Nine Things I Learned About Bob Dylan From The AARP Interview – ‘I might trade places with Picasso’

Here are nine things I learned from Bob Dylan’s AARP interview.

1) Bob Dylan listened to tons of big band music as a kid:

“Early on, before rock ‘n’ roll, I listened to big band music: Harry James, Russ Columbo, Glenn Miller. Singers like Jo Stafford, Kay Starr, Dick Haymes. Anything that came over the radio and music played by bands in hotels that our parents could dance to. We had a big radio that looked like a jukebox, with a record player on the top.”

2) Bob Dylan thinks the access to most of recorded music that the Internet now makes possible is a negative:

“Well, if you’re just a member of the general public, and you have all this music available to you, what do you listen to? How many of these things are you going to listen to at the same time? Your head is just going to get jammed — it’s all going to become a blur, I would think. Back in the day, if you wanted to hear Memphis Minnie, you had to seek a compilation record, which would have a Memphis Minnie song on it. And if you heard Memphis Minnie back then, you would just accidentally discover her on a record that also had Son House and Skip James and the Memphis Jug Band. And then maybe you’d seek Memphis Minnie in some other places — a song here, a song there. You’d try to find out who she was. Is she still alive? Does she play? Can she teach me anything? Can I hang out with her? Can I do anything for her? Does she need anything? But now, if you want to hear Memphis Minnie, you can go hear a thousand songs. Likewise, all the rest of those performers, like Blind Lemon [Jefferson]. In the old days, maybe you’d hear “Matchbox” and “Prison Cell Blues.” That would be all you would hear, so those songs would be prominent in your mind. But when you hear an onslaught of 100 more songs of Blind Lemon, then it’s like, “Oh man! This is overkill!” It’s so easy you might appreciate it a lot less.”

3) Bob Dylan is such a fan of Picasso he’d like to be him – maybe:

“Well, I might trade places with Picasso if I could, creatively speaking. I’d like to think I was the boss of my creative process, too, and I could just do anything I wanted whenever I wanted and it would all be on a grand scale. But of course, that’s not true. Like Sinatra, there was only one Picasso.”

4) Bob Dylan’s take on creativity:

“[Creativity is] uncontrollable. It makes no sense in literal terms. I wish I could enlighten you, but I can’t — just sound stupid trying. But I’ll try. It starts like this. What kind of song do I need to play in my show? What don’t I have? It always starts with what I don’t have instead of doing more of the same. I need all kinds of songs — fast ones, slow ones, minor key, ballads, rumbas — and they all get juggled around during a live show. I’ve been trying for years to come up with songs that have the feeling of a Shakespearean drama, so I’m always starting with that. Once I can focus in on something, I just play it in my mind until an idea comes from out of nowhere, and it’s usually the key to the whole song. It’s the idea that matters. The idea is floating around long before me. It’s like electricity was around long before Edison harnessed it. Communism was around before Lenin took over. Pete Townshend thought about Tommy for years before he actually wrote any songs for it. So creativity has a lot to do with the main idea. Inspiration is what comes when you are dealing with the idea. But inspiration won’t invite what’s not there to begin with.”

5) Bob Dylan believes “self-sufficiency creates happiness”:

“OK, a lot of people say there is no happiness in this life, and certainly there’s no permanent happiness. But self-sufficiency creates happiness. Happiness is a state of bliss. Actually, it never crosses my mind. Just because you’re satisfied one moment — saying yes, it’s a good meal, makes me happy — well, that’s not going to necessarily be true the next hour. Life has its ups and downs, and time has to be your partner, you know? Really, time is your soul mate. Children are happy. But they haven’t really experienced ups and downs yet. I’m not exactly sure what happiness even means, to tell you the truth. I don’t know if I personally could define it. [Happiness is] like water — it slips through your hands. As long as there’s suffering, you can only be so happy. How can a person be happy if he has misfortune? Does money make a person happy? Some wealthy billionaire who can buy 30 cars and maybe buy a sports team, is that guy happy? What then would make him happier? Does it make him happy giving his money away to foreign countries? Is there more contentment in that than giving it here to the inner cities and creating jobs? Nowhere does it say that one of the government’s responsibilities is to create jobs. That is a false premise. But if you like lies, go ahead and believe it. The government’s not going to create jobs. It doesn’t have to. People have to create jobs, and these big billionaires are the ones who can do it. We don’t see that happening. We see crime and inner cities exploding, with people who have nothing to do but meander around, turning to drink and drugs, into killers and jailbirds. They could all have work created for them by all these hotshot billionaires. For sure, that would create a lot of happiness. Now, I’m not saying they have to — I’m not talking about communism — but what do they do with their money? Do they use it in virtuous ways? If you have no idea what virtue is all about, look it up in a Greek dictionary. There’s nothing namby-pamby about it.

