Bob Dylan’s Chronicles Volume One AND Chrysler Super Bowl Commercial

At our April 1 meeting we will discuss Jim Robbins’ selections,

Bob Dylan, Chronicles Volume One (2004)
AND
The Bob Dylan Super Bowl Chrysler commercial (2014)

Jim provides the following information about his selections:
————————–
“What did you bring me Daddy?” a memorable line from Mad Men. This is a fascinating show that playhouses Madison Ave. Ad Men in hyperdrive, and how these agents of materialism tapped into our mythic urgings in order to close the deal.

This book selection is a look into Bob Dylan’s early beginnings in NYNY. This is another POV chronicle of America in the 60’s. They seem at opposite poles. Both are “tapped in” yet one seems suspicious while the other seemed so real. In light of Dylan’s recent venture with corporate marketing (as represented by the linked Chrysler commercial) what are we to think of Bob? Can answers be trusted?
This month’s choice will be a match of image and text:

Bob Dylan Chronicles Volume One

And

The Bob Dylan Super Bowl Chrysler commercial.
OFFICIAL Chrysler and Bob Dylan Super Bowl Commercial 2014 – America’s Import

Over 3000 comments are filed in response to this commercial. A few of these reactions you may find interesting as you consider Bob Dylan.
Jim

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About Ron Boothe

I am a retired professor of psychology living in Tacoma Washington USA.
This entry was posted in 2014 Selections, Bob Dylan Chronicles and Chrysler and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Bob Dylan’s Chronicles Volume One AND Chrysler Super Bowl Commercial

  1. pmunrafp says:

    I’ll be sending some stuff on Dylan in the coming days.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/10/opinion/10dowd.html

  2. pmunrafp says:

    I was at this graduation. I believe his song “And the locust sang” was written about this experience.

    As a graduate I’ve always loved the line where he is talking about the faculty or the other honorary degree recipients and sings “the man standing next to me/his head was exploding/I was prayin the pieces/wouldn’t fall on me”

    Here is Rolling Stones view.

    http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/bob-dylan-receives-honorary-princeton-degree-19700709

    • Ron Powers says:

      Why were you at the Princeton graduation in 70?

      RP

      • pmunrafp says:

        I think Ron Boothe has to answer this question because one of my clearest memories is of Dylan getting an honorary degree at my graduation in 1968. When I was at the Princeton Graduation last year with my Australian brother-law (2013) because his son was graduating I remarked that at MY graduation Dylan got an honorary degree. He checked it out and found out Dylan’s degree was in 1970.

        Since I have written proof (my diploma) that I was there in 1968, and a “crystal clear” recollection of seeing both Dylan and hearing the locusts, I can only assume I have combined the two events in my mind. Further I cannot recall why I would have been there in 1970 since at the time I was working for VISTA Indiana. I might have been home for a visit since my father was living in a town right next to Princeton.

        So I’m leaving this up to Ron Booth to answer since I learned from him that most our clearest memories are wrong.

        In my email to the book club I was careful, to the point of being awkward with the wording, not to say it was my graduation.

        My own answer is …?

        Here are three more articles on the subject, below are the words to Day of the Locusts”

        http://folkmusic.about.com/od/bobdylan/a/Bob-Dylan-PhD.htm

        http://www.today.com/id/5278430/ns/today-today_entertainment/t/speechless-dylan-accepts-honorary-degree/#.Ux8eciO9KSM

        http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=4019

        Oh the benches were stained with tears and perspiration
        The birdies were flying from tree to tree
        There was little to say, there was no conversation
        As I stepped to the stage to pick up my degree
        And the locusts sang off in the distance
        Yeah the locusts sang such a sweet melody
        Oh, the locusts sang off in the distance
        Yeah, the locusts sang and they were singing for me.

        I glanced into the chamber where the judges were talking
        Darkness was everywhere, it smelled like a tomb
        I was ready to leave, I was already walkin’
        But the next time I looked there was light in the room
        And the locusts sang, yeah, it give me a chill
        Oh, the locusts sang such a sweet melody
        Oh, the locusts sang their high whinning trill
        Yeah, the locusts sang and they were singing for me.

        Outside of the gates the trucks were unloadin’
        The weather was hot, a-nearly 90 degrees
        The man standin’ next to me, his head was exploding
        Well, I was prayin’ the pieces wouldn’t fall on me
        Yeah,the locusts sang off in the distance
        Yeah the locusts sang such a sweet melody
        Oh, the locusts sang off in the distance
        And the locusts sang and they were singing for me.

        I put down my robe, picked up my diploma
        Took hold of my sweetheart and away we did drive
        Straight for the hills, the black hills of Dakota
        Sure was glad to get out of there alive
        And the locusts sang, yeah, it give me a chill
        Yeah, the locusts sang such a sweet melody
        And the locusts sang with a high whinning trill
        Yeah, the locusts sang and they were singing for me
        Singing for me, well, singing for me.

