Tag Archives: album

Great Song: Scarlet Town by Bob Dylan

Painting By Joachim Patinir, Landscape with The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah

I will not pretend to know what Bob Dylan’s exact meaning with this song is but I will offer my thoughts on what I consider the second best song on Tempest.

Scarlet Town from the Bob Dylan album Tempest (with film footage from Masked & Anonymous):

The song feels like a mash of several songs, and that’s actually what it is. He draws inspiration from the old ballad Barbara Allen, but he just uses it as a framework to tell an even more sinister tale. The new parts of the song also feels like a split between two different songs, one set in biblical times and the other addressing the state of USA/The Western world today.

Lyrics Barbara Allen (The three first verses):

In younder town where I was born
There was a fair maid dwell’n
Made every youth cry well away
Her name was Bar-bry Ellen

Was in th merry month of May
When greenbuds they were swell’n
Sweet William come from th western state
An’ courted Bar-bry Ellen

Was all in the month o’ June
When everything was blooming
Sweet William on his death bed lay
For th love of Bar-bry Ellen

Bob Dylan has a long lasting relationship with Barbara Allen (the song) and I’ve included some versions here just as a reference.

Here is a wonderful separate post concerning Barbara Allen from Egil.

The first two verses from the Gaslight tapes (it’s eight minutes and has a lot of verses):

In Charlotte town, not far from here,
There was a fair maid dwellin.’
Had a name was known both far and near,
An’ her name was Barb’ry Allen.

‘Twas in the merry month of May,
Green buds they were swellin’,
Poor William on his death-bed lay,
For the love of Barb’ry Allen.

1988 live:

The first two verses in the -88 version:

In Scarlet Town where I was born
there was a fair maid dwelling,
and her name was known both far and near,
and they called her Barbara Allen.

T’was in the merry month of may
the green buds they were swelling,
sweet William on his death bed lay
for the love of Barbara Allen.

Two other artist that has used this song as a basis for an entirely new song are Gillian Welch and David Rawlings:

Not at all like the original Barbara Allen and the only two things it has in common with Bob Dylan’s song are, the title and it’s origin. The melody is different and the “story”/text is completely different (even if both have a distictly sombre tone). Gillian Welch/David Rawlings have more folksy/appalachian feel, while Dylan sings in a more talking blues style.

Continue reading Great Song: Scarlet Town by Bob Dylan

September 7: Tempest by Bob Dylan was released in 2012

Bob_Dylan-Tempest

September 7: Tempest by Bob Dylan was released in 2012

Shine your light
Movin’ on
You burned so bright
Roll on, John

Three years have gone since we was offered Tempest from Bob Dylan, it still sounds great.

Tempest is the thirty-fifth studio album by Dylan, released on September 7 to 11 (different countries and continents), 2012 . The album was recorded at Jackson Browne’s Groove Masters Studios in Santa Monica, California. Dylan wrote all of the songs himself with the exception of the track “Duquesne Whistle”, which he co-wrote with Robert Hunter.

Tempest was very well received by contemporary music critics, who praised its traditional music influences and Dylan’s dark lyrics. The album peaked at number three on the Billboard 200.

The album’s title initially spurred rumors that it would be Dylan’s final album, based on its similarity to the title of Shakespeare’s final play.
Dylan later responded:

“Shakespeare’s last play was called The Tempest. It wasn’t called just plain “Tempest”. The name of my record is just plain Tempest. It’s two different titles.”

Some facts from Wikipedia:

Released From September 7 to September 11, 2012
Recorded January–March 2012 at Groove Masters Studios in Santa Monica, California
Genre Rock, folk rock
Length 1:08:31
Label Columbia
Producer Bob Dylan

Here are three tracks from Tempest (with my analysis, sort of…):

Tin Angel 
“For me, after listening to it for two days, the most obvious masterpiece on Bob Dylan’s new album is the murder ballad, Tin Angel. It’s a story-song, the kind Dylan has done so magnificently many times before. Cross the Green Mountain, Tweeter and the Monkey Man and  Brownsville Girl springs to mind. They are extremely cinematic songs and they tell a story over many verses.  Another song that pops up in my head is the wonderful story of Spanish Jack by Willy DeVille, not very like in sound but in tone.”  Read More…

