«..I’ve lost part of three fingers, broke my back, suffered a heart attack and a quadruple bypass, had a steel plate put in my neck and 136 stiches in my head, fought drugs and booze, spent the money I had, and burried my wife, son & mother in the span of one year…. I’m not proud of my misfortune – I’m proud of my survival»
~Billy Joe Shaver
“I’ve always been real blunt. Most people from Texas are that way. And it seems like all the great writers, they’re not afraid to say anything. I’ve always been pretty blunt, and sometimes it seems, brutally honest, but it’s real close to the bone.”
~Billy Joe Shaver
Bob Dylan has never played this song in concert, or released it. All we got are the 3 takes from the circulating “Hearts of Fire outtakes”. The solo version is absolutely incredible.
27 & 28 August 1986
Hearts Of Fire recording session, produced by Beau Hill
Continue reading August 27: Bob Dylan – Old Five And Dimers (Like Me) (Billy Joe Shaver) – audio & video
Well, the emptiness is endless, cold as the clay
You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way
Only one thing I did wrong
Stayed in Mississippi a day too long
I’ve been criticised for not putting my best songs on certain albums but it is because I consider that the song isn’t ready yet. It’s not been recorded right. With all of my records, there’s an abundance of material left off – stuff that, for a variety of reasons, doesn’t make the final cut. ..Except on this album, for which we re-cut the song ‘Mississippi.’ We had that on the “Time Out Of Mind” album. It wasn’t recorded very well but thank God, it never got out, so we recorded it again. But something like that would never have happen ten years ago. You’d have probably all heard the lousy version of it and I’d have never re-recorded it. I’m glad for once to have had the opportunity to do so.
~Bob Dylan (Press Conference (French coverage) De la Ville Inter-Continental Roma Hotel, Rome, Italy – 23 July 2001 )
“Mississippi” is a beautiful, powerful song, something of an anchor for the album. I can easily believe that the lyrics and the melody are intended to convey majesty and heroism. Dylan’s performance of the song gets these feelings across with a lot of charm and humor and empathy.
~Paul Williams (Bob Dylan: Performing Artist Volume 3: Mind Out Of Time 1986 And Beyond)
Having allowed Sheryl Crow to release her version of the song ahead of his, Dylan decided it was high time he reclaimed it. The new arrangement prompted him to claim to Fricke that ‘on the [“Love and Theft”] performance, the bass is playing a triplet beat, and that adds up to all the multirhythm you need, even in a slow tempo song’. What he no longer had was a voice he could command at will. The “Love and Theft” version, and the live counterparts he introduced in 2001, benefit from an arrangement which left any dirge-like element in the dust. But that vocal timbre had not so much diminished as disappeared beneath its crag-like remains. ‘Mississippi’ had stayed in his closet half a decade too long.
~Clinton Heylin (Still on the Road: The Songs of Bob Dylan Vol. 2, . 1974-2008)
Continue reading Bob Dylan’s best songs: Mississippi
When you asked how I was doing
Was that some kind of joke?
All these people that you mention
Yes, I know them, they’re quite lame
I had to rearrange their faces
And give them all another name
Bob, where is Desolation Row?
Bob Dylan: Where? Oh, that’s someplace in Mexico. It’s across the border. It’s noted for it’s coke factory. Coca-Cola machines are… sells -… sell a lotta Coca-Cola down there.
~San Francisco Press Conference – Dec 3, 1965
Bob Dylan: As I look back on it now, I am surprised that I came up with so many of them. At the time it seemed like a natural thing to do. Now I can look back and see that I must have
written those songs “in the spirit,” you know? Like “Desolation Row” – I was just thinkin’ about that the other night. There’s no logical way that you can arrive at lyrics like that. I don’t know how it was done.
KL: It just came to you?
BD: It just came out through me.
