Wednesday, March third, 2004
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.
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.
Saturday, May 22nd, 2004
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.
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.
Tuesday, September 14th, 2004
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.
Friday, April 7th, 2006
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:
Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007
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.
Monday, April 16th, 2007
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.
Saturday, June 23rd, 2007
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.
Saturday, August 4th, 2007
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.
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