Category Archives: Bob Dylan

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:


Spotify:

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

The Best of Another Self Portrait: The Isle Of Wight concert

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I have now had a few days listening to the new Bootleg series 10 deluxe box set. It is very interesting, and it is actually rather good. I am one of those few that kind of liked the original album, so I expected to like Another Self Portrait. I was not expecting that I would like it as much as I do.

That said, there are two things that stand out however. The first is the demo version of When I Paint My Masterpiece, it knocked me out. It is breathtakingly beautiful.

But the best of the release is the full Isle of Wight performance with The Band, and I really did not expect that!

I’ve read about the Isle of Wight concert, what an important event it was, how good it was. Dylan’s first concert in three years! More than a concert, a culturally significant event and a great show.

Rolling Stone Magazine wrote in 1969:
“During Dylan’s performance, a lovely 19-year-old girl, who said her name was Vivian and that she came from “nowhere,” appeared naked with a similarly naked young man, in the midst of a sea of foam pumped into a recreation area, and before 200 persons, made love. There was no attempt to stop them – but there was plenty of encouragement. “Beautiful,” bellowed several who saw it: “Freaky, baby!””

Well, they got my attention!

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…and they wrote about the concert:

“On came Bob Dylan, one of the very few artists who could afford not to wear skin-tight, flared, sexy trousers. Boy Dylan in a loose white suit (Buddy Holly probably owned a suit like that), white shoes, white tie and yellow shirt, behind a sparkling stainless steel chin-height barricade of microphones.

The stomping and the cheering and the crying and the crush toward the front-stage area was still strong as Dylan began his first song, “She Belongs to Me.” “Great to be here, great to be here,” he said as he finished the song. “It sure is.” There was a slightly more down-home resilience to “I Threw It All Away” and “Maggie’s Farm” than on the recordings, possibly due to the Band’s mellow, sinewy backings. “Highway 61” positively rocked.

Then the Band departed for a time, allowing Dylan to play acoustically: “Will Ye Go, Lassie Go,” a hardy perennial on the British folk scene; “It Ain’t Me Babe”; “To Ramona”; “Mr. Tambourine Man.” In “Like a Rolling Stone,” Dylan hit upon a new device of adding the world “girl” at judicious places – “You mustn’t let other people get your kicks for you, girl!” the sang, goosing the song along all the better, with the Band, who had re-joined him now, adding their resonant voices to the chorus. “I Pity The Poor Immigrant” took on sea chantey tones with Garth Hudson’s accordion accompaniment. Song after song rolled on, “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight,” “I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine,” “Lay Lady Lay,” “One Too Many Mornings.”

And then Dylan announced: “We’re going to do one more for you.” Just the slightest sardonic grin. “This was a big hit over here by Manfred Mann, a great group, a great group.” A whoop of anticipation, and sure enough, it was “Mighty Quinn,” mighty funky.

Bob smiled broadly and waved his goodbye as the audience fell into their chant: “More, more, more more, more . . . ” So he did an encore of two more songs, the first of them a new Dylan song, a slow, gentle ballad called “Who’s Gonna Throw That Next Throw,” then followed it with a prancing “Rainy Day Women No. 12 and No. 35.”

And that was it. He had sung for one solid hour, from 11 PM to midnight. “Thank you, thank you, great!” he told the audience, still smiling, as he left for the last time.”

They describe the second coming don’t they?
Continue reading The Best of Another Self Portrait: The Isle Of Wight concert

August 30: Bob Dylan released Highway 61 Revisited in 1965

Bob_Dylan_-_Highway_61_Revisited

 

August 30: Bob Dylan released Highway 61 Revisited in 1965

“I never wanted to write topical songs, have you heard my last two records, Bringing It All Back Home and Highway 61? It’s all there. That’s the real Dylan.”
~Bob Dylan (Frances Taylor Interview, Aug 1965)

[Highway 61] Oh yes, it goes from where I used to live… I used to live related to that highway. It ran right through my home town in Minnesota. I traveled it for a long period of time
actually. It goes down the middle of the country, sort of southwest…. lot of famous people came off that highway.
~Bob Dylan (John Cohen And Happy Traum Interview, June/July 1968)

Dylan’s sixth album and his first fully fledged eagle-flight into rock. Revolutionary and stunning, not just for its energy, freshness and panache but in its vision: fusing radical electric music—electric music as the
embodiment of our whole out-of-control, nervouenergy-fuelled, chaotic civilization—with lyrics that were light-years ahead of anyone else’s, Dylan here unites the force of blues-based rock’n’roll with the power of poetry.
~Michael Gray (Bob Dylan Encyclopedia)

Like a Rolling Stone:

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be without a home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?

