elmergantry

' I've lost the power I had to distinguish between what to ignite and what to extinguish' – Rowland S. Howard

Month: September, 2014

“I Followed the River and I Got to the Sea”: 11 Songs with Either Word in their Title

A brief return to the ‘theme time’ format.

Will begin with Creedence

1. ‘Green River’:

2. Woody Guthrie ‘Red River Valley’:

3. Eric Andersen, ‘Blue River’:

4. Johnny Cash, ‘Sea of Heartbreak”

5. ‘Joni Mitchell, ‘River”

6. The Pogues, ‘The Broad Majestic Shannon”;

7. Paul Robeson, ‘Shenandoah’:

8. Paul Clayton, ‘Saturday night at Sea’:

9. Al Green, ‘Take Me To the River”:

10. Screaming Trees, “Ocean of Confusion”:

11. Mark Lanegan, ‘The River Rise’:

Bob Dylan’s One-Sided Folk Process

In his rather unpleasant Rolling Stone interview in advance of the release of the musically mediocre and lyrically shoddy Tempest, Bob Dylan claimed that ‘in folk and jazz, quotation is a rich and enriching tradition. That certainly is true. It’s true for everybody, but me. I mean, everyone else can do it but not me. There are different rules for me.’
Given his expression of that opinion, one would expect that he would be relaxed and forgiving in relation to other artists who quoted from his own work. Indeed, a one-sided ‘folk process’ would be an obvious contradiction in terms.
Yet, in reality, this seems to be the way in which Dylan operates- for example, this is what happened when Hootie and the Blowfish quoted from ‘Tangled Up In Blue’ (in this case after making it clear that the lines were ‘borrowed’):
http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=490

Discovered this fact from this quite judicious article:

http://dissidentvoice.org/2013/12/bob-dylan-and-plagiarism/

The details of the settlement between the two parties can be found here (Bob’s signature appears prominently on it, so he cannot put all of the responsibility on his lawyers):
http://entertainment.ha.com/itm/music-memorabilia/autographs-and-signed-items/bob-dylan-and-hootie-and-the-blowfish-signed-agreement-total-2-items-/a/7006-50043.s#47584758096
There are also some rumours around that Bob threatened Rod Stewart with a plagiarism suit over the latter’s song, ‘Forever Young’:

http://rulefortytwo.com/2009/06/18/1988-countdown-68-rod-stewart-forever-young/

Apparently, he was eventually given a songwriter credit on that rather abysmal song…

How Bob’s quotes from the Rolling Stone article fit in with his actions in both of these cases, I leave the readers of this piece to judge

Ten Books That Have Stayed with Me

Drew up this list in response to a post on the excellent The Bookshelf of Emily J. blog.

Apparently this has been going around Facebook and the idea is to ‘list 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t take more than a few minutes and don’t think too hard—they don’t have to be the ‘right’ or ‘great’ works, just the ones that have touched you.’

Anyway, for what its worth, here is my list:

1. Bleak House – Dickens
2. Middlemarch – Eliot
3. Under the Volcano – Malcolm Lowry
4. Dubliners – Joyce
5. Lord Kilgobbin – Charles Lever
6. Where I’m Calling From – Raymond Carver
7. Collected Stories – John Cheever
8. The Complete short Stories – Ernest Hemingway
9. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
10. Collected Poems – Michael Hartnett

If I was including my favourite books as a child, these would include Edward Lear’s Complete Nonsense, Alan Garner’s, The Moon of Gomrath and The Owl Service, and, as a teenager, George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia.

Professionally it would have to be books like E.P. Thompson’s, The Making of the English Working Class, Hobsbawm’s Labouring Men and Worlds of Labour, Carlo Ginzburg’s, The Cheese and the Worms, Marx’s Eighteenth Brumaire, Michael Foot’s life of Nye Bevan, and Robert Blake’s books on Disraeli and the UK Conservative Party.

7 Drunken Nights Gave Me The Blues

Had a strange experience yesterday – was listening to a Sonny Boy Williamson compilation cd I bought recently and heard a song which sounded remarkably familiar. It was one of those instances where you spend some time trying to remember exactly where you had heard that song (or one very similar to it) before – and then it hit me. The song I was thinking of was The Dubliners ‘Seven Drunken Nights’.

But to retrace our steps. Here is the Sonny Boy Williamson song, ‘Wake Up Baby’:

and here is The Dubliners:

The Dubliners’ song itself is based on an earlier Irish language song called ‘Peigín agus Peadar’, which they learned from the great Irish singer, Joe Heaney. Heaney’s version of it can be heard here:

http://www.joeheaney.org/default.asp?contentID=991

The song probably made the journey from Connemara to the USA with the Irish emigrants who travelled there. How it ended up in Sonny Boy Williamson’s repertoire I can only guess, although Leadbelly’s version of ‘Stewball’ was also based on an Irish original:

Here is a great version of that original, ‘The Plains of Kildare’ by Andy Irvine and Paul Brady:

Dylan-Joni Mitchell feud – Revisited

A quick update to my previous post in which I referred to Joni Mitchell’s claim that she had had a conversation with Bob where he had said that many of his more recent songs had been written by “the box”. She then said to him “What do you mean ‘the box’?” and he replied “I write down things from movies and things I’ve heard people say and I throw them in the box.”

Did not know at the time that Larry Charles, who collaborated with Dylan on Masked and Anonymous, had actually seen ‘the box”. Here is his description of it:

“The first thing he did, and this gives an illustration of how his mind works, he had this box on the table. He opened it and dumped out the box. It was all these little scraps of paper, stationery from all around the world. And on each scrap of paper was an aphorism or a line or a name of somebody. He dumped it out and said, ‘I don’t know what to do with all this.’

“I started looking and I said, ‘This can be a line of dialog. And this could be the person’s name who says the dialog.’ He was like, ‘You can do that?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ And I realized that’s how he writes songs. He has all these fragments and he weaves the fragments until they become poetry. It’s kind of automatic writing or the cut-up technique William Burroughs used. That’s how we started to write that script actually. It was a very organic, very stream of consciousness process.

The full interview from which this quote comes can be found here:
http://www.startribune.com/entertainment/blogs/152114935.html

Paul Clayton Newport 1963

Good picture of Clayton performing at the Newport Festival in July 1963. He might even be singing the version of ‘The Two Sisters’ that Bob Dylan based ‘Percy’s song’ on: