Howard Levine (hll) Sun 22 May 05 16:24
Oliver - for a non-fiction wrtier I really got a kick out of a phrase you used in the "Love Sick" listing. When talking of Victoria's Secret's use of the song in their ads you talk about "an elongated snatch" of the song being used. Nice turn.
David Gans (tnf) Sun 22 May 05 16:39
Oliver Trager (oliver-trager) Sun 22 May 05 19:22
You're right David. Should have phrased my "Fresh Air" remark more carefully. John: Billboard, not FOF, published the Dylan book. Although Billboard did a good job copyediting the book, there wasn't much "New Yorker" style fact-checking. And there are errors. I've even caught a couple. Nothing too major but irritating all the same. Howard, re: "Victoria's Secret." I always suspected I had a dirty mind but until you pointed out my use of the "elongated snatch" phrase, even I didn't realize quite how bad it was.
outside the law and honest (tbessoir) Sun 22 May 05 20:13
One of the things I've enjoyed most is the historical background for songs like "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll," or "Who Killed Davey Moore?" I would have preferred an index. If I had to cut something else instead, it would be the lists of cover versions of Dylan's songs.
Berliner (captward) Mon 23 May 05 01:31
I don't think Billboard does much fact-checking. I just read galleys for a book they're publishing in September that a friend of mine wrote, and there were some egregious errors in there (which I caught in time for them to be corrected).
Oliver Trager (oliver-trager) Mon 23 May 05 06:10
Funny, despite "Who Killed Davey Moore," with its implicit abolition of prize fighting message, Dylan seems o be a bit of fan of the sport. He attended a Felix Trinidad bout not too many years ago. Other entries in my book that tread the same ground of revealing the histories behind the songs that might be of interest: "Stagger Lee," "Jim Jones," "Joey," "Blackjack Davy," "Percy's Song," "Ballad in Plain D," "Peace in the Valley," "Barbara Allen." Those are just a few off the top of my head that get into some of the deeper stuff. Much of the impetus/inspiration for doing both this and Dead book came from an experience I had at a Dead show in the '80s. Weir did Robert Johnson's "Walkin' Blues." One Deadhead commented to another that this was "Bobby's new song" said as if it were a Weir composition. Knowing that it was Bobby Johnson's really old song kind of got my dander up. It seemed like that there had been a kind of loss of learning, that the library in Alexandria was burning buthardly anyone was smelling the smoke. I began thinking that a book that set the musicological record straight was necessary. I think this less true in re: Dylan and his canon. But as the audiences get younger, the distance between now and the past (be it the '60s or traditions of old English balladry) is getting larger. Do the names Emmett Till, Medgar Evers or James Meredith mean much to the teenage and twenty-somethings discovering Bob Dylan or attending his shows? This is not meant as a criticism to them but I thought a book like this might make some of that history a bit more accessible.
David Gans (tnf) Mon 23 May 05 11:28
I hear ya, man. I have the same issue with the people who listen to the Grateful Dead Hour. "Hey, guess what? That's COUNTRY MUSIC! Now go listen to some more Merle Haggard!" I was listening to a Firesign Theatre album the other night and mused that it owuld be really interesting to see a fully-annotated transcript, showing all the literary and popcult references, of which there are zillions. Dylan, Hunter-Garcia, the Firesign Theater, and other great creative artists of that era are great lenses through which to view what came before.
J Matisse Enzer (matisse) Mon 23 May 05 11:38
Like the Torah: The Text surrounded by Commentary surrounded by Commentary on the Commentary
Vote or whine (divinea) Mon 23 May 05 11:40
They're not bad lenses for looking at what came after, either.
David Gans (tnf) Mon 23 May 05 11:55
Roots and branches, for sure.
Dan Mitchell (mitchell) Mon 23 May 05 12:08
Dylan's a big boxing fan, and he boxes himself. Didn't own a gym in Santa Monica? And I remember hearing a story where he actually boxed Penelope Cruz during the filming of Masked and Anonymous (I believe it was her). I can easily imagine his going through a period of being anti-boxing in his youth, then becoming a fan later. (just the opposite of me). And let's not forget Hurricane, of course. As for people not knowing the real roots of the music they love, that's just how a lot of people are. I needed no prompting as a teenager for my love of the Yardbirds to turn me into a huge blues afficionado. And later, Dylan led me into all kinds hillbilly music, and lots more, and he still does.
Low and popular (rik) Mon 23 May 05 12:14
Dylan is now roots, himself. I was watching footage of Springsteen on his current tour and was amazed at how much Dylan I was seeing. And it wasn't Guthrie and Elliott, Dylan's biggest early roots. They're mine, too, and I know them well. It was Dylan.
