Saturday, November 10th, 2007
Listening to The Basement Tapes today, I was thinking about how the opposition between immersing oneself in the experience of listening and retaining one's identity through analysis, is a good framework for thinking about art and the creative process. I've been listening to this record pretty frequently over the last couple of weeks and thinking about writing a blog post concerned with how it is different from Dylan's other music that I like, and similar to The Band's other music that I like, or along those lines -- but then there are moments (especially during "Bessie Smith") where I'm suddenly singing along and identifying with the music instead of thinking about it. I love those moments.
Sunday, November 25th, 2007
We saw I'm Not There this afternoon. My reaction to it was similar in a funny way to my reaction to The Nutcracker (though in the final analysis I way prefer this movie to that ballet) -- it was a beautiful series of music videos, each of them a valid work of art in its own right; but the combination left me a little cold.
I want to see Peckinpah's Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid now, which the Richard Gere portion of this movie is billed as an homage to. The scene of the group on the bandstand playing "Goin' to Acapulco" may have been the most beautiful imagery in the whole film -- although the sequence of Cate Blanchett's character singing "Ballad of a Thin Man" was well worth while as well.
One thing that really struck me was "Alice Fabian" (I guess a stand-in for Joan Baez?) saying of "Jack Rollins", (approximately) "It seemed as if he was singing what I meant to say but could not figure out how to express" -- this struck me as very similar to my own reaction to some of my very favorite stuff, e.g. Orhan Pamuk's writing or Dylan's music.
Monday, November 17th, 2008
Janis lent me a copy of Dylan's recent disk, Modern Times. The first thing that hits me listening to it is what a huge range of variation there is in Dylan's work. I mean listening to this you recognize instantly who is the author -- his voice and his personality are unmistakable -- but it's a brand-new sound, not quite like anything he's done in the last 40+ years. (That I can think of anyway. I don't have an encyclopædic familiarity with his work, but I do know a lot of it. The closest thing to this that I can think of, is Basement Tapes; but that's not at all a perfect match.)
It's a groovy sound, too, different though it is from any of the Dylans I know and love. It's going to take a bunch more listening to really get to know the songs -- on first listen it seems like the real highlights of the record are "Rollin' and Tumblin'" and "The Levee's Gonna Break"; the only song I really didn't like was "Workingman's Blues #2" -- it seemed plodding and lifeless. A couple of the other songs were not perfect lyrically -- the quality of inspiration that you feel in Dylan's best work was not always present -- but the instrumental power carried them. I'm looking forward to keeping this on my car stereo for the next while and listening to it every day until I really get to know the songs. Also interested in finding out more about the source tunes these are based on; the only one I really know is Muddy Waters' "Rollin' and Tumblin'."
Monday, May 11th, 2009
Haven't done one of these posts for a while; I was inspired to by cleek.
Lots of Apostrophic tracks in this selection; and I would be remiss if I did not mention that he has published another mix tape, Unfunkked X: Stretch -- a FB friend asks whether the image is a still from the live-action movie of "The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers". Looks like a good mix; but I haven't been listening to it because I'm listening to another recommendation from Apo. Ain't no sunshine.
- "The Brave Engineer", The Carver Boys. About as Appalachian a song as I can imagine.
- "How You Want It Done", Big Bill Broonzy. Really nice, strange-sounding guitar, I think it's a National?
- "Mo Jo Hanna", Tami Lynn. (from an Apo mix.) -- This song ought to be on a mix tape right in front of "Polk Salad Annie".
- "Yah! Heavy and a Bottle of Bread", Dylan and the Band. The comic book and me, just us, we caught the bus. A good candidate for favorite Basement Tapes track.
- "Ozan Kouklé", Lafayette Afro Band. More Unfunkkedage.
- "Doin' My Time", Flatt & Scruggs.
- "The Wonderful City", Jimmy Rodgers. Cool, this mix is really drawing pretty deep on the breadth and depth of my music collection. (And wow, not even one Robyn Hitchcock track so far!)
- "Honky Tonkin", Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
- "Original Midnight Mama", Sylvia Smith.
- "Avalon Blues", MS John Hurt.
- Bonus track, "Pablo" by Sol Ho'opi'i and his Novelty Quartet.
Friday, January 6th, 2012
Found (with some help from Mr. Huddell and Mr. Berman) some fantastic versions of two songs from The Basement Tapes.
I compiled a video playlist of most of these songs on YouTube -- particularly recommend checking out the almost hallucinatory quality of the two The Byrds versions and the really striking fan video for the Rave-Ups' version. And the Venus 3 number, while it strays a bit from the theme of the playlist, fits in quite nicely and fits into a broader playlist theme of "Songs I would wish to cover". (Plus some bonus tracks added, if you listen to the end...)
- Joan Baez, "You Ain't Goin Nowhere"
- The Byrds, "You Ain't Goin Nowhere"
- The Byrds, "This Wheel's on Fire"
- Dylan and the Band, "This Wheel's on Fire"
- Dylan and the Band, "You Ain't Goin Nowhere"
- The Rave-Ups, "You Ain't Goin Nowhere"
- Robyn Hitchcock and the Venus 3, "Olé Tarantula"
- Robyn Hitchcock, "You Ain't Goin Nowhere"
- Julie Driscoll, "This Wheel's on Fire"
- Julie Driscoll, "The Season of the Witch"
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