Search Results for "Bob Dylan"

Dylan & Cash

I decided to read BoingBoing for the first time in a long time. This post points to a novelty. Occasionally blogged Bob Dylan and mentioned Johnny Cash recorded together a few times in 1969. This post on the music blog Aquarium Drunkard has mp3s. I highly reccomend DownThemAll! for grabbing them.

They performed a combination of their own hits and standards. In my listening so far, the standards are the best. Dylan is a scholar of American music, and Johnny Cash had great knowledge both as a musician and as a person raised in a strong musical tradition. They were just jamming much of the time, and the production on many of the tracks is rough. They pull lines and phrases from all over the place and suggest verses to each other in the middle of songs. Two masters playing off the cuff is worth hearing.

I get my breakfast here, get my dinner down in New Orleans.
I get my breakfast here, get my dinner down in New Orleans.
Right on down through Birmingham.
Gonna get me a mama, Lord, I ain’t never seen.

Cash sang these lines in “Blue Yodel #2.” This version is a collection of floating verses over the same music as “Blue Yodel #1;” blogged Jimmie Rodgers‘ “Blue Yodel #2” is a different song. One MetaFilter user loved it on a mix CD without knowing its origin and posted to query the community. The earliest recording I know with the verse above is favorite Mississippi John Hurt‘s 1928 “Ain’t No Tellin’.”

Eat my breakfast here, my dinner in Tennessee.
Eat my breakfast here, my dinner in Tennessee.
Eat my breakfast here, my dinner in Tennessee.
I told you I was coming. Baby, won’t you look for me?
Hey, hey, that’s scooping the clam.


Michael M. on November 23rd 2008 in General, Music, Recorded

Dylan Mississippi

Highway 61 Radio pointed me to this free download of the song “Mississippi” from occasionally blogged Bob Dylan. Some days it has been a long time since “Oxford Town.”

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Michael M. on November 9th 2008 in General, Music, Recorded

Dylan movie

This preview of an upcoming Bob Dylan biopicture of I’m Not There caught my eye. I have blogged Dylan twice before. The movie is being released slowly starting in just a few theaters. The IMDb discussion is very active for a movie that may never see wide release. Six or so different actors play Dylan in the film. I can imagine that the result is disconnected and bad. Since Dylan made several big musical moves, it might work, though. I hope its small release grows enough to bring the movie here.

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Michael M. on August 28th 2007 in General, Movies, Music

Haggard Dylan

A friend contacted me Wednesday to offer an extra ticket to Thursday’s Merle Haggard and Bob Dylan concert at the Fox. I had wanted to go, but I had decided against it. Between the generosity and the opportunity to see two great musicians, I was excited.

Haggard was comfortable. He was friendly. He played Telecaster and fiddle. I counted five, I think, Telecasters at one point with his band. I had just looked up the model earlier in the week thinking about how popular it was among country musicians. He put on a good show. He played some old ones, “Mama Tried” and “Okie from Muskogee” among others. He played good new ones.

Dylan was disappointing. “Dylan, Haggard show 2 sides of celebrity” from the Post-Dispatch is a good review of the concert. His performance was not awful, but it was not spirited. I saw him in Memphis in May in 1994, and it was good. This time, he stood at a keyboard the whole time. He played many of his big songs unexcitedly. My friends left early. I stuck around waiting for it to get good. It did not. I had hoped Haggard and Dylan would play together at the end. They did not. There was no encore.

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Michael M. on April 22nd 2006 in General, Live, Music

Convergence through plagiarism

Suzanne Vega wrote this New York Times op-ed piece about the plagiarism accusations against Bob Dylan. How much convergence can I get? I have been a Suzanne Vega fan for a long time and a Dylan fan, too. I am quite interested in the modern issues of intellectual property and their relationship to artistic creation. I tend to think that using the art of others in new contexts is good. I resist the use of “steal” and “piracy” to describe the practice. Recycling of art primarily takes from the pride and protectionism of others, and they ought to be whittled down.

This previous Times article and this story from NPR‘s All Things Considered give a little background. Bob Dylan took from Henry Timrod on his new album Modern Times and a few other places. I am thinking that he took from Charlie Chaplin, too. Disc jockey Scott Warmuth discovered the connections and started this discussion thread. The Times even has this handy chart. The man who wrote “Oxford Town” also quotes the poet laureate of the Confederacy. Amusement is a better choice than annoyance.

Bob Dylan has used others’ prior art throughout his career. No Direction Home documented it well. Dave Van Ronk felt betrayed by Dylan’s choices of what to include on his very first album. Dylan knew how to appropriate before entering the studio. His hero Woody Guthrie borrowed from all over as shown in previously blogged Woody Guthrie: Ain’t Got No Home. My recent fascination with Henry “Ragtime Texas” Thomas revealed where “Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance” (and Canned Heat‘s “Going Up the Country“) came from.

