"Yourself a newborn bard of the Holy Ghost" Ralph Waldo Emerson
Given the sudden, tragic death of Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins--and in the spirit of the outpouring of tributes to Hawkins--we thought it might be fitting to share this video of Dave Grohl telling a story of the time the Foo Fighters toured with Bob Dylan as his warm up band. As you'll see, Grohl tells the Dylan story before the band plays their signature song, "Everlong." It just so happens "Everlong" was the last song Hawkins played live with the Foo Fighters before his untimely death.
Three years after the release of Blonde on Blonde featuring Dylan singing "Mostly You Go Your Way (And I'll Go Mine)", Frank Sinatra released the song that would become the national anthem of Sinatra-land. The final verse seems a fitting tribute to the timeless, if not tireless journey of Bob Dylan (so far).
" For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself then he has naught
Not to say the things that he truly feels
And not the words of someone who kneels
Let the record shows I took all the blows and did it my way"
The journey of Bob Dylan (so far) brought him to the Civic Center Music Hall in Oklahoma City last evening. The performance featured mainly songs from his 39th studio "Rough and Rowdy Ways." (released in 2020). The 2nd song of the evening was this standard from his 1966 classic album Blonde on Blonde. In many ways, the song--and his performance of it last night--epitomizes Dylan as a songwriter/performer. "You Go Your Way" is at once witty, whimsical, and a deadly serious declaration that defines Dylan's life and oeuvre. [As an aside, we met at the show last night our new favorite Dylan fan. TT, you know who you are, and to our readers, let us just say the future of Dylan's legacy is in good hands with fans like this intelligent, irrepressible, informed young woman.]
As the lights went out on the stage last evening, we began processing the moment. Later that evening, as I turned out the lights and tried to sleep, these lyrics from "Not Dark Yet" came to mind. May Dylan's light never go out.
"Well, I’ve been to London and I’ve been to gay Paree
I’ve followed the river and I got to the sea
I’ve been down on the bottom of a world full of lies
I ain’t looking for nothing in anyone’s eyes
Sometimes my burden seems more than I can bear
It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there"
Last week's "Friday's w/ Bob" featured three creative covers of Dylan classics. This week we offer Mandolin Orange's cover of "Boots of Spanish Leather." The duo's dialogical approach to the song exploits elements within the song that Dylan's rendition suggests without expressing. In 2021, the duo made a creative choice to change their band's name to Watchhouse. If you're not already familiar with their music, you should really check them out. https://watchhouseband.com/
Lucinda Williams punctuates her potent career with this compelling cover of Dylan's prophetic "Not Dark Yet."
This innovative cover of "Tangled Up In Blue" by KT Tunstall coaxes every bit of genius in the lyrics, rhythm, and textures of this masterpiece out of hiding. What a performance!
Brandi Carlile's cover of "The Times They Are A-Changin'" is bold and free and arguably the best re-creation ever of this Dylan classic.
"Talking World War III Blues" gives us Bob Dylan on war and the state of the world at the beginning of his career when he is still imitating his hero Woody Guthrie. But if Woody Guthrie was the voice of the nation, Dylan in this song is on his way to becoming the voice of a generation.
Woody Guthrie being Woody. This song on war and the state of world from the perspective of World War II demonstrates why Woody became and remains the voice of a nation. His style--like Dylan's often is--was witty if not whimsical, his lyrics simple and seductive.
This may be one of the best "interpretations" of the meaning of Dylan's classic "Maggie's Farm." Goodnight, Texas's song "Maggie's Farm Forever" elevates the message of Dylan's song to an iconic image expressing the harsh--if not inevitable- realities of which Dylan sings.
A great singer-songwriter in his own right, Todd Snider demonstrates the ongoing relevancy and potency of "Maggie Farm."
The ukulele has come into its own as a folk music instrument. Watch Rusty Gage's version of Maggie's Farm and be inspired by the generational impact of Dylan.
Over-interpretations of Dylan's newest original songs seemed to have been queued up and ready to go the instant "Rough and Rowdy Ways"--Dylan's first album of original material since "Tempest" in 2012--was released in 2020. But as Dylan reminded Douglas Brinkley in a New York Times interview (June 12, 2020; updated September 18, 2020), his songs are like paintings; "you can't see it all at once if you're standing too close."
First song on Dylan's 39th studio album is this instant classic--"I Contain Multitudes". It's already being over-interpreted; but the song's signature line--" I’m a man of contradictions and a man of many moods . . . I contain multitudes"--gives critics and fans alike all the reason we need to embrace "I Contain Multitudes" as the quintessential Dylan song that it is.
