I was really delighted a few days ago to receive an email from one Bob Cohen with the text of his article below attached. Bob Cohen is presently the Cantor at Temple Emanuel in Kingston, New York. Back in the early 1960s, he was one of the New World Singers (more on them here), along with Gil Turner, Happy Traum and Delores Dixon. They were close associates in Greenwich Village with a young singer named Bob Dylan, as he himself also recounts in his memoir, “Chronicles.” Dylan ultimately wrote liner notes for an album that the New World Singers recorded, in which he pays tribute to each of his friends, saying this about Cohen:
“Bob Cohen”‘s quiet – I first seen him at a City College folksong hall an’ thought he was some sort of a Spanish gypsy by the way he wore his sideburns an’ moustache an’ eyebrows – but he didn’t talk so I couldn’t tell – I must a sat an hour next to him waitin’ to hear some gypsy language – he never said a word – he laughed a few times but all folks no matter what race laughs in the same tongue – I seen him sing later that night an’ it didn’t bother my thoughts no more as to if he was gypsy or gigolo – he tol’ me more about my new world in that ten minutes time than the pop radio station did all that week
What Bob Cohen writes speaks for itself, and I’m grateful to be able to reproduce it here. I think it stands both as an affectionate first-person remembrance of a remarkable moment of history and also as a wise reflection on what is so special and powerful about Dylan’s songwriting.
HOW BLOWIN’ IN THE WIND CAME TO BE by Bob Cohen
Here is how Bob Dylan came to write “Blowin’ In the Wind” which he now says, as quoted in various articles, he wrote in 10 minutes and came out of the melody of “No More Auction Block For Me” described as a spiritual that he thinks he may have heard on a Carter Family record. (see the New Republic article by David Yaffe.) That was much more than he said on the CBS-60 Minute Ed Bradley interview, where it came down to the song coming out of the wellsprings of his creativity. To paraphrase Walter Cronkite: I was there.
Dylan had blown into NYC in the early 1960s and hung out at Gerde’s Folk City in Greenwich Village. Gerdes was a long room – on one side was a bar and a cash register – then a half wall and on the other side, some round tables, chairs, and a very small stage with a microphone. We, the New World Singers, a group that some thought might one day inherit the mantle of the Weavers, were at that time myself, Gil Turner, Delores Dixon and Happy Traum. Delores was a black woman, a New York City school teacher who had a deep alto voice.
In our set at Gerde’s Folk City, Delores would step forward in the middle of the set and sing solo “No More Auction Block For Me” – a very moving song of freedom written during slavery times, insisting “no more, no more” and sadly reflecting on the “many thousands gone.” She sang it with spirit and determination. Alan Lomax, calling it “Many Thousands Gone” writes: “This is one of the spirituals of resistance (W.E.B. Dubois called them ‘Sorrow Songs’), whose ante-bellum origin has been authenticated. Runaway slaves who fled as far north as Nova Scotia, after Britain abolished slavery in 1833, transmitted it to their descendants, and it is still in circulation there. At the time of the Civil War an abolitionist took it down from Negro Union soldiers.” (p. 450, Lomax, Alan – Folksongs of North America, Doubleday, 1960).
Dylan liked our group. In his recent memoir: “Chronicles Vol. I” he writes: “…with my sort of part-time girl-friend, Delores Dixon, the girl singer from The New World Singers, a group I was pretty close with. Delores was from Alabama, an ex-reporter and an ex-dancer.” – p. 64) – and then when I met Delores about ten years later, she remarked that Dylan had gone home with her one night and the next morning he was working on “Blowin’ in the Wind” and she said to him: “Bobby, you just can’t do that” (take the melody of that traditional song and write new words to it – it’s a scene similar to the scene in the Ray Charles bio pix when Ray’s new wife tells Ray that he just can’t take an old Gospel song she sang in her group and make it into a love song.) Both Bob and Ray preceded anon.
So one day soon after that, Dylan says to us: “Hey, I got this new song” and we go down to the basement at Gerdes (filled with rats, roaches and other folkies) and he sings his new song: “Blowin’ In the Wind”which was based on the melody of “No More Auction Block”. In those days we spoke of “borrowing” tunes, something Pete Seeger called “the folk process”. Woody Guthrie and Joe Hill and even J.S.Bach had done it. We thought it was great and started to sing it. We would bring Dylan up on that postage stamp of a stage to sing it along with us. It seemed to me then as it does now that his re-working or recreation of that spiritual carried on its original message and was in itself a song of resistance to all the injustice in the world. We would go on to sing it in Mississippi in 1963-64 where it became a civil-rights anthem.