6) Bob Dylan thinks Billy Graham, the evangelist, was “like rock ’n’ roll personified”:

When I was growing up, Billy Graham was very popular. He was the greatest preacher and evangelist of my time — that guy could save souls and did. I went to two or three of his rallies in the ’50s or ’60s. This guy was like rock ’n’ roll personified — volatile, explosive. He had the hair, the tone, the elocution — when he spoke, he brought the storm down. Clouds parted. Souls got saved, sometimes 30- or 40,000 of them. If you ever went to a Billy Graham rally back then, you were changed forever. There’s never been a preacher like him. He could fill football stadiums before anybody. He could fill Giants Stadium more than even the Giants football team. Seems like a long time ago. Long before Mick Jagger sang his first note or Bruce strapped on his first guitar — that’s some of the part of rock ’n’ roll that I retained. I had to. I saw Billy Graham in the flesh and heard him loud and clear.

7) These days Bob Dylan can relate more to a song like “I’m A Fool To Want You” than to his own “Queen Jane Approximately”:

“These songs [on Shadows In The Night] have been written by people who went out of fashion years ago. I’m probably someone who helped put them out of fashion. But what they did is a lost art form. Just like da Vinci and Renoir and van Gogh. Nobody paints like that anymore either. But it can’t be wrong to try. So a song like “I’m a Fool to Want You” — I know that song. I can sing that song. I’ve felt every word in that song. I mean, I know that song. It’s like I wrote it. It’s easier for me to sing that song than it is to sing, “Won’t you come see me, Queen Jane.” At one time that wouldn’t have been so. But now it is. Because “Queen Jane” might be a little bit outdated. It can’t be outrun. But this song is not outdated. It has to do with human emotion, which is a constant thing. There’s nothing contrived in these songs. There’s not one false word in any of them. They’re eternal, lyrically and musically.”

8) Bob Dylan clearly understands what recording an album of standards, Shadows in The Night, means — that in a way he is making peace with a music that, as he puts it, “rock ’n’ roll came to destroy”:

“To those of us who grew up with these kinds of songs and didn’t think much of it, these are the same songs that rock ’n’ roll came to destroy — music hall, tangos, pop songs from the ’40s, fox-trots, rumbas, Irving Berlin, Gershwin, Harold Arlen, Hammerstein. Composers of great renown.”

9) Dylan is asked if Frank Sinatra was “too square to admit liking” back in the late ’50s/’60s:

“Square? I don’t think anybody would have been bold enough to call Frank Sinatra square. Kerouac listened to him, along with Bird [Charlie Parker] and Dizzy [Gillespie]. But I myself never bought any Frank Sinatra records back then, if that’s what you mean. I never listened to Frank as an influence. All I had to go on were records, and they were all over the place, orchestrated in one way or another. Swing music, Count Basie, romantic ballads, jazz bands — it was hard to get a fix on him. But like I say, you’d hear him anyway. You’d hear him in a car or a jukebox. You were conscious of Frank Sinatra no matter what age you were. Certainly nobody worshipped Frank Sinatra in the ’60s like they did in the ’40s. But he never went away. All those other things that we thought were here to stay, they did go away. But he never did.”

Frank Sinatra, “Ebb Tide”:

-– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –-

[I published my novel, True Love Scars, in August of 2014.” Rolling Stone has a great review of my book. Read it here. And Doom & Gloom From The Tomb ran this review which I dig. There’s info about True Love Scars here.]

Video: Bob Dylan Goes Noir For New Video, ‘The Night We Called It A Day’

If you’ve even seen the great Film Noir classics “Double Indemnity,” “Detour” or Orson Welles “Touch Of Evil,” than you know what Bob Dylan is up to in his new video for the song “The Night We Called It A Day” off his latest album, Shadows In The Night.

The black and white video finds characters played by Dylan, Tracy Phillips and Nash Edgerton involved in some kind of double double cross that involves a diamond ring and a double murder.

Check it out:

And if you haven’t already, read my column about Shadows In The Night.

-– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –-

[I published my novel, True Love Scars, in August of 2014.” Rolling Stone has a great review of my book. Read it here. And Doom & Gloom From The Tomb ran this review which I dig. There’s info about True Love Scars here.]

Bob Dylan To Daniel Lanois: ‘I’m gonna pay homage to what shook me as a young boy’

Producer/artist Daniel Lanois, who produced two Bob Dylan albums, 1989’s Oh Mercy, and 1997’s Time Out Of Mind, told the Vancouver Sun in a story published today, February 25, 2015, that Bob Dylan visited him last year and spent an hour and a half talking to Lanois about how mysterious recording artists were to Dylan when he was a kid.

