Thursday, May 24, 2007

Happy 66th Birthday, Bob Dylan!


1. The words! The words! Those “spinning reels of rhyme.”
2. That attitude.
3. That frizzy halo of hair.
4. Those black shades.
5. The music. Always short-shrifted in favor of the lyrics, Dylan’s music is much more inventive and melodious than he’s ever been given proper credit for.
6. The crack of the snare drum heard ‘round the world: Like A Rolling Stone.
7. Going electric.
8. The humor. Dylan’s sly.
9. The Basement Tapes.
10. The Jesus period, because it gave us Slow Train, one of his best songs, and albums.
11. “In the dime stores and bus stations/People talk of situations/Read books, repeat quotations/Draw conclusions on the wall/Some speak of the future/My love she speaks softly/She knows there's no success like failure/And that failure's no success at all.” (Love Minus Zero/No Limit)
11. Chronicles, Vol. 1.
12. The concerts. It is there, not on the albums, where you get the most undiluted shot of Dylan — thorny, unpredictable, blindingly brilliant.
13. The Rolling Thunder tour.
14. His harmonica playing.
15. “Oh God said to Abraham, "Kill me a son"/Abe says, "Man, you must be puttin' me on"/God say, "No." Abe say, "What?"/God say, "You can do what you want Abe, but/The next time you see me comin' you better run"/Well Abe says, "Where do you want this killin' done?"/God says, "Out on Highway 61." (Highway 61 Revisited.)
16. Dylan the movie star. Sure, he’s awful, but would you really not want him to be in Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid reading those labels: “Beans...succotash...beans...”? Or Slim Pickens dying to the strains of Knocking On Heaven’s Door?
17. Bob and Joanie.
18. Bob and Sara, “radiant jewel/mystical wife.”
19. Blowin’ In The Wind.
20. Beating up Weberman.
21. The great Jim Marshall photo of him rolling a tire down a Greenwich Village street.
22. “Ah get born, keep warm/Short pants, romance, learn to dance/Get dressed, get blessed/Try to be a success/Please her, please him, buy gifts/Don't steal, don't lift/Twenty years of schoolin’ and they put you on the day shift.” (Subterranean Homesick Blues.)
23. Don’t Look Back.
24. The Traveling Wilburys and Bob’s great Springsteen-esque goof, Tweeter and the Monkey Man.
25. Hurricane.
26. Lay, Lady Lay.
27. I Threw It All Away.
28. “Let me ask you one question/Is your money that good/Will it buy you forgiveness/Do you think that it could/I think you will find/When your death takes its toll/All the money you made/Will never buy back your soul” (Masters of War)
29. Blood on the Tracks.
30. The interviews: combative, restless, insightful, the second best way to get a glimpse of Dylan’s unique way of thinking.
31. Springsteen’s line on Dylan at the Hall of Fame: “If Elvis freed your body, Bob freed your mind.”
32. That reedy voice. Love it or hate it, a Dylan song needs that Dylan voice.
33. Things Have Changed, which made him "Oscar winner Bob Dylan."
34. "Have you heard the news?" he said with a grin/"The Vice President's gone mad"/"Where?"/"Downtown."/When?”/"Last night"/"Hmm, say, that's too bad" (Clothes Line Saga)
35. Blind Willie McTell.
36. Every Grain of Sand.
37. Queen Jane Approximately.
38. “And your long-time curse hurts/But what's worse is this pain in here/I can't stay in here/Ain't it clear that…I just can't fit/Yes, I believe it's time for us to quit/When we meet again/Introduced as friends/Please don't let on that you knew me when/I was hungry and it was your world.” (Just Like A Woman)
39. Dylan’s mystery life: How many times has he been married? How many children does he really have?
40. Dylan wearing the false beard at Newport. Why?
41. Dylan appearing on Dharma and Greg. Why?
42. Dylan performing for The Pope. Why?
43. Dylan's radio show!
44. Without Dylan, would the Byrds have ever had a career? Or Peter, Paul and Mary?
45. The famous concert in England: “Judas!” Dylan’s response: “I don’t believe you…you’re a liar.”
46. Dylan at The Last Waltz.
47. Scorsese’s No Direction Home.
48. “Don’t follow leaders. Watch your parking meters. (SHB)
49. “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. (SHB)
50. Maggie’s Farm.
51. John Wesley Harding.
52. “Money doesn’t talk, it swears.” (It’s Alright Ma)
53. All Along The Watchtower.
54. “If my thought-dreams could be seen/They'd probably put my head in a guillotine.” (It’s Alright Ma)
55. If Not For You.
56. Elliot Landy’s photo of Bob on the cover of Nashville Skyline.
57. The living room cover of Bringing It All Back Home.
58. “Lights flicker from the opposite loft/In this room the heat pipes just cough/The country music station plays soft/But there's nothing, really nothing to turn off/Just Louise and her lover so entwined/And these visions of Johanna that conquer my mind.” (Visions of Johanna).
59. “Early one mornin' the sun was shinin'/I was layin' in bed/Wond'rin' if she'd changed at all/If her hair was still red.” (Tangled Up In Blue).
60. Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright.
61. Dylan’s heart scare: “I thought I was gonna meet Elvis.”
62. Without Dylan, we wouldn’t have had the movies How High and American Pie: The Wedding, directed by Bob’s son, Jesse.
63. Boots of Spanish Leather.
64. Stuck Inside of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again.
65. “You better start swimming or sink like a stone, cause the times they are a-changing.” (The Times They Are-A-Changin')
66. “Ah, I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.” (My Back Pages)

Two Versions: To Make You Feel My Love

1999, Duluth, Minnesota

2000, Rochester, NY

Couldn't make up my mind which one to post, so did both. I like the video perspective of the Duluth 1999 version, but I like the performance better in the Rochester 2000 version. Anyway, you can see why people collect his performances. They just are never the same way twice. Great song - off Time Out of Mind. Here are the lyrics:

When the rain is blowing in your face
And the whole world is on your case
I could offer you a warm embrace
To make you feel my love

When the evening shadows and the stars appear
And there is no one there to dry your tears
I could hold you for a million years
To make you feel my love

I know you haven't made your mind up yet
But I would never do you wrong
I've known it from the moment that we met
No doubt in my mind where you belong

I'd go hungry, I'd go black and blue
I'd go crawling down the avenue
There's nothing that I wouldn't do
To make you feel my love

The storms are raging on the rollin' sea
And on the highway of regret
The winds of change are blowing wild and free
You ain't seen nothing like me yet

I could make you happy, make your dreams come true
Nothing that I wouldn't do
Go to the ends of the earth for you
To make you feel my love

B. Dylan 1997