elmergantry

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

Tag: Bob Dylan

‘A Life that I was living In some Cracked Rear View’: Songs of Experience

Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would take me
Up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand,
In the moon that is always rising,
Nor that riding to sleep
I should hear him fly with the high fields
And wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land.
Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
Time held me green and dying
Though I sang in my chains like the sea.
Dylan Thomas ‘Fern Hill’

‘Most people get a fair amount of fun out of their lives, but on balance life is suffering, and only the very young or the very foolish imagine otherwise.’
George Orwell

“And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp,
Dare its deadly terrors clasp!

When the stars threw down their spears
And water’d heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?”
William Blake

As the title suggests, this post is a sequel to the one I wrote recently on ‘Songs of Innocence.’ So here are ten songs which deal with one way or another with the often bitter and disillusioning experiences which accompany the passage of time and the path to maturity. For all of us, life generally grows in complexity as we age and the balance of light and shade in it tends to lean more towards the latter. It may be, however, that these sufferings which we all have to go through ultimately lead to some kind of maturity…

The first part of the title of today’s post comes from this song:

1. John Hiatt, ‘Learning How To Love You’:

2. Phil Ochs, ‘Rehearsals for Retirement’:

3. Smog, ‘Cold Blooded Old Times’

4. Jim White, ‘Chase the Dark Away’;

5. Rowland S. Howard, ‘Ave Maria’

6. Iris De Ment, ‘No Time to Cry”

7. Steve Earle, ‘Goodbye’

8. Bob Dylan, ‘Things Have Changed’:

9. Mary Gauthier, ‘I Drink’

10. Paul Clayton, ‘All The Good Times Are O’er’
Sample here – http://www.folkways.si.edu/paul-clayton/dulcimer-songs-and-solos/american-folk/music/album/smithsonian

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Trucking, Driving, Rambling and Rollin’ Songs

Another return to the ‘theme time’ format. Idea came to me while listening to this excellent Son Volt song, so will start with it:

1. Son Volt, ‘Looking at the world through a Windshield’

Will follow it with one of the classics of the genre:

2. Little Feat, ‘Willin”:

3. Robert Johnson, ‘Rambling on My Mind’:

4. Merle Haggard, ‘Truck Drivers Blues”:

5. Don Baker, ‘Six Days on the Road”:

6. Woody Guthrie, ‘Ramblin Round”:

7. Tom Paxton, ‘Rambling boy”:

8. Charley Patton, ‘Down the Dirt road Blues”:

9. Bob Dylan, ‘Ramblin, Gamblin Willie”:

10. The Dubliners, ‘Champion at Keeping Them Rolling”:

All was Numbered

Ten songs with numbers in the title:

1. Frank Sinatra, ‘One For My Baby’ 9sorry Bob, but there are certain songs that when Frank sang them, they stayed sung’:

2. Paul Clayton ‘The Twa Sisters’ or ‘the Two Sisters’:

3. Planxty, ‘Three Drunken Maidens’:

4. The Clash, ‘Four Horsemen”:

5 Blue Rodeo, ‘Five Days in May’:

6. Don Baker, ‘Six Days on The Road”:

7. Bob Dylan, ‘Seven Curses”:

8. The Byrds, ‘Eight Miles High’:

9. George Harrison, ‘Cloud Nine”;

10. The Dubliners, Three Score and Ten:

3.

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

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

Dylan Sings while Rachaninov Swings

Further to my recent post, it seems that the Sinatra song, Full Moon and Empty Arms’, is based on a theme from the third movement of Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto.

It can be heard here from about 2.14 onwards:

A theme from its second movement also formed the basis for Eric Carmen’s dreadful ‘All By Myself’, but we won’t hold Sergei responsible for that.

Bob’s fine and quietly dignified version of ‘Restless Farwell’ at Sinatra’s eightieth birthday ‘do’ can be seen here:

http://www.mojo4music.com/10252/bob-dylan-serenades-sinatra-at-80/

Don’t Think Twice Revisited – Again

Have been looking further into the origins of Paul Clayton’s ‘Who’s gonna buy your Ribbons’ and have come up with a few new ‘leads’, as it were.

Especially after the contributions here from Jaan Kolk on ‘Gotta Travel On’, I have come to the conclusion that Clayton’s original songs were usually based on a range of sources -in effect, having a patchwork quality, which, ironically enough, is similar to the way in which Bob Dylan writes songs today…

Bearing this in mind, it seems that the formulation ‘sit and sigh’ was a pretty common one in folksongs – in a quick search, I found it used in “Lady Margaret” –
‘My hounds will eat o’ the bread of wheat
and ye of the bread o’bran
And then yo’will sit and sigh
That e’er ye loved a man’

It is also used in the song, the ‘Faerie’s Love Song’:
‘Why should I sit and sigh?
Pullin’ bracken, pullin’ bracken
Why should I sit and sigh,
On a hillside weary?’

