The Wanderer: Johnny Cash as You've Never Heard Him
photo cred- flikr/creative commons
Johhny Cash joined the famed band U2 for a hot minute- well, literally, an apocalyptic, spiritual few minutes on their 1993 album Zooropa. Here, you'll hear Cash's booming voice sing right through the heart of the universe and straight to your gut. Since the backing is done by U2, gone is the boom-chika-boom-country of his band, as an understated, slowly moving tap-tap framework of keys, delayed electric guitars, and bass paint the colors to Cash's narration. It's all a mind trip to the nth degree. Fittingly, the original title for the song was "Johnny Cash Walks on the Moon". The man in black is the highwayman again, wandering human lands until he finds the one beyond.
On his 1973 album Planet Waves, Bob Dylan seems to be caught in between two words: the domestic tranquility represented by New Morning and the dark sad night of Blood on the Tracks. Songs like "On a Night Like This" represent that maybe the party with friends far and wide isn't quite over, while "Forever Young" serves as a touching tribute to his children, a truly moving and heartfelt song that uplifts the sacred duty of parenthood to the spiritual.
We've got friends, children, and big dreams, but what else? The romance. There are four major songs of romantic involvement from this era that also are worth mentioning: "Nobody 'Cept You", "The Wedding Song", "Dirge", and "Going, Going, Gone".
"Nobody 'Cept You", a tune recorded for Planet Waves that didn't see the light of day until the first Bootleg Series in 1991. Everything about the song, from the sound to the lyrical content, suggests it would&…
It's hard to know what to say about a Bob Dylan show. Although he has a reputation to be a sporadic performer, every show I've seen of his has been at least good, with the best being his 2010 Charlottesville, VA gig (in which he threw his harmonica into the seats at the end).
Dylan preformed at the Oakdale Theater-a venue that leaves much to be desired. The Oakdale's feel and structure seemed to be more suited for a corporate retreat, TED talk, or as a friend remarked, Sesame Street Live. Despite the Oakdale's placidity, Bob rode the strength of his band to deliver a solid set to the Father's Day crowd. The Show:
Following a brief acoustic "introduction in the dark", the lights went up and the band broke into "Things Have Changed". What a perfect opening song, honestly, and seeing Bob on stage banging on the piano in his suit, white boots, and bolo tie...it was hard to wipe the smile off my face. He preformed a fantastic, bluegrass soaked versi…
No one but our favorite big-hearted pal Patterson Hood could write a song like "Guns of Umpqua", a gem of a track off of the band's critically acclaimed 2016 album American Band.
"Guns of Umpqua"discusses the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon (2015, killed 10, injured 7) over a steadily strummed acoustic guitar, clean piano, and a melodic, and overall confident band that settles in for the journey.
Mike Cooley throws a few flares of sunlight on the track with his tasteful lead guitar licks, as images of the deep green forest, evergreen giants, salmon jumping in the river, sunlight, fog, and morning coffee fill in.
Here, these images of a beautiful life lived sit side by side with sounds of shots in the hallway, bringing to life the real devastation of public shootings in the United States. We hear about how great life can be. Then we hear how life can be.
The song is a testament to a life well lived, outside of chaos, and in the heart of communit…
Columbia recording artist Bob Dylan's been slinging out the alt-takes, b-sides, throwaways, covers, live versions, and other unreleased tunes on the Bootleg Series since 1991. Of course, a bootleg ain't a bootleg if it is released officially, but I digress. If there's one thing that the series has proven, it is that often Dylan's best versions of his songs are left off the albums. . . and sometimes even the best songs are scratched, left in the backyard as Bob turns the lights out (I'm looking at you, "Blind Willie McTell").
