Category Archives: Bob Dylan

Live: The Dylan-Kerouac Connection

Jack Kerouac (left) and Bob Dylan.

To celebrate Bob Dylan’s birthday, a very special event, “The Dylan-Kerouac Connection,” will be held in Berkeley, CA on Friday, May 18, 2018.

Former Rolling Stone Senior Writer/ West Coast Music Editor Michael Goldberg and acclaimed Bay Area singer/guitarist Johnny Harper will be collaborating on a night of words about and music by Bob Dylan.

Goldberg will read from his new essay, “Bob Dylan’s Beat Visions (Sonic Poetry),” which has just been published in the book “Kerouac On Record” (Bloomsbury). Harper will perform exciting solo versions of “Desolation Row,” “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues,” Mr. Tambourine Man,” “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall,” “Like a Rolling Stone” and more!

The two set evening will begin at 7:30 pm at The Art House Gallery & Cultural Center, 2905 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA. Doors open at 6:30 pm.

Goldberg’s essay focuses on how Jack Kerouac and other Beat writers had a profound influence on the songwriting of Bob Dylan. In reviewing “Kerouac On Record,” Mojo magazine wrote: “Among the strongest in a strong lot are Michael Goldberg’s examination of Dylan’s lit roots and Kerouac’s own musicological piece — ‘The Beginning Of Bop’ – that attempts to capture jazz in words – and succeeds.”

Johnny Harper is a well-known Bay Area singer, lead guitarist, songwriter, bandleader, arranger, and producer of recordings and concerts.

Harper has been known, for many years, for leading rockin’ bands (Johnny Harper & Carnival and the earlier Hot Links) specializing in the joyous, upbeat, and funky New Orleans R&B sound – the music of artists like Allen Toussaint, Dr. John, the Meters/ Neville Brothers, Professor Longhair, Fats Domino, and many more. He lived in New Orleans for several years at one point, soaking up the Crescent City’s magic first-hand.

In addition to his work in bands, Johnny is a powerful solo performer, accompanying himself in complex lead/rhythm and finger-picking styles on electric and acoustic guitars. He is a veteran performer in a wider range of American roots music styles – blues and gospel, vintage rock and classic country, R&B/ soul, traditional and contemporary folk, and more. He is an expert on the music of The Band, and knows over 100 Bob Dylan songs! And he is a born storyteller whose comments on the music are by turns moving and highly entertaining.

The show will take place at: The Art House Gallery & Cultural Center, 2905 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA. Suggested donation: $15.00 – $25.00

For additional info, please contact Johnny Harper: jjmusic@ix.netcom.com

– A Days of the Crazy-Wild post –

Bob Dylan’s Beat Visions – A Rock’s Back Pages Excerpt

We’ve known for years that Bob Dylan borrowed melodies from older songs, and that particular songs and poems inspired him to write his own lyrics. In a nearly 12,000 word essay in the just published book, “Kerouac On Record: A Literary Soundtrack,” I detail just how extensively Dylan made use of Jack Kerouac’s writing in some of the songs Dylan wrote for Highway 61 Revisited.  You can read an excerpt from my essay at Rock’s Back Pages.

Here’s a bit of what you’ll find there:

‘No rhyme, all cut-up, no nothing, except something happening, which is words’

I couldn’t have written those songs back then. If I had just come out and sung “Desolation Row’ five years ago I probably would have been murdered – Bob Dylan to Nat Hentoff, autumn 1965, unpublished interview for Playboy

Following the 3 May 1965 publication of Jack Kerouac’s Desolation Angels, the publisher, Coward- McCann, a subsidiary of G. P. Putnam’s Sons, ran full-page ads in the Sunday Times Book Review, the daily New York Times, the New York Review of Books and elsewhere. If you were in New York, and dug Jack Kerouac, it would have been hard not to know that the “King of the Beats’ had a new novel in the stores.

