Category Archives: Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan’s best songs – It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding) – #7, released version

Well, I still do that song [It’s Alright Ma]. It’s still very relevant to me.
~Bob Dylan (June 1985)

“I’ve written some songs that I look at, and they just give me a sense of awe,… Stuff like, It’s Alright, Ma, just the alliteration in that blows me away. And I can also look back and know where I was tricky and where I was really saying something that just
happened to have a spark of poetry to it.”
~Bob Dylan (to John Pareles, Sept 1997)

Ironically, this song, which Dylan performs unaccompanied on the “folk-side” of his half-folk, half electric album, is more of a rock and roll performance than anything else on the record.
~Paul Williams (Performing Artist 60-73)

@ no.7 on my list of Dylan’s 200 best songs.. comes this acoustic masterpiece with lyrics that still makes me shiver in awe…

While preachers preach of evil fates
Teachers teach that knowledge waits
Can lead to hundred-dollar plates
Goodness hides behind its gates
But even the president of the United States
Sometimes must have to stand naked

best of the best:

Pointed threats, they bluff with scorn
Suicide remarks are torn
From the fool’s gold mouthpiece the hollow horn
Plays wasted words, proves to warn
That he not busy being born is busy dying

original version:

Lyrics:

Darkness at the break of noon
Shadows even the silver spoon
The handmade blade, the child’s balloon
Eclipses both the sun and moon
To understand you know too soon
There is no sense in trying

Pointed threats, they bluff with scorn
Suicide remarks are torn
From the fool’s gold mouthpiece the hollow horn
Plays wasted words, proves to warn
That he not busy being born is busy dying

Temptation’s page flies out the door
You follow, find yourself at war
Watch waterfalls of pity roar
You feel to moan but unlike before
You discover that you’d just be one more
Person crying

So don’t fear if you hear
A foreign sound to your ear
It’s alright, Ma, I’m only sighing

As some warn victory, some downfall
Private reasons great or small
Can be seen in the eyes of those that call
To make all that should be killed to crawl
While others say don’t hate nothing at all
Except hatred

Disillusioned words like bullets bark
As human gods aim for their mark
Make everything from toy guns that spark
To flesh-colored Christs that glow in the dark
It’s easy to see without looking too far
That not much is really sacred

While preachers preach of evil fates
Teachers teach that knowledge waits
Can lead to hundred-dollar plates
Goodness hides behind its gates
But even the president of the United States
Sometimes must have to stand naked

An’ though the rules of the road have been lodged
It’s only people’s games that you got to dodge
And it’s alright, Ma, I can make it

Advertising signs they con
You into thinking you’re the one
That can do what’s never been done
That can win what’s never been won
Meantime life outside goes on
All around you

You lose yourself, you reappear
You suddenly find you got nothing to fear
Alone you stand with nobody near
When a trembling distant voice, unclear
Startles your sleeping ears to hear
That somebody thinks they really found you

A question in your nerves is lit
Yet you know there is no answer fit
To satisfy, insure you not to quit
To keep it in your mind and not forget
That it is not he or she or them or it
That you belong to

Although the masters make the rules
For the wise men and the fools
I got nothing, Ma, to live up to

For them that must obey authority
That they do not respect in any degree
Who despise their jobs, their destinies
Speak jealously of them that are free
Cultivate their flowers to be
Nothing more than something they invest in

While some on principles baptized
To strict party platform ties
Social clubs in drag disguise
Outsiders they can freely criticize
Tell nothing except who to idolize
And then say God bless him

While one who sings with his tongue on fire
Gargles in the rat race choir
Bent out of shape from society’s pliers
Cares not to come up any higher
But rather get you down in the hole
That he’s in

But I mean no harm nor put fault
On anyone that lives in a vault
But it’s alright, Ma, if I can’t please him

Old lady judges watch people in pairs
Limited in sex, they dare
To push fake morals, insult and stare
While money doesn’t talk, it swears
Obscenity, who really cares
Propaganda, all is phony

While them that defend what they cannot see
With a killer’s pride, security
It blows the minds most bitterly
For them that think death’s honesty
Won’t fall upon them naturally
Life sometimes must get lonely

My eyes collide head-on with stuffed
Graveyards, false gods, I scuff
At pettiness which plays so rough
Walk upside-down inside handcuffs
Kick my legs to crash it off
Say okay, I have had enough, what else can you show me?

