Category Archives: Bob Dylan

Today: Bob Dylan released “Love And Theft” in 2001, 12 years ago

bob dylan love & theft

” ‘Love & Theft’ is not an album I’ve recorded to please myself. If I really wanted to that, I would have recorded some Charley Patton songs.”
~Bob Dylan

“All the songs are variations on the 12-bar theme and blues-based melodies. The music here is an electronic grid, the lyrics being the substructure that holds it all together. The songs themselves don’t have any genetic history. Is it like Time Out Of Mind, or Oh Mercy, or Blood On The Tracks, or whatever? Probably not. I think of it more as a greatest hits album, Volume 1 or Volume 2. Without the hits; not yet, anyway”
~Bob Dylan (“Love & Theft” press release, June 2001)

The old Chess records, the Sun records. . . I think that’s my favorite sound for a record . . . I like . . . the intensity The sound is uncluttered. There’s power and suspense. The whole vibration feels like it could be coming from inside your mind. It’s alive. It’s right there.
~Bob Dylan, to Bill Flanagan, 2009

High Water (for Charley Patton):

High water risin’—risin’ night and day
All the gold and silver are bein’ stolen away
Big Joe Turner lookin’ east and west
From the dark room of his mind
He made it to Kansas City
Twelfth Street and Vine
Nothin’ standing there
High water everywhere

From Wikipedia:

Released September 11, 2001
Recorded May 2001
Genre Folk rock, blues, roots rock,Americana
Length 57:25
Label Columbia
Producer Jack Frost (Bob Dylan’s pseudonym)

Love and Theft is the thirty-first studio album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released in September 2001 by Columbia Records. It featured backing by his touring band of the time, with keyboardist Augie Meyers added for the sessions. It peaked at #5 on the Billboard 200, and has been certified with a gold album by the RIAA. A limited edition release included two bonus tracks on a separate disc recorded in the early 1960s, and two years later, on September 16, 2003, this album was one of fifteen Dylan titles reissued and remastered for SACD hybrid playback.

The album continued Dylan’s artistic comeback following 1997’s Time Out of Mind, and was given an even more enthusiastic reception. Though often referred to without quotations, the correct title is “Love and Theft”. The title of the album was apparently inspired by historian Eric Lott’s book Love & Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class, which was published in 1993. “Love and Theft becomes his Fables of the Reconstruction, to borrow an R.E.M. album title”, writes Greg Kot in The Chicago Tribune (published September 11, 2001), “the myths, mysteries and folklore of the South as a backdrop for one of the finest roots rock albums ever made.”

bob dylan 2001

…. “Love and Theft is, as the title implies, a kind of homage,” writes Kot, “[and] never more so than on ‘High Water (for Charley Patton),’ in which Dylan draws a sweeping portrait of the South’s racial history, with the unsung blues singer as a symbol of the region’s cultural richness and ingrained social cruelties. Rumbling drums and moaning backing vocals suggest that things are going from bad to worse. ‘It’s tough out there,’ Dylan rasps. ‘High water everywhere.’ Death and dementia shadow the album, tempered by tenderness and wicked gallows humor.”

In an interview conducted by Alan Jackson for The Times Magazine in 2001, before the album was released, Dylan said “these so-called connoisseurs of Bob Dylan music…I don’t feel they know a thing, or have any inkling of who I am and what I’m about. I know they think they do, and yet it’s ludicrous, it’s humorous, and sad. That such people have spent so much of their time thinking about who? Me? Get a life, please. It’s not something any one person should do about another. You’re not serving your own life well. You’re wasting your life.”

Reception:

4 important opinions……

  • Clinton Heylin (from “Still On The Road…”):
    … Not for the first time, his ambition proved greater than his artistry – “Love and Theft” was a patchwork quilt of borrowed ideas, and Dylan knew it. Hence, the little in-jokes with which he littered the lyrical trail. On the other hand, one has to acknowledge the bravura with which he approached his task. Previously, the editing process – before and during sessions – had generally expunged more derivative, less interesting debts. The reverse was now true. This time, Dylan positively celebrated every aspect of his cut-up canvas, even taking the album title from a 1993 book, Love & Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class by Eric Lott. He even bookended the collection with two tracks that copped not only their melodies, but also their arrangements from earlier recordings.
  • Paul Williams (from “Bob Dylan: Performance Artist 1986-1990 And Beyond”):
    Language. I’ve read close to a hundred reviews of “Love And Theft” by now, and yet Bob Dylan sums it up best, puts into words how I feel about this new and fabulous verbomusical experience. Says what I wanna say to you on this 7th day of November, 2001: “I know a place where there’s still somethin’ going on.” Yeah! Wow. He does, when so few seem to, and he takes me there. Over and over, whenever I listen to this album. And now I too know such a place, thank you very much. And then how about this (not just the words but the sound of his voice and the music that floats around it) as a description of the L&T experience?: “Another one of them endless days …” Oh yes.
    It’s such a listenable record. The sound, the melodies, the feel, the variety, the connectedness of it all. Each song, I find myself lingering in the car or wherever it’s playing so I can hear it to the end. I get caught by each of ‘em again and again in quite a number of pleasing and satisfying ways. And like I say, I like the wholeness, the connectedness, of the album, the way it all hangs together and becomes a single experience, single narrative, in some mysterious and pleasing way that’s not easily pointed to or articulated.
  • Michael Gray (Bob Dylan Encyclopedia):
    The Dylan world seemed at once to divide into those finding it much less substantial and those taking to it far more wholeheartedly. All agreed that the two albums differ in nearly every respect.
    DANIEL LANOIS’ fingerprints are nowhere on ‘‘Love and Theft’’; the musicians used are, for the first time, Dylan’s Never-Ending Tour Band of the day, augmented by AUGIE MEYERS and his brother; there are no obviously great songs—no equivalent
    of ‘Not Dark Yet’ or ‘Highlands’. But on ‘‘Love and Theft’’ a tumult of generously packed minor songs bump up boisterously against each other, like tuba players in a charabanc bouncing off on the excursion of a lifetime, calling to and fro amongst themselves in excited dialogue about everything under the sun. Dylan’s voice is almost completely shot here, yet what he does with it is most subtlely nuanced and shrewdly judged. And he is in such a good mood! This is the warmest, most outgoing, most good-humoured Bob Dylan album since Nashville Skyline, if not The Basement Tapes.
  • Robert Christgau:
    Before minstrelsy scholar Eric Lott gets too excited about having his title stolen–“He loves me! Honey, Bob Dylan loves me!”–he should recall that Dylan called his first cover album Self-Portrait. Dylan meant that title, of course, and he means this one too, which doesn’t make “Love and Theft” his minstrelsy album any more than Self-Portrait’s dire “Minstrel Boy” was his minstrelsy song. All pop music is love and theft, and in 40 years of records whose sources have inspired volumes of scholastic exegesis, Dylan has never embraced that truth so warmly. Jokes, riddles, apercus, and revelations will surface for years, but let those who chart their lives by Dylan’s cockeyed parables tease out the details. I always go for tone, spirit, music. If Time Out of Mind was his death album–it wasn’t, but you know how people talk–this is his immortality album. It describes an eternal circle on masterful blazz and jop readymades that render his grizzled growl as juicy as Justin Timberlake’s tenor–Tony Bennett’s, even. It’s profound, too, by which I mean very funny. “I’m sitting on my watch so I can be on time,” he wheezes, because time he’s got plenty of. A+

bob-dylan-love-and-theft-2001-inside-cover

In 2012, the album was ranked #385 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, while Newsweek magazine pronounced it the second best album of its decade. In 2009, Glide Magazine ranked it as the #1 Album of the Decade. Entertainment Weekly put it on its end-of-the-decade, “best-of” list, saying, “The predictably unpredictable rock poet greeted the new millennium with a folksy, bluesy instant classic.”

Track listing:

All songs written and composed by Bob Dylan.

1. “Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum” 4:46
2. “Mississippi” 5:21
3. “Summer Days” 4:52
4. “Bye and Bye” 3:16
5. “Lonesome Day Blues” 6:05
6. “Floater (Too Much to Ask)” 4:59
7. “High Water (For Charley Patton)” 4:04
8. “Moonlight” 3:23
9. “Honest With Me” 5:49
10. “Po’ Boy” 3:05
11. “Cry a While” 5:05
12. “Sugar Baby” 6:40

My fav songs from L&T:

  • Mississippi
  • High Water (For Charley Patton)
  • Po’ Boy
  • Sugar Baby
  • Lonesome Day Blues

