Tag Archives: rolling thunder revue

Jacques Levy on working with Bob Dylan

 

levy

All of the songs from the Desire sessions are collaborations between Dylan (words and music) and Levy (words), with the exception of “Sara,” “Abandoned Love,” “One More Cup of Coffee,” and “Golden Loom,” all written by Dylan alone. It is of course uncharacteristic of Dylan to work with another writer-this marks only the first or second time he ever shared credit for the lyrics of a song, and still stands as his most extensive collaboration with another songwriter.
~Paul Williams (Bob Dylan: Performing Artist, Vol 2: The Middle Years 1974-1986)

From the Paul Zollo (SongTalk) interview with Bob Dylan – April 1991:
SongTalk: Your collaborations with Jacques Levy came out pretty great.
Bob Dylan: We both were pretty much lyricists. Yeah, very panoramic songs because, you know, after one of my lines, one of his lines would come out. Writing with Jacques wasn’t difficult. It was trying to just get it down. It just didn’t stop. Lyrically. Of course, my melodies are very simple anyway so they’re very easy to remember.

This is a great interview from May 2004 uploaded to YouTube 2013. Sadly enough Levy passed away in September 2004.

Wikipedia:

Jacques Levy (29 July 1935 – 30 September 2004) was an American songwriter, theatre director, and clinical psychologist.

Levy was born in New York City in 1935, and attended City College. He received a doctorate in psychology from Michigan State University. Levy was a trained psychoanalyst, certified by the Menninger Institute for Psychoanalysis in Topeka, Kansas. He later returned to New York and became a clinical psychologist.

In 1965, Levy directed Sam Shepard’s play Red Cross. The following year he directed two of the short plays in Jean-Claude van Itallie’s America Hurrah. In 1969, Levy directed the off-Broadway erotic revue Oh! Calcutta!, after which, Levy approached Roger McGuinn of The Byrds to collaborate on a project inspired by Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt. The musical stalled, but one song, “Chestnut Mare,” co-written by McGuinn and Levy, became the single released from the album (Untitled) in 1970. Many further Levy-McGuinn songs appeared on Byrds and McGuinn albums during the 1970s. In 1973, Levy and Van Itallie reunited for Mystery Play, which starred Judd Hirsch and had a brief run off-Broadway at the Cherry Lane Theatre.

In the mid-seventies, Levy met Bob Dylan through McGuinn. Shortly after, the two collaborated on “Isis” and another six songs which appeared on Dylan’s 1976 album Desire. These included “Hurricane” about imprisoned boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, and “Joey” about the mafia gangster and hit man, Joe Gallo. In 1975, Levy effectively directed Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue. Levy’s lyrics also entered the repertoires of Joe Cocker,Crystal Gayle, and Carly Simon.

This is insightful stuff, like getting a glimpse into the creative process.

Continue reading Jacques Levy on working with Bob Dylan

Jan 25: Bob Dylan’s film Renaldo And Clara was released in 1978


Renaldo and Clara

Bob Dylan’s film Renaldo And Clara was released January 25, 1978

This nearly four-hour surrealist odyssey (232 m.)  is written, directed and starring Bob Dylan himself.

Directed by Bob Dylan
Produced by Mel Howard
Written by Bob Dylan, Sam Shepard
Starring Bob Dylan, Sara Dylan, Joan Baez
Music by Various artists
Cinematography Howard Alk, David Meyers, Paul Goldsmith
Editing by Bob Dylan, Howard Alk
Distributed by Circuit Films
Release date(s) January 25, 1978
Running time 232 minutes
Country United States
Language English

There is a myth about this film, it is considered to be incoherent and confusing, well, it isn’t. Every time I see it, it strikes me as a unified vision, one man’s vision, where he puts different kind of film stocks and styles together to create an entertaining and, yes, demanding movie.  The film is a mixture of fantastic concert footage, documentary style film (dealing with the Hurricane Carter case), and fictional, seemingly improvised  footage.