Hi Lo Ha (the house Bob Dylan had just bought in Woodstock, New York, was where Dylan said he wrote the rest of Highway 61 Revisited in the six weeks between the 15 and 16 June sessions in Manhattan where “Like a Rolling Stone” (which he’d written in early June) was recorded, and the late July and early August sessions at which the rest of the Highway 61 Revisited album was completed. (Dylan, ever the poet, said that in one interview, but in another with Jann Wenner for Rolling Stone he said he wrote the Highway 61 song “Desolation Row” “in the back of a taxicab” in New York.)

More interesting than where the songs that comprise Highway 61 Revisited were written is that just six weeks after Desolation Angels was published, Dylan used the book as a major source of raw material for his new songs. “Desolation Row” took the first half of its title from Kerouac”s new book, and Dylan seems to have gotten the idea for the song’s main theme from Kerouac as well. In Desolation Angels, Kerouac writes about “Surrealistic Street,” and describes a wild cast of characters that he sees out on skid row. What is “Desolation Row,” as Dylan describes it in his song, if not a dark, at times horrific version of Kerouac”s “Surrealistic Street”?…

Read the excerpt here and buy the book here.

Cover of “Kerouac On Record.”
– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post –

How Jack Kerouac Influenced Bob Dylan & More

Cover of the upcoming “Kerouac On Record.”

In a 12,000 word essay, “Bob Dylan’s Beat Visions (Sonic Poetry),” that appears in the upcoming book, “Kerouac On Record: A Literary Soundtrack,” I explore how Bob Dylan was profoundly influenced by the Beat writers, and especially Jack Kerouac.

The book is being published by Bloomsbury and will reach book stores online and off on March 8, 2018. Rock’s Back Pages will be publishing an excerpt from my essay, and the April issue of Mojo magazine (see full review below) includes a rave review that says in part: “Among the strongest in a strong lot are Michael Goldberg’s examination of Dylan’s lit roots and Kerouac’s own musicological piece — ‘The Beginning Of Bop’ – that attempts to capture jazz in words – and succeeds.”

Nice to be mentioned in the same sentence as Kerouac!

In addition my Dylan piece, I also have an interview with writer (and one time rock critic) Richard Meltzer in which he talks at length about Kerouac.

The book also contains essays on the influence of Kerouac on a number of musicians including Tom Waits, the Grateful Dead, Jim Morrison, Van Morrison, Patti Smith and others. And there are excellent pieces about the influence of jazz on Kerouac’s writing style.

As we get closer to the publication date I’ll share more about this fascinating book.

Here’s the Mojo review in full:

Review in the April issue of Mojo.
  • A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post –

Michael Goldberg’s New Novel, “Untitled,” Now Available!!

Cover art, “Untitled,” by Leslie Goldberg.
Love, Truth, Innocence & Loyalty.

Sex, Drugs, Rock ‘n’ Roll & Betrayal.

It’s 1973 and the Sixties are gone, baby, gone. College sophomore Michael Stein has lost his way, betraying everyone once dear to him. Just when he thinks nothing could get worse, femme fatale Harper moves in, and his real troubles begin.

“Untitled” is now available in print and Kindle versions here.

Michael Goldberg – that’s me – will be doing a reading at the Octopus Literary Salon on Saturday, August 19, 2017 from 7 pm until 9 pm. More info here. Grammy winning experimental guitarist Henry Kaiser will accompany me on electric guitar. Henry will also so a 20 minute solo set!!