        Peter

      • Ron Boothe says:

        As Peter and I have discussed extensively, the scientific evidence shows pretty conclusively that much of what we remember from our past is not true — despite how non-intuitive that feels to most everyone, including me. Peter and I launched into this discussion a few years back when we were both intrigued by the film Memento. Here is a commentary I posted about the assertion made by the main character in Memento that memory is unreliable:

        http://tacomafilmclubannex.wordpress.com/2007/10/24/remembrance-of-things-memento-part-4-can-memory-be-trusted/

  3. pmunrafp says:

    My Australian brother-in law has studied Dylan for years. He says this:

    “But the thing to remember about Dylan is that he lied a lot in interviews about all sorts of things including where he grew up and what he liked – and he is probably the worse source about the “truth” of what he was doing.

    But Dylan was a country and western singer and a folk singer and a rock singer and a Christain singer and , and , and – he was a chameleon.”

  4. pmunrafp says:

    Here is one more – Dylan about Dylan and politics

    http://folkmusic.about.com/od/bobdylan/a/Bob-Dylan-Quits-Politics.htm

  5. David Gilmour says:

    It’s wonderful the bounty of information about Bob Dylan or the mythic “Bob Dylan.” Come April, dare say it’ll be a super discussion of what the real persona of the many Bob Dylans is: when is he real and when is he putting us on. If you are reading Chronicles already, you will be enchanted by the namedropping of major figures of the Rock, Pop and Folk genres. All the homespun narrator has to say is: “At so-and-so’s (say, Lomax’s) party I met XYZ (say Tom Paxton, Cisco Houston) and the mind rolls off imaginatively into recollections of when XYZ became a musical personage in your youth. This book allows pure memory-lane reverie. Dust off your Huddy Ledbetter, Cisco Houston, Weavers albums, or as they say today “YouTube’m.”

    I would recommend for discussion’s sake that Club Members view the last Coen Bros.’ movie Inside Llewen Davis for a look at the struggles of a young folk-singer of the late 50s-early 60s to break into the performance scene. The character Davis is that of an original who doesn’t want to bend to become known. Although with his fine stage-song presentation he has an authentic folk-musician persona, he hasn’t chosen his daily-life persona carefully enough to win friends and influence people. At first Chronicles is a memoir of Dylan’s trials and tribulations of finding or fixing his pop-cultural persona. Where did this Jewish boy come from in Minnesota? Where did he pick up his Woody Guthrie accent?

    Ron and I were discussing some of his singing voices: listen to his first album Freewheelin’, then listen to his early electric era “Bringing it all back home. Next listen to the voice on John Wesley Hardin, then Nashville Skyline. After that try his Self Portrait mish-mash of music. The singer reinvented himself for years to Rolling Stone magazine’s and nearly everyone’s chagrin. Now he’s stuck with an old smoker’s growl and croak for a voice. Still writes some fine songs. He’s gone through the ages jes’ fine. Hey! Elvis Presley went into the army a “Shake, Rattle, ‘n Roll” Rock n’ Roller and came out two years later singing “It’s Now or Never” (O Solo Mio) backed with “A Mess of Blues.” The likes of late Pete Seeger–now, there was a fairly consistent original, inside and outside sui generis. Peace of Eternity be with Pete! Boogie on, Bob, till ya drop! — David

  6. Jim Robbins says:

    http://folkmusic.about.com/od/bobdylan/a/Bob-Dylan-Sing-Out-Letter.htm

    Reproduced here is a critical point in the public’s response to Dylan’s evolution as a balladeer. Embedded within this article is the Irwin Silber letter referred to. It takes Dylan to task for not being what some imagined him to be. As we look at this American icon in light of his Super Bowl commercial remember this high profile letter was written in November of 1964.
    Jim

  7. David Gilmour says:

    Dear All,
    There are other good links to “Dylania” in the About.com Folk Music
    articles. The relationship between Dylan and Johnny Cash is very good.
    Jim will probably send out others. Yesterday he sent me a YouTube
    interview with Danny Lanois, his studio manager on the album “Oh Mercy,”
    who gives his version of how the New Orleans session came about. It
    corroborates Dylan’s narration of the recording event in his life.