The lines about the ‘long lonesome road’ and being forced to ‘travel on’ in Clayton’s song may also owe something to this song, ‘The Lonesome Road’, which was recorded by Gene Austin in 1927. In an ironic twist, Bob Dylan was to use part of the lytic of that song in his ‘Sugar Baby’.

Here is Gene Austin’s version of the song:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5AM8xtl-uU

and this is Bing Crosby’s, recorded in 1938:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nB3CRO9WL10

Clayton also recorded his own version of ‘Lonesome Road’ on his classic album of dulcimer songs and solos. He claimed to have learned this version – which he suggested was the original that was followed by the other more commercial versions – from ‘Negro sources in Bedford County, Virginia”.

This version can be heard here:

‘Time’s Revenges and Revenge’s Time’: A Theme Time 45 Minutes (or thereabouts) – Part 1

This is the fourth ‘theme time’ instalment. In it, I have included those songs with a substantial historical element under the ‘time’ label. Unlike in earlier instalments, I have also included two songs from those artists who, in my opinion, have handled such themes particularly effectively

So, here goes

1. Phil Ochs, ‘Changes”:

——-, ‘Links on the Chain”:

Apparently ‘Changes’ was one of Drake’s favourite sings

2. Nick Drake, “Time has told me’

—–, ‘Time of no reply’:

3. Bob Dylan, ‘Blind Willie McTell’:

—–, ‘Girl from the Red River Shore’:

http://www.pandora.com/bob-dylan/tell-tale-signs-bootleg-series-vol-8/red-river-shore-736-unreleased-time-out-of-mind (sample only)

4. The Kinks, ‘Victoria’:

—–’Days’:

5. Howlin Wolf, ‘The Natchez Burning”;

6. John Lee Hooker, ‘Tupelo’:

7. Bert Jansch, ‘There comes a time”

——, ‘The Ornament Tree’:

8. Merle Haggard. ‘When times were good’:

8. Dick Gaughan, ‘The World Turned Upside Down’:

9. Pete Seeger, ‘Turn, Turn, Turn”:

——, ‘Guantanamera’:

10. Woody Guthrie, ’1913 Massacre”;

11. The Clash, “Spanish Bombs”:

12. Edwyn Collins and Frank Roussel, ‘Time”:

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Shadows & Light – A Theme Time 45 Minutes or thereabouts

Have decided to include colours in the definition of ’light’, so here goes…

Will start with Bob Dylan’s favourite Lightfoot song…

1. Gordon Lightfoot ‘Shadows’:

Will follow it with another ‘Canadien Errant’:

2. Joni Mitchell, ‘Shadows and Light”:

3. Rory Gallagher, ‘Shadowplay’:

4. Joy Division, ‘Shadowplay”:

5. Rowland S. Howard, ‘Autoluminescent’:

6. REM, ‘Green grow the Rushes O”

7. Orange Juice, ‘Blue boy’:

8. Bob Dylan, ‘Its all over now, Baby Blue”:

9. Roy Orbison, ‘Blue Bayou”:

10. Eric Andersen, ‘Blue River”:

11. Michael Martin Murphey, ‘Red River Valley”:

12. Joe Heaney, ‘Roisin Dubh’:

133. Christy Moore, ‘Black is the Colour”:

14. The Pogues, ‘A Pair of Brown Eyes’:

15. Lal Waterson, ‘Red Wine Promises”:

16. Jimi Hendrix, “Purple Haze”:

‘Home Before Dark’: A Theme Time 15 Minutes – Part Two

Should add that I named the original post after one of my favourite books of all time, Susan Cheever’s great memoir about her father, John Cheever. In my opinion, Cheever is, perhaps – along with Raymond Carver and Richard Ford – the best American short story writer.

Have been thinking about songs with ‘Home’ in the title or as a theme and have come up with these additions to the list:

1. Rory Gallagher ‘Philby’ – Rory’s great song about not having a home:

2. Robert Johnson, ‘Sweet Home Chicago’:

3. These are, I think, alternative versions of the same original song (the ‘folk process’, as it were), but they show clearly the differences between these two fine artists:
Paul Clayton, ‘Home, Dearie, Home’:

There is a sample of this song here:
http://www.pandora.com/paul-clayton/bay-state-ballads/home-dearie-home

Luke Kelly, ‘Home, Boys, Home’:

4. John Martyn, ‘Baby Please Come Home; – from his greatest album…

5. Mary Gauthier, ‘Can’t Find the Way’ – a great, great song about homelessness:

6. Eric Andersen, ‘Feel like Coming Home”
There is a sample of this song here (it is track 12):
http://www.amazon.com/Beat-Avenue-Eric-Andersen/dp/B000087DRW

7. Bert Jansch, Running from Home’:

8. Bob Dylan.’I was young when I left Home’: Dylan’s great re-working of ’99 Miles”

9. Eric Bibb, ‘New Home’: