Audio: A Rock ‘N’ Roll Christmas Via Bob Dylan, The Band, Aretha, John & Yoko, The Ramones, Yeah Yeah Yeah’s & More

With the holidays here I thought it time to listen to some Christmas songs from some of my fave artists.

The Band, “Christmas Must Be Tonight”:

Aretha Franklin, “O Holy Night”:

John & Yoko, “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”:

Darlene Love, “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home):

RUN-DMC, “Christmas In Hollis”:

Bruce Springsteen, “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”:

Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, “All I Want For Christmas”:

Bob Dylan, “The Christmas Blues”:

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, “Christmas All Over Again”:

The Ramones, “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)”:

Plus Joey Ramone, “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home):

— A Days Of The Crazy-Wild blog post –

Classic Photo of Bob Dylan, Suze Rotolo – ‘Ballad In Plain D’

[Please note: The original inspiration for this post was the above photo, which I saw online and which was misidentified as being a photo of Bob Dylan, Suze Rotolo and her older sister Carla Rotolo. After the post went up it was brought to my attention that the woman identified as Carla Rotolo was actually Lena Sepncer, who ran the club Cafe Lena. Since the post was already live I edited it accordingly.]

The above photo by Joe Alper, taken in the early ’60s, is of Bob Dylan, his one-time girlfriend Suze Rotolo (the girl with Dylan on the cover of The Freewheelin’Bob Dylan) and Lena Spencer, who ran the Caffe Lena club in Saratoga Springs, NY where Dylan played.

Here is a video which includes a picture of Suze’s older sister, Carla.

In Suze Rotolo’s book, “A Freewheelin’ Time,” in a section called “Ballad” she writes:

For a long time my mother had made it clear she didn’t think much of Bobby. By the time Freewheelin’ came out, she and Fred had long since moved to New Jersey. It was easier all around to avoid contact… My mother had objected to Bob from the moment she laid eyes on him back in 1961, but the animosity between my sister and Bob developed over time. Both my mother and Carla were running interference on our relationship, and he couldn’t help resenitng that. I couldnt handle the constant pressure…”

Ballad In Plain D by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

Here are some of the lyrics from Dylan’s “Ballad In Plain D,” which appeared on Another Side Of Bob Dylan in 1964. Dylan had never performed this song live.

Through young summer’s breeze, I stole her away
From her mother and sister, though close did they stay
Each one of them suffering from the failures of their day
With strings of guilt they tried hard to guide us

Of the two sisters, I loved the young
With sensitive instincts, she was the creative one
The constant scapegoat, she was easily undone
By the jealousy of others around her

For her parasite sister, I had no respect
Bound by her boredom, her pride to protect
Countless visions of the other she’d reflect
As a crutch for her scenes and her society

You can check out all of the lyrics here.

Thanks to BlindBoy ElstonGunn‎ for sharing this photo!

[I just published my rock ‘n’ roll novel, True Love Scars.” Rolling Stone has a great review of my book in a recent issue. Read it here. There’s info about True Love Scars here.]

Culture Critic Roy Trakin Includes ‘True Love Scars’ in His Best Books of 2014 List

Not that I can keep from letting it go to my head (that’s long been a lost cause), but it is exciting that culture critic Roy Trakin has included my novel, True Love Scars, in his best books of 2014 list. The book is #4 in his list.

Writes Trakin:

Just call it a portrait of the young rock critic as a freakster bro, coming of age in the glorious peace-and-love innocence of the ‘60s dream, only to crash precipitously, post-Altamont into the drug-ridden paranoia of a ‘70s nightmare, characterized by the doom and gloom of the Stones’ sinister “Sister Morphine” and the apocalyptic caw-caw-caw of a pair of ubiquitous crows. The one-time Rolling Stone journalist turned-Internet pioneer with his groundbreaking mid-‘90s Addicted to Noise site has always been on the cutting edge and here he perfectly captures a horny, but romantic, teenager growing up in Marin County back in what he calls the Days of the Crazy-Wild, where getting your parents to let you grow out your hair was proof alone of your manhood. If you lived through those momentous times, or even if you didn’t, Goldberg conveys that rush of ideas, music and literature that made it such a heady era, while still ruefully acknowledge its fleeting, self-destructive aftermath in what amounts to his version of fellow one-time Stone scribe Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous.

Read Trakin’s whole column here.

And here’s a short audio clip of me reading and Henry Kaiser riffing from my reading last weekend:

[I just published my rock ‘n’ roll novel, True Love Scars.” Rolling Stone has a great review of my book in a recent issue. Read it here. There’s info about True Love Scars here.]

Video: Mary Lee Kortes Performs Entire ‘Blood On The Tracks’ Album Live (Dylan Digs Her)

Back in 2002 Mary Lee Kortes and her band, Mary Lee’s Corvette, released their live take on Blood On The Tracks, recorded at Arlene’s Grocery on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

Rolling Stone’s David Fricke checked out the album and wrote:

“Your eyes do not deceive you. And your doubts won’t last. This is a complete re-creation of Bob Dylan’s untouchable 1975 divorce album. Executed with a quaintly direct magnificence enhanced by the modesty of its origins (a one-time 2001 New York club show rescued from a soundboard cassette and eclipsed only by Dylan’s definitive recording. There is a savory Blonde on Blonde air to the organ and piano coursing through the band’s faithful acoustic picking, while the bright bite in Mary Lee Kortes’ voice-the high-mountain sunshine of Dolly Parton, with a sweet iron undercoat of Chrissie Hynde- turns up the female hurt and fight in “Tangled Up In Blue” and “You’re A Big Girl Now.” The ultimate compliment; Dylan likes this album so much he has featured one of the tracks on his website.”
-David Fricke, Rolling Stone Oct 3, 2002 (4 Stars)

The album caught Bob Dylan’s attention, and the group opened for him in New York at the Hammerstein Ballroom in August 2003, and he featured one of their tracks on his website..

Last year, on January 30, they performed the entire album again, this time at Joe’s Pub in NYC. You can check out all the performances below.

“Tangled Up In Blue”:

“Simple Twist Of Fate”:

“You’re A Big Girl Now”:

“Idiot Wind”:

“You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You’re Gone”:

“Meet Me In The Morning”:

“Lily, Rosemary And The Jack Of Hearts”:

“If You See Her Say Hello”:

“Shelter From The Storm”:

“Buckets Of Rain”:

Encore:

“Everything Is Broken”:

Musicians include:

Andy York, Guitar and harmony vocals
Rod Hohl, guitar
Brad Albetta, bass
Diego Voglino, Drums
Andy Burton, keyboards

[I just published my rock ‘n’ roll novel, True Love Scars.” Rolling Stone has a great review of my book in a recent issue. Read it here. There’s info about True Love Scars here.]

Audio: She & Him Cover The Beach Boys’ ‘God Only Knows’

It’s always dangerous taking on a classic recording, which is what the Beach Boys’ God Only Knows,” which appeared on Pet Sounds, is.

Still, this low-key version by She & Him is charming.

[I just published my rock ‘n’ roll novel, True Love Scars.” Rolling Stone has a great review of my book in a recent issue. Read it here. There’s info about True Love Scars here.]

Video: Michael Stipe Looks Back at 30 Years Of R.E.M.

R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe on “CBS This Morning.”

Among other things he says it’s unlikely that R.E.M. will ever reunite. “That will never happen,” he says.

I bet they do.

And he talks about how shy he was when the band first got famous and it sounds like he’ll do a solo album at some point.

“I think I’ll sing again,” he says. “Not soon.”

[I just published my rock ‘n’ roll novel, True Love Scars.” Rolling Stone has a great review of my book in a recent issue. Read it here. There’s info about True Love Scars here.]

Audio: Hear New Modest Mouse Song, ‘Lampshades On Fire,’ Right Now!

Cover art for the new single.

New Modest Mouse song, “Lampshades On Fire,” off their new album Strangers To Ourselves (out March 3, 2015).

Check it out:

[I just published my rock ‘n’ roll novel, True Love Scars.” Rolling Stone has a great review of my book in a recent issue. Read it here. There’s info about True Love Scars here.]

Audio: Rhiannon Giddens Sings ‘Black Is the Color,’ ‘Shake Sugaree’ & More

T Bone Burnett has produced Rhiannon Giddens’ debut solo album Tomorrow Is My Turn< ,/em> which is set for a February 10, 2015 release.