Point is, the Bootleg series is rich with material, and Tell Tale Signs: The Bootleg Series Volume 8, is about as good as it gets. Chronicling the era between 1989's Oh Mercy and 2006's Modern Times, Tell Tale affords listeners a front road seat next to Dylan on his journey away from the burned out- leather jacket 80s to the ultimate bluesman, the songsmith so steeped in Americana that the man and the characters that populate…
By: Abe Orabi
I’m just gonna come out and say it: Jeff Lynne may be one of the most underrated, underappreciated, underpublicized musicians of all time. Let me go one step further and use the ‘G’ word. Jeff Lynne is a genius, period—and you can forget the qualifiers. The criteria for defining genius is simple yet elusive. If you had to put it into words you might say that genius is the violent mastery of complexity; or, put another way, genius makes the intricate seem infantile. How ever you frame it, there is one universal truth: to know it, is to see it—and it only takes a moment. “Telephone Line” by Jeff Lynne is one of those defining moments of genius. It is both tantalizing and deeply satisfying on a physiological level. We are greeted with a long string of boops and beeps akin to C3PO, which ultimately coalesce into coherent synthesizer/piano chords. Lynne’s voice comes through (as if heard on an answering machine): Hello/How are you?/Have you been alright?/Through all those lon…
About the Song
Alright, alright, we all know that "Tangled Up in Blue" is Bob Dylan's magnum opus. It tells a hell of a story, it's in the third person, first person, and zooms through the past, present, and future. It's a life simultaneously observed from the ground floor and from above, and perhaps, stands as the ultimate statement about Bob Dylan's romantic life. True to it's never ending and kaleidoscopic nature, there are dozens of versions of this tune available for listening. The genesis of this evolving song is the first cut off of 1975's Blood on the Tracks. It's not the best version of the song, but it does set a baseline standard of excellence in which all subsequent versions of this song are judged. Time to rank 'em:
1. "Tangled Up In Blue": Real Live, 1984
Somehow, burned out 1980's Bob pulled more emotion out of this song than ever before during his 1984 tour of Europe. Lucky for us, this version saw the light of day…
From the opening fade in at at the beginning Street Legal, a hazy and humid, hungover morning emerges. America's ragged hero meets us out in the fields, amidst flag banners and ancient pageantry. Bob Dylan is here, declaring that it's been "sixteen years. . . sixteen years".
Indeed, it had been a long sixteen years. Sixteen years since a young Robert Zimmerman put out his first self titled album out in 1962. By the late 1970's, Bob appeared worn, was divorced, and had been spit up and thrown around by the press and the public. He was looking for answers. They'd arrive a year later. However, the questions always come first.
The questions and turmoil that lie at the heart of 1978's Street Legal make their faces clearly shown on three important tracks: "Changing of the Guards", "Senor (Tales of Yankee Power)", and "Where are You Tonight? (Journey Through Dark Heat)".
The first track off of Street Legal, "Changing of the Gua…
I think it's time to write about Blood on the Tracks.
We all know the drill: released in 1975, it's a breakup album, a largely acoustic affair with simple instrumentation, as the songs seek to paint stories from multiple perspectives (Bob was inspired by painting lessons and Russian short stories).
Apparently Bob was writing down these songs in a little red notebook, and first cut them in New York City. There, it was just Bobby and his guitar. This "version" of the album is worth seeking out, and sounds a bit more raw and unpolished than the so-called "second" version of the album that featured overdubs from Minnesota musicians.
That being said, you can toss out all the history here to the angry sea. No matter how you slice it, no matter which way the winds do blow, Blood on the Tracks represents the best collection of 10 songs Bob Dylan has ever released to the world. And…
If Bob Dylan was the folkie in the early 1960s, the slick rocker in the mid 1960's, then in the late 1960s into the early 1970s he was the country dad. Many of the songs Bob put out in this period exalted rural family life, and communicated a certain kind of carefreeness that lingers in the air on a spring day. Bob has said in his memoir, Chronicles, that the songs he wrote could "blow away in cigar smoke, and that suited me just fine".
During this time, Bob released John Wesley Harding, Nashville Skyline, Self Portrait, New Morning, and Planet Waves, five albums that you could easily listen to on a country drive, while tossing your line in the water, or when on a leisurely walk through pastoral fields. I should that the two albums on the "edges" of this period, John Wesley Harding and Planet Waves, don't quite exemplify this rural carefreeness as much as the other three do, but still. . .
John Wesley Harding might be a bit less carefree than the other two, a…
1968 is often rightly categorized as a year of social upheaval in America. King and Bobby went down. Vietnam was a jungle of violent chaos. Charles Manson went wild on helter skelter, the Beatles White Album was a pastiche of cultural mess (great album regardless), Steppenwolf was "Born to be Wild", the Doors were a dark L.A launchpad of drugged excess, and Eric Clapton's band Cream was spinning in the white room.
Yet, somewhere in this culture of chaos was the antidote of order, simplicity, and true-hearted earnestness. Unsurprisingly, some of the musical world reacted to the swirling world of drugs and disorder by goin' country, setting the stage for the simple and reflective 1970's scene of singer-songwriters a-la the acoustic based music James Taylor, the simple yet profound offerings of Joni Mitchell, and the deeply spiritual ethos of Leonard Cohen.
First, here's the music that laid that groundwork: