association he in no way deserves.

Matty

Merle

hotel does not really rhyme with McTell; Bob is lazy and has been for some time, I think.

and what is it we want that's God's?

and what's 'corruptible seed' ?

Dylan seems to have written a lot of his lyrics to fit his own voice and phrasing, and so what looks on the page like a rhyme that doesn't work, ends up sounding perfectly fine when he performs it. One thing I love about his lyrics is the chance-taking and humor he uses in his rhymes, like pairing Honalul-lah with Ashtabula in "You're gonna make me lonesome when you go." Dylan also read a lot of free verse poetry, and of course he listened to a lot of blues and country, where perfectly formed rhymes were less important than the overall presentation and emotional content. Dylan obviously didn't emulate conservative lyricists, like Gilbert and Sullivan, whose rhyming schemes had to be perfectly in sync, but that's part of Dylan's coolness, in my opinion. In part, that's why I posted "Foot of pride" above, which, for me, really demonstrates the rugged appeal of his words. And it's hard to resist (for me, anyway) the sarcasm, barely concealed anger, and gospel fervor of this song. The two I posted from "Blood on the "Tracks" get across Dylan's enormously powerful but unsappy way with love songs. I also REALLY like the "On the Road," Beat Generation imagery of "Tangled Up in Blue." Dylan's "impossible-to-understand" lyrics probably came out of his deep appreciation for Rimbaud, whose New Vision approach, which was taken up by the Beats and other modern poets, was in large part about uninhibited self-expression. Got more to say here, but need to take my kid to the movies.

not sure any of us know what "diddy wah diddy" means blake but i'll grant you're a Dylan enthusiast. i used to make similarly impassioned pleas for, oh i dunno... "Just Like Tom T. Hall Blues"? "New Danville Girl"? (the original recording, not the retitled "Knocked Out Loaded" abortion.) maybe even some demo version of "Caribbean Wind"? this last, from a period of misdirection, true. Both Allen Ginsberg/Dylan "Vomit Express" and Danko/Grogan "Java Blues" are far more sustaining.

at his best, Dylan has come up with some novel combinations of prosody, image etc... he's also come up with A LOT banal dogshit-- some of which is redeemed by inspired musical performances (again, return to Paul Williams, not some slumming English professor, for details), much of which is not. This is why Dylan's albums since the vigorous "Love And Theft" suck-- cornball readymades straight up & down, on the page & in the air. Cultists may find glimmers but please...

In a vast world of now easily accessible musical & literary achievement, why bother?

And in a world of brilliantly layered English/Scots ballads & world folktales and literature (try the "Baghavad Gita" or Cao Xueqin "Dream of the Red Chamber" for starters) why did anyone ever bother with garbage like "Lily, Rosemary and Jack of Hearts"? "Roll On, John" is of course deathless, yuk yuk yuk, Leos Janacek only wishes he'd been so aged & vital. Dylan's "Titanic" is so fucking awful, on every possible level, it's almost enough to make one wish they had gone down with the great ship etc.

Even at Dylan's peak btw, one was then and is now vastly better off reading any random dozen Grove Press/Evergreen books than thinking too hard about Dylan's meaning, which is almost invariably trite or commonplace. At certain times, with certain bands, the music-- and singing-- is engaging: 1963-1966; 1967 ("John Wesley Harding," mostly NOT "The Basement Tapes"-- a handful of good songs & lotsa dross-- & definitely not garbage like "Nashville Skyline")... then the great Elvis-influenced gospel bands (the words were mostly silly/doctrine but the live, with the sermons & backup singers etc, the songs cooked).

white people LOVE the song Blind Willie McTell... puts such gauzey sepia tint on the remarkable life of a sophisticated black artist/entertainer one needn't even consider it real, oops. Far less a "tribute," it's insecure yet arrogant Dylan pining for approbation, worth by association he in no way deserves.

Matty

Merle

For someone who doesn't like Dylan's music very much, you sure seem to listen to a lot of it. I'll try and respond later.OK. I'm guessing you're just yanking our chains, but I'll play along. First off: No Dylan, then no Fairport Convention, no fully formed Beatles or Rolling Stones, no Jimi Hendrix, no folk rock, no country rock, no Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, and similar singer-songwriters, no shit loads of good music. Dylan infused a new poetry and artistry into songwriting that simply had not existed before. He brought the language of Rimbaud, Verlaine, Baudelaire, the Beats, and the Black Mountain poets to popular song, resulting in a radical change in music-making that was felt around the world. Was there ever a more important figure in American popular songwriting than Dylan? To say that he simply came up with some "novel prosody, imagery, etc." is just ridiculous (and my guess is you probably know that).