It’s modern to use history as a kind of closet in which we can rummage around, pull influences from different eras, and make them into collages or pastiches. People are doing this with music all the time. I hear it in, say, Christina Aguilera’s new album, or in the music of Sufjan Stevens.

A few months ago, I investigated the famous Aaron Copland ballet Rodeo. I had heard that Hoe-Down, the most famous section, was based on an old fiddle tune. I found that the inspiration was William H. “Bill” Stepp’s recording of “Bonaparte’s Retreat,” available here and here, made by often blogged Alan Lomax and subsequently transcribed by Ruth Crawford Seeger. To my ear, Copland’s arrangement is wonderful, and the original is even better. I found this post, the last in a series, that traces the path from Stepp to Copland.

I am also reminded of George Harrison. His “Something” and “My Sweet Lord” both show obvious reuse of previous songs. He got sued and roundly insulted for “My Sweet Lord,” and I have read snide comments about his penchant for borrowing. I have felt the same way about him. Then I started listening. George Harrison wrote some great songs. Although his Beatles songs were few, the good ones, such as “Something” and “Here Comes the Sun,” stand up well against Lennon-McCartney numbers. His post-Beatles work has some gems. I listen to “What Is Life” and “When We Was Fab” over and over and over. Effective recycling is evidence that a musician has good ears.

In the article, Vega considers whether Dylan purposefully used Civil War poetry. Does it matter? If the “dean of American composers” can create the most famous American composition by quoting a virtuoso country fiddler, Bob Dylan can quote an old poet as directly as he pleases. Is Dylan “a thieving little swine” as called in the discussion thread? Judging from what I have seen and read, he has been much worse to many people many times. To worry about theft is missing the point. I do not listen to his music because I wish I had him as a friend.

Mr. Dineen said he would have been happy if Mr. Dylan had just given Timrod credit for the lines. “Maybe it’s the teacher in me. If I found out that he had done this in a research paper, he’d be in big trouble.”

Mr. Dineen has it backwards. Research papers are written about Bob Dylan, not the other way around. If he were writing a term paper, he should fail and be turned over the the honor council. Dylan, however, writes songs. All of life should not follow those rules. From “Tom’s Diner,” Vega knows the real rules, and her piece addresses them. In America and similar political entities, just make sure everybody gets real paid (or contractually swindled such that payment is unnecessary).

As I am wont to do, I assign some blame of this misguided controversy to a favorite idea. We need more amateur art. The default path is to be spectator and critic, but the hop to being participant and creator is small. Too much of this bellyaching comes from passivity. Playing and singing provide forceful demonstrations about musical creation. Playing an existing composition as written is a creative process. So is changing it up. So is taking off in a new direction altogether. So are all combinations of the three. DJing shows that even playing recorded music can be, too.

I imagine that using history as a closet is modern only to the extent that we moderns have more history available in our libraries and on our intarwebs. To create good music is to negotiate between the novel and the familiar. My suspicion is that the second song ever sung took from the first.


Michael M. on September 17th 2006 in General, Music, Recorded

McComb blues

Searching for other information, I found in this post that hometown favorite Bobby Lounge will play SXSW this year. According to his own site, he will play March 17, and he is scheduled for Jazz Fest April 29. I am happy to see that he will continue performing. It had looked like his performing career might be not only late, but short. I wish he would play a show closer to me.

The same search that turned up Bobby Lounge’s SXSW lead me to this podcast of Little Freddie King. Little Freddie King is a bluesman born in McComb. His musical career seems to have centered around New Orleans. The music, however, recalls older acoustic blues similar to the Delta style. I had not heard of him before, but I hope to hear a little more of his music.

All three of us were born in the same town, Bobby Lounge about 10 years after King and me about 25 years after Lounge. I want to know where Harvey Hull was born. I also found lyrics of his that mentioned the hometown. I was looking for information about the Kate/Katy Adams/Allen/Allan, a riverboat mentioned in several old songs. In a page of old lyrics, I found “Can you tell me how long: Jackson to McComb” in Papa Harvey Hull’s “Don’t You Leave Me Here.” More searching revealed that Nathan Salsburg of recently blogged Root Hog or Die had played Harvey Hull’s “France Blues” recently on his radio show. I wrote him, and he told me that Little Harvey Hull and Papa Harvey Hull are one and the same. Very little is known of him, and only six recorded songs of his exist. Never Let the Same Bee Sting You Twice appears to have all of them along with some other great old material. I need to get my ears on it.

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Michael M. on February 15th 2007 in Live, Music, Recorded

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