Recent Posts

  • Hazel Dickens (and Bob Dylan)
    I’ve been listening to Hazel Dickens a lot lately. I’ve known of her forever, and have listened to her a bit, but never in-depth. It’s been quite an enjoyable experience. I thought I’d share a little of what I’ve learned. I’m not going too much into Hazel’s bio. See “Further Reading” below. But here’s a …

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  • Blind Willie McTell and Bob Dylan
    Blind Wille in a hotel room in Georgia Library of Congress site ↗ Like many Dylan fans, I became aware of Blind Wille McTell after the release of The Bootleg Series Vol. 1-3, released in 1991. That collection includes his nearly lost masterpiece, Blind Willie McTell, which was inexplicably left off Infidels. I immediately sought …

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  • Bob Dylan and Son House
    The people that played that music were still around…[in the early sixties], so there were a bunch of us, me included, who got to see all these people close up – people like Son House, Reverend Gary Davis or Sleepy John Estes. Just to sit there and be up close and watch them play, you …

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  • Bob Dylan and Skip James
    I’ve been listening to a lot of old, acoustic blues recordings lately. Scrolling through Amazon Unlimited (note –> not Spotify), one song stood out to me. Not because of the music, but the name, Special Rider Blues. After a few seconds, it came to me that Special Rider Music was the name of one of …

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  • The Double Life of Bob Dylan
    by Clinton Heylin It’s been a long time since I read a Dylan biography. However, a few days ago I happened across Clinton Heylin’s The Double Life of Bob Dylan on the “New Books” shelf at the public library. I picked it up. I suppose many of you know of Heylin. He’s written much about …

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  • Tin Angel
    Most reading this are probably familiar with the work of Dorothy Parker, the short story writer, poet, theatre critic, New Yorker staffer, and member of the Algonquin Round Table. One of my favorite of her many famous witticisms: “This wasn’t just plain terrible, this was fancy terrible. This was terrible with raisins in it.” I …

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  • Bob Dylan and Hafez
    Most of us want things to be neat and tidy, to follow a set pattern, perhaps because our teachers beat that idea into our heads from an early age. Or maybe because most of the childhood storybooks and Hollywood movies we grew up with follow a typical pattern. However we got indoctrinated, we have a …

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  • Jim Jones (at Botany Bay)
    We all hate criminals. The criminal is a low life who takes things that don’t belong to him. He does things that should not be done. The criminal should be locked up and the key thrown away. Outlaws are another story.  We love the outlaw, even though he often does the same things the criminal does. …

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  • Rolling Thunder Review Documentary -“Close-Up”
    I recently bought the Criterion release of Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese. Yes, I could have watched it for free on one of the many streaming subscriptions I pay for but infrequently watch. But I wanted the supplementary materials, especially the Scorsese interview. His Mean Streets and The Last Waltz …

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  • Bootleg Series Vol. 16 – Neighborhood Bully
    A few days ago I was listening to the version of Neighborhood Bully on Vol. 16. I wondered why they felt it was necessary to release it. There’s not a big difference with the Infidels version. The Infidels version contains a new verse: Now his holiest books have been trampled upon No contract he signed …

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  • Springtime in New York – Bootleg Series Vol. 16: New Danville Girl
    It seems to me that the later Bootleg Series releases – I’d say since Live 66 – are mostly inessential. Yes, it’s nice to have them available. But I can’t see anybody really listening to say, the Dylan and Harrison duet of If Not For You, more than once or twice. This release is no …

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  • The Everly Brothers
    Don Everly, of The Everly Brothers fame, died last month. His brother Phil died in 2014. Those reading this probably need no introduction to their work. They influenced everybody. The Beatles, The Byrds, Simon and Garfunkel, just to name a few. Our man Bob said, “We owe these guys everything. They started it all.”   Their …

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  • Blind Willie McTell – Springtime in New York
    A couple of days ago I finally broke down and purchased a subscription to Amazon Music Unlimited. Of course, the first thing I did was search “Bob Dylan”. I noticed a two-song sampler for the soon-to-be-released Springtime in NY Bootleg Series. I haven’t been super-enthusiastic about the last few releases of the Series, so my …