Secondly, Dylan IS inconsistent. (While I love the lyrics to Girl from the North Country, the version with Johnny Cash may be the single worst vocal performance of all time.) Dylan readily acknowledges this inconsistency himself. But there are few artists that don't produce at least some clunkers. As much as I love Coltane, Bud, Armstrong, and Miles, I cannot in all honestly say that everything they recorded is prime stuff. And as many chances as he took and as many times as he reinvented himself (from the Greenwich Village folkie Dylan to the rock and roll iconoclast Dylan to the Nashville Skyline Dylan and the fire-and-brimstone gospel preacher Dylan), it's no wonder there are some artistic failures. However, when he did succeed (which was more often than not, in my opinion), he could be truly amazing. Freewheelin', John Wesley Harding, Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde on Blonde, Blood on the Tracks, Another Side Of, the Royal Albert Hall Bootleg, the Basement Tapes -- the list of acknowledged album classics that Dylan created is staggering. I personally consider some his recent work of similar quality. Not all Dylan is to everyone's taste, and that's cool. There were fans and reviewers who hated Dylan at virtually every phase of his career. But many eventually came to appreciate some of the music they had missed the first time around. My guess is they'll do the same for his later work and the work yet to come. I think Love and Theft, Time Out of Mind, Oh Mercy, and Modern Times contain some of his best ever stuff.

Finally, I have to take exception to your judgement of "Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts." The whole Wild West saloon thing, the guys drilling into the bank: It's the Marx brothers meets Gunsmoke. It's a great song, IMHO.

Love Fairport's Matty Groves, by the way!

Just noticed this: "...every song on "I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight" and "Pour Down Like Silver" are greater, in every possible way except callow verbosity, than any on "Blood On The Tracks"."

While I really like and admire Richard Thompson and think "I Want to See the Bright Lights" is a great album, this is just a silly statement. I think even Richard Thompson would admit that. Man, you're funny. I've got to admit, I kinda like the in-your-face criticisms you post. They certainly generate conversation (and gnashing of teeth).

You're definitely the reigning Dark Lord of the Organissimo forum.

Edited by blind-blake

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Martin Carthy - another Dylan-loving British folkie - makes a similar point.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6W6WzpphTA

Martin Carthy - the wisest man in Christendom - greatest line 'The only thing you can do to ruin a folk song is not play it'.

Interesting to hear him talking elsewhere about his experiences with Dylan in London in the early 60s, just before Dylan became huge. Dylan borrowed a few tunes off Carthy [More than you'll every need to know here]. When asked is he resentful, Carthy insists he feels honoured - and anyway, that is what folk music is anyway. Borrowing and adapting (he was less generous to Paul Simon for many years over Scarborogh Fair but has rethought that one too and become reconciled).

I'm not a Dylan obsessive but I have a lot of Dylan records. What's good and what isn't? Well, I have my own preferences but with someone as distinctive as Dylan it's just interesting to hear the OK and the tedious too (I don't actually find a lot of The Basement Tapes all that interesting (sacrilege!) but I'm glad to be able to play them every once in a while). You get a rounded picture of a real person rather than some saint who is supposed to be perfect.

I feel the same way about Richard Thompson - my shelves have acres of his music and on most of his albums between a third and two thirds of the songs are humdrum or uninvolving (for me). But the chap fascinates me so much that I just want to hear it all.

So I can understand Dylan (or Springsteen or Beatles or Arnold Bax) completists.

I find it harder to understand people who feel that only the best is good enough for them (and the best is what they say is best).

Edited by A Lark Ascending

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Keep it up guys! As if watching a bunch of pasty white guys arguing over musical "authenticity" wasn't funny enough, Bev's general intelligence aside, this is like having a front row seat to a few mental defectives argue over whether blue or magenta is the new red. I'm sure Bob's happy, though. It's more press than he's gotten in 40 years.

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No Dylan, then no Fairport Convention, no fully formed Beatles or Rolling Stones, no Jimi Hendrix, no folk rock, no country rock, no Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, and similar singer-songwriters, no shit loads of good music. Dylan infused a new poetry and artistry into songwriting that simply had not existed before. He brought the language of Rimbaud, Verlaine, Baudelaire, the Beats, and the Black Mountain poets to popular song, resulting in a radical change in music-making that was felt around the world. Was there ever a more important figure in American popular songwriting than Dylan?

Most of that makes sense to me with regards to Dylan's actual influence.

But I'm sceptical as to whether many of those developments would not have happened without Dylan. A bit like saying that vaccine and drug development would not have happened without Louis Pasteur. It would have happened, but differently.

Rock and Roll had already mesmerised a generation, the folk revival in both the USA and Britain was claiming the obsession of thousands of young people. Dylan was part of that but because of his particular angle, skills, charisma he was able to put the folk part (and I'm using 'folk' in the broadest sense) much deeper into general public perception.

Even without an iconic figure like Dylan, I'd suspect that wider social and musical forces would have brought about changes similar (but not the same) to what happened in his wake. I'd suggest that the bunch of young north Londoners who became Fairport Convention had more than enough influences to have still have emerged without Dylan.

The influence I appreciate most from Dylan, and again I feel he was channelling something already there, was the ambiguity of his lyrics. I'm not that knowledgeable about poetry but have never really bought into the 'great poet' line on Dylan - a lot of his wording seems random and stream of consciousness. Yet some of that wording sounds great and often appears to have a meaning even if you don't know what it is (just as a lot of stream of consciousness free jazz appears to have a meaning even if you can't define it like tonal music). The mystery that creates may not be the work of the skilled, dexterous poet - but it gives an intrigue to songs that the standard 'I love you and you love me' lyrics of pop/rock didn't have before. Yes, he was channelling and it wasn't just beat poets or late-19thC French poets - he also seemed to be wise to the inconsistencies, gaps and muddles you get in a lot of blues and traditional folk songs where decades of retelling have worn away significant sections leaving something that does not quite make sense but is all the better for it.

