May 24, 2007

International Talk Like Bob Dylan Day

While probably not as much fun as Talk Like A Pirate Day (and a heck of a lot more mumbly), today is the day someone decided to christen International Talk Like Bob Dylan Day.

Seriously — it’s the moment this guy has been waiting on for months:

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May 10, 2007

Under the covers with the Counting Crows

It’s been raining covers and rarities on the Counting Crows‘ MySpace page lately, and right now they’ve got up 4 great studio tracks from their so-called “Under The Covers” sessions. Their distinctive touch on each of these songs is thoroughly enjoyable, even on the Rod Stewart/Faces ditty (a man who, in general, I cannot abide, due to flagrant violations such as these).

Adam Duritz fills us in:

To celebrate what a great week we had in the studio, I decided this was going to be Covers Week on our Myspace page, so all the songs will be from the unreleased “Under The Covers” we recorded by ourselves one weekend during the “Hard Candy” sessions when Lilywhite was out of town.

We got “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere”, a Bob Dylan song from the Basement Tapes sessions. It was also recorded by the Byrds on the album “Sweetheart Of The Rodeo” album. I have no idea what the hell this song is about. It’s one of those Dylan songs where the lyric is so good that it doesn’t even matter that none of the words seem to make any sense at all. Fucking nonsense as far as I can tell but somehow it still makes total sense to me. We got the fucker in one tape, as you will hear me clearly state at the end of the song. You try and pull that shit off.

Next up is “Ooh La La” by The Faces from the album of the same name. The Faces of course featured Rod Stewart on lead vocals, Ron Wood (later of The Rolling Stones on guitar), Kenny Jones (later the drummer for The Who) on the kit, Ronnie Lane on bass, and Ian McLagan on piano (also a member of the Stones, albeit an unofficial one). “Ooh La La” was one of the rare songs written and sung by Ronnie Lane. If It seems familiar, it may be because it is the song that closes the film “Rushmore”.

On our version, Rod Stewart was unavailable so I sang the vocals but the rest of the instrument are still played by the The Faces……or are they? We were having a lot of fun recording this track. You can tell because I just don’t seem to want to end the damn song. The body of the song is only 2:40 but the last chorus goes on for almost another two full minutes because I simply refuse to stop and keep calling for everyone to go around another time.

We had the same problem ending “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere”. I may have been a little hammered by this time. It’s only fitting, after all. When The Faces released their big box set a couple years ago, they (rather fittingly) called it “Five Guys Walk Into A Bar… “.

Then we have “Start Again”, maybe my favorite song by one of my favorite bands, the wonderful Scottish band Teenage Fanclub. It’s cut from their album, my favorite of theirs, “Songs From Northern Britain”. We decided to cut it with lots of harmonies and acoustic guitars as if it was a Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young song. It’s probably my favorite track on “Under The Covers”. Me and Dan just sing the shit out of it and when Immy adds the high harmony, the song just soars. Plus this song features my one and only piano solo on record.

Lastly, but certainly not least, is our version of the great Jackson C Frank tune “Blues Run The Game”. This one is just me and Immy. Jackson Frank was a friend and peer of Paul Simon, Nick Drake, Sandy Denny (of Fairport Convention), and Richard Thompson. Legend has it they all shared a flat together in London in the very early 60′s. When Simon left to return to America and formed Simon and Garfunkel, they recorded “Blues Run The Game” for one of their 1st albums. It turned out great but for some reason didn’t make the cut and was left off the album. It turned up years later on a Simon and Garfunkel box set called “Bookends”, which is where I first heard it. Immy and I have played it many times in concert but I don’t think we’ve ever again captured the pure emotional magic of the first perfect performance.

Nothing on “Under The Covers” overdubbed or comped together. All these songs were recorded live and this is exactly how they sounded. We recorded live and we recorded fast. I think we did 14 songs in 2 days.

Dig it cats, these are the songs we love. Hope you love ‘em too.