And if my thought-dreams could be seen
They’d probably put my head in a guillotine
But it’s alright, Ma, it’s life, and life only

….and proceeded to record the final versions of “Mr. Tambourine Man”, “It’s Alright, Ma” & “Gates of Eden” in a single take, with no playback between songs! ….. It is as though all three songs came out of him in one breath, easily the greatest breath drawn by an american artist since Ginsberg & Kerouac exhaled “Howl” & “On the Road” a decade earlier.
~Paul Williams (Performing Artist 60-73)

Continue reading Bob Dylan’s best songs – It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding) – #7, released version

Today: Bob Dylan recorded “Forever Young” in 1973 – 39 years ago

  • Bob Dylan recorded master versions of “Dirge” (probably) & “Forever Young” on November 14 – 1973
  • Bob Dylan recorded master versions of “Mixed-Up Confusion”, “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” & “Kingsport Town” on November 14 –  1962

German single cover

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

“So, I don’t know. I think so. It’s all in the heart, whatever keeps you that way. Keeps you forever young. Forever young doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t grow old, but you just have some contact with what put you where you are. You know, keep some type of contact. Anyway…”
~Bob Dylan (to Marc Rowland in Sept. 1978)

“This song should be sung every morning by every child in every school in every country”
~Allen Ginsberg

From Wikipedia:

…….Though there was enough material to fill an album, Dylan decided to hold one more session. On the 14th, The Band was called back to record two songs. The first was another arrangement of “Forever Young,” this time with Helm on mandolin and Danko on fiddle. This new version of “Forever Young” would create the second of two master takes for the song, and both of them would be included on the album.

The second song recorded on the 14th was “Dirge” (or “Dirge For Martha” as it was marked on the tape box). “Bob went out and played the piano while we were mixing [the album]. All of a sudden, he came in and said, ‘I’d like to try ‘Dirge’ on the piano.’…We put up a tape and he said to Robbie, ‘Maybe you could play guitar on this.’ They did it once, Bob playing piano and singing, and Robbie playing acoustic guitar. The second time was the take.”

from Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid

Village Recorder
Santa Monica, California
14 November 1973
6th and last Planet Waves session  

Engineer: Rob Fraboni

Songs:

  1. Forever Young
  2. Forever Young
  3. Forever Young
  4. Forever Young
  5. Forever Young
  6. Dirge

I hate myself for lovin’ you and the weakness that it showed
You were just a painted face on a trip down Suicide Road
The stage was set, the lights went out all around the old hotel
I hate myself for lovin’ you and I’m glad the curtain fell

Personnel:

  • 1-5 Bob Dylan (guitar, harmonica, vocal).
  • 1-3 Robbie Robertson (guitar), Rick Danko (bass), Richard Manuel (drums), Garth Hudson (organ), Levon Helm (mandolin).
  • 4, 5 Robbie Robertson (mandolin), Rick Danko (fiddle), Richard Manuel (piano), Garth Hudson (organ), Levon Helm (drums).
  • 6 Bob Dylan (vocal, piano), Robbie Robertson (guitar).

Today: Bruce Springsteen meets Bob Dylan for the first time in 1975 – 37 years ago


Photo by Ken Regan

Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen meet for the first time backstage during the Rolling Thunder Revue tour in New Haven, CT.

——

Russell Tyrone Jones (November 15, 1968 – November 13, 2004) was an American rapper and occasional producer, who went by the stage name Ol’ Dirty BastardODB, Ason Unique, Osirus, Rainman, and Big Baby Jesus. He was one of the founding members of the Wu-Tang Clan, a rap group primarily from Staten Island, New York that first rose to mainstream prominence with their 1993 debut album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers).

After establishing the Wu-Tang Clan, Ol’ Dirty Bastard went on to pursue a successful solo career. However, his professional success was hampered by frequent legal troubles, including incarceration. He died in late 2004 of a drug overdose, two days before his 36th birthday. Prior to his death, Ol’ Dirty Bastard managed to record his third solo album, which has been repeatedly delayed and as of 2012 has not been released.