Henry Kaiser and friends. Photo by Michael Goldberg
Praise for the Freak Scene Dream Trilogy,including “Untitled”:

“Oral prose. School of Twain and Salinger. It’s improvised, and its immediate and delayed echoes, its ellipses, its obsessions, make music.” LARRY BECKETT, author of “Morning Glory” and “Paul Bunyan”

“Michael Goldberg’s sharply drawn characters, vivid musical nods, and keen eye for detail transport us back to the post-countercultural mid-1970s when sex and drugs and rock & roll were a way of life. In this third installment of the Freak Scene Dream Trilogy, antihero Writerman takes us along for the rollercoaster ride – angel dust, anyone? – while he tries to make sense of a life littered with broken hearts. A page-turner.” HOLLY GEORGE-WARREN, author of “A Man Called Destruction: The Life and Music of Alex Chilton”

“Relive the 1970s – the music, the dope, the clothes, the books, the confused and restless sexual politics – in all their filthy glory.” MARIA BUSTILLOS, author of “Dorkismo: the Macho of the Dork” and “Act Like a Gentleman, Think Like a Woman.”

“Michael Goldberg is comparable to Kerouac in a 21st centuryway, someone trying to use that language and energy and find a new way of doing it.” MARK MORDUE, author of “Dastgah: Diary of a Head Trip”

Michael Goldberg at The Octopus. Photograh by Wayne Hsiung
“Goldberg presents us with a beautiful evocation of the Seventies where the music wasn’t just the soundtrack to our lives but the auteur of them. Writerman, our hero, drinks and drugs and dances to the nightingale tune while birds fly high by the light of the moon. Oh, oh, oh, oh Writerman!” LARRY RATSO SLOMAN, author of “On the Road with Bob Dylan”

“Radioactive as Godzilla.” RICHARD MELTZER, author of “The Aesthetics of Rock”

“Penned in a staccato amphetamine grammar, its narrative is fractured and deranged, often unsettling but frequently compelling, an unsparing portrait of the teen condition: assured then despairing, would-be sex god then impotent has-been, an only child battling the wills of his domineering father and interfering mom in the anonymous, suburban fringes of Marin County.” SIMON WARNER, author of “Text and Drugs and Rock’n’Roll: The Beats and Rock Culture”

“So who is this protagonist anyway? Holden Caulfield meets Lord Buckley?” PAUL KRASSNER, author of “Confessions of a Raving, Unconfined Nut: Misadventures in the Counterculture”

“‘True Love Scars’ reads like a fever dream from the dying days of the Summer of Love. Keyed to a soundtrack of love and apocalypse, Writerman pitches headlong into a haze of drugs, sex and confusion in search of what no high can bring: his own redemption. Read it and be transformed.” ALINA SIMONE, author of “Note to Self” and “You Must Go and Win”

“True Love Scars is deeply dialed in to rock’s dichotomy of enlightening powers versus stonered party time.” GREG M. SCHWARTZ, PopMatters

“Michael Goldberg reminds us of the difficulties of remaining true to our own visions amidst the powerful exigencies of young adulthood.” JOLIE HOLLAND, recording artist, whose albums include Catalpa, Escondida and The Living and the Dead

“Untitled” is now available in print and Kindle versions here.

Audio: Michael Goldberg Previews New Novel

Michael Goldberg at The Octopus. Photograh by Wayne Hsiung

Last night (March 30, 2017) I previewed a chapter of my new novel, “Untitled,” at The Octopus Literary Salon in Oakland. There was a nice sized audience at this venue, which has the best atmosphere for reading prose or poetry.

Here is the audio from my reading:

“Untitled” is the third book in a rock ‘n’ roll, coming-of-age trilogy titled, the Freak Scene Dream Trilogy. Each of the books stands alone, and at the same time is part of the bigger story.

There’s a lot of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll in the book.

The chapter I read an excerpt from is mostly about the drugs, or rather, what it’s like tripping on the drugs. It takes place in 1973. Nixon is still in the White House, the Vietnam War is still going on as is the Watergate investigation. But all of that feels far, far away to the narrator, Michael Stein AKA Writerman.

The excerpt is about Michael Stein and his best friend, who he calls his “freakster bro,” Jim Costello. Jim is still recovering from being dumped by his first girlfriend, Jade Kaufman, who the narrator refers to as Jaded.