    I have had an interest in musical history, especially the revolutionary
    years of Rock, Jazz, Blues, Folk, Punk, and every fusion of the genres, and
    because of this I found Dylan’s “Chronicles” conducive to exciting
    flashbacks or reveries. I wonder what many of you will think of this
    home-spun narrative or memoir, especially you who never indulged in the
    “Pop” music scene. If I hadn’t been familiar with the majority of
    personalities he mentions, and interested in Dylan’s own mentality, a lot
    of the book, especially in the early chapters would have been so much
    name-dropping. I’d say it has helped me enjoy this narrative by
    familiarity with Cisco Houston, Dave van Ronk, Blind Lemon Jefferson,
    Robert Johnson, and the host of others (Ricky Nelson, Bobby Vee) who meant
    something to Dylan. If you never have seen Pennebaker’s “Don’t Look Back”
    documentary of Dylan’s London Tour, some of you should club together to
    watch that before the discussion of Chronicles. — David

  8. Jim Robbins says:

    This ranking was pulled off the internet. I think you should find it useful information. It’s approximate and we all will have our individual reasons for making adjustments here and there. Look it over and enjoy memories of your life as the times they where a changing.
    Jim
    The rant starts at the bottom and works upward.
    >>
    >>
    >>
    >>
    >> 34
    >> Saved
    >> Bob Dylan
    >> Saved (1980)
    >>
    >> This horrible release marks the absolute lowpoint in Dylan’s career. It’s the second of his thrilogy of born-again-christian albums (the others being Slow Train Coming and Shot of Love) and it’s the one that has most “hallelujah-feeling”. I generally don’t like albums with a specific religious tone, but I can tolerate it if it is something more than just “praise the lord”. This isn’t. Actually, I find this to be kind of creepy. Look at that album cover and tell me that it isn’t creepy.
    >>
    >> The album consists of one cover and a bunch of Dylan-written church rock songs. They all suck but at least the cover isn’t as bad as the others, since the original song is kind of cool.
    >>
    >> Best song: Satisfied Mind
    >>
    >> 33
    >> Dylan
    >> Bob Dylan
    >> Dylan (1973)
    >>
    >> This album can’t be blamed on Dylan since it was released without his approval. When he left Columbia Records, it is said that they released this as a vengeance. I wouldn’t be surprised, it is only made out of cover songs that ranges from anonymous to something so bad that you can scare children with it.
    >>
    >> Best song: Lily of the West
    >>
    >> 32
    >> Down in the Groove
    >> Bob Dylan
    >> Down in the Groove (1988)
    >>
    >> Dylan was clearly out of inspiration when he made this album. While the production is better than his last five albums (which by no means says that it’s especially good), the songs are of no keeping value. They are mostly covers, with a few exceptions. The songs that he has written isn’t terrible in themselves, but they sound really uninspired. They were both made in a lot better versions by others later, with Death Is Not the End by Nick Cave as the most obvious one. The swedish pop artist Håkan Hellström has borrowed a lot of lines from Ugliest Girl in the World to his song Den fulaste flickan i världen, which is a fun fact for any Hellström-fan.
    >>
    >> Best song: Silvio
    >>
    >> 31
    >> Shot of Love
    >> Bob Dylan
    >> Shot of Love (1981)
    >>
    >> The last of his christian thrilogy leans towards a more pop/rock sound than the others, and sounds more dated. While the message still is overbearing, it is a lot more balanced here. While it’s not as bad as Saved, it is very anonymous and falls totally flat in his catalogue.
    >>
    >> Best song: Heart of Mine
    >>
    >> 30
    >> Knocked Out Loaded
    >> Bob Dylan
    >> Knocked Out Loaded (1986)
    >>
    >> The ambition of this album can be seen in the album cover. The picture is squeezed and the font is just plain bad. The sound is a lot more groovy than I expected, and doesn’t make you want to throw up, like some of his other 80’s albums. Brownsville Girl is a pretty good song, but ruined by the lame production and enthusiasm. Dylan should have thought twice before he released this one.
    >>
    >> Best song: Brownsville Girl
    >>
    >> 29
    >> Empire Burlesque
    >> Bob Dylan
    >> Empire Burlesque (1985)
    >>
    >> The sound of this album is certainly the worst of his career. Smooth synths makes it sound like he actually aimed for the radio here. He apparently failed, and I’m glad he did. The radio didn’t deserve this production. Some say that the songs here are really good, but I really can’t see the attraction in them. While they’re not bad, they’re not nearly as good as his songs once was and later (much later) again would become. His most typical 80’s album. It’s hard to believe that Dylan, or anyone, really thought that this sounded good.
    >>
    >> Best song: Dark Eyes
    >>
    >> 28
    >> Under the Red Sky
    >> Bob Dylan
    >> Under the Red Sky (1990)
    >>
    >> 1989 he released the brilliant Oh Mercy which was his first really good album in many years. 1990 he released this album, which makes me really confused. It contains of childishly simple songs made with lame production. While not horrible, it certainly is boring.
    >>
    >> Best song: Wiggle Wiggle……. haha just kidding, that song actually is hideous.
    >>
    >> 27
    >> Self Portrait
    >> Bob Dylan
    >> Self Portrait (1970)
    >>
    >> An uneven misch masch of material that in it’s best moments is interesting and sometimes good, and in it’s worst moments is pointless and sometimes bad. At 75 minutes, it’s really a bore to get through. It’s possible that Dylan released this album to shake off the expectations of him to always release brilliant albums, which had been the case for many years.