The obvious example is what happened to Beatles songs after Dylan started having an impact (compare Norwegian Wood to Help). Sticking to the Fairport line, to my ears Sandy Denny's most intriguing songwriting happened on the Fotheringay and Northstar Grassman albums - the Dylan influence lyrically is huge there, with songs that never give up their meaning but allude to all sorts of things. When she moved away from that to more conventional lyrics on subsequent albums I'd say her music lost a lot of its allure.

Yes, Dylan added a mystery to pop/rock lyrics - but as well as leading to some utterly compelling lyrics it also led to drivel. MacArthur Park anyone. Or the lyrics of Yes!

Edited by A Lark Ascending

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The obvious example is what happened to Beatles songs after Dylan started having an impact (compare Norwegian Wood to Help). Sticking to the Fairport line, to my ears Sandy Denny's most intriguing songwriting happened on the Fotheringay and Northstar Grassman albums - the Dylan influence lyrically is huge there, with songs that never give up their meaning but allude to all sorts of things. When she moved away from that to more conventional lyrics on subsequent albums I'd say her music lost a lot of its allure.

Yes, Dylan added a mystery to pop/rock lyrics - but as well as leading to some utterly compelling lyrics it also led to drivel. MacArthur Park anyone. Or the lyrics of Yes!

Talking of Sandy Denny & Co...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S46KvLCBc2Y

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The last four years or so I've listened to more Dylan than any other time in my life, and it's interesting how some of his lyrics of the last thirty years or so have really resonated with events and feelings in my adult life. Marriage, loss, ambition, travel, mortality, spiritual matters. . . I've found reference points or words that make me ponder in so many songs.

A week ago I quoted Dylan at a crucial moment in my life. As I asked my fiancee to marry me I quoted one of the new songs created in the T-Bone Burnett project "Lost on the River." The song is "When I Get My Hands on You." As I put the ring on Lucy's finger I quoted"

"Now you know

Everywhere on Earth you go

You're going to have me as your man."

It was exactly what I wanted to say and what she wanted to feel.

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That's beautiful, Lon. Good luck!

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Thanks!

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Thanks Alan. Didn't mean to derail this thread.

Listened to "Shadows in the Night" again. Great arrangements.

I'm ready for the next album of Dylan songs.

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Way to go, Lon, you sly dog. Using that beautiful quote was a pretty crafty move. Best of luck to you both.

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Thanks!

I have been playing Tempest this year. When first released it didn't really speak to me, but I like it more and more. "Jack Frost" has I think learned to produce quite well.

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OK. I'm guessing you're just yanking our chains, but I'll play along. First off: No Dylan, then no Fairport Convention, no fully formed Beatles or Rolling Stones, no Jimi Hendrix, no folk rock, no country rock, no Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, and similar singer-songwriters, no shit loads of good music. Dylan infused a new poetry and artistry into songwriting that simply had not existed before. He brought the language of Rimbaud, Verlaine, Baudelaire, the Beats, and the Black Mountain poets to popular song, resulting in a radical change in music-making that was felt around the world. Was there ever a more important figure in American popular songwriting than Dylan? To say that he simply came up with some "novel prosody, imagery, etc." is just ridiculous (and my guess is you probably know that).

Secondly, Dylan IS inconsistent. (While I love the lyrics to Girl from the North Country, the version with Johnny Cash may be the single worst vocal performance of all time.) Dylan readily acknowledges this inconsistency himself. But there are few artists that don't produce at least some clunkers. As much as I love Coltane, Bud, Armstrong, and Miles, I cannot in all honestly say that everything they recorded is prime stuff. And as many chances as he took and as many times as he reinvented himself (from the Greenwich Village folkie Dylan to the rock and roll iconoclast Dylan to the Nashville Skyline Dylan and the fire-and-brimstone gospel preacher Dylan), it's no wonder there are some artistic failures. However, when he did succeed (which was more often than not, in my opinion), he could be truly amazing. Freewheelin', John Wesley Harding, Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde on Blonde, Blood on the Tracks, Another Side Of, the Royal Albert Hall Bootleg, the Basement Tapes -- the list of acknowledged album classics that Dylan created is staggering. I personally consider some his recent work of similar quality. Not all Dylan is to everyone's taste, and that's cool. There were fans and reviewers who hated Dylan at virtually every phase of his career. But many eventually came to appreciate some of the music they had missed the first time around. My guess is they'll do the same for his later work and the work yet to come. I think Love and Theft, Time Out of Mind, Oh Mercy, and Modern Times contain some of his best ever stuff.

Finally, I have to take exception to your judgement of "Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts." The whole Wild West saloon thing, the guys drilling into the bank: It's the Marx brothers meets Gunsmoke. It's a great song, IMHO.

Love Fairport's Matty Groves, by the way!

Just noticed this: "...every song on "I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight" and "Pour Down Like Silver" are greater, in every possible way except callow verbosity, than any on "Blood On The Tracks"."