You Ain’t Going Nowhere (Dylan cover) – Counting Crows

Ooh La La (Faces cover) – Counting Crows

Blues Run The Game (Jackson Frank cover) – Counting Crows

Start Again (Teenage Fanclub cover) – Counting Crows

My PS – I think I prefer the breathless purity-of-the-moment with this live version of Blues Run The Game, even though I can’t complain on the good studio version:

Blues Run The Game (live) – Counting Crows

March 21, 2007

Stab it down, one way needle

This is a dual purpose post. One, to tell any of my local readers that they should consider giving some blood at the weeklong drive at the Air Force Academy/Fort Carson. There’s a shortage of blood among our troops and one of the benefits of living in a military town is that they are airlifting all of the blood units donated immediately to Iraq. My blood from yesterday’s session is literally somewhere on its way to the Middle East right now. That’s pretty cool. So lay an arm and donate a pint! Plus you get charming medical attendants in uniform all week long at absolutely no added charge:

I had posted a Basketball-Diaries-esque picture here of the needle running into my arm (the nurse Mr. Christian snapped it for me of his own volition) but I took it down because it even made ME shudder and it was MY arm. Even though I do always watch the needle go in, and ask a lot of medical questions. It’s really just in case I ever run into Dr. John Carter/Dr. Doug Ross on an elevator and need to sound knowledgable.

And then the other purpose of this, of course, is to post up the soundtrack that was running through my head the entire time. You knew this was coming:

Blood (live in San Francisco, 7/16/06) – Pearl Jam
I love that wah-wah…and the scream

PS – I have that aforementioned “Blood Mix” I compiled on cassette back in the day, snippets of all their lyrics (at the time) referencing blood. I don’t know why I did it. However, does anyone have the technology to rip a cassette tape to mp3? If you do, and can help me, then we can listen to my masterwork.

And here are two more kitschy theme-time radio hour contributions:

Positive Bleeding – Urge Overkill (ohhhh, I forgot how fantastic this song is)

It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding) – Bob Dylan, live from BBC London, June 1965

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February 3, 2007

“How I found the man who shouted ‘Judas’”

This was some great reading today. I love the backstories.

Bob Dylan: How I found the man who shouted ‘Judas’
It is the most famous heckle in rock’n'roll history, aimed with venom at a stunned Bob Dylan one 1966 night in Manchester. Andy Kershaw reveals how he tracked down the man who yelled it

AUDIO: Like A Rolling Stone (live at Manchester’s Free Trade Hall, 1966) – Bob Dylan

In the autumn of 1978, I arrived at Leeds University, already over-qualified in Dylanology. Another Bobsessive, I soon discovered, was living close by in our Headingley student ghetto, and he supplemented his grant by dealing Dylan bootlegs. One night he sold me a copy of an album that, according to the crudely stamped label, was a recording of Bob Dylan and The Hawks (later The Band) at the Royal Albert Hall on their notorious UK tour in May 1966. It was on these dates that Bob first appeared in Britain with an electric band. (His tour the previous spring, immortalised in the film Don’t Look Back, was still solo Dylan, in protest mode, with just an acoustic guitar.)

The 1966 bootleg was not only of first-rate sound quality; it was also the most dramatic, confrontational concert I’d ever heard – and I was a regular at Clash gigs at the time. It remains, for me, the most exciting live album of all. Dylan, on that tour, split his audiences straight down the middle. Many were thrilled by his new psychedelic songs and the massive onslaught of The Hawks roaring through the biggest PA system that had, at that point, been assembled in the UK. It had flown in with the band from Los Angeles.

But many others in those staid, municipal concert halls were outraged and betrayed by their darling acoustic minstrel plugging into the mains. (It was, though no one realised it at the time, the birth of rock music as opposed to pop music). No matter that Dylan had released five electric singles – notably, “Like a Rolling Stone” – and one electric album in the previous 12 months: British audiences were still getting up to speed on his earlier records and they wanted back the Woody Guthrie protégé they’d seen in 1965.

This tension between artist and audience snapped in an almighty confrontation on the bootleg. Slow hand-clapping and jeering throughout Dylan’s electric half of the show – which was later properly identified as his concert at Manchester’s Free Trade Hall on 17 May 1966 and finally given official release by Columbia Records in 1998 – climaxes with one betrayed folkie letting fly with a long yell of “Judas!” It became the most famous heckle in rock’n'roll history.

Dylan is rattled, and for an awkward second the audience is stunned – until a yelp of solidarity with the heckler goes up. It is still a genuinely shocking moment. (Concert-goers in those days were routinely reverential. They still stood for the national anthem at the end). Dylan eventually composes himself and leers: “I don’t believe you. You’re a liar!” And then, off mic: “You fucking liar!” (some claim he said: “Play fucking loud!”) before he and the band kick into the most majestic, terrifying version of “Like a Rolling Stone”, their final number – a performance of Gothic immensity surely drawn from Dylan by his anger at that single shout.