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  • The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver
    I’m a fan of both the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay and Johnny Cash. For those not that familiar with her, Millay was a well-known poet during the roaring 20s. She was known for both her poetry and her racy-for-the-time sexual voraciousness. Her best know poem is First Fig. My candle burns at both ends; …

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  • Scarlet Town Analysis – Part 3
    Is it possible that Dylan is describing his hometown of Hibbing, Minnesota in this song? Perhaps I’m falling into the trap of assuming the lyrics of a song are necessarily autobiographical. Of course, that’s not always the case. However, I do think most everything an artist does is partly about themselves. It’s unavoidable. There’s really …

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  • Scarlet Town Analysis – Part 2
    I going to do a little trainspotting In this post. Dylan has a delightful habit of tossing into his lyrics sly references to all sorts of things: songs, books, poetry, literature, and of course, the Bible. It’s a lot of fun trying to identify them. Songs I’ve already discussed the traditional folk song, Barbara Allen. …

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  • Scarlet Town Analysis – Part 1
    I’ve been listening to Scarlet Town a lot lately. It’s not a particularly easy song to digest. Perhaps an impossible song to really get to know. Dylan long ago stopped writing in a linear fashion, with often spectacular results. Think Desolation Row, to name one glorious example. Sometimes though, like with this song, this style …

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  • Crowdsourcing Transcriptions: “At the Library and in the Field: John and Alan Lomax Papers”
    Most Dylan fans (over a certain age at least) are aware of John and Alan Lomax, the American ethnomusicologists best known for their recordings of folk music of the 20th century. Of course, many of the songs collected ended up on recordings that would influence Dylan. The Library of Congress is holding a crowdsourcing event …

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  • Shadow Kingdom Director – Alma Har’el
    Shadow Kingdom was released this week to almost universal approbation. True, the Sony marketing department made a huge gaffe (or perhaps they did it on purpose to boost ticket sales) by advertising the show as an ‘intimate live performance’ when it really wasn’t. In reality, it was a film of Dylan and his “band’ mimicking …

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  • Johnny Cash – The Life by Robert Hilburn
    I just finished a biography of Johnny Cash, written by Robert Hilburn, a long-time music writer with the Los Angeles Times. It’s a page-turner, highly recommended. Not surprisingly, the book has a plethora of Dylan-related material. Background on Cash Cash grew up a very poor country boy from Arkansas. When his family moved to a …

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  • Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends
    “What is this shit?” to quote Greil Marcus. I was excited when I heard about the new video of Dylan material, Odds and Ends. I’m always interested in hearing something new about my favorite artist. Sounded good to me. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t a bit skeptical. The early Bootleg Series releases were phenomenal, full …

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  • Mole in the Ground
    I was listening recently to the traditional song, Mole in the Ground. I always assumed the song was about some poor devil with low self-esteem. Alas, as has been the case many times, I was very wrong. That’s not what the author meant at all. That’s was not it at all.  But I did notice …

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  • Fred Neil and Bob Dylan
    Fred Neil is most remembered for Everybody’s Talkin’, written for the landmark film, Midnight Cowboy. Neil’s song wouldn’t have been used except that Dylan delivered his song – Lay, Lady, Lay – too late. Performed for the soundtrack by Harry Nilsson, Everybody’s Talkin’ reached #6 on the Billboard Chart. Neil wrote many tunes that are …

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  • Hank William’s Influence on Bob Dylan – Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest
    Many readers are undoubtedly already aware that Dylan has cited the greatest country music artist of all time, the country Shakespeare – Hank Williams – as his first influence. He wrote in the liner notes of Joan Baez In Concert, Part 2: An my first idol was Hank Williams For he sang about the railroad lines …

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  • Barbara Allen
    At the bottom of this post is a link to a very cool article, courtesy of American Songwriter, about the traditional folk song, Barbara Allen. Of course, we all know Dylan covered Barbara Allen many times. The author suggests that Art Garfunkel’s is the best modern version. As much as I like Garfunkel…What! Twas in …

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