    >>
    >> Best song: The Mighty Quinn (Quinn the Eskimo)
    >>
    >> 26
    >> Good as I Been to You
    >> Bob Dylan
    >> Good as I Been to You (1992)
    >>
    >> Dylan had something of an identity crisis within his music after the (mostly) horrible 80’s. After having started the 90’s too with a bad album, Under the Red Sky, he didn’t release an album with original material until 1997. This is the first of two albums made entirely of covers, the other being the far superior World Gone Wrong. It has a brisk and nice feeling, but fails to remain interesting and quickly becomes background music.
    >>
    >> 25
    >> Bob Dylan
    >> Bob Dylan
    >> Bob Dylan (1962)
    >>
    >> His debut album only had two original songs on it. The covers are fun and nice enough, but while this album is promising it’s not near where he would be only the year after. It sounds a lot like his next (classic) album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan does, but if this because of some reason had become his only album, not a single person would have remembered him.
    >>
    >> Best song: Talkin’ New York
    >>
    >> 24
    >> Together Through Life
    >> Bob Dylan
    >> Together Through Life (2009)
    >>
    >> After three albums in a row which was lyrical masterpieces, if not always musically brilliant, Dylan released the mediocre Together Through Life in 2009. Sometimes it’s really nice, but it’s also very uneven. Among his many other albums, this is not something that stands out.
    >>
    >> Best song: Beyond Here Lies Nothin’
    >>
    >> 23
    >> Slow Train Coming
    >> Bob Dylan
    >> Slow Train Coming (1979)
    >>
    >> The first album of his christian thrilogy. It’s a lot cooler than the others are; it’s less “hallelujah” and more nasty religious themes and metaphores. The sound is darker, and yeah, really nasty.
    >>
    >> Best song: Gotta Serve Somebody
    >>
    >> 22
    >> New Morning
    >> Bob Dylan
    >> New Morning (1970)
    >>
    >>
    >> 21
    >> Street-Legal
    >> Bob Dylan
    >> Street-Legal (1978)
    >>
    >> On Street-Legal, Dylan is exploring a new direction of his music. He would do this for many years to come, with his christian albums, his synth heavy albums etc. On Street-Legal, the sound is bombastic with horns and a girl backing choir. I can’t say that I’m fond of this style, at least not when it’s Dylan who is using it. I just don’t think that it suits him. The songs are generally pretty good, with really nice lyrics. He experiments with his songwriting, and sometimes he succeeds with the experiments.
    >>
    >> Best song: Is Your Love in Vain?
    >>
    >> 20
    >> Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid
    >> Bob Dylan
    >> Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973)
    >>
    >>
    >> 19
    >> “Love and Theft”
    >> Bob Dylan
    >> “Love and Theft” (2001)
    >>
    >> One of the most lyrically impressing albums of all time, sadly wrapped around a cheesy sound of the worst among folk/country/blues/swing. The song structures seems to be unambitious since they are very repetative. But like I said, the lyrics on this album are among the best I have ever heard.
    >>
    >> Best song: Mississippi
    >>
    >> 18
    >> World Gone Wrong
    >> Bob Dylan
    >> World Gone Wrong (1993)
    >>
    >>
    >> 17
    >> Modern Times
    >> Bob Dylan
    >> Modern Times (2006)
    >>
    >>
    >> 16
    >> Tempest
    >> Bob Dylan
    >> Tempest (2012)
    >>
    >>
    >> 15
    >> John Wesley Harding
    >> Bob Dylan
    >> John Wesley Harding (1967)
    >>
    >> Often considered to be one of his classic albums, I find John Wesley Harding to be overrated. The music is repetative and drags sometimes, the production is dull, the lyrics are not as personal as on the albums before. Of course, it contains the classic song All Along the Watchtower, as made (more) famous by Jimi Hendrix. It has a handful of more songs that are really good, but overall this album is a little disappointing.
    >>
    >> Best song: All Along the Watchtower
    >>
    >> 14
    >> Planet Waves
    >> Bob Dylan
    >> Planet Waves (1974)
    >>
    >> This was a welcome return to the sound of the late 60’s. After some albums in a row where the sound had left a lot to wish for, Planet Waves played it more safe. The songs are all pretty good, with some songs striking on excellent. It was his best record in five years, but already the year after he would make an even better one in Blood on the Tracks.
    >>
    >> Best song: Forever Young (the shorter and faster version)
    >>
    >> 13
    >> Infidels
    >> Bob Dylan
    >> Infidels (1983)
    >>
    >> After his christian albums, Infidels was a welcome return to the love and protest songs that was his trademark before he was born again. Some tracks are really good, some are a little weaker, but this is overall a strong album. It sounds dated, but I don’t think that it sounds bad. It sounds like dirty streets on Jamaica on a sunny day.
    >>
    >> Best song: Jokerman
    >>
    >> 12
    >> Oh Mercy
    >> Bob Dylan
    >> Oh Mercy (1989)
    >>
    >> In the end of the 80’s, after some really terribly produced albums, Dylan hired Daniel Lanois as a producer. The sound became more groovy and suddenly it happened interesting things in Dylans music for the first time in many years. The songwriting was better than usual, if not consistently brilliant. Daniel Lanois would later produce one more album, the superior Time Out of Mind.
    >>
    >> Best song: Most of the Time
    >>
    >> 11
    >> The Basement Tapes
    >> Bob Dylan & The Band
    >> The Basement Tapes (1975)
    >>
    >>
    >> 10
    >> Nashville Skyline
    >> Bob Dylan
    >> Nashville Skyline (1969)
    >>