While I really like and admire Richard Thompson and think "I Want to See the Bright Lights" is a great album, this is just a silly statement. I think even Richard Thompson would admit that. Man, you're funny. I've got to admit, I kinda like the in-your-face criticisms you post. They definitely generate conversation (and gnashing of teeth).

You're definitely the reigning Dark Lord of the Organissimo forum.

Blake, thanks for the thoughtful reply; I know the work of your namesake very very well, from his first sides with Coot Grant onward, so I take your views with appropriate seriousness.

That said, I absolutely stand by the statement thay for heartsong etc, those two R & L Thomspon records destroy "BOTT" which is blowzy, insincere, altnerately self-pitying and bitter, poetically and "intellectually" (sic) muddled and the music is mostly boring crap. The singing, if you care to isolate it, is, I admit, fairly strong but that's not enough.

Whereas "I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight" and "Pour Down Like Silver" are nuanced, multifaceted, dynamic, both subtle and driving.... Neither Dylan's isolation nor the dogshit 1974 Band tour did him any good btw; "BOTT" tripe one reaction, "Desire" another though some of the Rolling Thunder Review shows were strong (MUCH stronger than that Band tour.)

People get so invested in the idea of Dylan's fecundity that they ascribe him way too much credit; yeah, Fairport covered Dylan-- and Leonard Cohen, and Joni Mitchell etc.

Others have addressed this but people pulling out '62-'67 Dylan to 'defend' or at deflect attention away from his 1970s are missing the point. And greatly diminishing the collective creative moment that was folk/rock/pop say '64-'74 (speaking loosely).

As for Martin Carthy, a terrific musician but just because Zimmy copied him doesn't mean he 'invented' those tunes anymore than Robert Burns might have. (And re-reading Burns is far more salutary than re-reading Bob.)

Q: Who's copying whom here? Hmmmmmmm...

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Dylan knows his Robbie Burns too. That was duly noted by Neil Corcoran in his speech at St. Andrews University, Edinburgh, when Dylan was awarded an honorary degree in 2004. The chorus of his 1990s epic Highlands is a reworking of Burns' "My Heart's in the Highlands", though some observers (Michael Gray. Andrew Muir, me) would say Dylan has greatly improved on the insipid original. Burns was also a popular entertainer who could go from the sublime to the ridiculous in the blink of an eye.

And talking of strange and wonderful Scotsmen -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DvSagxL57Q

And from the indefensible 1970s -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=neWugI4pafs

Edited by Mori

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OK. I'm guessing you're just yanking our chains, but I'll play along. First off: No Dylan, then no Fairport Convention, no fully formed Beatles or Rolling Stones, no Jimi Hendrix, no folk rock, no country rock, no Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, and similar singer-songwriters, no shit loads of good music. Dylan infused a new poetry and artistry into songwriting that simply had not existed before. He brought the language of Rimbaud, Verlaine, Baudelaire, the Beats, and the Black Mountain poets to popular song, resulting in a radical change in music-making that was felt around the world. Was there ever a more important figure in American popular songwriting than Dylan? To say that he simply came up with some "novel prosody, imagery, etc." is just ridiculous (and my guess is you probably know that).

Secondly, Dylan IS inconsistent. (While I love the lyrics to Girl from the North Country, the version with Johnny Cash may be the single worst vocal performance of all time.) Dylan readily acknowledges this inconsistency himself. But there are few artists that don't produce at least some clunkers. As much as I love Coltane, Bud, Armstrong, and Miles, I cannot in all honestly say that everything they recorded is prime stuff. And as many chances as he took and as many times as he reinvented himself (from the Greenwich Village folkie Dylan to the rock and roll iconoclast Dylan to the Nashville Skyline Dylan and the fire-and-brimstone gospel preacher Dylan), it's no wonder there are some artistic failures. However, when he did succeed (which was more often than not, in my opinion), he could be truly amazing. Freewheelin', John Wesley Harding, Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde on Blonde, Blood on the Tracks, Another Side Of, the Royal Albert Hall Bootleg, the Basement Tapes -- the list of acknowledged album classics that Dylan created is staggering. I personally consider some his recent work of similar quality. Not all Dylan is to everyone's taste, and that's cool. There were fans and reviewers who hated Dylan at virtually every phase of his career. But many eventually came to appreciate some of the music they had missed the first time around. My guess is they'll do the same for his later work and the work yet to come. I think Love and Theft, Time Out of Mind, Oh Mercy, and Modern Times contain some of his best ever stuff.

Finally, I have to take exception to your judgement of "Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts." The whole Wild West saloon thing, the guys drilling into the bank: It's the Marx brothers meets Gunsmoke. It's a great song, IMHO.

Love Fairport's Matty Groves, by the way!

Just noticed this: "...every song on "I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight" and "Pour Down Like Silver" are greater, in every possible way except callow verbosity, than any on "Blood On The Tracks"."

While I really like and admire Richard Thompson and think "I Want to See the Bright Lights" is a great album, this is just a silly statement. I think even Richard Thompson would admit that. Man, you're funny. I've got to admit, I kinda like the in-your-face criticisms you post. They definitely generate conversation (and gnashing of teeth).

You're definitely the reigning Dark Lord of the Organissimo forum.