During our sets at Gerdes, Dylan would sit at the bar drinking wine that we often bought for him. He listened to us night after night. After about a year when we made an album for Ahmet Ertegun, head of Atlantic records and son of a Turkish diplomat, (Ahmet loved the blues and he is wonderfully portrayed in the recent film “Ray”), Dylan would write the liner notes for our album much in the same style he uses in his new book, “Chronicles”, writing generously about each of us. Ironically, when we sang “Blowin’ In The Wind” for Ahmet Ertegun he said that if we could change the lyrics to make it a love song then he would include it on our album! But we were too far into the essence of that song to change it, singing it at college rallies to raise money for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and its voter registration work in the South.
When Moe Asch (Folkways) decided to release an album of topical songs on Broadside Records (Broadside, the topical song magazine that first printed many of Dylan’s songs along with others) we were asked to sing “Blowin’ In the Wind” and we did – making it the first recording of that song, even before Bob did it on Columbia Records. Delores insisted on singing the chorus as “The answer my friend is blown in the wind” and we couldn’t talk her out of it – so that’s what you hear. I think she thought that “Blowin’” was improper English usage. It reminds me of a funny story about the lyricist, Jack Yellen, who wrote the words for the song “Ain’t She Sweet” on which he made a bundle, going back to his high school reunion and being scolded by his English teacher: “And I thought I taught you that ‘ain’t’ is bad grammar!”
Smithsonian-Folkways released our recording of the Dylan song as part of a 5- CD set “The Best of Broadside” which got two Grammy nominations (in 2000) for best notes and production, but we lost to Louis Armstrong and John Coltrane respectively. I read recently that it actually won two Indie awards.
I always believed that “Blowin’ In the Wind” reflected Dylan’s Judaic heritage. Jews are well-known to always answer a question with a question. The story goes of a Jewish fellow and a non-Jewish fellow walking down the street, and the non-Jew says to the Jew, “How come you guys always answer a question with a question” and the Jew replies: “So what’s wrong with that?!” So here is Dylan asking some very important basic questions about human society – “How many roads must a man walk down before you can call him a man?” and the questions themselves imply the answers. In that particular question one can hear resonating, a line from a Yiddish folk song based on a poem by David Edelstadt: “Vakht Oyf!” (“Awake!”) that asks “How long will you remain slaves and wear degrading chains?” and Dylan’s questions all reflected that yearning for justice and for peace. That the answers are blowing or blown in the wind.
When Ed Bradley asked what Dylan meant when he talked about his agreement with the Commander-in-Chief (trying to explain his use of the word “destiny”) – Bradley wondered aloud whether he was talking about a Commander on earth – and Dylan answered – yes both on earth and somewhere beyond. This is what I call “God talk” or “Godspeak” – the way one talks if one has even the vaguest concept of a force beyond what we can experience with our five senses. It is, of course, in Dylan’s very own style, his very unique vernacular, but it acknowledges God, and is God inspired nevertheless.
Dylan still seems to have “issues” with his parents, but like all of us with the same issues, he has imbibed more from them than he realizes or is willing to admit. He may have traded in Hibbing for New York City, but the ethics, outrage at injustice, love of language and metaphor came out of the religion and culture called Judaism which on many levels incorporates us all. In a recent interview in Newsweek (10/4/04) Dylan is quoted as saying: “The difference between me now and then (back in Hibbing, Minn. as a youngster) is that back then, I could see visions. The me now can dream dreams.” This is a very close paraphrase of the Hebrew prophet, Joel who said “Your old men shall dream dreams, And your young men shall see visions.” (Joel 3:1)
Dylan knows there is little profit in being a prophet, but the force of his words expressing his thoughts and his heart carry much the same message of those who went before.
Bob Cohen is the cantorial soloist and music director at Temple Emanuel in Kingston, New York, and Chair of the Ulster County Religious Council, an interfaith organization. He will be giving a guest lecture at NYU’s class on Bob Dylan this spring.
And he has a website of his own at CantorBob.com.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Snow storms in China strand tens of millions of people; 200,000 at one train station, and it’s only expected to get worse in the coming days.
Meanwhile, the global campaign to make the world colder goes on.