    >> If you have any problems with country as a genre, Nashville Skyline is not for you. There are tracks that are not dripping of country like Lay Lady Lay and I Threw It All Away, which are the best songs on here. Still, the other songs are often really nice. They’re not complicated or tense like Dylan is otherwise, they’re really laidback in a way he never was before and never became again. The version of Girl From the North Country (first released on The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan) featuring Johnny Cash is gorgeous. Some of the interludes on here are a little cheesy at times, but as an album this works surprisingly well.
    >>
    >> Best song: I Threw It All Away
    >>
    >> 9
    >> Desire
    >> Bob Dylan
    >> Desire (1976)
    >>
    >> Desire is mostly known for the 8½ minute-long story-telling song Hurricane, but it has a lot more to offer. Seven of the nine songs on here were written with a co-writer, and I must say that the songs that Dylan wrote by himself are by far the best. There is the haunting One More Cup of Coffee with beautiful background singing by Emmylou Harris, but most of all there is Sara which I think is one of the best songs of his career. With its perfect melody, lyrics, harmonica, violin, guitar and drums it simply becomes a perfect song.
    >>
    >> Best song: Sara
    >>
    >> 8
    >> The Times They Are A-Changin’
    >> Bob Dylan
    >> The Times They Are A-Changin’ (1964)
    >>
    >> An album very similar to his breakthrough album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan from the year before. While not as defining to his career as that album, it is still brilliant throughout the entire album. The title track often get all the praise, but I find songs like Boots of Spanish Leather, North Country Blues and The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll to be as good as, if not better, than that one.
    >>
    >> Best song: Boots of Spanish Leather
    >>
    >> 7
    >> Another Side of Bob Dylan
    >> Bob Dylan
    >> Another Side of Bob Dylan (1964)
    >>
    >> This album actually shows a lot of sides of Bob Dylan, not just another. He is a simple romantic as well as a complicated romantic. He sings an ode to a very sad girl that seems like a letter to help her through something really traumatic, and in the next moment he pulls an humorous song that reminds everyone of just how funny he can be. Musically it is not a masterpiece, but lyrically it is really loveable.
    >>
    >> Best song: My Back Pages
    >>
    >> 6
    >> Time Out of Mind
    >> Bob Dylan
    >> Time Out of Mind (1997)
    >>
    >>
    >> 5
    >> The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan
    >> Bob Dylan
    >> The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (1963)
    >>
    >> His first album made entirely out of original songs oozes of youthfulness, but still manages to be very mature. With amazing fingerpicking and a wide emotional range, he sings protest songs as well as songs about abandoned love, one classic after another.
    >>
    >> Best song: Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright
    >>
    >> 4
    >> Bringing It All Back Home
    >> Bob Dylan
    >> Bringing It All Back Home (1965)
    >>
    >> Dylan has always liked to say “fuck off” to people with releasing albums that isn’t expected by him. This is the first and most brilliant one (other examples are Nashville Skyline and Self Portrait). For the first time in his career, the band is prominent here. It was a stepping stone towards the sound of his coming two albums that in my opinion was the sound that defined him. Anyway, this album is genius. Significantly sounding, thoughtful, funny.
    >>
    >> Best song: Mr. Tambourine Man
    >>
    >> 3
    >> Blood on the Tracks
    >> Bob Dylan
    >> Blood on the Tracks (1975)
    >>
    >> Blood on the Tracks is about breakups from a lot of different perspectives. Idiot Wind is angry and stormy. You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go is cute and snuggly, but still aware of what is going to happen. Some songs are about breakups from long ago. Some are positive, some are just plain sad. Always lyrically sharp and melodious with a warm sound. It is cohesive and deeply, deeply personal.
    >>
    >> Best song: If You See Her, Say Hello
    >>
    >> 2
    >> Highway 61 Revisited
    >> Bob Dylan
    >> Highway 61 Revisited (1965)
    >>
    >> Dylans most famous and critically acclaimed album, and I can see why. Released only five months after the brilliant and career-changing Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited somehow managed to be even better. All the songs are brilliant and perfectly produced. I believe that this is the worlds first perfect rock album. And of course, it contains the best song in Dylans career…
    >>
    >> Best song: Like a Rolling Stone
    >>
    >> 1
    >> Blonde on Blonde
    >> Bob Dylan
    >> Blonde on Blonde (1966)
    >>
    >> I usually have a problem with albums that are long. I usually think that they would have been better if some fat had been cut off. Not with this one. Not with Blonde on Blonde. This album clocks in at 73 minutes, but everyone of them is pure ear candy to me. It took some time for me to really get into ALL of the songs here (although I have known plenty of them since my childhood), but now that I have – this album is gold straight through. On Blonde on Blonde, there is everything that I love Dylan for. The mad Rainy Day Women #12 & 35. The nostalgic Visions of Johanna. The naive I Want You. Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again, Just Like a Woman, Absolutely Sweet Marie. The epic closer ballad Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands. Has there ever been an album with this many perfect songs? It’s the album that defines Dylan, and he has never been able to top it.
    >>
    >> Best song: Visions of Johanna