~Bob Dylan – Kurt Loder interview, Oct 1987
“Desolation Row” also focuses on scene, but in a more purposeful way: the images build up powerfully, propelled by the vocal and instrumental performances. The song makes a statement: this scene is important, it needs·to be paid attention to, there is a reality in this life which may not be cheerful but which, once discovered, shows everything else to be a
pose. Desolation Row” is an anthem; it proclaims and forever defines a certain place, certain state of being… ..And finally I can say about “Desolation Row” only that I am in awe of it.
~Paul Williams (Bob Dylan Performing Artist I: The Early Years 1960-1973)
What does one do the month after inventing an entirely new form of popular song? One does it again. With “Desolation Row,” Dylan manages something even he’d never pulled off before—writing a song as long as “Tam Lin” (and in that classic ballad meter) but without any such narrative thread. Instead, Dylan relies almost solely on placing familiar characters
in disturbingly unfamiliar scenarios, revealing a series of increasingly disturbing canvases. Being Dylan, he unravels no ordinary tale.
~Clinton Heylin (Revolution in the Air: The Songs of Bob Dylan, 1957-1973)
Part of the inspiration (and title) might also have come from Steinbeck’s Cannery Row (an early Dylan enthusiasm), and some of it was almost surely derived from Kerouac’s Desolation Angels. But as with Juarez, the New York that the narrator has gone back to for this final song is a city of the mind, one that encompasses all of Dylan’s Highway 61 and the terrain surrounding it, a funhouse America that is everywhere and nowhere.
~Mark Polizzotti (Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited (33 1/3))
Continue reading August 4: Bob Dylan’s best songs – Desolation Row
July 20: Bob Dylan released Like A Rolling Stone in 1965
“This is about growing up, this is about discovering what is going on around you, realizing that life isn’t all you’ve been told. So now you’re without a home, you’re on your own, complete unknown, like a rolling stone. That’s a liberating thing. This is a song about liberation.”
— Jann Wenner, Rolling Stone magazine (Greil Marcus – Like A Rolling Stone: Bob Dylan at the Crossroads (book))
“The first time I heard Bob Dylan, I was in the car with my mother listening to WMCA, and on came that snare shot that sounded like somebody had kicked open the door to your mind” – Bruce Springsteen (Jan 1988)
“When I heard Like a Rolling Stone, I wanted to quit the music business because I felt: ‘If this wins and it does what it’s supposed to do, I don’t need to do anything else.'”
– Frank Zappa (1965 )
The first time I really listened to “Like A Rolling Stone”, I felt I entered a parallel universe.. a place of intense beauty.. a place filled with this wonderful blues-fueled rock music… and a spellbinding ..organ! I had never heard anything like it.. anything this good..
That was the day I understood that there is bad music, good music, great music & then there is Bob Dylan. He plays in another league. His musical universe is still as beautiful now as it was first time I flew into it.. “Like A Rolling Stone” still sounds as fresh as it did the first time I listened ~30 years ago. (Egil, alldylan.com)
Like A Rolling Stone:
Continue reading July 20: Bob Dylan released Like A Rolling Stone in 1965
Bob Dylan says the stigma of slavery ruined America and he doubts the country can get rid of the shame because it was “founded on the backs of slaves.”
Bob Dylan told in a recent interview with Rolling Stone Magazine that in America “people are at each other’s throats just because they are of a different color, it will hold any nation back.” He went on to say that black people know that some white people “didn’t want to give up slavery.”
Dylan continued with, “If slavery had been given up in a more peaceful way, America would be far ahead today.”
When asked on his opinion if President Barack Obama was helping to shift a change, Dylan said: “I don’t have any opinion on that. You have to change your heart if you want to change.”
My third choice of songs from Bob Dylan’s new album is the “angry speech”, Pay in Blood. I call it an angry speech because it is clearly a man with lot on his mind who vents his thoughts in this song, or maybe it is three men? It is not a story-song (as such), this is someone’s view of their world at a particular moment. This man is, Bob Dylan, on one level. It’s about his life, but it is also so much more. Again I think it paints a picture of Americas past and present.
Continue reading Great song: Pay in Blood by Bob Dylan – A land built on slavery.