“He came to my house eight or six months ago and spent a few hours,” Lanois said. “We listened to 21 songs — because he’s made two records of this (Sinatra project). And he said, ‘Let me tell you, Dan: If you have the time, can I tell you how I grew up?’ So we sat in the kitchen. I hadn’t heard a note.

“He spoke for an hour and a half on how, as a kid, you couldn’t even get pictures of anybody. You might get a record but you didn’t know what they looked like. So there was a lot of mystery associated with the work at the time. As far as hearing live music, he only heard a couple of shows a year, like the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra might come through.

“But the music he did hear really touched him and he felt that a lot of that music was written not only by great professional songwriters at the time, but a lot of it was written from the heart, from the wartime, and people just pining for a lover. He felt there was a lot of spirit in that music. He felt there was a kind of beauty, a sacred ground for him.

“After having said all that, we then listened to the music and I felt everything that he talked about. For one of America’s great writers to say, ‘I’m not gonna write a song. I’m gonna pay homage to what shook me as young boy,’ I thought was very graceful and dignified.”

- A Days Of The Crazy-Wild blog post -

Video: Brian Wilson Biopic ‘Love & Mercy’ Trailer; Film Due This Summer

Paul Dano (center) as Brian Wilson.

“Love & Mercy” is a biopic about pop genius Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. It’ll be in theaters this June.

Paul Dano and John Cusack both star as Wilson. Dano plays the younger Wilson and Cusack takes over when Wilson is older.

Here’s Wilson’s masterpiece, Pet Sounds, in case somehow you’ve missed it:

-– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –-

[I published my novel, True Love Scars, in August of 2014.” Rolling Stone has a great review of my book. Read it here. And Doom & Gloom From The Tomb ran this review which I dig. There’s info about True Love Scars here.]

Audio: Jerry Garcia Does Bob Dylan’s ‘Visions Of Johanna” – 16+ Minutes

I always dug Jerry Garcia’s voice and I think it’s perfect for delivering this song. Intuitively Garcia got this song, and you hear it.

Some great guitar playing on some of these versions too.

Here’s a studio recording of “Visions of Johanna” by Garcia.

Here’s the Grateful Dead doing “Visions of Johanna” live, The Spectrum, March 18, 1995, Philadelphia, PA:

And a version from the Dead at Hampton Coliseum, March 19, 1986, Hampton, VA:

Audio: Bob Dylan Inspires Arcade Fire’s WIll Butler To Write Topical Songs – ‘Clean Monday’

Arcade Fire’s Will Butler is writing and recording a song a day this week based upon news stories he reads in The Guardian.

“It was partly inspired by Bob Dylan, who used to announce that certain songs were based on headlines,” Butler told the British paper. “It would be a song he wrote in two weeks or something, such as The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll, which is one of the greatest songs ever. So I’ve set myself an impossible bar.”

The first song is based on this article.

Butler also said: “I was reading The Guardian’s live coverage of the forthcoming Greek proposals of how they’re going to pay off their debts, when a little blurb popped up explaining that the Greek markets were closed today because it was “Clean Monday” – the Greek Orthodox equivalent of Ash Wednesday. It was an amazing/hilarious (well, maybe mildly amusing) coincidence to me that the Greek ministers were scrambling and figuring out how to avoid strict austerity on the day that Lent starts.”

-– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –-

[I published my novel, True Love Scars, in August of 2014.” Rolling Stone has a great review of my book. Read it here. And Doom & Gloom From The Tomb ran this review which I dig. There’s info about True Love Scars here.]tter

Audio: Listen to Ray Benson & Asleep At The Wheel & Merle Haggard & More Do Bob Wills Songs

The new album from Ray Benson & Asleep at the Wheel is called Still The King: Celebrating the Music of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys. It’s out March 3, 2015.

The 22-track album includes these guest artists: Willie Nelson, Amos Lee, Merle Haggard, Old Crow Medicine Show, The Del McCoury Band, Robertt Early Keen, Carriue Rodriguez and others.

Give it a listen:

Tracklist:

1. Intro—Texas Playboy Theme (with Leon Rausch)
2. I Hear Ya Talkin’ (with Amos Lee)
3. The Girl I Left Behind Me (with The Avett Brothers)
4. Trouble In Mind (with Amos Lee)
5. Keeper Of My Heart (with Merle Haggard and Emily Gimble)
6. I Can’t Give You Anything But Love (with Kat Edmonson)
7. Tiger Rag (with Old Crow Medicine Show)
8. What’s The Matter With The Mill (with Pokey LaFarge)
9. Navajo Trail (with Willie Nelson and The Quebe Sisters)
10. Silver Dew On The Bluegrass Tonight (with The Del McCoury Band)
11. Faded Love (with The Time Jumpers)
12. South Of The Border (Down Mexico Way) (with George Strait)
13. I Had Someone Else Before I Had You (with Elizabeth Cook)
14. My Window Faces The South (with Brad Paisley)
15. Time Changes Everything (with Buddy Miller)
16. A Good Man Is Hard To Fine (with Carrie Rodriguez and Emily Gimble)
17. Ding Dong Daddy From Dumas (with Robert Earl Keen and Ray Benson)
18. Brain Cloudy Blues (with Jamey Johnson and Ray Benson)
19. Bubbles In My Beer (with The Devil Makes Three)
20. It’s All Your Fault (with Katie Shore)
21. Three Guitar Special (with Tommy Emmanuel, Brent Mason and Billy Briggs)
22. Bob Wills Is Still The King (with Shooter Jennings, Randy Rogers and Reckless Kelly)

-– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –-

[I published my novel, True Love Scars, in August of 2014.” Rolling Stone has a great review of my book. Read it here. And Doom & Gloom From The Tomb ran this review which I dig. There’s info about True Love Scars here.]tter

Audio: Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy Completes Pops Staples Posthumous Album, ‘Don’t Lose This – Listen Right Now

I got hip this excellent album from the late Roebuck “Pops” Staples over at the excellent Wax Atlas site the other day.

Given what a Staple Singers fan Bob Dylan is, I bet he’s digging into this one.

Now you can check it out too.

If you don’t know who the Staple Singers are, you might want to get the rundown over at Wikipedia.

Here’s a video on the making of the album, which Jeff Tweedy did some production and played on.

Here’s some info on this new record from the Anti- website:

The record, which was originally recorded and produced by Pops and daughter Mavis Staples in 1999, now boasts new production as well as bass and guitar by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, and drums by Spencer Tweedy. Jeff previously collaborated with Mavis on her solo releases, One True Vine and the Grammy-winning You Are Not Alone. The album takes its title from the instruction Pops gave to Mavis as the two listened to the unfinished recording before his death: “Don’t lose this.”

The Chicago Tribune writes “Pops Staples was a musical visionary who played “gospel in a blues key,” as Duke Ellington once told him. His treble-soaked guitar is instantly recognizable as it appears to rise out of the Mississippi mist…” The NY Daily News adds, “the album’s triumph comes in highlighting both the plaintive quality in Pop’s voice and the wily, sexy, stalwart flick of his guitar.” The New York Times says of the record, “It’s done right: lean, un-slick and focused on Pops’s vividly recorded guitar and determined voice, still finding the unexpected pause and turn.”

Track listing:

1. Somebody Was Watching
2. Sweet Home
3. No News Is Good News
4. Love On My Side
5. Friendship
6. Nobody’s Fault But Mine
7. The Lady’s Letter
8. Better Home
9. Will The Circle Be Unbroken
10. Gotta Serve Somebody

-– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –-

[I published my novel, True Love Scars, in August of 2014.” Rolling Stone has a great review of my book. Read it here. And Doom & Gloom From The Tomb ran this review which I dig. There’s info about True Love Scars here.]tter

Audio: Bob Dylan Interviewed By Nat Hentoff Part Two, February 1966 – ‘If I had come out and sung “Desolation Row” five years ago, I probably would’ve been murdered.’

Today I have part two of this amazing interview from February 1966 that Bob Dylan did for Playboy magazine.

I posted part one yesterday.

Nat Hentoff, who had profiled Dylan for the New Yorker in 1964, is the interviewer.

Dylan says some fascinating things, especially given that we now know what’s happened since 1966. This interview was done after the release of Highway 61 Revisited but before Blonde On Blonde was released.

Just one example:

“I refuse to be any kind of Lawrence Welk or something like that. I’ll continue making the records. They’re not going to be any better from now on, they’re gonna be just different.”

-– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –-

[I published my novel, True Love Scars, in August of 2014.” Rolling Stone has a great review of my book. Read it here. And Doom & Gloom From The Tomb ran this review which I dig. There’s info about True Love Scars here.]

Bob Dylan’s ‘Shadows In The Night’ Drops To #22 In U.S.

Two weeks after release, Bob Dylan’s critically acclaimed new album, Shadows In The Night, has dropped to #22 on the Billboard Top 200 in the U.S., down from its debut at #7.

Sales in the U.S. for the past week total 23,943 copies.

The album sold 49,791 in it’s first week of release, and total sales in the U.S. to date are 83,734.

The album debuted in the Top Ten in 18 countries last week including the U.K., Ireland, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Austria, Italy, Poland and Australia.

The album has received near umiversal accliam from music critics. The album scored a rating of 83 out of 100 at Metacritic, based on 30 reviews from such media as Rolling Stone, the New York Times, Mojo, The Guardian and Pitchfork.

-– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –-

[I published my novel, True Love Scars, in August of 2014.” Rolling Stone has a great review of my book. Read it here. And Doom & Gloom From The Tomb ran this review which I dig. There’s info about True Love Scars here.]