    • David Gilmour says:

      It’s amazing how many albums he put out, of many band changes and different genres, as if one can really pigeonhole his genres. “Dylan-style songs” and “Dylaneque vocalization.” He was a shape-shifter and a shaman of charming and exciting song-writing. I think he was striving to shock his audiences and not necessarily disenchant them, but to challenge them to see revolutions in lyrical and musical designs. Although, a purpose to do this was probably not foremost in his mind.

      The order here is someone’s list of preferences, not a consensus. Certainly the song preferences and the severe criticisms are some individual’s choices and rejections. Not everything an artist produces and executes for public consumption can be top-notch. Dylan was a consummate artist of songwriting, who–think of the almost endless catalog of songs and lyrics–must have lived and breathed his art. He’s an American artist to be revered. I’ll read the rest of his Chronicles to see whether his attitude to writing memoirs has coherence. Chronicles Vol 1 was most enjoyable reading. At the end, his praise of Joan Baez seems a little forced as though he felt obliged to say a lot about her, having failed to fit her in in the early chapters, where she might rightly belong in his early 60s tours. D. A. Pennebaker’s Don’t Look Back shows much footage of their relationship on the English tour.

      David

  9. mike says:

    The super Bowl ad paid Bob Dylan $5,000,000 and would be hard for any music icon to turn down. at the age of 72, one writer commented on a TV show, Dylan can do just about anything he wants to do. after all, he’s been doing what he wants for 50 years!
    Chronicles I is the way life was in Greenwich Village for a struggling musician, as Bob was for about a year after he arrived in NYC. Chronicles I bears a striking resemblance to the songs he wrote and recorded in the very early 60s
    Good luck with your meeting

    • Ron Boothe says:

      Can’t help but be reminded of the old joke 🙂 (often attributed variously to Winston Churchill, George Bernard Shaw, and others)

      A man asks a woman if she would be willing to sleep with him for a million dollars. She says yes. He then offers her two dollars and she slaps his face, saying, ‘What do you think I am?’ He answers, ‘We have already established that. Now we are just haggling over the price.’

  10. Ron Boothe says:

    Another example that when the Tacoma Retired Men’s Bookclub takes on a topic, the entire world follows suit? Read the first paragraph of this article in this morning’s NYT Business section:
    http://nyti.ms/1g2pVLV

  11. Richard Smaby says:

    Here is a fun article I ran across. Linguistics, naturally 🙂
    No great conclusions, but some interesting questions.
    http://journal.oraltradition.org/authors/show/484
    Click on the obvious Dylan link.
    Richard

    • David Gilmour says:

      How interesting that what is “fun,” is an article for linguists, about word usage of a popular figure of musical history, that would appeal to about–oh, I don’t know how many in American culture. It is very interesting too that someone would choose Dylan to study for word counts or usage or for any other syntactical feature. How we move on in research! Linguists used to go to Africa, Papua-New Guinea, or South-Western American Indian regions to discover a particular focus of interest in syntax or alphabetizing problems of language.