Blake, thanks for the thoughtful reply; I know the work of your namesake very very well, from his first sides with Coot Grant onward, so I take your views with appropriate seriousness.

That said, I absolutely stand by the statement thay for heartsong etc, those two R & L Thomspon records destroy "BOTT" which is blowzy, insincere, altnerately self-pitying and bitter, poetically and "intellectually" (sic) muddled and the music is mostly boring crap. The singing, if you care to isolate it, is, I admit, fairly strong but that's not enough.

Whereas "I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight" and "Pour Down Like Silver" are nuanced, multifaceted, dynamic, both subtle and driving.... Neither Dylan's isolation nor the dogshit 1974 Band tour did him any good btw; "BOTT" tripe one reaction, "Desire" another though some of the Rolling Thunder Review shows were strong (MUCH stronger than that Band tour.)

People get so invested in the idea of Dylan's fecundity that they ascribe him way too much credit; yeah, Fairport covered Dylan-- and Leonard Cohen, and Joni Mitchell etc.

Others have addressed this but people pulling out '62-'67 Dylan to 'defend' or at deflect attention away from his 1970s are missing the point. And greatly diminishing the collective creative moment that was folk/rock/pop say '64-'74 (speaking loosely).

As for Martin Carthy, a terrific musician but just because Zimmy copied him doesn't mean he 'invented' those tunes anymore than Robert Burns might have. (And re-reading Burns is far more salutary than re-reading Bob.)

Q: Who's copying whom here? Hmmmmmmm...

OK. I'm guessing you're just yanking our chains, but I'll play along. First off: No Dylan, then no Fairport Convention, no fully formed Beatles or Rolling Stones, no Jimi Hendrix, no folk rock, no country rock, no Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, and similar singer-songwriters, no shit loads of good music. Dylan infused a new poetry and artistry into songwriting that simply had not existed before. He brought the language of Rimbaud, Verlaine, Baudelaire, the Beats, and the Black Mountain poets to popular song, resulting in a radical change in music-making that was felt around the world. Was there ever a more important figure in American popular songwriting than Dylan? To say that he simply came up with some "novel prosody, imagery, etc." is just ridiculous (and my guess is you probably know that).

Secondly, Dylan IS inconsistent. (While I love the lyrics to Girl from the North Country, the version with Johnny Cash may be the single worst vocal performance of all time.) Dylan readily acknowledges this inconsistency himself. But there are few artists that don't produce at least some clunkers. As much as I love Coltane, Bud, Armstrong, and Miles, I cannot in all honestly say that everything they recorded is prime stuff. And as many chances as he took and as many times as he reinvented himself (from the Greenwich Village folkie Dylan to the rock and roll iconoclast Dylan to the Nashville Skyline Dylan and the fire-and-brimstone gospel preacher Dylan), it's no wonder there are some artistic failures. However, when he did succeed (which was more often than not, in my opinion), he could be truly amazing. Freewheelin', John Wesley Harding, Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde on Blonde, Blood on the Tracks, Another Side Of, the Royal Albert Hall Bootleg, the Basement Tapes -- the list of acknowledged album classics that Dylan created is staggering. I personally consider some his recent work of similar quality. Not all Dylan is to everyone's taste, and that's cool. There were fans and reviewers who hated Dylan at virtually every phase of his career. But many eventually came to appreciate some of the music they had missed the first time around. My guess is they'll do the same for his later work and the work yet to come. I think Love and Theft, Time Out of Mind, Oh Mercy, and Modern Times contain some of his best ever stuff.

Finally, I have to take exception to your judgement of "Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts." The whole Wild West saloon thing, the guys drilling into the bank: It's the Marx brothers meets Gunsmoke. It's a great song, IMHO.

Love Fairport's Matty Groves, by the way!

Just noticed this: "...every song on "I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight" and "Pour Down Like Silver" are greater, in every possible way except callow verbosity, than any on "Blood On The Tracks"."

While I really like and admire Richard Thompson and think "I Want to See the Bright Lights" is a great album, this is just a silly statement. I think even Richard Thompson would admit that. Man, you're funny. I've got to admit, I kinda like the in-your-face criticisms you post. They definitely generate conversation (and gnashing of teeth).

You're definitely the reigning Dark Lord of the Organissimo forum.

Blake, thanks for the thoughtful reply; I know the work of your namesake very very well, from his first sides with Coot Grant onward, so I take your views with appropriate seriousness.

That said, I absolutely stand by the statement thay for heartsong etc, those two R & L Thomspon records destroy "BOTT" which is blowzy, insincere, altnerately self-pitying and bitter, poetically and "intellectually" (sic) muddled and the music is mostly boring crap. The singing, if you care to isolate it, is, I admit, fairly strong but that's not enough.

Whereas "I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight" and "Pour Down Like Silver" are nuanced, multifaceted, dynamic, both subtle and driving.... Neither Dylan's isolation nor the dogshit 1974 Band tour did him any good btw; "BOTT" tripe one reaction, "Desire" another though some of the Rolling Thunder Review shows were strong (MUCH stronger than that Band tour.)

People get so invested in the idea of Dylan's fecundity that they ascribe him way too much credit; yeah, Fairport covered Dylan-- and

Others have addressed this but people pulling out '62-'67 Dylan to 'defend' or at deflect attention away from his 1970s are missing the point. And greatly diminishing the collective creative moment that was folk/rock/pop say '64-'74 (speaking loosely).

As for Martin Carthy, a terrific musician but just because Zimmy copied him doesn't mean he 'invented' those tunes anymore than Robert Burns might have. (And re-reading Burns is far more salutary than re-reading Bob.)

Q: Who's copying whom here? Hmmmmmmm...

I wrote a great response last night, but accidently erased it! I don't have a lot of time now, but I'll say just a couple of things. Your near complete dismissal of Dylan's impact is just ridiculous. Just compare the pre- and post-Dylan influenced work of our generation's most influential songwriters. (Before Dylan, for instance, the Beatles and the Stones were basically artistic adolescents.) Then, I want you to consider all of the songwriters and musicians who were, in turn, influenced by these folks, and so on down the line. You're a musically literate guy, so I'm sure you know this and are just playing the crotchety naysayer here.

Dylan's influence on Richard Thompson, too, is well documented. I just did a quick search, and one reviewer of a book about Thompson says that he "has always acknowledged Dylan as a major influence." The reviewer goes on to say that "the book is liberally sprinkled with references to the older artist (the index lists 21 pages mentioning Dylan, and I counted up another 20)." That's a lot of references! "Yeah, Fairport covered Dylan -and Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell." I'd say Dylan's influence went a little beyond their simply covering him.

Interestingly, the writer says that Thompson's all-time favorite Dylan song is........(drum roll, please)..........."Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts"!!!! BOOM!!!!

See http://expectingrain.com/dok/who/t/thompsonrichard.html

I'll leave it at that for now.

OK, I've got a few moments more. About my "deflecting attention from Dylan in the 70's".......

Some of the greatest all-time Dylan tunes were written in that decade. Here are a few samples off the top of my head, but there are plenty more:

Shelter from the Storm

If Not for You

You Ain't Goin' Nowhere

Señor

Tangled Up in Blue

Forever Young

Watching the River Flow

Quinn the Eskimo

Knockin' on Heaven's Door

On a Night Like This

Lay, Lady, Lay

Gotta Serve Somebody

One More Cup of Coffee

Precious Angel

Buckets of Rain

Dark Eyes

Days of '49

The Man in Me

All of them: Stone cold classics.

Edited by blind-blake

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Shelter from the Storm
If Not for You
You Ain't Goin' Nowhere
Señor
Tangled Up in Blue
Forever Young
Watching the River Flow
Quinn the Eskimo
Knockin' on Heaven's Door
On a Night Like This
Lay, Lady, Lay
Gotta Serve Somebody
One More Cup of Coffee
Buckets of Rain
The Man in Me

B_B

I know you were in a hurry and all, but at least three of these were written in the '60s (Lay Lady Lay, Quinn the Eskimo, and You Ain't Going Nowhere) and (IMHO, YMMV, etc.) at least two of them ar dogshit (Forever Young, Senor). And we all know Moms likes to indulge in hyperbole at least as sloppy and scattershot as anything Bob does. And I think at least part of Bob's influence on others was because he gave a focus to where they already wanted to go...and sometimes that was a good thing and sometimes not. How'd you like the Elvis doing Bob I posted awhile back?

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Shelter from the Storm

If Not for You

You Ain't Goin' Nowhere

Señor

Tangled Up in Blue

Forever Young

Watching the River Flow

Quinn the Eskimo

Knockin' on Heaven's Door

On a Night Like This

Lay, Lady, Lay

Gotta Serve Somebody

One More Cup of Coffee

Buckets of Rain

The Man in Me

B_B

I know you were in a hurry and all, but at least three of these were written in the '60s (Lay Lady Lay, Quinn the Eskimo, and You Ain't Going Nowhere) and (IMHO, YMMV, etc.) at least two of them ar dogshit (Forever Young, Senor). And we all know Moms likes to indulge in hyperbole at least as sloppy and scattershot as anything Bob does. And I think at least part of Bob's influence on others was because he gave a focus to where they already wanted to go...and sometimes that was a good thing and sometimes not. How'd you like the Elvis doing Bob I posted awhile back?

I LOVE Elvis's version of "Don't Think Twice"! Thanks for pointing that out. Señor is one my favorite Dylan tunes of all time. What can I say? You're...well, just wrong. To be honest, it's hard to really know what the Beatles and others were thinking in terms of where they wanted to go. However, if their recordings are any indication, Dylan was a critically important influence. In my opinion, his influence was almost universally a great thing. I think the Beatles and the Stones became MUCH more interesting after Dylan's innovations. Edited by blind-blake

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Shelter from the Storm

If Not for You

You Ain't Goin' Nowhere

Señor

Tangled Up in Blue

Forever Young

Watching the River Flow

Quinn the Eskimo

Knockin' on Heaven's Door

On a Night Like This

Lay, Lady, Lay

Gotta Serve Somebody

One More Cup of Coffee

Buckets of Rain

The Man in Me

B_B

I know you were in a hurry and all, but at least three of these were written in the '60s (Lay Lady Lay, Quinn the Eskimo, and You Ain't Going Nowhere) and (IMHO, YMMV, etc.) at least two of them ar dogshit (Forever Young, Senor). And we all know Moms likes to indulge in hyperbole at least as sloppy and scattershot as anything Bob does. And I think at least part of Bob's influence on others was because he gave a focus to where they already wanted to go...and sometimes that was a good thing and sometimes not. How'd you like the Elvis doing Bob I posted awhile back?