Dan Mitchell (mitchell) Mon 23 May 05 12:54
The irony: during the Street Legal era, Dylan was accused of imitating Springsteen, presumably because of the horns. His response: "I don't imitate anyone under 50." He later broke the rule for "Tweeter and the Monkey Man," of course.
David Gans (tnf) Mon 23 May 05 13:04
That was more of a parody than an imitation, tho. Loved it!
Gary Lambert (almanac) Mon 23 May 05 13:13
<scribbled by almanac Mon 23 May 05 13:14>
Gary Lambert (almanac) Mon 23 May 05 13:15
Well, musically, it didn't work all that well as parody, IMO -- the references to New Jersey and the invocation of lines and images from Bruce songs aside, it still sounded and scanned more like a Dylan tune of that period than anything by Springsteen. I found it very enjoyable and amusing, but not a really effective parody.
Dan Mitchell (mitchell) Mon 23 May 05 13:24
Well, fair enough. But, while I don't think it was meant as just a simple, straight-ahead parody (like, say, Paul Simon's send-up of Dylan, "A Simple Desultory Philipic"), it was more a parody than anything else. I think both the music and lyrics could easily have been done by Springsteen -- and the lyrice especially were quite obviously parodic. But I don't think Dylan is capable of doing anything that doesn't in some way sound very much like a Dylan song. And Dylan doesn't often do anything that can be simply labeled.
Darrell Jonsson (jonsson) Tue 24 May 05 01:50
Do you mention "Tarantula" in your book? I found that thin tome great fun. Why did so many think of it as a dog?
Oliver Trager (oliver-trager) Tue 24 May 05 03:05
I think of "Tweeter & the MM" more as an homage than a parody or immitation. Real cinematic. And yes, there is a "Tarantula" entry in the book. If read like an extended--real extended--sample of what he was doing in his mid-60s liner notes (I'm thinking of "Bringing It All Back Home" and "Highway 61,") they fit right in with hos oevre du jour. There are some funny, loopy wig bubbles floating through that slender tome. Not ever really my cup of tea, though. Why it was trashed so frequently and vehemently? Maybe the critics were expecting "Chronicles" 30 years ahead of schedule.
No hablo Greenspaņol (sd) Tue 24 May 05 07:14
yea, verily wig bubbles a plenty cats and kittens
Dan Mitchell (mitchell) Tue 24 May 05 10:22
Your short item on "Don't Fall Apart on Me Tonight" is delish, especially the description of Dylan as lecher. But how is the song sexist, particularly? Certainly it's less so than "Is your Love in Vain," or "Sweetheart Like You" --the sexism in those is quaint at worst, but more apparent than in "Don't Fall." Also, I kinda like the song, and would rather that Joey were sacrificed in favor of Blind Willie.
Oliver Trager (oliver-trager) Tue 24 May 05 17:48
First off: Happy Birthday Bob! Many more. Those are some weird songs to throw into the mix. The lech comment really has more to do, in my mind, with the character in the song -- not necessarily the songwriter himself. Re: the sexism in the song. I think I say its chauvinist which may be a bit different and maybe not correct either. As I review the lyrics, I feel that the song is sing from somebody both needy and selfish. Like, "how dare you're having a hard time when I'm the one having a hard time." I often found that giving life to the entries for songs like these particularly difficult. There's not a lot of there there. Ironic how much easier dealing with the "big" songs were ("Desolation Row," "Visions of Johanna," "Baby Blue," "Tangled," etc.) than the fairly mediocre, sometimes forgettable fare. That said, I think there's more going on "Sweetheart Like You" than might initially meet the eye/ear. And I devote a fair amount of ink to the song in the book. That whole "you must have done evil deed" middle section casts it in a darker, far more devious light. Where, exactly, is this song taking place? A brothel? A prison? Hell? The stakes seem pretty high, no?
Life Is Easy When Considered From Another Point Of View (dam) Tue 24 May 05 18:21
I got a kick out of reading all the one shots that he did and when they were done. Makes me want to pull out my NET Covers Collection.
Dan Mitchell (mitchell) Tue 24 May 05 18:34
Oh, Sweetheart is the better song, by far. I just happened to be listening to "Don't Fall Apart," so I looked it up. You do indeed say "chauvinism"
Oliver Trager (oliver-trager) Wed 25 May 05 02:05
All those one-off were a trip to track down, research and write about. Definitely added spice and intrigue to the NET. And that multi-CD covers collection of which you speak is great -- a valuable resource for me in writing "Keys." In many ways, Dylan's choice of cover material through the years is a good indication of where his passions and interests lie. This is where I see an almost Homeric quality to the man. In the same way that the ancient troubadors wandered the land singing the epics and myths. But instead of singing of the wrath of Achilles or Odysseus' journey home, Dylan gives us "Stagger Lee," "Ring of Fire," "Pretty Boy Floyd," "Delia" and the like. Its amazing how many songs Dylan has covered.
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