One thing is undeniable to me after yesterday’s Florida primary results: I’m not going to be enthusiastic about the next president of the United States. He or she will either be one of the lessers or one of the greaters of the various evils who have made it this far in the process. (Not that they are all of inherently evil character through and through; only some.)
Had I voted in Florida yesterday, I’m virtually certain I would have voted for Rudy. There’s a lot of reasons for this, and all of them are quite moot now. It also wouldn’t have changed the result.
In evaluating the Republican candidates on December 12th (seems like a couple of lifetimes ago now, and politically speaking, it is), I wrote this about John McCain, who at that time was quite weak in the polls but perhaps coming on some in New Hampshire:
I said he was out long before he was out. He remains out. However, if things get badly shaken up amongst the leaders, and Fred is not seen as the solid alternative, McCain could, in theory, pick up those looking for someone who is something of a known and proven quantity. His views on the war in Iraq have proven to be farsighted and principled, and he deserves credit for that and for other things, although I distrust him on much else.
The leaders at that point were Romney, Huckabee and, to an extent, Giuliani. None of them fit the model of what the average conservative voter was looking for to lead the Republican party, for a variety of reasons that need not be belabored now. Fred Thompson looked good on paper, but — oddly for a star of the silver screen — he never tangibly convinced enough people that he was sufficiently energetic and serious about leading the country. So, although McCain is known as an unreliable conservative, he has picked up the votes of those who feel that the devil they know is better than the ideologically incomprehensible Mormon/New Yorker/Baptist preacher with whom they have only lately become really acquainted.
So we head to Super-Duper-Tuesday next week. It seems impossible to see a path to success for Romney, with Huckabee staying in the race. If Huckabee got out, Romney would at least have a Hail Mary’s chance of picking up enough social conservatives to compete. (And, almost needless to say, it seems impossible to see a path to success for Huckabee either.)
When McCain is the Republican nominee, something funny is going to happen, as has also been predicted by others. Those in the media who have always held him up as a lovable maverick are going to look at him with new eyes, now that he is the standard-bearer of the Republican party and the man who might be a strong-on-defense and at least moderately pro-life president. Be ready for a persistent drumbeat about his age and his temperament. By the time November comes, he may even be dead in the water, painted effectively as a a crazy, angry old man on steroids, and this by the same media establishment that has lavished fawning attention on him in the past.
The Democrats also have their troubles, of-course. In terms of just wanting a Republican — any Republican — to win, the best hope is that Hillary Clinton will emerge as a wounded Democratic nominee, having alienated and crushed the fervor of a considerable portion of her base. This is, effectively, what has been happening in the past few weeks. She remains well on track to win the nomination, leading the polls going into Tuesday’s semi-national primary. However, if a big shift in the polls towards Obama is perceived by the Clinton camp, expect even heavier negative attacks against him, including probably some scandalous dirt that will be supplied through surrogates. Hillary simply will not lose this for want of using everything she’s got — both barrels. However, if the polls keep looking good for her, she would prefer not to risk the backlash, and just ride it out with a smile on her face. Her husband — for all the criticism of him in the media — has already done his job in emphasizing to the Democratic party nominating electorate that, hey, this Obama is a black guy. I suspect that a lot of white and Hispanic Democrats will vote against him on the basis that “America is not ready to vote for a black president,” while easily excusing themselves for not, in fact, being ready. We shall see. I think the Democrats would do their party a world of good by putting the Clintons behind them. I think Obama is not hampered by the built-in negatives that Hillary has, and would be tougher for the aged McCain to match up against.
Of-course, I disagree with Obama’s prescriptions for America’s future at least to the same extent that I disagree with Hillary’s. It’s why as of today I’m looking forward — barring upset in the next 6 days — to making a sour face and pulling the lever for one Senator McCain in November. The Republican party, having chosen such a standard-bearer, will then have to figure out a way to fix itself, and this will likely come initially through a conservative congressional insurgency of some kind. McCain’s choice for Vice President also looms extremely large. Will he pick someone conservatives can genuinely look forward to nominating in 2012, or will McCain be, instead, a, er, maverick, and pick someone who sticks in the craw of the base?
Ugh. It’s rough out there.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Sunday, January 27, 2008
From Eugene, Oregon in 2002, here’s a clip of Bob and the boys doing a Bill Monroe song (also performed by the Stanley Brothers), Voice From On High.
