In 1961, Bob Dylan recorded “Fixin’ to Die” for his debut album, released the following year. The album liner notes indicate that it “was learned from an old recording by Bukka White”. However, Dylan’s arrangement uses a slightly different melody line and some new lyrics.
Blues is a genre and musical form that originated in African-American communities in the “Deep South” of the United States around the end of the 19th century. The genre is a fusion of traditional African music and European folk music, spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts and chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads.
The blues form, ubiquitous in jazz, rhythm and blues and rock and roll, is characterised by the call-and-response pattern and specific chord progressions, of which the twelve-bar blues is the most common.
Bob Dylan is heavily influenced by blues in many of its shapes, jazz blues, country blues, folk blues, gospel blues, swing blues and more. All these forms of music are what we often call roots oriented music and stems from old music traditions. Dylan has played blues and blues influenced songs all through his career.
The songs I’ve picked are not necessary pure blues, but I believe all of them touches the blues or are strongly influenced by it. There are many more I could have picked, but I like this collection. It is a good playlist for those blue and rainy Western-Norway days.
Cant Wait in Milan 2011 – His most bluesy and best live performance the last 20 years, in my not so humble opinion:
July 28: The late Mike Bloomfield was born in 1943
“Expression, pure expression. Without a guitar, I’m like a poet with no hands. Actually I can articulate much clearer on the guitar than anything else.”
~Mike Bloomfield (Rolling Stone, April 1968)
“When I’m playing blues guitar real well, it’s a lot like B.B. King. But I don’t know, it’s my own thing when there are major notes and sweet runs. You know I like sweet blues. The English cats play very hard funky blues. Like Aretha sings is how they play guitar. I play sweet blues. I can’t explain it. I want to be singing. I want to be sweet.”
~Mike Bloomfield (Rolling Stone, April 1968)
Son House, Mike Bloomfield and Paul Butterfield discuss and play the blues:
“He’s very good at making sure you don’t know him.” – Jack White(laughing) on his friendship with Bob Dylan (To Rolling Stone Magazine)
Earlier this year Bob Dylan was honored at a tribute concert to benefit MusiCares. The lineup featured Jack White, Beck, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Willie Nelson, and many others. Jack White played One More Cup Of Coffee, a song he also did with The White Stripes some years ago.
The real connection between these to artists is of course their love of music, the love of blues and country music. Are there other similarities? The pencil-thin mustache, Jack White versus Jack Frost and the cool hats and canes. I read somewhere that Jack White once said he has three dads: his biological father, God and Bob Dylan. Dylan was the first concert he ever saw — he says he had seat No. 666 — and he shares with his hero a love for manipulating and obscuring his own persona.
I know that the first concert I went to when I was ten years old was Bob Dylan, and I really wanted him to play ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’ – but he didn’t play it. I wasn’t upset. I kind of thought it was cool he didn’t when I was ten years old. – Jack White (to The Observer)
White has done many Bob Dylan songs , especially with White Stripes , I will put those I can find into this post.
Let’s start with a fantastic version of Love Sick done by The White Stripes:
How did you first strike up a friendship with Bob Dylan? That was just by accident. I went and saw him play in Detroit and he said to me, “We’ve been playing one of your songs lately at sound checks.” I thought, Wow. I was afraid to ask which one. I didn’t even ask. It was just such an honor to hear that. Later on, I remember I went home and I called back. I said, “Can I talk to the bass player?” I called the theater. I was like, “Did Bob mean that he wanted me to play tonight? ‘Cause he said some things that I thought maybe – maybe I misconstrued. Was he meaning that he wanted me to play with him tonight? I don’t want to be rude and pretend that I didn’t hear or something like that.” So turned out yeah, we played together that night. He said yeah, come on, let’s play something, and we played “Ball and Biscuit,” one of my songs. It’s not lost on me that he played one of my songs, not the other way around. – Jack White to the Speakeasy (WSJ)
This happened in Detroit, Michigan at the State Theater (March 17, 2004)and you can listen to it here Jack White played with Dylan on at least three of Bob Dylan’s tunes, for two nights in a row.