Read the rest of the article here.

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January 13, 2007

Jeff Buckley covers Bob Dylan for a musician’s village in New Orleans

A few weeks ago I posted a fantastic recording of Jeff Buckley singing Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released” over the phone for WMFU radio, with the help of some friends. One of those friends of Jeff’s was Michelle Kinney, who sang and played the accordion in the studio that day. Through a series of events, we’ve been corresponding by email – and she’s let me know of a great new project she’s working to develop, using a cleaned-up version of that arresting and blissful recording.

Michelle writes, “Being in Jeff’s company whether he was singing or not was transcendent (most of the time). You could feel him coming from blocks away.” Her husband was also a friend of Jeff’s, and played guitar on that recording of “I Shall Be Released” (as well as backing Jeff at the St. Ann’s tribute for Tim Buckley in 1991). Michelle has developed an artist’s record label called Sugarfoot Music which has received permission from Jeff’s estate to officially release that incredible recording on a compilation CD benefitting a musicians’ village in New Orleans.

Jeff’s song will join 30 other artists on this album to help raise funds to build homes for musicians displaced by the hurricanes in 2005. The idea of a Musicians’ Village was conceived by Harry Connick Jr. & Branford Marsalis, and will house musicians and families whose lives were devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. With the support of others, including a $1.5 million challenge grant by musician Dave Matthews, Habitat for Humanity has already begun rebuilding a neighborhood of music players and music lovers.

Among the contributors: Dan Wilson (of Semisonic), Natalie Merchant, Indigo Girls, Marshall Crenshaw, Gary Louris & The Jayhawks, and more. Sugarfoot Music’s benefit CD includes a 36-page booklet featuring a photo and a thought on New Orleans from each artist; I love liner notes that possess thought and depth — it’s like getting a great book along with the CD and adds so much to the experience.

In thinking back to the day that the song with Jeff was recorded, Michelle remembers; “We were all goofing around in a very low-key kind of way, and Jeff was so far from being a star. Aside from the pure joy of playing with Jeff over the phone, no one knew that this would become a special thing. On the CD, we edited out most of the other remarks — the preference of the show’s producer, Nick Hill. It’s mostly just the song, with Jeff’s comments at the end.” When Jeff lets out an ebullient laugh and thanks everyone as the song ends, what sticks with me (and always makes me break into a huge smile) is the refreshed elation in his voice, the untarnished joy of being involved in such a beautiful singalong.

It will be great to have this version in my collection, and to support a worthy cause. You can order the CD on the Sugarfoot Music website. In the short time I’ve had that amazing song in my collection, it’s become my absolute favorite cover that Jeff ever recorded, and is a fitting and affirming addition to the theme of this album.

And as Michelle says, “I know that Jeff would have been down there hammering nails himself.”

I Shall Be Released (over the phone, WFMU) – Jeff Buckley and Friends
(the singing starts at 4:15)

Buy the cleaned-up/non radio-rip version for a good cause here.

December 16, 2006

Jeff Buckley sings over the phone: Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released”

An author has contacted me to contribute to a book he is writing which indirectly is related to Jeff Buckley, and I am working on giving some initial answers to questions for him about my “relationship” with Jeff Buckley and his music, my perspectives and feelings.

I love talking about that kind of stuff, as you know, but it’s also kind of a hard exercise. I stopped and just kind of sat there when I came to question #5:

Did you ever see him play live, or meet him/speak to him? If not, do you wish you had?

(The answer is no, but more than anything I’d love to answer the first part of that question in the affirmative). I’ve been listening to Jeff Buckley a lot today, and am especially excited about this amazing version of Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released” that Buckley performed over the phone for some guys from WMFU Radio some years ago.

Jeff’s bluesy take on this song from Sin-é has long been a favorite of mine, but there’s something about the impromptu scratchy gorgeousness of this version. It’s absolutely arresting; I don’t know how something over the phone could induce chills, but it does. When I read Dream Brother, one common thread throughout Jeff’s life was that he loved to share little bits of himself through his music in random ways with friends and those whom he felt could appreciate it — so his music crops up in all kinds of unexpected forms.

The singing starts at about 4:15.

[removed] I Shall Be Released – Jeff Buckley
over the phone with WMFU Radio

[NOW ON CD: please see this post to buy it for a good cause!]

October 14, 2006

Six degrees of Bob Dylan

Last night I finally finished watching the final hour of the top-notch Martin Scorsese documentary No Direction Home, which follows Bob Dylan from his earliest beginnings, to his rise as a folk singer, through his controversial 1965 tour when he started to go electric. For someone who didn’t grow up seeing images of the young Dylan and the world he inhabited, I found it to be a fascinating character study and a look at how the world has changed in the past 40 years.

I can’t recommend this film highly enough. Scorsese unearthed a treasure trove of previously unseen film footage and audio recordings, and weaves it all together with honest reflections from Dylan himself. I thoroughly loved it.

Here are a few of my favorite songs from the soundtrack to No Direction Home, which is a fantastic double album just stuffed with rarities and alternate takes, part of the Bootleg Series:

Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” (Witmark demo) – Bob Dylan

Desolation Row” (Take 1) – Bob Dylan

Masters of War” (live at Town Hall) – Bob Dylan

It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry” (Take 9) – Bob Dylan
(alternate version they talk about in the film that is much more upbeat than the bluesy album version that Dylan came up with after recording this take)

Like A Rolling Stone” (live in Manchester) – Bob Dylan
(last song performed in the film, where the crowd calls him Judas — and he plays even louder)

And regarding the subject of this post, the six degrees of Bob Dylan; Online magazine Coudal Partners is hosting a very cool contest where you try to connect various famous people to Bob Dylan in as few steps as possible. Today’s is J. D. Salinger, but see how quickly uberfans have been able to connect Zimmy to past challenges like Mary-Kate & Ashley, David Beckham, and Bugs Bunny. If you win the day’s entry, you get a copy of his new album Modern Times. All of those winners are in the hat to win the complete catalogue of every single Dylan album on Columbia (47 of ‘em). Put on your thinking caps!

As for me, I am off to California this week on vacation (hurrah) and I have an early flight this morning into SFO. Hence the posting time (or maybe I’m just up *really* late on a Friday night doing something cool other than packing? Naah . . .)

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September 9, 2006

Play me some Otis Redding

Happy birthday to Mr. Otis Redding, the patron saint of soulful southern gorgeousness in music (in my mind, he’s the one and only). Born September 9, 1941 in Dawson, Georgia, he would have been 65 today. Redding died in a plane crash just three days after recording “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay,” which would come to be likely his best-known contribution to the American musical lexicon.

Do you realize that his recording career only lasted seven years? Although he grew up singing, his first professional tracks were laid down in 1960 with the group Otis and The Shooters, and he died in 1967 at the age of 26; only seven years and such an impact in music.

In addition to being completely floored by the body of work that he left behind –so many of his songs just absolutely slay me in the best way possible– I’ve always felt a bit of a fond connection with Otis because our families both come from the same town of Macon, Georgia. My Grampy was born in Macon, the son of a Baptist minister, and Otis moved there at the age of 5 with his Baptist minister daddy as well.

Macon is a city of (currently) about 325,000 people (although it was less than half that in the ’40s) southeast of Atlanta. In 2002, Macon unveiled a commemorative statue to Otis in Gateway Park, recognizing his impact as one of their best-known native sons. When Otis was growing up he attended and sang in the choir at the Vineville Baptist Church.

I asked my Grampy about the Redding family and he replied via email (but picture him saying all this in his deep Southern drawl because this is how he actually speaks);

“That is all familiar geographic territory for me but I do not know the name, Otis Redding. My Dad’s sister, Ruth, was a member of the Vineville Baptist Church where this young man sang. I lived in Macon in 1946 when he first moved there and I attended the Vineville Church at times with my Aunt Ruth and her husband, Frank.

I also remember the Roxy Theater in Macon and Nell and I went there a few times. I was still a student then (1943) and we had very little money in those days and a milk shake and a waffle was our idea of a big night out. It probably cost at least 50¢. Movies were only 25¢. Nell was the Post Mistress at Mercer and she was paid $50 per month. She also ran the university book store! I drove a mail truck making the evening pickups from all the mail boxes in one section of Macon. My route took me by the apartment where we lived and I often stopped there and Nell would climb into the back of the truck (quite illegal!) and I would drive back to the post office, dropping her off at a nearby cafe where we later had a milk shake and a waffle.

So, your question brings back a few memories but none about Otis!


I smile when I picture the possibility of my Grampy sitting in a church pew next to a little Otis Redding, completely unaware (even to this day) who he was or his contributions to music.

Oh, play me some Otis Redding. The time is always right :

Tramp – Otis Redding
Before a friend of mine completely blew my mind with this song last year, I naively had no idea that Otis could rock it like this. One often remembers his slow songs, his soulful raspy wailing grooves, but the drumbeat alone in this is enough to make anyone get up and shake it. Add the brass and it’s just almost too much for one to bear. And I love the lyrics, the playful give and take between Otis and Carla Thomas, the female co-lead;

“Carla: You’re straight from the Georgia woods!
Otis: That’s gooooooood.”

But the best part of this song is beyond words; it’s at 0:52 when Carla launches into the allegations against Otis (he needs a haircut, he wears overalls) and Otis just lacks the words to respond to her allegations so he just trails off into a trademark “oooh….” – It must be heard to be understood, but it’s my favorite part of the song.

A Change Is Gonna Come – Otis Redding
Even though this is Sam Cooke’s song, and Sam caresses it with his silky pipes, I vastly prefer Otis’ version (recorded in the Spring of 1965). This version fairly drips with aching as Otis sings about the thick swelter of racial oppression in the South. You can almost feel and see the tension, like heat rising up off the August sidewalks.

You Left The Water Running – Otis Redding
From the intro: “-Two – one, two, ready, play” this song combines uptempo soulful grooves with lonely musings in the best tradition of all the “she done left me” tunes. I love the title lyric, the unfinished imagery of water left running and all the metaphors you can associate with that rushing, wasted splashing.

Satisfaction – Otis Redding
Monterey Pop Festival, 1967
This performance at the legendary watershed event of the Monterey Pop Festival was one of Redding’s last big shows, as he died in December of this same year. Some call this the performance of his career, captured on a record I own which pairs a (literally) incendiary set from Jimi Hendrix (recognize this picture from the event?) with Redding’s. I picked this up on vinyl from the famed stacks at Amoeba Music in San Francisco, it is one of the best records I own. Here’s a cool scan from the back:

Cigarettes & Coffee – Otis Redding
I wrote in an earlier post that “The Blower’s Daughter” by Damien Rice was the best 3am song ever written. Well, as Otis says in the lyrics here: “It’s early in the morning . . . about a quarter to three. I’m sittin’ here talkin’ with my baby, over cigarettes and coffee.” This is therefore the best 2:45am song ever written – it’s smoky and sleepless, all sorts of restlessness and beautiful insomnia tied up in these notes.

Listening To Otis Redding At Home During Christmas – Okkervil River
A really lovely song from modern Austin, TX indie band Okkervil River, with various images that evoke home — one of which is Otis Redding: “Home is where beds are made, and butter is added to toast . . . I know that it’s home ‘cos that’s where the stereo sings.” Then it kicks into the chorus, which masterfully blends in the Redding refrain, “I’ve got dreams . . . dreams to remember” and made me smile wide the first time I listened to it one night in bed, in the dark.

Just Like A Woman – Bob Dylan
Just since we are on a Dylan kick around here lately (see last post), there is an interesting Otis-related story attached to this song. According to Mickey Jones (drummer of The Band), Dylan had played this freshly-written song once for Redding, who loved it and expressed the desire to record it himself as soon as possible. He died before he could do it, but every time I hear Dylan’s factual delivery in this song, I half picture Otis wailing it instead. Redding also recorded “Respect” first, before Aretha busted it out as her trademark tune.

(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay – Pearl Jam
3/26/94 in Murfreesboro, TN
And come on, you knew I’d work Pearl Jam into this somehow. This was the one and only time they’ve ever played this song live (complete with whistling) and did it with the help of co-author of the tune, Steve Cropper (of Booker T. & The MGs).

How good is all that? (that’s a rhetorical question). Pick yourself up some Otis Redding if you don’t have any, and head over to rbally to pick up the insanely good live set from 1966 at the famed Whisky-A-Go-Go.

Thanks Otis, you beautiful soul, you.

