Well, in the course of life you find yourself with different people in different rooms. Working with Sam [Sheppard] was not necessarily easier, but it was certainly less meaningless. In every case writing a song is done faster when you got someone like Sam and are not on your own.
~Bob Dylan (Oct, 1997 – press conference)
it is ‘a masterpiece, a song that must rank among the five or six best songs Dylan has ever written.’
When Dylan is working at this level of creativity—a level that puts him head and shoulders above everyone else—there’s a magic evocativeness about everything he writes that gives the words enormous possibilities..
~ Nigel Hinton
@ #18 on my list of Dylan’s 200 best songs.
It was originally recorded as “New Danville Girl” @ Cherokee Studio, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California 6 December 1984. Overdubbed May 1986 for the “Knocked Out Loaded” album.
It’s an amazing song with cinematic lyrics co-written with Sam Sheppard.
New Danville Girl (recorded 1984-12-06):
Lyrics to “New Danville Girl” added down towards the end of the post..
Dylan has only performed it once, on August 6, 1986 @ Mid-State Fairground – Paso Robles, California:
Altogether, the delivery is astonishing. Not a false moment, not a foot wrong. Keeping up a curious tension between the very measured, slightly too slow musical accompaniment and the urgency of his voice, he gives a faultless performance, infinitely fluid and expressive, from beginning to end a plausible, intelligent and immensely humane persona and narrator, alert to the turbulent complexities of every moment. It’s a long tour de force not a moment too long, and the Dylan who incandesces through it is the full Bob Dylan of genius and generous intelligence, fully engaged.
~Michael Gray (The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia)
“You see, I spend too much time working out the sound of my records these days, .. and if the records I’m making only sell a certain amount anyway, then why should I take so long putting them together?… I’ve got a lot of different records inside me, and it’s time just to start getting them out.”
~Bob Dylan (to Mikal Gilmore, Sept 1985)
“I’m thinking about calling this album Knocked Out Loaded, Is that any good, you think, Knocked Out Loaded?”
~Bob Dylan (to Mikal Gilmore, May 1986)
“Sounds like something he threw together in a week and away forever. But throwing it away is how he gets that off-the-cuff feel, and side two is great fun”
~Robert Christgau (robertchristgau.com)
“Dylan has invented himself. He’s made himself up from scratch. That is, from the things he had around him and inside him. Dylan is an invention of his own mind. The point isn’t to figure him out but to take him in. He gets into you anyway, so why not just take him in? He’s not the first one to have invented himself, but he’s the first one to have invented Dylan.” – Sam Shepard (Rolling Thunder logbook)
Sam Shepard, was an American playwright, actor, author, screenwriter, and director, whose body of work spanned over half a century. He was the author of forty-four plays as well as several books of short stories, essays, and memoirs. Shepard received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1979 for his play Buried Child. He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of pilot Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff (1983). Shepard received the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award as a master American dramatist in 2009. New York described him as “the greatest American playwright of his generation.” Continue reading Rest In Peace Bob Dylan collaborator Sam Shepard, he died July 27→
The Best Dylan Covers: Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy aka Will Oldham – Brownsville Girl
“Brownsville Girl” is a song from Bob Dylan’s 1986 album, Knocked Out Loaded, recorded in May of that year. It is notable for its length, over 11 minutes, and for being co-written by playwright Sam Shepard. The song is an overdubbed version of a December 1984 outtake from the Empire Burlesque sessions entitled “New Danville Girl”.
While as an album Knocked Out Loaded was poorly received upon release, “Brownsville Girl” is considered one of Dylan’s best pieces by some critics. Music critic Robert Christgau praised “Brownsville Girl” as “one of the greatest and most ridiculous of Dylan’s great ridiculous epics. Doesn’t matter who came up with such lines as ‘She said even the swap meets around here are getting pretty corrupt’ and ‘I didn’t know whether to duck or to run, so I ran’ — they’re classic Dylan.”
Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy aka Will Oldham has played the song live, and it is a tremendous achievement. The size of the song, the amount of lyrics, man, it has to be tough to learn. Bob Dylan played it live one time, only one time, I mean, it’s a tough song to do. Not many artists have tried to do their version, Mr. Oldham has and he did a good job.