The phrase that constitutes the title of that song also appears in Bob Dylan’s Maybe Someday, from Knocked Out Loaded — a song that seems to some degree like a throwaway (on an album that appears to have more than its share), but one I at least have always found fun and irresistible.
Maybe someday you’ll hear a voice from on high
Sayin’ “For whose sake did you live, for whose sake did you die?”
Forgive me, baby, for what I didn’t do
For not breakin’ down no bedroom door to get at you.
That’s also one of the songs in his catalog that Bob has never sung live, at least as far as I and His Bobness Info know. It seems a good bet that it’s one of those which remain that way forever, along with, oh, All The Tired Horses and Three Angels.
Addendum: Richard comments:
That’s an absolutely chilling clip. It’s a great example of what Greil Marcus calls “that old, weird America,” and it sounds like Dylan and the boys are summoning the spirits from some dark holler where that old, spooky Christianity is practiced. Sometimes Dylan channels forces that are so … beyond.
- And the Grammy nominations are
- Someday Baby (Satan is Real)
- The Stanley Brothers and Rank Strangers To Me
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
In a look back at his forty years working in the music biz, Simon Napier-Bell remembers just happening to be in the room when Dick Katz of CBS told Bob Dylan where he could stick his gospel songs. Grain of salt? From Britain’s Observer:
I finally got a meeting with [Dick Katz] but had no sooner arrived in his office than the buzzer sounded and his secretary’s voice said: ‘Bob Dylan on line one.’
‘Can I call him back?’ Dick asked.
‘No. He says he wants to talk to you now.’
Dick was about to have a conversation he didn’t want. Eighteen months previously there had been publicity about Jewish-born Dylan becoming a born-again Christian. He’d made a couple of albums full of evangelical zeal but they’d bombed. Now his contract had come up for renewal. Dick especially didn’t want to have this conversation in front of me. He took the call anyway.
To begin with, it wasn’t too interesting but then Dick yelled, ‘I’ve told you, Bob – no fucking religion! If you can’t agree to that, the deal’s off …’
Bob was arguing the point but Dick was having none of it. ‘Look, I’m telling you. There’ll be no fucking religion – not Christian, not Jewish, not Muslim. Nothing. For God’s sake, man – you were born Jewish, which makes your religion money, doesn’t it? So stick with it, for Christ’s sake. I’m giving you 20 million bucks – it’s like baptising you, like sending you to heaven. So what are you fucking moaning about? You want 20 million bucks from us? Well, you gotta do what we tell you. And what we’re telling you is … No Torah! No Bible! No Koran! No Jesus! No God! No Allah! No fucking religion. It’s going in the contract.’
As a devout atheist, I could hardly object, though it seemed tough that a contract should include such specific restrictions. When we finally got back to the subject of my group Dick had rather lost interest.
A lot of what Napier-Bell says about the music industry in this piece is fascinating and no doubt right on the mark. He’s written books about his experiences in the biz before, and I can only guess this is a prelude to another one. But, you know, you certainly need to have some color in the stories to keep people’s attention. Is all I’m saying.
Heath Ledger is dead at 28, in case you live in a remote nook in the Himalayas and the only website your wind-up laptop can tune into is this one. He played the “Robbie” character in Todd Haynes’ unconventional-Bob-Dylan-biopic, “I’m Not There.” That was the character who spent a lot of time wrangling with his wife. I can’t say I know anything about Ledger. His death is sad, like any premature death. There’s a recent interview with him on YouTube, which was linked on the Dylan site Expecting Rain this morning. In it he describes how he was not particularly familiar with Dylan’s work until he did this film. He was putting it off, as something to be delved into later in life. I wonder what else he was putting off. We all have those things, both the trivial and the deadly serious things, that we put off for some more opportune time. What’s that quote from Jack Fate near the end of that other cinema classic, “Masked and Anonymous”? All about how you spend your life killing time, but in the end time kills you. Not such an original thought, but one worth being reminded of frequently. And a successful young actor’s death in his Soho apartment is such a reminder, I suppose.
