People sometimes seem surprised that Bob Dylan looks more and more as a country artist, but they forget that country and folk were essentially the same genre once, and rock’n roll began as the rockabilly side of country. Bob Dylan’s connection to country music should not be a surprise to anyone.
“Even at a young age, I identified with Hank Williams. I’d never seen a robin weep but could imagine it and it made me sad. When he sang ‘the news is out, all over town’ I knew what that was, even though I didn’t know. When he died it was like a great tree had fallen. Hearing about Hank’s death caught me squarely at the shoulder. The silence of outer space never seemed so loud.” – Bob Dylan
I have picked my favourite country versions of his songs, some I found only audio of. Some of the songs are by other artists and some are collaborations between Bob Dylan and other artists.
“I keep a close watch on this heart of mine . . . I must have recited those lines to myself a million times. Johnny’s voice was so big it made the world grow small.” – Bob Dylan
10. Kris Kristofferson – Quinn the eskimo, from the recently released Chimes Of Freedom in honor of 50 years of Amnesty International, wonderful and rough version:
9. Every grain of sand – Emmylou Harris, from her album Wrecking Ball (1995) my favourite Emmylou album.
Emmylou Harris live May 24 2016:
8. It Ain’t Me, Babe – Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, released on Orange Blossom Special in 1965. We have chosen a version from an Australian TV-show in 1973:
7 June 1940 (age 76)
Treforest, Pontypridd,Glamorgan, Wales
Pop, rock, country, Soul
I remember watching Martin Scorsese’s wonderful The Blues (a 2003 documentary film series) ten years ago, and there was a fantastic sequence of Van Morrison,Tom Jones & Jeff Beck performing Bring it on Home to Me & Trouble in mind (in the film: Red, White & Blues (Mike Figgis)). I was a big Van Morrison fan, but didn’t really like Tom Jones.. until I saw this. A great performance.
Since then I’ve listened to his music now & then, and his last 2 albums are really great stuff (back to the roots alà Johnny Cash’s American Recordings series)
We have to kick off with the “Red, White & Blues” clip:
Mavis Staples began her career with her family group in 1950. Initially singing locally at churches and appearing on a weekly radio show, the Staples scored a hit in 1956 with “Uncloudy Day” for the Vee-Jay label. When Mavis graduated from what is now Paul Robeson High School in 1957, The Staple Singers took their music on the road. Led by family patriarch Roebuck “Pops” Staples on guitar and including the voices of Mavis and her siblings Cleotha, Yvonne, and Purvis, the Staples were called “God’s Greatest Hitmakers.”
With Mavis’ voice and Pops’ songs, singing, and guitar playing, the Staples evolved from enormously popular gospel singers (with recordings on United and Riverside as well as Vee-Jay) to become the most spectacular and influential spirituality-based group in America. By the mid-1960s The Staple Singers, inspired by Pops’ close friendship with Martin Luther King, Jr., became the spiritual and musical voices of the civil rights movement. They covered contemporary pop hits with positive messages, including Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” and a version of Stephen Stills’ “For What It’s Worth.”
A cappella (Italian for “in the manner of the church” or “in the manner of the chapel”) music is specifically group or solo singing without instrumental accompaniment, or a piece intended to be performed in this way. It contrasts with cantata, which is accompanied singing. A cappella was originally intended to differentiate between Renaissance polyphony and Baroque concertato style. In the 19th century a renewed interest in Renaissance polyphony coupled with an ignorance of the fact that vocal parts were often doubled by instrumentalists led to the term coming to mean unaccompanied vocal music. The term is also used, albeit rarely, as a synonym for alla breve.
Mavis Staples – A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall (a cappella) with a fine introduction by Mavis:
The Traveling Wilburys (sometimes shortened to the Wilburys) were a British-American supergroup consisting of Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, and Tom Petty. The band recorded two albums in 1988 and 1990, though Orbison died before the second was recorded.
“Nelson Wilbury” – George Harrison
“Otis Wilbury” – Jeff Lynne
“Lefty Wilbury” – Roy Orbison
“Charlie T. Wilbury, Jr” – Tom Petty
“Lucky Wilbury” – Bob Dylan
“Spike Wilbury” – George Harrison
“Clayton Wilbury” – Jeff Lynne
“Muddy Wilbury” – Tom Petty
“Boo Wilbury” – Bob Dylan
Jim Keltner, the session drummer and percussionist, was not listed as a Wilbury on either album. However, he is seen in all of the group’s music videos, and on the DVD released in 2007, he is given the nickname “Buster Sidebury”.
Inside Out from the album, Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3:
”Memories linger, sad yet sweet/And I think of the souls in heaven who we’ll meet”
‘Cross the Green Mountain was written for the soundtrack of Gods and Generals, a Civil War TV series, in this very well constructed ballad Dylan puts himself in the mind of a Civil War soldier (a dying man). I’m not sure that it was written specifically for the movie or if Dylan had written it earlier and found use for it now, it’s hard to say. The mood is strikingly brought forward by his band, rolling along like in so many of his long and significant tunes. It is a major work of art, it deserved a better fate than to be tucked away on the bootleg series or on a TV-soundtrack!
I do not pretend to have the complete meaning to the song or found all the references Bob Dylan has used, so please enlighten me in the comments section. When I get enough new information I will update the post.