C.R.E.A.M. (Wu Tang Clan)

Album of The Day:

Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) (1993)

Steve Huey (allmusic.com):
Along with Dr. Dre’s The Chronic, the Wu-Tang Clan’s debut, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), was one of the most influential rap albums of the ’90s. Its spare yet atmospheric production — courtesy of RZA — mapped out the sonic blueprint that countless other hardcore rappers would follow for years to come. It laid the groundwork for the rebirth of New York hip-hop in the hardcore age, paving the way for everybody from Biggie and Jay-Z to Nas and Mobb Deep. Moreover, it introduced a colorful cast of hugely talented MCs, some of whom ranked among the best and most unique individual rappers of the decade. Some were outsized, theatrical personalities, others were cerebral storytellers and lyrical technicians, but each had his own distinctive style, which made for an album of tremendous variety and consistency. Every track on Enter the Wu-Tang is packed with fresh, inventive rhymes, which are filled with martial arts metaphors, pop culture references (everything from Voltron to Lucky Charms cereal commercials to Barbra Streisand’s “The Way We Were”), bizarre threats of violence, and a truly twisted sense of humor. ... read more @ allmusic.com

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Continue reading Today: Bruce Springsteen meets Bob Dylan for the first time in 1975 – 37 years ago

Bob Dylan second recording session for “John Wesley Harding”

JW: John Wesley Harding – why did you call the album that?
BD: We… I called it that because I had that song John Wesley Harding. It didn’t mean anything to me. I called it that, Jann, ‘cause I had the song John Wesley Harding, which started out to be a long ballad. I was gonna write a ballad on… Like maybe one of those old cowboy… You know, a real long ballad. But in the middle of the second verse, I got
tired. I had a tune, and I didn’t want to waste the tune, it was a nice little melody, so I just wrote a quick third verse, and I recorded that. But it was a silly little song….
~Bob Dylan to Jann Wenner November 29, 1969

This quiet masterpiece, which manages to sound both authoritative and tentative (a mix that gave it a highly contemporary feel), is neither a rock nor a folk album—and certainly isn’t folk-rock. It isn’t categorisable at all.
~Michael Gray (BD Ecyclopedia)

45 years ago Bob Dylan entered Columbia Studio A, Nashville Tennessee tempting his second recording session for “John Wesley Harding”.

Some background from wikipedia:

Dylan went to work on John Wesley Harding in the fall of 1967. By then, 18 months had passed since the completion of Blonde on Blonde. After recovering from the worst of the results of his motorcycle accident, Dylan spent a substantial amount of time recording the informal basement sessions at West Saugerties, New York; little was heard from him throughout 1967. During that time, he stockpiled a large number of recordings, including many new compositions. He eventually submitted nearly all of them for copyright, but declined to include any of them in his next studio release (Dylan would not release any of those recordings to the commercial market until 1975′s The Basement Tapes; and by then, some of those recordings had been bootlegged, usually sourced from an easy-to-find set of publisher’s demos). Instead, Dylan used a different set of songs for John Wesley Harding.

It is not clear when these songs were actually written, but none of them has turned up in the dozens of basement recordings that have since surfaced. According to Robbie Robertson, “As I recall it was just on a kind of whim that Bob went down to Nashville. And there, with just a couple of guys, he put those songs down on tape.”

Those sessions took place in the autumn of 1967, requiring less than twelve hours over three stints in the studio.

Continue reading Bob Dylan second recording session for “John Wesley Harding”

Today: Bob Dylan released “Good As I Been To You” in 1992 – 20 years ago – updated

My voice was never really that glamorous. But a big vocal range really isn’t necessary for the type of songs I sing. For what I sing, my voice does pretty well.
(Bob Dylan to Greg Kot in August 1993)

“My songs come out of folk music…..I love that whole pantheon. To me there’s no difference between Muddy Waters and Bill Monroe.”
(Bob Dylan)

Here is a brilliant live version of “Blackjack Davie” from 1993.09.12 – Great Woods – Mansfield, Massachusetts:

Wikipedia:

Released November 3, 1992
Recorded Mid-1992
Genre Folk, blues
Length 55:31
Label Columbia
Producer Debbie Gold

Good as I Been to You is the twenty-eighth studio album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released in November 1992 by Columbia Records.

It is composed entirely of traditional folk songs and covers, and is Dylan’s first entirely solo, acoustic album since Another Side of Bob Dylan in 1964. It is also his first collection not to feature any original compositions since Dylan in 1973.

On the charts, Good as I Been to You reached #51 in the US and #18 in the UK.

Since launching the Never Ending Tour in June 1988, traditional covers became a feature at virtually every concert, often as part of an acoustic set. After recording Under the Red Sky in 1990, Dylan would not release an original song until 1997, and during that time, he would increasingly rely on his stockpile of covers for ‘fresh’ material. Dylan called these covers “the music that’s true for me.”