Crass segue or not, another Australian star who starred in “I’m Not There” is Cate Blanchett, and this is as good a time as any to note that she has been nominated for an Oscar for her performance as “Jude,” a character based on the 1965/66 image of Bob Dylan. She already was awarded a Golden Globe award for that turn at acting, of-course, although there was no hoopla and acceptance speech to witness due to the current TV writers’ strike in the United States. Everyone is struck by her performance in that film, and rightly so, although I can’t help wondering whether people would consider it really at the Oscar-worthy level if she were not a woman. Or, conversely, if Dylan were not a man. You know what I mean. It was Haynes’ idea to have a woman play one of the Dylans . (Remember when Oprah Winfrey was being considered for the role? I do.) An actress actually had to pull it off, of-course, and Blanchett does that remarkably. But I felt warmer, while actually watching the film, towards the performances of Marcus Carl Franklin (as the young “Woody” character) and, frankly, Richard Gere’s “Billy.” There wasn’t any, well, aping of Dylan going on in those performances, and I found the roles more appealing and interesting. But what do I know?
The other day I mentioned the compilation of live TV performances being released in Britain, “Re-Transmissions,” and was curious as to why it was said to be only an audio CD release rather than a DVD release. Well, in fact, it is being released as a three DVD set, called “Live Transmissions.,” for what it’s worth.
Monday, January 21, 2008
There’s a piece by Paul J. Cella at Redstate called “The irony of Bob Dylan.” It’s largely a reaction to a review of Chronicles written by Jim Kunstler. I guess it comes as a surprise to me that it is still a surprise to some that Dylan, in Chronicles, names Barry Goldwater (R-Az) as his “favorite politician” around the period of 1961/62. But then it shouldn’t surprise me: it didn’t get the kind of attention it warranted in most of the reviews and publicity surrounding that memoir, probably because a whole lot of people didn’t know what the hell to make of it.
Anyway, towards the end of his piece, Cella says the following:
Given that the counterculture of the Sixties, which tried to set up Dylan as its spokesman or poet-laureate, has conquered and is even now solidifying its preeminence in our society, there is a special and marvelous irony to note.
All the sneering revolt that churns through the great anthems of Dylan’s best work, “Like a Rolling Stone” being perhaps the most well-known exemplar; all the defiance, the fury of impudence; all the challenge thrown vaguely at some contemptible oppressor –
You used to be so amused
At Napoleon in rags and the language that he used
Go to him now, he calls you, you can’t refuse
When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose
You’re invisible now, you got no secrets to conceal.
How does it feel?
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?
– all this may be justly hurled with equal passion against the generation, now leading our country toward ruin, which wanted it as its slogan, and which unjustly hurled it against the basically sound social order preceding it.
And Bob Dylan himself may have even meant it that way.
Well, it might be tempting to hear the song as put-down of the then-emerging 60s generation, and you could probably take that interpretation a long way if you wanted to. But I personally would resist that temptation. I think the song works most profoundly as, ultimately, a reflection on the singer’s self. And this particular singer did happen to be breaking out and breaking through on an artistic level at the time that had to be both terrifying and exhilarating — two emotions that balance each other exquisitely in the song, I think. Of-course the song doesn’t have be nailed down, and maybe a lot of its power comes from the fact that it can’t be. I do think, though, that it is very often fruitful to look at songs where Dylan appears to be criticizing and taking apart someone other as potentially being reflections on the self instead. I find it difficult to hear, for example, Just Like A Woman or Sweetheart Like You other than in this way. (And I don’t care what Todd Haynes might want to make out of that.)
So, Fred Thompson, squandering his early high poll numbers and even an invaluable endorsement from RWB, appears to be out of the race for the Republican nomination for president, after failing to exceed expectations in South Carolina. He could hang around, but it seems like he’s the last candidate who would be inclined to overstay his welcome. This provides a dilemma for the editorial board around here, i.e.: to whom to award the obviously potent endorsement of this website? We’re not ready to answer that. But the endorsement won’t go to the current candidate of momentum — at least as the mainstream media defines it — John McCain. Although we think he would likely be hard-nosed and wise on issues of defense and foreign policy, there is little else we would trust him on. McCain is benefiting from the split field, and from a sense of “the devil you know” being better than the somewhat half-baked conservative you don’t know. We also think that if he does manage to grab the nomination, it will be somewhat of a Bob Dole in 1996 type of situation; the guy has wanted it for so long, he just won’t go away, so let’s give it to him. The difference is that Bob Dole was quite a bit more of a conservative than McCain. But like Dole, we also think that McCain would fail to win in November.
Well, time to head back into the smoky boardroom on the 32nd floor where we make these kinds of important decisions. (Is that Mitt on the phone again?? Tell him it’s a holiday for Pete’s sake!)
