Living with…Bob Dylan…for a week
I asked, who next and as suggested, I’m spending the week with his Bobness. So still not straying out of the 60s, but I will do soon! Promise.
The difference here is that his Bobness and I have history, having known, loved and puzzled over a few of his albums already. Our first encounter was in my aunt’s Swiss flat where I first heard a well-worn copy of New Morning – this weird gravelly voice half-talking, half-singing strange stories of angels and gypsies. And my aunt clearly excited by his music and playimg along on a wheezing organ. And that’s where I stayed – I taped the album, bought the LP, bought the CD and downloaded the Mp3s. Its an album with which I have a strong relationship, reuniting as old friends occasionally.
And his Bobness met his Christian maker in the early 80s and I heard Slow Train Coming and Shot of Love. They’ve not lived on with me, but there were moments I loved in Shot of Love where he tapped in to the gospel heritage. And at university Desire was in many cassette players (that would be the Bob Dylan album with the violins, of course…),but we were acquaintances by this stage.
And since its been Greatest Hits compilations and the occasional dip in to a new highly recommended album. Last Christmas saw his Bobness bringing out my favourite yuletide celebration – sublime Here Comes Santa and O come all ye faithful like none I’d ever heard. Like a drunken tramp bawling it from outside a church.
So where do I go? It has to be back to one of the classics and by critical consent I must dwell Blonde on Blonde for the week.
Bear in mind, we have previous…let’s go
Listening on a fresh (with capital F) damp late September morning to Bob Dylan definitely evokes student days. There’s something about the drawl and the sound that evokes earnest conversations and the aspirations of being a student. We will be different. We will change the world. We won’t be like our parents. We won’t compromise. We will be different. And maybe our journeys are like his Bobness – discovery that we can be different but not in the way we thought 20 years ago, and also that we appreciate the heritage that formed us but through different coloured spectacles to our parents. Bit heavy that…
As to the music, you know that you’re in the 60s when a album kicks off with the chorus of “Let’s All Get Stoned”, and a song about a Leaopard Skin Pill Box Hat. The sound is familiar and strong Bobness – plenty of blues guitar, piano and harmonica with that lovely lush organ sound. And of course an outpouring of wonderful words that rarely make sense on the first listening.
Weather – murky but mild. Washing myself in the sounds of Blonde on Blonde. Thinking that I will draw together a compilation of other people’s covers of the songs. Probably one of the few albums where you could do that…I’ll try
Uhm, where is that week going? Farewell Wednesday and nearly goodbye Thursday.
But I’ve pulled together an alternative version of the album performed by quite a diverse crew . Typing this up to Marianne Faithful performing Visions of Johanna – beautiful…and brings out the exquisite lyrics
“Inside the museums, Infinity goes up on trial
Voices echo this is what salvation must be like after a while
But Mona Lisa musta had the highway blues
You can tell by the way she smiles
See the primitive wallflower freeze
When the jelly-faced women all sneeze
Hear the one with the mustache say, “Jeeze
I can’t find my knees””
For full beautiful poem find it here: Visions of Johanna
And the alternative artist listing is as follows –
1.”Rainy Day Women #12 & 35″ – Tom Petty
2.”Pledging My Time” – Luther Guitar Junior Johnson
3.”Visions of Johanna” – Marianne Faithful
4.”One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later)” – Dana Magnusson
5.”I Want You” – Cliff Eberhardt
6.”Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again” – The Grateful Dead
7.”Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” – John Mellencamp
8.”Just Like a Woman” – Richie Havens
9.”Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I’ll Go Mine)” – Michel Montecrasso
10.”Temporary Like Achilles” – The Don Olsen Gang
11.”Absolutely Sweet Marie” – George Harrison
12.”4th Time Around” – The Young Relics
13.”Obviously 5 Believers” – Toni Price
14.”Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands” – Gerard Quintana/ Jorde Batiste
And no, I’ve not heard most of them but nothing ventured nothing gained, this is going on the car player for a day or so to hear his Bobness material in the hands of others. So far so very good.
Brilliant journeys with the Alt Blonde on Blonde – each track a different take on the originals, and a few of them improving – Tom Petty, John Mellencamp and especially returning to Marianne Faithfull’s beautiful Visions of Johanna – definitely the find of the week. I’m sure his Bobness wouldn’t mind – he wrote the words and music and someone came and stole them to create perfection! So, winding down the week with an album and alt album that will live on with me some time, and will get played and played again.
That’s the end of the week a little early but got a couple of long journeys in the next few days and P has already staked a claim for The Magic Kitten to be the the entertainment, and even his Bobness can’t compete with that.
Yup, the magic kitten and Heart FM won. Although sense that Heart is sponsored by Robbie Williams as he seems to get excessive airplay.