Personnel

  • Bob Dylan – vocals, guitar, piano, production
Additional personnel
  • Larry Campbell – guitar, banjo, mandolin, violin
  • Tony Garnier – bass guitar
  • David Kemper – drums
  • Augie Meyers – accordion, Hammond B3 organ, Vox organ
  • Clay Meyers – bongos
  • Chris Shaw – recording engineering
  • Charlie Sexton – guitar

Mississippi – Live 2002:

High Water (For Charley Patton) – Orlando – 10/10/10:

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Today: Bob Dylan released “Under The Red Sky” in 1990, 23 years ago

bob dylan under the red sky

“It’s just another record,” [Dylan says of Red Sky] “You can only make the records as good as
you can and hope they sell.”
~Bob Dylan (to Edna Gundersen, Aug 1990)

I made this record, Under the Red Sky, with Don Was, but at the same time I was also doing the Wilburys record. I don’t know how it happened that I got into both albums at the same time.
~Bob Dylan (to Jonathan Lethem, Aug 2006)

Anyway, Leadbelly did most of those kind of songs. He’d been out of prison for some time when he decided to do children’s songs and people said oh, why did Leadbelly change? Some people liked the old ones, some people liked the new ones. Some people liked both songs. But he didn’t change, he was the same man! Anyway, this is a song called …, It’s a new song I wrote a while back. I’m gonna try and do it as good as I can. there’s somebody important here tonight who wants to hear it, so we’ll give it our best …
– preface to ‘Caribbean Wind’, Warfield Theatre, San Francisco, November 12, 1980

Born In Time:

From wikipedia:

Released September 10, 1990
Recorded Early 1990
Genre Rock
Length 35:21
Label Columbia
Producer “Jack Frost” (Bob Dylan), Don Was, and David Was

Under the Red Sky is the twenty-seventh studio album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released in September 1990 by Columbia Records.

The album was largely greeted as a strange and disappointing follow-up to 1989’s critically acclaimed Oh Mercy. Most of the criticism was directed at the slick sound of pop producer Don Was, as well as a handful of tracks that seem rooted in children’s nursery rhymes. It is a rarity in Dylan’s catalog for its inclusion of celebrity cameos, by Slash, Elton John, George Harrison, David Crosby, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Bruce Hornsby.

Reception:

Dylan has echoed most critics’ complaints, telling Rolling Stone in a 2006 interview that the album’s shortcomings resulted from hurried and unfocused recording sessions, due in part to his activity with the Traveling Wilburys at the time. He also claimed that there were too many people working on the album, and that he was very disillusioned with the recording industry during this period of his career.

  • Dylan critic Patrick Humphries, author of The Complete Guide to the Music of Bob Dylan, was particularly harsh in his assessment of Under the Red Sky, stating the album “was everything Oh Mercy wasn’t—sloppily written songs, lazily performed and unimaginatively produced.
  • The album did have some critical support, particularly from Robert Christgau of The Village Voice, who wrote “To my astonishment, I think Under the Red Sky is Dylan’s best album in 15 years, a record that may even signal a ridiculously belated if not totally meaningless return to form…It’s fabulistic, biblical…the tempos are postpunk like it oughta be, with [Kenny] Aronoff’s sprints and shuffles grooving ahead like ’60s folk-rock never did.”
  • Paul Nelson, writing for Musician, called the album “a deliberately throwaway masterpiece.”

More opinions:

  • Clinton Heylin (from “Still On The Road…”):
    under the red sky seems to oppress an awful lot of Dylan fans. Some particularly infantile criticism has been directed at its self conscious use of nursery rhyme-like constructions, largely from people entirely ignorant of nursery rhymes’ centuries-old role in the folk tradition. Dylan certainly received little credit for daring to make a gut-bustin’ R&B record less than a year after leaving the swamplands of Lanoisville. Whatever its failings, the album conveys a real unity of purpose. What it lacked was one song that raised things to a higher plane, preferably at the expense of an album-opener that went, ‘Wiggle wiggle wiggle, like a bowl of soup.’
  • Robert Christgau:
    This Was Bros. pseudothrowaway improves on the hushed emotion, weary wisdom, and new-age “maturity” of the Daniel Lanois-produced Oh Mercy even if the lyrics are sloppier–the anomaly is what Lanois calls Oh Mercy’s “focused” writing. Aiming frankly for the evocative, the fabulistic, the biblical, Dylan exploits narrative metaphor as an adaptive mechanism that allows him to inhabit a “mature” pessimism he knows isn’t the meaning of life. Where his seminal folk-rock records were cut with Nashville cats on drums–Kenny Buttrey when he was lucky, nonentities when he wasn’t–here Kenny Aronoff’s tempos are postpunk like it oughta be, springs and shuffles grooving ever forward. The fables are strengthened by the workout, and as a realist I also treasure their literal moments. I credit his outrage without forgetting his royalty statements. I believe he’s gritted his teeth through the bad patches of a long-term sexual relationship even if he still measures the long term in months. And when he thanks his honey for that cup of tea, I melt. A-
  • Michael Gray (Bob Dylan Encyclopedia):
    The first Dylan album after Oh Mercy shows Dylan characteristically retreating from that album’s mainstream production values and safe terrain, and refusing to offer a
    follow-up. Nevertheless his penchant for recently modish producers has him turn this time to DAVID & DON WAS of Was Not Was, who offer a rougher and less unified sound. It’s a pity Dylan pads out the album with some sub-standard rockism(‘Wiggle Wiggle’ and ‘Unbelievable’) and the ill-fitting, foggy pop of ‘Born in Time’, because the core of the album is an adventure into the poetic
    possibilities of nursery rhyme that is alert, fresh and imaginative, and an achievement that has gone largely unrecognised.
  • Paul Williams (from “Bob Dylan: Performance Artist 1986-1990 And Beyond”):It’s a magnificent album, really, and I love every performance on it. Oh, there have been times over the years when I’ve had my doubts about “10,000 Men” or “2×2,” but as with a good concert, each performance in sequence opens doors in listener and singer and musicians and, because the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, the parts are elevated in dignity and expressive power just by their connectedness to that whole. So I find myself getting into the groove of “10,000 Men,” the easy flow of the language, the surprising shouts and whispers of the vocal, the irrepressible Under the Red Sky humor that chugs along throughout (and catches my attention at different moments every time I listen).
  • Stephen Thomas Erlewine (allmusic.com):
    Dylan followed Oh Mercy, his most critically acclaimed album in years, with Under the Red Sky, a record that seemed like a conscious recoil from that album’s depth and atmosphere. By signing Don Was, the king of mature retro-rock, as producer, he guaranteed that the record would be lean and direct, which is perhaps exactly what this collection of simplistic songs deserves. Still, this record feels a little ephemeral, a collection of songs that Dylan didn’t really care that much about. In a way, that makes it a little easier to warm to than its predecessor, since it has a looseness that suits him well, especially with songs this deliberately lightweight. As such, Under the Red Sky is certainly lightweight, but rather appealing in its own lack of substance, since Dylan has never made a record so breezy, apart from (maybe) Down in the Groove. That doesn’t make it a great, or even good, record, but it does have its own charms that will be worth searching out for Dylanphiles.

Track listing:

All songs written by Bob Dylan.

  1. “Wiggle Wiggle” – 2:09
  2. “Under the Red Sky” – 4:09
  3. “Unbelievable” – 4:06
  4. “Born in Time” – 3:39
  5. “T.V. Talkin’ Song” – 3:02
  6. “10,000 Men” – 4:21
  7. “2 × 2” – 3:36
  8. “God Knows” – 3:02
  9. “Handy Dandy” – 4:03
  10. “Cat’s in the Well” – 3:21

My fav songs from the album:

  1. Born In Time
  2. God Knows
  3. Under The Red Sky

Personnel

  • Bob Dylan – acoustic and electric guitar, piano, accordion, harp, vocals, production
Additional musicians
  • Kenny Aronoff – drums
  • Sweet Pea Atkinson – backing vocals
  • Rayse Biggs – trumpet
  • Sir Harry Bowens – backing vocals
  • David Crosby – backing vocals
  • Paulinho Da Costa – percussion
  • Robben Ford – guitar
  • George Harrison – slide guitar
  • Bruce Hornsby – piano
  • Randy “The Emperor” Jackson – bass guitar
  • Elton John – piano
  • Al Kooper – organ, keyboards
  • David Lindley – bouzouki, guitar, slide guitar
  • David McMurray – saxophone
  • Donald Ray Mitchell – backing vocals
  • Jamie Muhoberac – organ
  • Slash – guitar
  • Jimmie Vaughan – guitar
  • Stevie Ray Vaughan – guitar
  • Waddy Wachtel – guitar
  • David Was – backing vocals, production
  • Don Was – bass guitar, production
Technical personnel
  • Dan Bosworth – assistant engineering
  • Marsha Burns – production coordination
  • Ed Cherney – engineering, mixing
  • Steve Deutsch – assistant engineering
  • Judy Kirshner – assistant engineering
  • Jim Mitchell – assistant engineering
  • Brett Swain – assistant engineering

It’s Unbelievable:

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Bob Dylan: Barbara Allen (traditional)

bob dylan barbara allen

In Charlotte town, not far from here,
There was a fair maid dwellin.’
And her name was known both far and near,
And her name was Barb’ry Allen.

‘Twas in the merry month of May,
Green buds they were swellin’,
Poor William on his death-bed lay,
For the love of Barb’ry Allen.

…. And, you know, then the folk music, which I’d heard somewhat to a degree. I knew people that sung Barbara Allen and stuff like that. And I listened to all that music.
~Bob Dylan (to Nat Hentoff – Autumn 1965)

Wikipedia:

Written by Traditional
Published 17th century (earliest known)
Language English
Form Broadside ballad and folksong

Barbara Allen” (Child 84, Roud 54) is a traditional ballad originating in England and Scotland, which immigrants introduced to theUnited States, where it became a popular folk song. Roud and Bishop described it as, “…far and away the most widely collected song in the English language — equally popular in England, Scotland and Ireland, and with hundreds of versions collected over the years in North America.”

The story is a simple one. In “Scarlet Town,” a young man named Sweet William lies on his death bed and calls for Barbara Allen. He asks for her love; she coldly informs him that he is dying. There is some discussion over who slighted whom. She leaves and is smitten by remorse when she hears “the death bell knelling.” She asks her father to dig her grave. This done, she “will die for him tomorrow,” and buried next to Sweet William in the old churchyard, a rose that blossoms from his heart, and a briar that springs from hers, “grew and grew… till they twined a true love’s knot.”
~Lenny Kaye, liner notes for “O Love Is Teasin'” (Elektra 9 60402-1-U, 1985).

He sent his man down to town
To the place that she was dwellin’
Sayin’, “Master bids your company,
If your name is Barb’ry Allen.”

Oh slowly, slowly she got up
To the place where he was lyin’,
And when she pulled the curtain back,
Said, “Young man, I b’lieve you’re dying!”

Other notable versions

Joan Baez:

Pete Seeger:

Continue reading Bob Dylan: Barbara Allen (traditional)

8 fine cover versions of Bob Dylan’s “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues”

bob dylan, neil young and eric clapton

Neil Young with Booker T and The M.G.’s – October 16, 1992

phil lesh - grateful dead

The Grateful Dead at the Capital Centre, Landover, MD 3/15/1990

Continue reading 8 fine cover versions of Bob Dylan’s “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues”

Bob Dylan’s best songs: Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues #19 (Audio & Video)

bob Dylan Just Like A Tom thumb's Blues

When you’re lost in the rain in Juarez
And it’s Eastertime too
And your gravity fails
And negativity don’t pull you through
Don’t put on any airs
When you’re down on Rue Morgue Avenue
They got some hungry women there
And they really make a mess outta you

This reminds me of Kerouac’s “On The Road” – conjuring up a dusty character lost somewhere in America, or South America, down on his luck, wanting to go home and singing off with the bleak but also funny line: “I’m going back to New York City/I do believe I’ve had enough.”
~Howard Souness (His 40 Greatest songs – Uncut Magazine)

Among the masterpieces of Bob Dylan’s amazing outpouring of songs in the mid-’60s, “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” is a minor pleasure. For anyone else, its extravagant imagery and literary references would make it a sophisticated, comic tour de force. But it has tended to be overshadowed by Dylan’s other songs of the period.
~William Ruhlmann (allmusic.com)

Mr. Ruhlmann has a point… this masterpiece is no. 19 on my Dylan top 200 list… and still there are 3 songs on “Highway 61 Revisited” that are better + 6 others from 65/66… It is brilliant song that carries most of the same characteristics as two of the other  masterpieces on H61 (Like A Rolling Stone & Ballad of  a Thin Man):

Bob_Dylan_-_Highway_61_Revisited

Now if you see Saint Annie
Please tell her thanks a lot
I cannot move
My fingers are all in a knot
I don’t have the strength
To get up and take another shot
And my best friend, my doctor
Won’t even say what it is I’ve got

Original version:


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Continue reading Bob Dylan’s best songs: Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues #19 (Audio & Video)