Addendum: The opinion below at expressed at IMAO seems to me to be pithy and on the mark, and perhaps one that FDT ought to consider as an epitaph:
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like Fred Thompson (other than trolls, whose opinions never count), and the reason I’ve seen Republican primary voters give for not voting for Fred Thompson is that he didn’t come to their state and do a silly little monkey dance to prove how much he wanted to be president. This makes these people too dumb to live.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
The actress Scarlett Johansson is reportedly joining a USO tour and going to entertain troops in the Gulf region. Good for her. And it’s a fin excuse to again watch that beautiful video she starred in for what is one of Bob Dylan’s latter day masterpieces: When The Deal Goes Down.
We eat and we drink, we feel and we think
Far down the street we stray
I laugh and I cry and I’m haunted by
Things I never meant nor wished to say
The midnight rain follows the train
We all wear the same thorny crown
Soul to soul, our shadows roll
And I’ll be with you when the deal goes down
- A Happy Glow
- Another review of Bob Dylan’s Tell Tale Signs: The Bootleg Series Volume 8
- Themes, Dreams and Schemes
In Nuremberg, Germany, on September 16th, 1987, Dylan sang a song with a line about the Fuhrer (click here for clip). That song was Man of Peace.
So, I guess this isn’t the usual attempt at an uplifting Sunday post, but then you gotta take the crunchy with the smooth.
He got a sweet gift of gab, he got a harmonious tongue,
He knows every song of love that ever has been sung.
Good intentions can be evil,
Both hands can be full of grease.
You know that sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace.
I think the song stands up pretty darned well, whether it’s heard as an eschatological type of vision or just as a reflection on human nature.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
There are rumors, notably reported on this Spanish website, that Bob Dylan is currently recording a new album with producer Rick Rubin. There are actually people who have fun making up these kinds of things, so I have no idea if it’s true or not. On one level it wouldn’t surprise me that Bob were recording again so relatively soon after Modern Times. The way that album entered the charts at number one in the U.S. and many other countries had to be an exhilarating boost for the artist, not to mention his record company. I think everyone would be very pleased to see Bob get off his schedule of one album every four to five years. After all, tempest fugit and all that.
Not a rumor, apparently, is what’s being billed as a “new Bob Dylan live album,” to be released only in Britain, on March 3rd, and featuring only performances from Dylan that were broadcast on television, such as his “Saturday Night Live” appearances. Interesting, but not exactly the kind of live set that many of his fans are holding out hope for. The fact that it’s only being released in Britain, and apparently not by Columbia but by a label called “Storming Music,” makes one think some kind of gray area is being exploited in terms of the right to reproduce and sell such recordings. And wouldn’t this make a lot more sense as a DVD rather than a CD? Fishy, but there you go.
Also more than a rumor is the 50 track, 2 CD compilation of songs played on Dylan’s “Theme Time Radio Hour” show, which is being released by Ace Records in March.
The compilation represents the vast range of music played on the show, with a song list spanning ‘Papa’s On The Housetop’ by Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell recorded in 1930 to Mary Gauthier’s ‘I Drink’ recorded in 2005. Artists as diverse as The White Stripes, Grandpa Jones, Jerry Butler, The Clash, Memphis Minnie, Bobby Darin, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, The Modern Lovers, Billie Holiday, George Jones, Bo Diddley, Alton Ellis, Louis Jordan, Santiago Jimenez, James Carr, Gerraint Watkins, Slim Gaillard, Otis Rush and many others sit happily side by side on this highly eclectic collection.
The package, designed by Phil Smee at Waldo’s Design and Dream Emporium, includes a fully illustrated 40-page book packed full of rare photographs and memorabilia alongside detailed notes on each track, by experts in each genre.
Daniel Lanois is interviewed at Spinner.com, and when asked who are the people he’s learned the most from, he answers:
I’ve sat next to Bob Dylan for a good many months and I’ve watched him hone in on his lyrics. And I watched Bob be quite guarded with his great couplets. And they exist in one song, but if that does not make the finish line he’ll take the good couplet and put it in another song. That was intriguing to me because we are conditioned to believe that songwriters sit down and write a song about a particular subject matter written from a certain angle. But it was nice to see that Bob would deal with the lyrics the same way that I deal with my sonics. I’ll hit on a sound that I think is very special and it will sit in the sonic orphanage, if you like, until it one day it finds a home.
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