The way I think about the blues, comes from what I learned from Big Joe Williams. The blues is more than something to sit home and arrange. What made the real blues singers so great is that they were able to state all the problems they had; but at the same time, they were standing outside of them and could look at them. And in that way, they had them beat. What’s depressing today is that many young singers are trying to get inside the blues, forgetting that those older singers used them to get outside their troubles.
-Bob Dylan (The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan Liner Notes – 1963)
Joseph Lee “Big Joe” Williams (October 16, 1903 – December 17, 1982) was an American Delta blues guitarist, singer and songwriter, notable for the distinctive sound of his nine-string guitar. Performing over four decades, he recorded the songs “Baby Please Don’t Go”, “Crawlin’ King Snake” and “Peach Orchard Mama”, among many others.
Well, now that’s all right, mama
That’s all right for you
That’s all right mama, anyway you do
But, that’s all right, that’s all right
That’s all right now mama, anyway you do
Arthur William “Big Boy” Crudup (August 24, 1905 – March 28, 1974) was an American Delta blues singer, songwriter and guitarist. He is best known, outside blues circles, for his songs “That’s All Right” (1946), “My Baby Left Me” and “So Glad You’re Mine”, later recorded by Elvis Presley and other artists
…Sure, I try to stick to the rules. Sometimes I might shift paradigms within the same song, but then that structure also has its own rules. And I combine them both, see what works and what doesn’t. My range is limited. Some formulas are too complex and I don’t want anything to do with them.
~Bob Dylan (to Bill Flanagan, in 2009)
“Dylan, who turns 68 in May, has never sounded as ravaged, pissed off and lusty”
~David Fricke (rollingstone.com)
Together Through Life is an album that gets its hooks in early and refuses to let go. It’s dark yet comforting, with a big tough sound, booming slightly like a band grooving at a soundcheck in an empty theatre. And at its heart there is a haunting refrain. Because above everything this is a record about love, its absence and its remembrance.
~Danny Eccleston (mojo4music.com)
Beyond Here Lies Nothin’
I’m listening to Billy Joe Shaver And I’m reading James Joyce Some people they tell me I got the blood of the land in my voice
~Bob Dylan (I Feel A Change Comin’ On)
“The Lord will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing, thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness”
– Psalms 41:3
In My Time of Dying (also called Jesus Make Up My Dying Bed or variations on this) is a traditional gospel music song that has been recorded by numerous musicians. Bob Dylan recorded it for his debut album as In My Time Of Dyin’.
It was (as most of the songs on the album) cut in one take.
” I can’t see myself singing the same song twice in a row. That’s terrible.”
– Bob Dylan
“Dylan had never sung ‘In My Time of Dyin’ ‘ prior to this recording session. He does not recall where he first heard it. The guitar is fretted with the lipstick holder [ makeshift slide ] he borrowed from his girl, Suze Rotolo, who sat devotedly and wide-eyed through the recording session.”
– Liner Notes, Bob Dylan (album, 1962)
The House of the Rising Sun is a traditional folk song, sometimes called Rising Sun Blues. It tells of a life gone wrong in New Orleans; many versions also urge a sibling to avoid the same fate. The most successful commercial version was recorded in 1964 by The Animals.
Bob Dylan recorded it, as House of the risin’ sun, for his debut album released in 1962. He did it several more times both live and in studio.
Like many classic folk ballads, The House of the Rising Sun is of uncertain authorship. Musicologists say that it is based on the tradition of broadside ballads, and thematically it has some resemblance to the 16th-century ballad The Unfortunate Rake. According to Alan Lomax, “Rising Sun” was used as the name of a bawdy house in two traditional English songs, and it was also a name for English pubs. He further suggested that the melody might be related to a 17th-century folk song, “Lord Barnard and Little Musgrave”, also known as “Matty Groves”, but a survey by Bertrand Bronson showed no clear relationship between the two songs. Lomax proposed that the location of the house was then relocated from England to New Orleans by white southern performers. However, Vance Randolph proposed an alternative French origin, the “rising sun” referring to the decorative use of the sunburst insignia dating to the time of Louis XIV, which was brought to North America by French immigrants. Continue reading The Songs he didn’t write: Bob Dylan House of the rising sun→