September 8, 2006

Bob Dylan: Stray Gems (or, soundtrack to an accident)

I started this post this morning, but between then and now I have been in my first car accident (no, not my fault; yes, I am okay, but my car — not so much). At the time I was listening to this playlist, so now I’ve got the sickening sound of crunching metal forever associated with “Ninety Miles An Hour” which was ironically playing at the time (but I was only going 45). Accident or no, that song’s still got some dang fine lyrics — and I am still excited about this post.

Ahem, as I was going to say: The most recent issue of Rolling Stone (with Bob Dylan, larger than life, on the cover) has a great playlist of “stray gems” — forgotten songs from Bob over the years. My friend Leo (who ROCKS) took the time to actually compile all of these tracks together into one zip file, and now I share them with you for your listening pleasure. Tracks are linked to the individual titles below (along with the commentary for each track), and a zip file is at the end if you, much like Depeche Mode, “just can’t get enough.”

(RS 1008)
Some Dylan albums anyone would take to a desert island. Others have gotten lost in the tide. Here’s a guide to some high spots between the masterpieces
by Jonathan Lethem

Forget bootlegs. Forget, for the moment, bonus discs and DVD extras. What if the best Bob Dylan songs you’ve never heard were simply tucked away on below-the-radar discs with “nice price” stickers on them, unrescued by Biograph, Greatest Hits or The Bootleg Series, or by any movie soundtrack (recall how “The Man in Me” blindsided you in The Big Lebowski?).

Along with Down in the Groove‘s “Rank Strangers,” Under The Red Sky‘s “Cat’s In The Well,” and Knocked Out Loaded‘s “Brownsville Girl,” here are a few more gems concealed in plain sight:

In The Summertime
FROM Shot of Love

By now everyone knows that “Every Grain of Sand” is this album’s keeper – and as far as fine-hewn lyrics go, they’re right. But for sheer vocal heartache, this harmonica-drenched lament goes a great distance down another road entirely.

Copper Kettle
FROM Self Portrait

Dylan with strings, splitting the difference between Hank Williams and Bing Crosby, to make a kind of western-movie dream sequence in Technicolor.

Idiot Wind
FROM Hard Rain

A familiar song, yes, but in a ten-minute raging punk version like you’ve never known, with a band that teeters over several cliffs and survives.

Pressing On
FROM Saved

Ideally, you’d hear Dylan’s humblest and most sheerly gorgeous devotional song in one of its shimmering live versions. But the album take, complete with Dylan’s own piano work, will do.

Ninety Miles an Hour (Down a Dead End Street)
FROM Down in the Groove

Goofy backing vocals can’t mask the relish Dylan takes in tackling this doomy Hank Snow hit, which takes the widely used motif of the dead-end love affair and adds a vehicle.

Day of the Locusts and
Sign on the Window
FROM New Morning

From an album that revealed a Dylan both tender and hesitant, a slice-of-life recounting of his uneasy receipt of an honorary degree, and an ambivalent fantasia of pastoral life, both sung with questing beauty.

FROM World Gone Wrong

For those who know this early-Nineties solo covers record and its predecessor, Good As I Been to You, they’re not overlooked, just boon companions. Dylan’s murdered Delia is a different girl than Johnny Cash’s, but the poor things probably knew each other in school.

Under the Red Sky and
Handy Dandy
FROM Under The Red Sky

The first is a beguiling, gnomic pass at nursery rhymes, which Dylan mines as profitably as he does the Bible and the blues; the second, a perverse revision of “Like a Rolling Stone,” pointing to the sly japes of Love and Theft.

We Better Talk This Over
True Love Tends To Forget
Is Your Love In Vain? and
Baby, Stop Crying
FROM Street Legal (remastered)

(note: RS selected the whole album, but here are just four of the tracks)
Unlike the heralded Bootleg Series, this crucially cleaned-up version of possibly Dylan’s most undervalued collection of songs was dropped into the marketplace so quietly that few even noticed. Since the murk of the production was the biggest obstacle to hearing Dylan walking a tightrope between divorce and Jesus, why not give it a second chance – or a first? Just be certain you get the new version.

Spanish Harlem Incident
FROM Another Side of Bob Dylan

Heard it lately?

You can also stream all these tracks for a limited time on the Rolling Stone website (at the end of the article) if you aren’t in a downloadin’ mood.

The Martin Scorsese Dylan biopic No Direction Home is at the top of my Netflix queue, so maybe I’ll get that sometime this next week to continue in this Dylan trend (minus the car accidents).