Never let me go:

Drawing structural and thematic influences from the classic  film Les Enfants du Paradis, Dylan infuses Renaldo and Clara with lots of shifting styles, tones, and narrative ideas. Similarities between the two films include the use of whiteface , the recurring flower, the woman in white (Baez), the on-stage and backstage scenes, and the dialogue of both films’ climactic scenes.

lesenfant_dylan

Also evident is the Cubist approach of the two films, allowing us to see the main characters from the different perspectives of various lovers. This also echoes some of the songs from this Dylan period (Simple twist of faith and Tangled up in blue coming to mind). Running time is also relatively similar.

It’s a free associating epic that feels pulled straight from Bob Dylan’s brain, Renaldo and Clara is a work of misunderstood genius.

Continue reading Jan 25: Bob Dylan’s film Renaldo And Clara was released in 1978

Jan 5: Bob Dylan released “Desire” in 1976 – 40 years ago

Bob Dylan Desire

 The result is a sound and a set of songs unlike anything Dylan or anyone else has ever done before…. The lyrics of “Sara” and “Abandoned Love” (and, for that matter, of “Isis” and “Hurricane”) could not be more perfect, but overall the triumph of Desire is musical
~Paul Williams (Bob Dylan: Performing Artist, Vol 2: The Middle Years 1974-1986)

Recorded in the summer lull before the first Rolling Thunder tour and released soon after it, the stand-out tracks are ‘Isis’, ‘Romance in Durango’ and ‘Black Diamond Bay’, but ‘Hurricane’, ‘One More Cup of Coffee’ and ‘Oh Sister’ are breathing down their necks.
~Michael Gray (The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia)

Desire is considered by many Dylan fans to be among his best albums, It’s number 5 on my list – check out: Bob Dylan’s best albums

 

Let’s kick off with Dylan’s performance of Hurricane on Sept. 10 – 1975 (WTTW-TV Studio, Chicago for “The World of John Hammond”):

Continue reading Jan 5: Bob Dylan released “Desire” in 1976 – 40 years ago

Dec 4: Bob Dylan plays Forum de Montréal in 1975 (videos)

bob dylan isis montreal 1975

I married Isis on the fifth day of May
But I could not hold on to her very long
So I cut off my hair and I rode straight away
For the wild unknown country where I could not go wrong
~Bob Dylan (Isis)

Dylan gives one of the finest shows of his career, as well as the longest of the 1975 concerts. A 23-song set (the opening Rolling Thunder show had just 16 Dylan songs) includes a six-song Dylan/Baez set and a three-song solo spot.
~Clinton Heylin (Bob Dylan: A Life in Stolen Moments Day by Day 1941-1995)

Forum de Montréal
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
4 December 1975

  • Bob Dylan (vocal, guitar)
  • Bob Neuwirth (guitar)
  • Scarlet Rivera (violin)
  • T-bone J. Henry Burnett (guitar)
  • Roger McGuinn (guitar)
  • Steven Soles (guitar)
  • Mick Ronson (guitar)
  • David Mansfield (steel guitar, violin, mandolin ,dobro)
  • Rob Stoner (bass, vocals)
  • Howie Wyeth (piano, drums)
  • Luther Rix (drums, percussion)
  • Ronee Blakley (vocal)

Continue reading Dec 4: Bob Dylan plays Forum de Montréal in 1975 (videos)

Nov 26: The Bootleg Series Vol 5 Bob Dylan Live 1975 was released in 2002

bootlegseries5

“I was just sitting outside my house one day thinking about a name for this tour, when all of a sudden, I looked into the sky and I heard a boom! Then, boom, boom, boom, boom, rolling from west to east. So I figured that should be the name.”
– Bob Dylan

This is my favorite of Bob Dylan’s bootleg series, and one of the best live albums ever released.

The Rolling Thunder Revue was a concert tour  Bob Dylan with a traveling caravan of notable musicians, including Joan Baez,Roger McGuinn, and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott. Bob Neuwirth assembled the backing musicians, including T-Bone Burnett, Mick Ronson, David Mansfield, Steven Soles, and from the Desire sessions, violinist Scarlet Rivera, bassist Rob Stoner, and drummer Howie Wyeth. The tour included 57 concerts in two legs—the first in the American northeast and Canada in the fall of 1975, and the second in the American south and southwest in the spring of 1976.

rolling_TORONTO

Tangled up in Blue:

Continue reading Nov 26: The Bootleg Series Vol 5 Bob Dylan Live 1975 was released in 2002