From Wikipedia:

Released August 30, 1965
Recorded Columbia Studio A, 799 Seventh Avenue, New York, June 15 – August 4, 1965
Genre Rock, folk rock
Length 51:26
Label Columbia
Producer Bob Johnston, Tom Wilson on “Like a Rolling Stone”

Highway 61 Revisited is the sixth studio album by singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. It was released in August 1965 by Columbia Records. On his previous album, Bringing It All Back Home, Dylan devoted Side One of the album to songs accompanied by an electric rock band, and Side Two to solo acoustic numbers. For Highway 61 Revisited, Dylan used rock backing on every track, except for the closing 11-minute acoustic song, “Desolation Row”. Critics have written that Dylan’s ability to combine driving, complex, blues-based rock music with the power of poetry made Highway 61 Revisited one of the most influential albums ever recorded.

bob dylan highway 61 album

Leading off with his hit single of that summer, “Like a Rolling Stone”, the album features many songs that have been acclaimed as classics and that Dylan has continued to perform live over his long career, including “Highway 61 Revisited”, “Ballad of a Thin Man”, and “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues”. Dylan named the album after one of the great North American arteries, which connected his birthplace in Minnesota to southern cities famed for their musical heritage, including St. Louis, Memphis, and New Orleans.

Highway 61 Revisited peaked at number three in the United States charts and number four in the United Kingdom. The album has received multiple accolades and was ranked number four on Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. The single “Like a Rolling Stone” reached number two in the US charts and number four in the UK. It has been described by critics as Dylan’s magnum opus and was number one on Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list. Two further songs, “Desolation Row”, and “Highway 61 Revisited”, were listed at number 185 and number 364 respectively.

bob dylan 1965 highway 61

Ballad of a Thin Man:

Because something is happening here
But you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

Background:

In May 1965, Dylan returned from his tour of England feeling tired and dissatisfied with his material. “I was going to quit singing. I was very drained… I was playing a lot of songs I didn’t want to play,” Dylan told Nat Hentoff in 1966.

“It’s very tiring having other people tell you how much they dig you if you yourself don’t dig you.”

Out of this dissatisfaction, Dylan wrote an extended piece of verse which Dylan described as a “long piece of vomit”. He refined this long poem into a song consisting of four verses and a chorus—”Like a Rolling Stone”. 

Dylan told Hentoff that the process of writing and recording “Like a Rolling Stone” washed away this dissatisfaction, and renewed his enthusiasm for creating music. Speaking of the breakthrough of writing that song, forty years later, Dylan told Robert Hilburn in 2004,

“It’s like a ghost is writing a song like that… You don’t know what it means except the ghost picked me to write the song.”

Highway 61 Revisited was recorded in two blocks of recording sessions, which took place in Studio A of Columbia Records in New York City, located at 799 Seventh Avenue, just north of West 52nd Street. The first session, June 15 and June 16, was produced by Tom Wilson and resulted in the single, “Like a Rolling Stone”. On July 25, Dylan performed his controversial electric set at the Newport Folk Festival, where some sections of the crowd booed his performance. Four days after Newport, Dylan returned to the recording studio. From July 29 to August 4, Dylan and his band completed recording Highway 61 Revisited, but under the supervision of a new producer, Bob Johnston.

bob dylan highway 61 studio

Track listing:

Side one
1. “Like a Rolling Stone” 6:09
2. “Tombstone Blues” 5:58
3. “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry” 4:09
4. “From a Buick 6” 3:19
5. “Ballad of a Thin Man” 5:58

Side two
6. “Queen Jane Approximately” 5:31
7. “Highway 61 Revisited” 3:30
8. “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” 5:31
9. “Desolation Row”

—-

My ratings (0-10):

Bob_Dylan studio 1965

Reception:

  • Singer-songwriter Phil Ochs told Broadside magazine, immediately after the record’s release, that Dylan had “produced the most important and revolutionary album ever made”. Speaking to Anthony Scaduto five years later, Ochs said, “I put on Highway 61 and I laughed and said it’s so ridiculous. It’s impossibly good, it just can’t be that good. How can a human mind do this?
  • The album cemented Dylan’s mastery of a new genre—combining verbal complexity with a hard rock sound. One 1965 reviewer wrote: “Bob Dylan used to sound like a lung cancer victim singing Woody Guthrie. Now he sounds like a Rolling Stone singing Immanuel Kant“.
  • The album was a hit, peaking at number 3 on the Billboard 200 chart of top albums. In August 1967, Highway 61 was certificated as a gold record.
  • Highway 61 Revisited has remained among the most highly acclaimed of Dylan’s works. Scaduto, Dylan’s first serious biographer, wrote that it may be “one of the most brilliant pop records ever made. As rock, it cuts through to the core of the music—a hard driving beat without frills, without self-consciousness.” Commenting on Dylan’s imagery, Scaduto wrote: “Not since Rimbaud has a poet used all the language of the street to expose the horrors of the streets, to describe a state of the union that is ugly and absurd.”
  • Dylan critic Michael Gray called Highway 61 “revolutionary and stunning, not just for its energy and panache but in its vision: fusing radical, electrical music … with lyrics that were light years ahead of anyone else’s; Dylan here unites the force of blues-based rock’n’roll with the power of poetry. Rock culture, in an important sense, the 1960s, started here.”
  • In 1995 Highway 61 Revisited was named the fifth greatest album of all time in a poll conducted by Mojo magazine. 
  • In 2001, the TV network VH1 placed it at number 22. 
  • In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine, describing Highway 61 as “one of those albums that, quite simply, changed everything”, placed it at number four in its list of the greatest albums of all time. 
  • The Rolling Stone list of the 500 greatest songs of all time ranked “Highway 61 Revisited”, “Desolation Row” and “Like a Rolling Stone” at #364, #185 and #1, respectively.

…. The whole rock culture, the whole post-BEATLE pop-rock world, and so in an important sense the 1960s, started here. It isn’t only ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ and the unprecedentedly long Armageddon epic ‘Desolation Row’: it’s every song. It’s the carving out of a new emotional correspondence with a new chaos-reality. There it all was in one bombshell of an album, for a generation who only recognized what world they were living in when Dylan illuminated it so piercingly.
~Michael Gray (Bob Dylan Encyclopedia)

Desolation Row:

And the riot squad they’re restless
They need somewhere to go
As Lady and I look out tonight
From Desolation Row

Personnel:

  • Bob Dylan – guitar, harmonica, piano, vocals, liner notes, police siren
Additional musicians
  • Mike Bloomfield – guitar
  • Harvey Brooks – bass guitar
  • Bobby Gregg – drums
  • Paul Griffin – organ, piano
  • Al Kooper – organ, piano (Hohner pianet)
  • Sam Lay – drums
  • Charlie McCoy – guitar
  • Frank Owens – piano
  • Russ Savakus – bass guitar
Technical personnel
  • Bob Johnston – production
  • Daniel Kramer – cover photographer
  • Tom Wilson – production on “Like a Rolling Stone”

Album of the day – Highway 61 Revisited (1965):

Other August 30:

Continue reading August 30: Bob Dylan released Highway 61 Revisited in 1965

Bob Dylan: “Watching The River Flow” Cardiff, Wales 23 September 2000 (Video)

bob dylan cardiff 2000

 

What’s the matter with me
I don’t have much to say
Daylight sneakin’ through the window
And I’m still in this all-night café
Walkin’ to and fro beneath the moon
Out to where the trucks are rollin’ slow
To sit down on this bank of sand
And watch the river flow

Cardiff International Centre Arena
Cardiff, Wales
23 September 2000

Musicians:

  • Bob Dylan (vocal & guitar)
  • Charlie Sexton (guitar)
  • Larry Campbell (guitar, mandolin, pedal steel guitar & electric slide guitar)
  • Tony Garnier (bass)
  • David Kemper (drums & percussion)

Wish I was back in the city
Instead of this old bank of sand
With the sun beating down over the chimney tops
And the one I love so close at hand
If I had wings and I could fly
I know where I would go
But right now I’ll just sit here so contentedly
And watch the river flow

People disagreeing on all just about everything, yeah
Makes you stop and all wonder why
Why only yesterday I saw somebody on the street
Who just couldn’t help but cry
Oh, this ol’ river keeps on rollin’, though
No matter what gets in the way and which way the wind does blow
And as long as it does I’ll just sit here
And watch the river flow

People disagreeing everywhere you look
Makes you wanna stop and read a book
Why only yesterday I saw somebody on the street
That was really shook
But this ol’ river keeps on rollin’, though
No matter what gets in the way and which way the wind does blow
And as long as it does I’ll just sit here
And watch the river flow

Watch the river flow
Watchin’ the river flow
Watchin’ the river flow
But I’ll sit down on this bank of sand
And watch the river flow

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-Egil