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Jeremy's journal

We all know where we were born, o my brothers, but not where our bones will lie buried.

el Cristo de Elqui


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Wednesday, March third, 2004

Double drop-D tuning

Ooh! I just discovered, you can also tune the bottom string down when you play in drop-D tuning. I discovered this when I was looking for lyrics to The Ballad of Hollis Brown, while formulating my own list of top 5 Dylan songs. I can't wait to try it out!

Update, later on: One thing you have to be careful about with this tuning, is that you don't tune the bottom string back up to E too rapidly; otherwise it may break. I have no replacement strings! Hopefully I will be able to buy some on Saturday.

posted afternoon of March third, 2004: Respond
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Friday, March 5th, 2004

Pursuant to some thinking I've been doing about Dylan lately (inspired in large part by this Crooked Timber thread) I have tracked down a couple of good Dylan links.

  • Bob Dylan Musical Roots: These pages have a lot of interesting stuff about Odetta and other blues and folk singers that Dylan listened to.
  • Bob Dylan Chords: Pretty comprehensive, with information about alternate tunings and picking patterns. This site was originally called "My Back Pages".
  • BobDylan.com: Discography, etc. And lotsa links.

posted afternoon of March 5th, 2004: Respond
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Saturday, May 22nd, 2004

One hour set

I am trying to put together a one-hour set of songs that I can play on guitar and sing. This afternoon I played a 45-minute set and it sounded pretty good -- the songs were generally not what I would call "tight" but they were all good enough that I could play them at an open mike and not be embarrassed. I have a sort of plan going to do several open mikes and then ask Randal (owner of The Dancing Goat) if I can play a set there on one of his slower nights.

Here is the set from this afternoon:

  • The Ballad of Hollis Brown
    I've been working on this one for a while now, one of the songs that really made me a convert to Drop-D tuning. Dylan plays only D-minor chords throughout the entire song, but I play D-minor/G/A7. My picking pattern is fairly elaborate and in another song would run the risk of being too repetitive -- but in this song that's the whole point.
  • You Can't Always Get What You Want
  • Stagger Lee
    This is the first song I played in Drop-D tuning and I think of it as a critical juncture in my guitar-playing career. It was a year and a half ago or so, and after 3 years of listening to John Hurt I finally got up the initiative to try and copy one of his songs from the record.
  • C.C. Rider
  • Rocky Raccoon
  • House of the Rising Sun
  • Prodigal Son
  • Palette on your Floor
  • No Expectations

The order is just what order I thought of them in when I was writing the set list -- if I were playing an actual set I would fiddle with it some. "No Expectations" is however a great song to end on. Some other songs I reckon should go in there:

  • Freight Train
  • Tell Old Bill
  • Hobo's Lullaby
  • Barbara Allen

Also today I worked out Dylan's "North Country Blues" (not to be confused with "Girl from the North Country"), which is very easy to play and sounds beautiful -- once I know the lyrics I will add it to the list too and when all these songs are put together I think I will have about an hour.

Gotta go -- come back later, I am going to add links and comments for each of the songs.

posted evening of May 22nd, 2004: Respond
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Tuesday, July 6th, 2004

I watched a half hour or so of Shanghai Love Motel's set at Luna Lounge this evening, and was sorely disappointed to have to leave so soon. They make beautiful music -- combine straight-ahead rock and roll with abstract, cerebral lyrics in a way that reminds me of my two perhaps favorite artists, Dylan and Robyn Hitchcock. (The Dylan influence is clear and goes almost without saying, and they played a dynamite cover of "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" when testing the sound system before the show; the Hitchcock influence I'm pretty sure about but am waiting on confirmation or at least non-denial from Bill Millard, the band's bass player, before I assert it. But still I can say their music reminds me of R.H. without being roped into having made a statement about their influences, right?*)

Anyway -- I can't say too much more about the music because I only heard 5 songs -- but by all means go listen to their next show if you're in town. I will post about it before it happens.


*Bill responds that yes, he thinks they do have a bit of influence from Hitchcock.

posted evening of July 6th, 2004: Respond
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Tuesday, September 14th, 2004

The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll

I found an article describing the historical record of the murder of Hattie Carroll, as well as some further legal trouble Billy Zantzinger found himself in in 1991: The True Story of William Zantzinger -- you will need to scroll down to the middle of the page. The site is in Italian but the story is in English.

NPR had a show about Zantzinger in 1991: All Things Considered, November 17 1991, first hour of program, reporter Alex Chadwick: "Zantzinger Exploited Blacks on Property". I am going to buy a transcript of the program and will post it here if it is legal to do so.

An article from Mother Jones about Zantzinger's life. A transcript of the NPR show.