Hopefully future bouts with Dylan in my life will not portend such dire consequences.

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August 14, 2006

Monday Music Roundup

This weekend I found myself at a hot rod show which evolved that night into a rockabilly concert at a rough & tumble bar, with a pinup girl contest as the finale. It felt like this bizarre glitch in the matrix, whereby I suddenly stumbled back 50 years and was hangin’ out with the bad crowd from, like, Rydell High. It was awesomely entertaining – fishnets, pompadours, and pincurls. Oh, and lots of tattoos (guys & gals). To hear a pretty authentic live band crank out songs like “Get Rhythm” (Johnny Cash), “Peggy Sue” (Buddy Holly), and “That’s All Right” (Elvis) made me yearn even more than usual that I had been born in the ’40s.

Yeah, it was like that.
Okay, onto the music for this week — which I just noticed has a largely nostalgic feel to it as well.

Thunder On The Mountain
Bob Dylan
You know how you’ve been itchin to hear the first track from Bob Dylan‘s new album Modern Times? Well in addition to hearing him mumble his way through lyrics like “I want some real good woman to do just what I say” up against a rollicking folksy backing melody here, you can sign up via the old email to attend a listening party in many U.S. cities to hear the rest of the collection (which sounds like a pretty cool fête to me). See the always-informative Stereogum for details.

I Don’t Exist
It’s about gol-dang time that someone wrote a song about IKEA. I just got my 2007 catalog in the mail and it made me ridiculously happy, letting me slip for a few minutes into the well-organized and spacious Swedish lifestyle of my dreams where I hang funky textiles on the walls and everything has a basket to put it in. British punk granddaddies the Buzzcocks are celebrating their 30th anniversary with a new album called Flat-Pack Philosophy (on Cooking Vinyl). Although it does not explicitly mention the Scandinavian slice of domestic bliss, you and I both know that that’s what they are talkin’ about on the title track. Trading some of their more angry & aggressive crunchy sound of days past for an overall more melodic & even poppy feel (oh, but their edge is still there) this disc is an enjoyably fast-paced romp (14 tracks in 36 minutes?). This particular track reminds me, actually, of early R.E.M. if you can believe that.

Let Me Know
Eric Lindell
Northern California-born/New Orleans-adopted Eric Lindell makes some rough & lovely blue-eyed soul that reminds me of all kinds of goodness from Van Morrison (listen: “See Me Through”) to BB King and, very notably on this track, The Black Crowes. His newest release, Change In The Weather (Alligator Records), is diverse and solid. There’s a nice old-school vibe to this song combined with a fresh & almost lighthearted guitar riff. Looks like he is stopping through the scenic hamlet of Manitou Springs in a few weeks (our hippie neighbors to the west) and since I have also heard absolute raves about his live show, I do believe I will stop by and take a listen.

California Rain
Madeleine Peyroux
This song absolutely makes me break into a big smile everytime I hear it and I think it will do the same for you from the opening notes. Mental image for me is waltzing around in my socks on a hardwood floor in an old crumbling San Francisco apartment with the rain falling hard against the windows. Madeleine Peyroux is amazing to me — the fact that she is a modern lady who sounds exactly like Ella Fitzgerald and is clearly steeped in a love for all those great sounds of the past. This is from Half The Perfect World (out 9/12 on Rounder Records), her sophomore effort following 2004′s Careless Love. It is a nostalgic foray into the past, but with some serious nods to the present with songs written by folks like Tom Waits & Leonard Cohen and a guest appearance by k.d. lang on the cover of Joni Mitchell’s “River.” Perfect for a lazy weekend.

Broken Signals
The Mugs
Brooklyn-based quartet The Mugs have quite a fine little self-produced debut album with Paper Scissors Rock (on SkinnyFat Records), which draws comparisons to the intelligent moodiness of The Smiths or the humble jangle of The Shins. A steady buzz is growing behind these guys, who were just named one of 7 must-see bands of NYC and get some serious love from the respectable KEXP in Seattle (and even a little blog love). Their first EP Daisy Cutter (2004) is available in full on their website, so you have no excuse not to get into the groove yourself (although the EP carries the caveat: “This recording hasn’t been ruthlessly compressed, nor has it been mastered, so it sounds best loud”). They’ve got a ton of shows coming up, and apparently they are best at converting fans in-person, so check them out.

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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