      I remember well how I was dissed in 1967, in a course on the elegies of Tibullus, a minor Roman poet, but fascinating stylist of the stages on the way to Ovidian perfection of the elegiac couplet. In presenting a paper topic, I thought of a comparison of Dylan’s “garbage and gold” creativity with the worst to best verses of the Tibullan Corpus of love poems. The professor would have nothing to do with my comparison, wouldn’t consider any usefulness of my effort. I wasn’t crushed. I gave up the concern except with my Classics friends who felt there was definitely something going on with ancient lyrics that connected with folk/rock music of our time. I went on to do statistical studies of metrics, the elegiac and Classical lyrical forms of Latin, and realized I better not mention Dylan or any modern lyricist if I wanted to get through the gantlet of fuddy-duddies for completion of my degrees.

      I’m so happy to see young students or professors can incorporate modern rock lyrics into their studies for notice or advancement in publication, even if they have to depend on other important catalogs of word usage. For sure, it pays to listen to Dylan. Oh Mercy, it’s is a new world and the times are a-changing. — David

  12. Ron Powers says:

    As this article helps to prove, it’s difficult to write about Bob Dylan. Still, writers try to find a way to say something definitive about the cultural icon:

    http://www.esquire.com/features/who-is-this-bob-dylan-interview-0214?click=main_sr

  13. Mohsen Mirghanbari says:

    While out of town but not out of touch, I came across the attach article and found it interesting how people select their choices of heroes, icons, etc. however what I found more interesting was the observer comments and responses and the language used to portray their take of the article. “and no my ears are not prude”
    Like John Lennon, Bob Dylan was a human rights activist first and musician second and among many of his activist fight songs, his song “Hurricane- 1975” represented “Rubin Carter the boxing middle weight world title contender, aka Hurricane” who was falsely accused and arrested of rape, robbery and triple murder by the New Jersey Police in a bar, and tried twice with falsified evidence, ( few years ago a Tru TV documentary suggested that it all began when the boxer denied a Chicago cop a pair of tickets and autograph to one of his fights ) In 1966 Bob Dylan became so inspired with the story that gave news interviews on behalf of the boxer, thus becoming a marked man himself.
    Enjoy the discussion, Mohsen.

    http://listverse.com/2014/03/28/10-total-tyrants-from-the-history-of-rock-n-roll/

  14. Jim Robbins says:

    Question for tomorrow’s book club discussion:” How many roads must a man walk down before you can call him a man?”

  15. Ron Powers says:

    Here’s a serendipitous synchronicity from my day that I’d like to share with you all:
    I can’t throw away a NYer magazine without skimming through it first. It’s an uncontrollable condition.

    Anyway, after the book club discussion I’m trying to clean up piles of magazines in my study and elsewhere here at home this afternoon and I ran across a December 23/30 2013 issue that I had missed reading. On page 109, there’s an ad for a book that reads, “The life story that inspired the Coen Brothers movie Inside Llewyn Davis. A powerful raucous portrait of the 60s folk music scene–told by the man who lived at its beating heart.” The book is “The Mayor of MacDougal Street: A Memoir” by Dave Van Ronk.

    I couldn’t believe it! Here’s what Dylan said in “Chronicles” about the guy:

    “One winter day [Dylan is hanging out at the Folklore Center, on MacDougal Street, in New York City] a big burly guy stepped in off the street. He looked like he’d come from the Russian embassy, shook the snow off his coat sleeves, took off his gloves and put them on the counter, asked to see a Gibson guitar that was hanging up on the brick wall. It was Dave Van Ronk.”

    And this:

    “Dave Van Ronk, he was the one performer I burned to learn particulars from. He was great on records, but in person he was greater…I was greatly influenced by Dave. Later, when I would record my first album, half the cuts on it were renditions of songs that Van Ronk did…Van Ronk’s voice was like rusted shrapnel….”
    As Yogi Berra, another great from that era in New York City once said, “You can observe a lot just by watchin.”

    • Jim Robbins says:

      Tucson Ron, There is a bit of a controversy surrounding Inside Llewyn Davis. Dave Van Ronk’s wife of 11 years, Terri Thal, who was also his manager during the late 50’s and although the 60, wrote a long letter to the Village Voice protesting how so much was misrepresented by the Coen’s in their new movie.

      Some elements of the Minneapolis Jewish community also objected to the way the Coen’s represented their neighborhood in A Serious Man. In this last case I’d have to say no two people are likely to view a community they’ve been a part of in exactly the same way. To slight a truly great movie like A Serious Man on such grounds is a bit of an over sensitive reaction. A node has to be given to exceptional practitioners of American cinema.

      While I am a huge fan of the Coen’s, when it comes to imagining how The Village must have been like when Dylan first arrived I would far rather be swept away by Bob’s memorable descriptions than the filmed mean life of Llewyn Davis. Of course the Coen’s have bigger considerations than being fair to all loosely fit composite characters. What I’m getting around to is that for a smartly felt, beautifully rendered vision of life in the NY subterranean 60’s music scene it’s hard to match the image Bob Dylan gives in this book. It’s a very rare chronicle of a monumental artist as a young man.

