“The ghost of ’lectricity howls in the bones of her face Where these visions of Johanna have now taken my place”
— from “Visions of Johanna”
In 1982 readers of ‘The Telegraph” voted ‘Visions of Johanna’ their “favourite Dylan Song” by a wide margin (‘Like A Rolling Stone’ & ‘It’s Alrght, Ma’ tied for second). Why? There is a depth in this song, an intimate bond created between the singer and the listener, that defies analysis & explanation
~Paul Williams (BD Performing Artist 1960-73)
@ #1 on my list of Dylan’s 200 best songs.. this really is a song so good it’s hard grasp… every time I put it on… it feels like a new & old classic.. a true masterpiece.
The master version (Blonde On Blonde version) was recorded @ Columbia Music Row Studios – Nashville, Tennessee –14 February 1966 (47 years ago).
This was the the 6th Blonde On Blonde session, produced by Bob Johnston.. and Dylan also landed “Fourth Time Around” @ this sessions.
Jan Wenner: Of all the versions of This Wheel’s On Fire, which do you like the best? Bob Dylan: Uh… the Band’s. Who else did it? Jan Wenner: Where was that done? Bob Dylan: Well, that was done out in… out in somebody’s basement. Just a basement tape. ~ Jan Wenner Interview Nov 1969
@ #100 on my list of Dylan’s 200 best songs. Recorded in the basement @ The Big Pink, West Saugerties, New York – June – October 1967.
Basement tapes version:
“This Wheel’s on Fire” is a song written by Bob Dylan and Rick Danko. It was originally recorded by Dylan and The Band during their 1967 sessions, portions of which (including this song) comprised the 1975 album, The Basement Tapes. The Band’s own version appeared on their 1968 album, Music From Big Pink.
June 26, 1975
Bob Dylan, Rick Danko
Bob Dylan & The Band
Here’s a great live version from Stockholm 1998-06-09:
Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy aka Will Oldham is coming to Norway in May, playing at least three cities. It would be great to get to see him in concert, but I’m guessing it will be quite difficult to get tickets. Anyway, that’s why I chose him for the video of the day. That and the fact that he has recently played Bob Dylan’s masterpiece Brownsville Girl in concert, one of my all time favourite songs.
Brownsville Girl (Bob Dylan) covered by Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy:
“Well, there was this movie I seen one time,
about a man riding ‘cross the desert
and it starred Gregory Peck.”
Maybe he had some problems, maybe some things that he couldn’t work out
But he sure was funny and he sure told the truth and he knew what he was talkin’ about
~Bob Dylan (From the lyrics of “Lenny Bruce”)
Here’s a song I wrote a while back about a guy who died pretty miserably actually. I figured I didn’t write this song, nobody would so, somebody had to write it. There’s a great American playwright named Tennessee Williams. He said, “I’m not looking for your pity, I just want your understanding. No, not even that, but just your recognition of me and you and time, the enemy in us all.” Anyway, he died pretty miserably too. So this is a man who got no recognition really during his lifetime. But he laid down a lot of road for a lot of people to walk on. People still walking on that road, making lots of money, living in fine houses. Have plenty of women and eating good food. And he didn’t have none of them things.
~Bob Dylan (before “Lenny Bruce” @ Nippon Budokan Hall – Tokyo, Japan – 10 March 1986)
@ #148 on my list of Dylan’s 200 best songs. A song about the great stand-up comedian Lenny Bruce.
The original version from “Shot Of Love” is a very good song.. but there are many live versions that are superior…
Here is a great example:
Live @ Kooyong Stadium – Melbourne, Victoria, Australia – Feb 1986
No, no. I knew a lot of those people but I also know a lot of lesbians. They’re not going to ask me to join a lot of campaigns just because I wrote Just Like A Woman
~Bob Dylan (to Philip Fleishman, Feb 1978)
Well, that’s true, that’s true, I believe that. I believe that that feeling in that song [Just Like A Woman] is true and that I can grasp it, you know, when I’m singing it. But if you’re looking for true companion in a woman, I mean… I can’t stand to… to run with women anymore, I just can’t, it bothers me. I’d rather stand in front of a rolling train, y’know. But if you find a woman that is more than a companion, that is also your sister, and your lover and your mother, y’know, if you find all them ideas in one woman, well, then you got a companion for life. You don’t ever have to think about.
~Bob Dylan (to Matt Damsker, Sept 1978)
..a devastating character assassination..[it] may be the most sardonic, nastiest of all Dylan’s put-downs of former lovers.
~Alan Rinzler (quotet in Paul William’s “BD – Performing artist 1960-73)
@ #23 on my list of Dylan’s 200 best songs. The original version from “Blonde On Blonde” was recorded on March 8 – 1966.