I LOVE Elvis's version of "Don't Think Twice"! Thanks for pointing that out. Señor is one my favorite Dylan tunes of all time. What can I say? You're...well, just wrong. To be honest, it's hard to really know what the Beatles and others were thinking in terms of where they wanted to go. However, if their recordings are any indication, Dylan was a critically important influence. In my opinion, his influence was almost universally a great thing. I think the Beatles and the Stones became MUCH more interesting after Dylan's innovations became apparent.

Glad you liked Don't Think Twice, how 'bout Tomorrow is a Long Time? Bob's reputed to have said it was his favorite, but then he's been known to say a lot of things, e.g. he once said the Smokey Robinson was "America's greatest living poet" and then when asked about that later he said 'no, what was I thinking, I meant Rambeau' (who's neither living nor American, so I guess he just didn't want to talk about it).

On the broader issue of Bob's influence and whether that was a good thing - there's good ambivalent and BS ambivalent, Like Justice Stevens I can't define it but I know it when I see/hear it.

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Shelter from the Storm

If Not for You

You Ain't Goin' Nowhere

Señor

Tangled Up in Blue

Forever Young

Watching the River Flow

Quinn the Eskimo

Knockin' on Heaven's Door

On a Night Like This

Lay, Lady, Lay

Gotta Serve Somebody

One More Cup of Coffee

Buckets of Rain

The Man in Me

B_B

I know you were in a hurry and all, but at least three of these were written in the '60s (Lay Lady Lay, Quinn the Eskimo, and You Ain't Going Nowhere) and (IMHO, YMMV, etc.) at least two of them ar dogshit (Forever Young, Senor). And we all know Moms likes to indulge in hyperbole at least as sloppy and scattershot as anything Bob does. And I think at least part of Bob's influence on others was because he gave a focus to where they already wanted to go...and sometimes that was a good thing and sometimes not. How'd you like the Elvis doing Bob I posted awhile back?

I LOVE Elvis's version of "Don't Think Twice"! Thanks for pointing that out. Señor is one my favorite Dylan tunes of all time. What can I say? You're...well, just wrong. To be honest, it's hard to really know what the Beatles and others were thinking in terms of where they wanted to go. However, if their recordings are any indication, Dylan was a critically important influence. In my opinion, his influence was almost universally a great thing. I think the Beatles and the Stones became MUCH more interesting after Dylan's innovations became apparent.

Glad you liked Don't Think Twice, how 'bout Tomorrow is a Long Time? Bob's reputed to have said it was his favorite, but then he's been known to say a lot of things, e.g. he once said the Smokey Robinson was "America's greatest living poet" and then when asked about that later he said 'no, what was I thinking, I meant Rambeau' (who's neither living nor American, so I guess he just didn't want to talk about it).On the broader issue of Bob's influence and whether that was a good thing - there's good ambivalent and BS ambivalent, Like Justice Stevens I can't define it but I know it when I see/hear it.In my opinion, Elvis's version of "Tomorrow is Such a Long Time," is less successful. Still, it's interesting to hear what he does with the tune. No question there were some performers who didn't know much about songwriting who jumped on the Dylan bandwagon because it was fashionable or something. Kids around the world were writing Dylanesque songs in their bedrooms and it's a little much to expect that they'd all be good songwriters.

Edited by blind-blake

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Revisited "Shadows in the Night" yesterday. There are two reasons why this album speaks to me so.

One is the songs. I don't know these from Sinatra at all, but I know these songs and they've spoken to me just as I know they've spoken to Bob. He has stripped them down to basics and given his version of them, and what he sings is not exactly what I would (if I could sing!) but it is clear to me how his feelings are generating the singing. I'm an emotional person and emotions well-communicated reach me. I've also spent the last few years with my guitars doing the same thing to the best of my own ability with other songs as far as stripping them down to what I feel is their heartbeat and playing around with the melodic heart with countermelodies and rhythmic bits and I find that the process brings out the emotions in me in reaction to the song and sound. So I get the process and I feel the results.

Also. . . the mood, that mood of looking back and melancholia. I'm just coming out of that sort of a phase now, so that mood, that aura, is very "visible" to me and familiar and I can inhabit it. Having lost my wife, now mother, having left behind my adult home and my friends, having said goodbye to a woman I adored and loved deeply just because we had responsibilities that kept us across the country from each other. . . I swam, I lived in that mood for too long. And the mood and the feelings themselves have shaped my life. It's moved me further away from the hip and the pop, from the new and the raw. Makes my obessions over sound and collections of recordings shrink in importance. Having the right people in your life is far more nourishing and important than a treated room or the perfect reproduction of high res material or the hottest act in the performance venues. These songs have communicated this to me via Bob. . . and this album invokes that melancholy and nostalgia and climb to hope for the new. And I think it will have real staying power for me in the way that Blood on the tracks does in Dylan albums.