According to Wilson, she was doing a deep dive into Dylan's Time Out of Mind album (1997) when she was inspired to write "I Wanna Kiss Bob Dylan". When promoting the song's release, she included "I Contain Multitudes" in an accompanying playlist. It's a cool song and we recommend you check out more of her tunes!
If you listen to Outlaw radio for very long, you're bound to hear some great deep cuts from the Dylan catalogue. Here's one from the great "Bringing It All Back Home." The title's a little on the nose, but what a fun song. Especially since the normally old soul Bob sounds on this record like the kid he was in 1965. Enjoy!
Here's a bonus cut. You'll never bring it all back home without getting "On the Road Again"! Nice title. Willie wasn't the first. Neither was Canned Heat. Neither was Bob. But who cares. Enjoy!!
According to The Official Bob Dylan website, "Abandoned Love" was written by Dylan in 1975, but it was never performed by Dylan in public. There is this recording of Dylan's impromptu performance of "Abandoned Love" at the Bitter End (formerly the Other End) in Greenwich Village on July 3, 1975. It was Ramblin' Jack Elliot's show, but after joining Elliot on "Pretty Boy Floyd," Dylan broke out this new song. In this recording the song comes across as it should. Raw. Real. Riveting. Dylan.
In yesterday’s “Legenda” entry we opined “Our days are getting shorter. Winter is on the horizon. We feel the coming darkness. We cannot see what we cannot see. It is getting harder to read. Into the thick darkness we are heading.” In 1997 Bob Dylan wryly stated “It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there.” “Not Dark Yet” was track 7 on his Grammy winning album “Time Out of Mind.” Track 8 was this gem, “Cold Iron Bound” which garnered Dylan a Grammy for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance.
Dylan called Townes Van Zandt a philosopher poet who got right to the point with his lyrics and left listeners with plenty to think about. He performed Townes's classic "Pancho and Lefty" six times in concert. Here is a video of his last performance of it at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, TN in 2004.
After hearing Dylan's "The Times They Are A Changin'," Townes Van Zandt announced "this is what I'm gonna do." Like many songwriters, Townes thought songs were out in the universe just waiting for someone to write them. Of his masterpiece "Pancho and Lefty," Townes said it just came to him through the window of a sleazy motel.
What happens when Bob Dylan enlists two members of Dire Straits (guitarist Mark Knopfler and keyboardist Alan Clark), a former member of the Rolling Stones (guitarist Mick Taylor) and two reggae players from Jamaica (Robbie Shakespeare on bass and Sly Dunbar on drums) to join him in the studio to record a song? You get a song as potent as it is portentousness. 100 Proof. Pure Dylan.
Richard F. Thomas links Dylan’s Grammy award winning “Things Have Changed” with the timeless classic “Ballad of a Thin Man,” suggesting that the refrain of both songs “stays relevant whatever the particular change his art is putting into play” (Why Bob Dylan Matters, 282-3). He might also have noted the surreal images that animate both songs. Listening to these two songs together, however, gives us a sense of the strength of Dylan’s iconoclastic vision across the three decades separating them. If you heard Dylan in concert in 2019, you likely heard both of these songs in the set. This edition of “Fridays w/ Bob” gives you a chance to hear them together again. Enjoy!
In "Why Bob Dylan Matters" (HarperCollins, 2017), Richard F. Thomas points to Blood on the Tracks as a singular example of Dylan constructing songs "through the principles and practices of painting" he had learned from painter Norman Raeben in NYC in 1974. We offer here a remarkable cover of the first track of the album by Scottish singer-songwriter KT Tunstall who, it just happens, was born the year Blood on the Tracks was released.
The only Dylan recording of "Farewell Angelina" appears on The Bootleg Series. He never performed the song live. But in 1965, the year the song was published, Joan Baez took ownership of the Dylan song with her beautiful cover. Baez continued to play it in concert through the 2010s.
Many have called this a "stoner," i.e., drug song. Dylan--playfully, cunningly?--called it "one of the pro-testiest of all things I've protested against in my protest years." Notice the playful tone compared with the defiance in the face of societal pressures to conform and the fate faced by those who don't.
More than a decade after writing "Rainy Day Women," Dylan was "saved" but still wrestling with fate and destiny. "You Gotta Serve Somebody" has the same playfulness as "Rainy Day"--"you can call me Zimmy"--but it communicates a seriousness regarding the choice to be made in the face of the unavoiable destiny of having to serve somebody. Does his newfound faith help him see the paradox that at the heart of fate is a genuine choice?