Pay in Blood
“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.””  Read more…

Scarlet Town
“The song feels like a mash of several songs, and that’s actually what it is. He draws inspiration from the old ballad Barbara Allen, but he just uses it as a framework to tell an even more sinister tale. The new parts of the song also feels like a split between two different songs, one set in biblical times and the other addressing the state of USA/The Western world today.”  Read more…

Continue reading September 7: Tempest by Bob Dylan was released in 2012

August 29: Bob Dylan released Modern Times in 2006

bob dylan modern times 2006
The album’s cover photo is Ted Croner’s 1947 photograph Taxi, New York at Night.

“There’s no nostalgia on this record, pining for the past doesn’t interest me.”
~Bob Dylan (to Edna Gundersen Aug 2006)

[the 10 songs] “are in my genealogy, I had no doubts about them. I tend to overwrite stuff, and in the past I probably would have left it all in. On this, I tried my best to edit myself, and let the facts speak. You can easily get a song convoluted. That didn’t happen. Maybe I’ve had records like this before, but I can’t remember when.”
~Bob Dylan (to Edna Gundersen Aug 2006)

.. This music is relaxed; it has nothing to prove. It is music of accumulated knowledge, it knows every move, anticipates every step before you take it. Producing himself for the second time running, Dylan has captured the sound of tradition as an ever-present, a sound he’s been working on since his first album, in 1962. (One reason Modern Times is so good is that Dylan has been making it so long.) These songs stand alongside their sources and are meant to, which is why their sources are so obvious, so direct..
~Joe Levy (rollingstone.com)

#1 Thunder on The Mountain (official video)

I was thinkin’ ’bout Alicia Keys, couldn’t keep from crying
When she was born in Hell’s Kitchen, I was living down the line
I’m wondering where in the world Alicia Keys could be
I been looking for her even clear through Tennessee
(from “Thunder on The Mountain”)

[about Alicia Keys]“I liked her a whole lot. People stay in your mind for one reason or another.”
~Bob Dylan (to Edna Gundersen Aug 2006)

Continue reading August 29: Bob Dylan released Modern Times in 2006

August 10: Bob Dylan released Shot of Love in 1981

Bob_Dylan-Shot_Of_Love

August 10: Bob Dylan released Shot of Love in 1981

I hear the ancient footsteps like the motion of the sea
Sometimes I turn, there’s someone there, other times it’s only me
I am hanging in the balance of the reality of man
Like every sparrow falling, like every grain of sand

Shot of Love is Bob Dylan’s 21st studio album, it was released by Columbia Records in August 1981.

It is generally considered to be Dylan’s last of a trilogy of overtly religious, Christian albums. Also, it was his first since becoming born-again to focus on secular themes, from straight-ahead love songs to an ode to the deceased comedian Lenny Bruce. Arrangements are rooted more in rock’n’roll, less in gospel than on Dylan’s previous two albums. So maybe it is more of a new start than a gospel-tinged end?

Bob Dylan France 1981

Continue reading August 10: Bob Dylan released Shot of Love in 1981

July 14: Bob Dylan released Knocked Out Loaded in 1986

bob dylan knocked out

July 14: Bob Dylan released Knocked Out Loaded in 1986

“You see, I spend too much time working out the sound of my records these days, .. and if the records I’m making only sell a certain amount anyway, then why should I take so long putting them together?… I’ve got a lot of different records inside me, and it’s time just to start getting them out.”
~Bob Dylan (to Mikal Gilmore, Sept 1985)

“I’m thinking about calling this album Knocked Out Loaded, Is that any good, you think, Knocked Out Loaded?”
~Bob Dylan (to Mikal Gilmore, May 1986)

“Sounds like something he threw together in a week and away forever. But throwing it away is how he gets that off-the-cuff feel, and side two is great fun”
~Robert Christgau (robertchristgau.com)

Among his ten weakest albums, but it includes the brilliant “Brownsville Girl“.

Continue reading July 14: Bob Dylan released Knocked Out Loaded in 1986