Update from January 2009: Zantzinger has died. The Baltimore Sun's obituary has his life story, and some quotes from a number of people involved in the trial. Plus a photo of Zantzinger being led away from the hotel by Baltimore police. The Washington Post obituary has another photo, captionless but I think it is from '91. Reactions from Bryan Waterman and from Peter Eisenstadt.

posted morning of September 14th, 2004: 2 responses

Friday, April 7th, 2006

Song nostalgia

An idea for a meme! I have never started such a thing before but now I am going to try it out.

Here's the idea: list 4 songs (by different artists please) that meet the following criteria: (a) You have not listened to the song in a long time. I'm thinking like 2 years minimum but adjust this limit at your discretion. (b) You can hear the song in your head, just by closing your eyes and willing it. (Well you know what I mean; it's debatable how strongly "will" enters into this activity.) (c) You would gladly listen to it right now. Optionally, write a little squib about the song, why you like it, why you have not listened to it, where you know it from, etc. Here are my four:

  • "Clean Steve" by Robyn Hitchcock: This is the song that came into my mind this morning and inspired this whole thing. I love, love the song but have never owned it, last time I listened to it must be home from college sometime hanging around with my friend Jer Egenberger who is the big Hitchcock afficionado and was my conduit to Hitchcocky goodness.
  • "Hurricane" by Dylan: I like the "Desire" album a lot but when I go to listen to Dylan, that never seems to be what I put on the record player.
  • "No Xmas for John Quays" by The Fall: "Live at the Witch Trials" was one of the first punk rock albums I ever owned and I think one of the finest. Don't listen to that music too much anymore.
  • "Here I Go" by Syd Barrett: Barrett is another artist that Jer Egenberger introduced me to. This is a pretty song and the only Barrett tune that I know on guitar. (For some values of "know": I haven't played it in ages but could pick it out again pretty quickly I think.) (Aha: Here are the chords, which I worked out 2½ years ago.)

I want to forward this meme to: music snob extraordinaire Amanda Marcotte; Becks, who is learning to play guitar; Ben Wolfson, who has some interesting ideas about music; and monster of rock Roy Edroso, who is on a bit of a hiatus right now but will hopefully be back soon. Also I'd like to know NickS's picks, so maybe Becks or somebody will start a thread about it on Unfogged.

If you participate (is this the correct verb?) in this meme, let me know and I will link to your stuff. Update: Here are responses to this meme:

posted morning of April 7th, 2006: Respond

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007

World Gone Wrong

In the car today (first day at the new job! First day driving to work!) I was listening to "World Gone Wrong" and thinking God, what an amazing record this is! I haven't listened to it for a really long time. I'm pretty sure that is the album that Dylan was touring when Ellen and I saw him at Madison Square Garden. I need to listen to it more; also I need to get "Good As I Been To You" on CD.

posted evening of January 23rd, 2007: Respond

Monday, April 16th, 2007

A Feggy Queue

So here are some of the albums that I have been listening to and am meaning to write about:

  • Olé! Tarantula (2006) -- this is the record that re-alerted me to the existence of Robyn Hitchcock. Bought a copy at the Knitting Factory show.
  • Spooked (2004) -- I learned about this record when I was watching the documentary, the night before the show; and bought it at the show.
  • Perspex Island (1991)
  • Moss Elixir and Mossy Liquor (both 1996) -- when I was listening to this show I heard Deni Bonet playing fiddle on some of the songs -- immediately took a look at her web site and found that she is on one of his records; this be it. Also her two solo cd's, Acoustic, OK? and Bigger is Always Better are on my list.
  • Robyn Sings (2002) -- a double album of Dylan covers by Hitchcock. And look at the track listing!
  • I Often Dream of Trains (1984) -- classic Hitchcock. I bought the cd at the KF show.

posted evening of April 16th, 2007: Respond
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Saturday, June 23rd, 2007

The Last Waltz

Last time I watched The Last Waltz -- which must have been 15 years ago -- I did not appreciate it. I think I was watching it for the Dylan appearance, which is only a few songs at the end, and wasn't really paying attention to the greatness of every song in the movie (well except "Dry Your Eyes", I wouldn't count that as a great song, though I do think it might have some possibilities if someone besides Neil Diamond were singing it). Ellen and I watched the movie last night; what a wonderful thing it is.

posted morning of June 23rd, 2007: Respond
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Saturday, August 4th, 2007

A day well spent

This morning I finished up a woodworking project that has been sitting in my basement for a week or so -- it is an oaken bench that will go in my front yard next to the garden -- tomorrow I will take it outside and put linseed oil on it.

Bob and Greg came over in the afternoon and we played some music, including a very nice version of "House of the Rising Sun" -- I have finally persuaded Bob to play it in 4/4 time (like Dylan) instead of (I think) 6/8, like The Animals, which sounds corny to my ear, at least when done by somebody who is not The Animals.

posted evening of August 4th, 2007: Respond
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