And it's also comfortable for me to listen to this NOW as I've been able to release myself from the control of the mood and I've found the next phase of my life through the blessed intervention of Lucy and our love together. I can let Bob inform me of the feelings and mood and relate to them and not have to turn around and inhabit them again right now. THAT is also an appeal to this recording, being touched and moved. . . and able to walk away.

So really this is an album that has fascinated me in a way that many others the last few years haven't. And I bet it has staying power in my library.

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Revisited "Shadows in the Night" yesterday. There are two reasons why this album speaks to me so.

One is the songs. I don't know these from Sinatra at all, but I know these songs and they've spoken to me just as I know they've spoken to Bob. He has stripped them down to basics and given his version of them, and what he sings is not exactly what I would (if I could sing!) but it is clear to me how his feelings are generating the singing. I'm an emotional person and emotions well-communicated reach me. I've also spent the last few years with my guitars doing the same thing to the best of my own ability with other songs as far as stripping them down to what I feel is their heartbeat and playing around with the melodic heart with countermelodies and rhythmic bits and I find that the process brings out the emotions in me in reaction to the song and sound. So I get the process and I feel the results.

Also. . . the mood, that mood of looking back and melancholia. I'm just coming out of that sort of a phase now, so that mood, that aura, is very "visible" to me and familiar and I can inhabit it. Having lost my wife, now mother, having left behind my adult home and my friends, having said goodbye to a woman I adored and loved deeply just because we had responsibilities that kept us across the country from each other. . . I swam, I lived in that mood for too long. And the mood and the feelings themselves have shaped my life. It's moved me further away from the hip and the pop, from the new and the raw. Makes my obessions over sound and collections of recordings shrink in importance. Having the right people in your life is far more nourishing and important than a treated room or the perfect reproduction of high res material or the hottest act in the performance venues. These songs have communicated this to me via Bob. . . and this album invokes that melancholy and nostalgia and climb to hope for the new. And I think it will have real staying power for me in the way that Blood on the tracks does in Dylan albums.

And it's also comfortable for me to listen to this NOW as I've been able to release myself from the control of the mood and I've found the next phase of my life through the blessed intervention of Lucy and our love together. I can let Bob inform me of the feelings and mood and relate to them and not have to turn around and inhabit them again right now. THAT is also an appeal to this recording, being touched and moved. . . and able to walk away.

So really this is an album that has fascinated me in a way that many others the last few years haven't. And I bet it has staying power in my library.

Can't argue with that, wouldn't want to.

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Revisited "Shadows in the Night" yesterday. There are two reasons why this album speaks to me so.

One is the songs. I don't know these from Sinatra at all, but I know these songs and they've spoken to me just as I know they've spoken to Bob. He has stripped them down to basics and given his version of them, and what he sings is not exactly what I would (if I could sing!) but it is clear to me how his feelings are generating the singing. I'm an emotional person and emotions well-communicated reach me. I've also spent the last few years with my guitars doing the same thing to the best of my own ability with other songs as far as stripping them down to what I feel is their heartbeat and playing around with the melodic heart with countermelodies and rhythmic bits and I find that the process brings out the emotions in me in reaction to the song and sound. So I get the process and I feel the results.Also. . . the mood, that mood of looking back and melancholia. I'm just coming out of that sort of a phase now, so that mood, that aura, is very "visible" to me and familiar and I can inhabit it. Having lost my wife, now mother, having left behind my adult home and my friends, having said goodbye to a woman I adored and loved deeply just because we had responsibilities that kept us across the country from each other. . . I swam, I lived in that mood for too long. And the mood and the feelings themselves have shaped my life. It's moved me further away from the hip and the pop, from the new and the raw. Makes my obessions over sound and collections of recordings shrink in importance. Having the right people in your life is far more nourishing and important than a treated room or the perfect reproduction of high res material or the hottest act in the performance venues. These songs have communicated this to me via Bob. . . and this album invokes that melancholy and nostalgia and climb to hope for the new. And I think it will have real staying power for me in the way that Blood on the tracks does in Dylan albums.And it's also comfortable for me to listen to this NOW as I've been able to release myself from the control of the mood and I've found the next phase of my life through the blessed intervention of Lucy and our love together. I can let Bob inform me of the feelings and mood and relate to them and not have to turn around and inhabit them again right now. THAT is also an appeal to this recording, being touched and moved. . . and able to walk away. So really this is an album that has fascinated me in a way that many others the last few years haven't. And I bet it has staying power in my library.

Can't argue with that, wouldn't want to.

I agree. Really nice post.

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50 years ago today, BD released "Subterranean Homesick Blues" as a single.

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50 years ago today, BD released "Subterranean Homesick Blues" as a single.

...and you still don't need the Weathermen to know which way the wind blows!

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50 years ago today, BD released "Subterranean Homesick Blues" as a single.

...and you still don't need the Weathermen to know which way the wind blows!

This is going to seem ridiculous. But the first time I encountered this song (sort of), I was 10 or 11, watching Murphy Brown, and two of the characters were reflecting on their idealistic youth during the 60s and kept reciting lyrics from this song. It wasn't until a few years later that I heard the actual song.

- Steven Snell

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