      For a subject like this there is so very much to say and so little time.

      Ron, did you know that Dave Van Ronk played free to a small outside venue at Bumbershoot not long before he died?

      Jim

    • David Gilmour says:

      I just sent Ron P. an email to add to the Ronk-ing matter. Some new stuff I’ve added, worn out.

      One of the Christmas albums I played through December had a “rusted shrapnel” Van Ronk cut on it. His voice, like Kristofferson’s, had a lot of gravel and gruff in it. He died not long ago, I think. A picture of him in the 1980s makes him look like Burl Ives. Did you know Dave Van Ronk had a hit record way back when? He ought to have been at Folk Life and not Bumbershoot if he had his roots in mind. In the summer, our club should have a movie fest, watching Inside What’s His Name, and He’s Not Him and Monterey Folk Festival year XXX. Don’t know about you, but I’m Dylan-done now, and I will not be adding to his billions by buying the $$$$ box set. They’s gotta be a limit.

      In Craig Harris’s The New Folk Music book (1991) I had with me here, I spent many days reading up on the old folkies. Van Ronk tried out with Mary Travers and Peter Yarrow but failed to harmonize, so Albert Grossman (that fat cat of Dylan’s early success) brought in Noel Stookey who became the Paul. The book doesn’t feature Dylan as a Folk Artist or even as one connected with Folk, but Van Ronk does mention his hanging out with Dylan and adds that Dylan had a bad impact on the folksong revival: “Before Bobby, everybody I knew was singing folksongs. Afterwards everybody was singing their own stuff.” “Van Ronk reunited with Dylan at a benefit for Chilean political prisoners in May 1974. ‘It was sort of the last gathering of the clan,’ he remembers.” I’d say Kingston Trio, PP&M and lots of the slick Folk groups also helped to put the old gruff and gutsy folk tradition into the shadows. Musical times change. Rock n Roll (of the Caveman style) had its 6-year fling, what came on as Pop Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Blues Rock, etc. had their flings, their moments in the sunny heyday. Rap and Hip-hop as original styles have really passed, now it’s some fusiony pop stuff that’s still surviving. Of course, thanks to the wonder of proliferating recordings and increasing simplicity of recording technology, and the many gadgets to play music, everything is still with us. Listening to The Grateful Dead, I think their music went from psychedelic to folk or folkish, and they kept the Freak Flag flying longer than anyone. Of the types of recording, I think magnetic tape of our era is the most perishable of all. Having listened to some old cassettes here, I will be discarding a good number of them, sadly. My vinyl LPs are holding up beautifully and the turntables, expensive to buy, are light-years better than those of yesteryear.

      • Jim Robbins says:

        David, Down on San Pablo Ave near the San Francisco Bay in Berkeley there was a great folk song place called Freight and Salvage. Dave Van Rolk was a rarity there but Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee were regular performers as was Utah Phillips and Rosalie Sorrels who was living in Ketcham Idaho but on the road a lot. Sonny and Brownie traveled a lot too but their West Coast base was Oakland and when in town you were likely to find them at lunch time down at KC’s BBQ on the Oakland Berkeley border. People like jazzmen Don Cherry and Jim Pepper would also chow down on the burning hot spicy goat ribs at this joint. Rosalie is still alive and kicking although being 80 her kicks aren’t so high. I saw her her at First Night in the Pantages around 5 years ago. She seemed like two generations older than me back in those days at Freight and Salvage and here over 45 years later she doesn’t seem to have aged. Michael, Dick and I all still have old vinyl records of Van Roch and others like Sorrels and Phillips which we passed around and shared yesterday. Dave died in 2002. Born in 1936. Like Rosalie he was already a time tested legend when I was still in college. Hard to believe, looking this over now, that not that many years separated us in age. Their records stand as cherished markers to an almost forgotten past.

        Jim

  16. David Gilmour says:

    My very last Dylan comment is to send the Milton Glaser poster images that was famous in the 1960s. Dylan is a black silhouette profile, his Shylockian nose quite distinctive, but his hair is a rainbow of colors, the fire leaking as an aura from his head, as it does very often with artists and prophets. If you have forgotten, here it is. — David

  17. powersron says:

    If you missed the Grammy Awards, you missed a 33 minute speech by Bob Dylan about his musical career and his life. At 73, he had a lot to say.

    In case you’re curious, a transcript of his speech was made available in the on-line edition of The New York Times. Lots to chew on here.

    http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/02/07/at-grammys-event-bob-dylan-speech-steals-the-show/?_r=0

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