Giddens, of course, is a member of the New Basement Tapes band, and was a major contributor to Lost On The River: The New Basement Tapes.

I like her version of “Shake Sugaree,” and “Black is the Color” is interesting.

Joan Baez, of course, recorded “Black is the Color” in the ’60s, and Bob Dylan had the line “Where black is the color, where none is the number” in “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.”

I’m looking forward to hearing what Giddens does with Geeshie Wiley’s amazing “Last Kind Words.”

Check out three songs off the album.

“Black is the Color”:

“Don’t Let It Trouble Your Mind”:

“Shake Sugaree”:

Album track listing:

1
Last Kind Words (Geeshie Wiley)
4:14
2
Don’t Let It Trouble Your Mind (Dolly Parton)
3:45
3
Waterboy (Jacques Wolfe)
3:45
4
She’s Got You (Hank Cochran)
4:17
5
Up Above My Head (Sister Rosetta Tharpe)
3:09
6
Tomorrow Is My Turn (Charles Aznavour/Marcel Stellman/Yves Stéphane)
4:38
7
Black Is the Color (Traditional, arr. Rhiannon Giddens)
3:47
8
Round About the Mountain (Traditional, arr. Roland Hayes)
3:29
9
Shake Sugaree (Elizabeth Cotten)
4:25
10
O Love Is Teasin’ (Traditional, arr. Rhiannon Giddens)
4:31
11
Angel City (Rhiannon Giddens)
3:52

[I just published my rock ‘n’ roll novel, True Love Scars.” Rolling Stone has a great review of my book in a recent issue. Read it here. There’s info about True Love Scars here.]

Audio: Michael Goldberg & Guitiarist Henry Kaiser Live – ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ Set Me Free

Photo from my LitQuake reading this past October.

Yesterday afternoon, Saturday December 13, 2104, I read from my novel, True Love Scars, as the acclaimed, Grammy-winning experimental guitarist Henry Kaiser improvised. And then Henry did a short, brilliant instrumental.

I called the event a “post-beat happening.”

It was thrilling to read as Henry’s music lit up the room. When you’re on a stage and you’re in the groove, and the music, music you’ve never heard before, is exactly right for what you’re doing, you levitate.

Two sections I read were about how Bob Dylan’s music changed the narrator’s life. I’ve included both of those and then another excerpt which is the first few pages of the novel. Plus an instrumental improvisation by Henry that concluded the reading.

Down Home Music was an incredible environment for a reading. A room filled with CDs and vinyl and a wall of music books and music posters on the walls and incredibly knowledgeable folks running the place.

Where else is an impulse buy going to be a Roscoe Holcomb DVD?

Yep, I now own that DVD.

There was a nice write-up in advance of the reading in the East Bay Express and that brought a great group of folks into the store to hear me and Henry do our thing.

I read about 30 minutes while Henry utilized a guitar, a whammy bar and more than a dozen pedals to create a sonic backdrop for my words. Actually, it was more than a backdrop, as you’ll see if you listen to the first excerpt, below.

1) The impact of “Like A Rolling Stone”:

2) “It was Dylan, man!”:

3) How the book begins:

4) Henry’s concluding instrumental:

[I just published my rock ‘n’ roll novel, True Love Scars.” Rolling Stone has a great review of my book in a recent issue. Read it here. There’s info about True Love Scars here.]

Video: Watch Bob Dylan Play Private Mini-Concert For One Fan

In November Fredrik Wikingsson got a private Bob Dylan mini-concert at Philadelphia’s Academy of Music.

Lucky Wikingsson had been picked for an episode of a Swedish film series called “Experiment Ensam” where, according to Rolling Stone, “a lone person takes part in events that are usually reserved for large crowds.”

Dylan and his band perform a cover of Buddy Holly’s “Heartbeat,” a beautiful downbeat version of Fats Domino’s “Blueberry Hill” and Chuck Wills’ “It’s Too Late (She’s Gone).” The mini-concert ends with the blues standard, “Key to the Highway.”

Rolling Stone has a story about this here.

[I just published my rock ‘n’ roll novel, True Love Scars.” Rolling Stone has a great review of my book in a recent issue. Read it here. There’s info about True Love Scars here.]