March 6: Furry Lewis Birthday

furry lewis

Good Morning, Judge.
What will be my fine?
Good Morning, Judge.
What will be my fine?
He said I’m glad I got to see you,
That’ll be a dollar forty-nine.

They arrested me for forgery, I can’t even sign my name
(Judge Harsh Blues)

Furry Lewis was the only blues singer of the 1920s to achieve major media attention in the ’60s and ’70s. One of the most recorded Memphis-based guitarists of the late ’20s, Lewis’ subsequent fame 40 years later was based largely on the strength of those early sides. One of the very best blues storytellers, and an extremely nimble-fingered guitarist into his seventies, he was equally adept at blues and ragtime, and made the most out of an understated, rather than an overtly flamboyant style.
~Bruce Eder (allmusic.com)

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13 great Americana versions of Bob Dylan songs

Dylan_Bob_280_1973.jpg

13 great Americana versions of Bob Dylan songs

Americana is an amalgam of roots music formed by the confluence of the shared and varied traditions that make up the American musical ethos; specifically those sounds that are merged from folk, country, blues, rhythm and blues, rock and roll and other external influences. Americana, as defined by the Americana Music Association (AMA), is “contemporary music that incorporates elements of various American roots music styles, including country, roots-rock, folk, bluegrass, R&B and blues, resulting in a distinctive roots-oriented sound that lives in a world apart from the pure forms of the genres upon which it may draw. While acoustic instruments are often present and vital, Americana also often uses a full electric band.”

A while ago I did a post on my top 10 country versions of Bob Dylan songs (soon to be updated), since then I’ve been made aware of a lot more songs from people who read the original post. Then most of my pickings where of classic country leaning on outlaw country, in this post I will concentrate on the new generation of country/ alt. country.

Dylan Outlaw Cowboy

Here are 13 favourite Bob Dylan songs performed by Americana artists. Lets start with a great live version:

Bobby Long & John Fullbright – It’s Not Dark Yet:

What a wonderful sound and such a great performance. These guys are just so good!

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March 5: Steve Earle – Guitar Town (1986)

steve earle guitar town

The first two things I wrote were Guitar Town and Down the Road, because I was looking for an opening and an ending.  So I wrote ‘em like bookends, and then filled in the spaces in the middle.  And the album’s kind of about me.  It’s kind of personal.
~Steve Earle (to Alanna Nash – May 1986)

Guitar Town was his first shot at showing a major audience what he could do, and he hit a bull’s-eye — it’s perhaps the strongest and most confident debut album any country act released in the 1980s.
~Mark Deming (allmusic)

Guitar Town:

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Bob Dylan’s best songs: Tombstone Blues

bob dylan tombstone blues

Now I wish I could write you a melody so plain
That could hold you dear lady from going insane
That could ease you and cool you and cease the pain
Of your useless and pointless knowledge

Mama’s in the fact’ry
She ain’t got no shoes
Daddy’s in the alley
He’s lookin’ for the fuse
I’m in the streets
With the tombstone blues

The Vietnam War was one of the things going through Dylan’s mind when he wrote/sang “Tombstone Blues” (” … fattens the slaves/then sends them out to the jungle”), but one would be hard put to claim the song is about the war. The influence of Depression-era songs like “Wandering” (“Daddy is an engineer/Brother drives a hack/Sister takes in washing/And the baby balls the jack”) can also be spotted, but shall we then say it’s a song about the “new Depression”?
~Paul Williams (Bob Dylan Performing Artist I: The Early Years 1960-1973)

… the star of this show is [Mike] Bloomfield, whose between-verse solos build from heated to blistering, jackrabbiting helter-skelter over the fretboard, anticipating and pointing the way to Alvin Lee, Johnny Winter, and any other late-sixties guitarist who took blues riffs and fed them uppers. It is practically the only time on the album that he’ll get to shine like this. [..] Bloomfield uses his axe like a flamethrower, spewing liquid fire over the space between the vocals, he and Dylan marauding the tune like twin Gypsy Davies burning out the camps, leaving only scorched earth. Take him away and the song remains lyrically strong but musically weakened, its engine a few cylinders short.
~Mark Polizzotti (Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited (33 1/3))

 

Grooveshark:
Tombstone Blues by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

Spotify:

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My favourite Bob Dylan bootleg 1995: Prague 3 nights in March

InPrague_Cover

My favourite Bob Dylan bootleg 1995: Prague 3 nights in March

“Anyone who has watched a sunrise over the ancient city of Prague will feel they have visited a city of magic & wonder. Anyone who has heard Dylan’s performance on the 11th will have felt a similar sense of awe”
~Andrew Muir (One More Night: Bob Dylan’s Never Ending Tour)

The first leg of the Europe 1995 tour picks up the NET after the MTV Unplugged sessions in November, 1994 and a three-month break from performing live. Dylan played two months in Europe in 95. He began with three shows in Prague and ended on April 11 in Dublin. Dylan returned for a second leg with a month in Europe in the summer of 1995.

Right before the Prague dates Dylan came down with the flu, this meant that all three to be pushed back one night. Dylan did these shows without playing guitar but focusing on singing and on the harp.

Usually the show at the 11th gets picked as the best of the three Prague shows, I don’t think it’s that simple. There are lots of bootlegs that has songs from these three incredible nights. Many collectors place these Prague shows among the very best Dylan ever performed. All three are legendary performances. I’m hard pressed to pick one so I’ll recommend a few boots.

Bob Dylan sang in a style that reminds me of crooning these nights and maybe this gave him the idea of making an album with Frank Sinatra songs.

Other entries in this series:

My Favourite Bob Dylan bootleg from 1962: The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan Outtakes
My Favourite Bob Dylan bootleg from 1969: The Dylan / Cash Sessions
My favourite Bob Dylan bootleg from 1983: Infidels outtakes (Rough cuts)
My favourite Bob Dylan bootleg from 2011: Funen Village Denmark June 27
My Favourite Bob Dylan bootleg from 2012: The Day of Wine and Roses, Barolo, Italy July 16
My Favourite Bob Dylan bootleg from 2014: Gothenburg Sweden July 15

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