Aftermath:

The response to Good as I Been to You was surprisingly positive, particularly for an album with very modest ambitions. It drew comparisons with the acoustic sets featured in Dylan’s “Never Ending Tour” shows, drawing much praise for his interpretive skills. A number of critics pointed out that Dylan’s voice was now physically ravaged, but the focus was often on the phrasing. “Dylan sounds now, in comparison to his younger self, like one of those ghosts,” wrote David Sexton of The Sunday Telegraph, “but a powerful ghost. The effect is not so much nostalgia…as deeply inward.”

Michael Gray:
….Yet this album, imprecise, errant, at times blurred and furry, is a singular creation that gains as well as loses by Dylan’s loss of the effortless certainty
of youth. Dark, complex, surreal and fractured, it is like an inspired, lost work from some opiumthralled folk archivist throwing his own torrid genius into celebrating the myriad strengths of anonymously created song: song from before there was a music industry to kill off its mystery and its purpose. Stand-out tracks: ‘Hard Times’, ‘Arthur McBride’, ‘You’re Gonna Quit Me’, ‘Diamond Joe’ and ‘Froggie Went a-Courtin’’. The fine outtake ‘You Belong to Me’ was used on the soundtrack of Oliver Stone’s film Natural Born Killers.

Here is “Jim Jones” from the second Supper Club Show Nov 17 1993:

David Wild (Rollingstone.com):
…..In its stripped-down intensity, Good As I Been to You recalls the midshow acoustic segments that in recent years have been a consistent highlight of Dylan’s Neverending Tour. Even more than that, the album’s intimate, almost offhand approach suggests what it would be like to sit backstage with his Bobness while he runs through a set of some of his favorite old songs. This is a passionate, at times almost ragged piece of work that seems to have been recorded rather than produced in any conventional sense.

Only a quarter of a century late, this is the sort of album the people who booed Dylan’s decision to go electric wanted from him. And for the most part, the songs on Good As I Been to You are the same sort of material that might have appealed to the younger, freewheelin’ Dylan back in the days when he was being influenced — by Woody Guthrie, for example — rather than exerting profound influence in his own right. Still, at least one selection — the unlikely but oddly delightful “Froggie Went A Courtin'” — evinces some of the fascinating perversity that fans have come to expect from Dylan in his middle age.

………… This fascinating exploration of musical roots is more than a diversion for musicologists. Good As I Been to You shows that sometimes one can look back and find something that’s both timeless and relevant. It also proves once again that Dylan can still be every bit as good as he’s been to us in the past. Which is, of course, as good as it gets.
Read more @ rollingstone.com

 

My fav song from the album is “Hard Times“.

 An extremely sincere rendition of this song was recorded in the summer of 92 and released on Dylan’s “Good As I Been To You”. Dylan premiered the song in concert on April 12, 1993 in Louisville, Kentucky. The song which was always employed as a show opener, was an almost constant feature throughout Dylan’s 93 summer tours, until it was suddenly dropped, mid tour, on August 21, 1993, never (as of yet) to return.
~Derek Barker (The Songs He didn’t write)

Here it is:

Here is Dylan & “Hard Times” @ Willie Nelsons’ 60th Birthday TV Special (KRLU-TV Studios – Austin, Texas, 27 April 1993):

Tracks:

All songs are traditional, arranged by Bob Dylan, except where noted.

  1. “Frankie & Albert” (arranged by Mississippi John Hurt) – 3:50
  2. “Jim Jones” (arranged by Mick Slocum) – 3:52
  3. “Blackjack Davey” – 5:47
  4. “Canadee-i-o” – 4:20
  5. “Sittin’ on Top of the World” – 4:27
  6. “Little Maggie” – 2:52
  7. “Hard Times” (Stephen Foster, arranged by De Dannan) – 4:31
  8. “Step It Up and Go” – 2:54
  9. “Tomorrow Night” (Sam Coslow and Will Grosz) – 3:42
  10. “Arthur McBride” (arranged by Paul Brady) – 6:20
  11. “You’re Gonna Quit Me” – 2:46
  12. “Diamond Joe” – 3:14
  13. “Froggie Went A-Courtin'” – 6:26

Personnel:

  • Bob Dylan – vocals, guitar, harmonica
  • Stephen Marcussen – mastering
  • Micajah Ryan – mixing
  • Jimmy Wachtel – front cover photography

Spotify:

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Continue reading Today: Bob Dylan released “Good As I Been To You” in 1992 – 20 years ago – updated