I think the excerpt speaks for itself, except there is one thing you need to know. The narrator has a cigarette lighter that he calls The Dylan. He stole it from Jerry Garcia, who told him that it had once belonged to Bob Dylan. How he came to know Jerry Garcia and steal the Dylan is detailed in my first novel, “True Love Scars.”

“Untitled” will be published in August of this year.

Photograph by Wayne Hsiung
Photograph by Wayne Hsiung

I read before Larry Beckett, the poet/songwriter best known for the lyrics he wrote for many of Tim Buckley’s best songs. Larry read from his book “Paul Bunyan,” which is an epic poem that explores tall tales and the myth of America as bigger than life.

– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post –

Songs From the West Coast Sixties, Part One

Jim Morrison performing at the KFRC Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival, June 1967. Photo by Michael Goldberg.
Jim Morrison performing at the KFRC Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival, June 1967. Photo by Michael Goldberg.

My good friend David Monterey, a singer, songwriter and musician who leads the band, the String Rays, writes the Song Dog Music blog. Recently, the two of us had a long discussion about the Sixties West Coast Music Scene, particularly what we experienced as kids in the Bay Area.

You can read Part One of our conversation here.

Below I have posted video and song clips that compliment our words. Enjoy.

The Doors, Soul Kitchen, The Matrix, 1967 – the initial footage in this video clip is from the KFRC Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival, June 1967

Big Brother, Down On Me, 1968

Jefferson Airplane, White Rabbit, 1967

The Byrds, Mr. Tambourine Man, 1965

Pete Seeger, If I Had A Hammer, 1956

Bob Dylan, Blowin’ in the Wind, 1963

Sly and the Family Stone, Dance to the Music, 1969

Grateful Dead, Jack Straw, 1972

Jefferson Airplane, Plastic Fantastic Lover, 1968

Grateful Dead, St. Stephen,1969

Grateful Dead, Dark Star, 1969

Grateful Dead, Black Peter, May 15, 1970

Grateful Dead, Friend of the Devil, 1970

Robert Johnson, Hellhound on my Trail, 1937

Grateful Dead, Sitting on Top of the World- 1966 Trips Festival SF

Howlin’ Wolf, Sitting on Top of the World, 1957

Jefferson Airplane, Chauffeur Blues, 1966

Memphis Minnie, Chauffeur Blues (probably written by Minnie but credited to her producer lester Melrose), 1941

The Charlatans, Alabama Bound, 1965

Leadbelly, Alabama Bound

Lynn Hughes (who sang this song with The Charlatans), Devil, 1969

Skip James, Devil Got My Woman, 1931

Quicksiler Messenger Service, Who Do You Love?, 1968

Bo Diddley, Who Do You Love?, 1956

– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post –

Bob Dylan Sings From the Autumn of His Life

fallen

Part two of his Sinatra sessions are heavy with meaning, and a whole lot of fun too

By Michael Goldberg

A fallen angel is an angel who has sinned and been cast out of heaven.

“Everybody knows that torch singers are ‘fallen angels,’…” – Torch Singing: Performing Resistance and Desire from Billie Holiday to Edith Piaf by Stacy Holman Jones

Bob Dylan showed up at Daniel Lanois’ house in Los Angeles sometime in the later half of 2014 with recordings of 21 songs he’d made at the beginning of the year at the legendary Capitol Records Studio B in Hollywood where Frank Sinatra, Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, the Beach Boys and many others once made records.

“He [Dylan] 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 [the artists],” Lanois, who produced two Dylan albums, 1989’s Oh Mercy, and 1997’s Time Out Of Mind, recounted to a reporter from the Vancouver Sun in February of 2015. “You might get a record but you didn’t know what they [the artist] 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 a young boy,’ I thought was very graceful and dignified.”

Ten of the recordings Lanois heard that day were released on Dylan’s wonderful 2015 album, Shadows in the Night. What happened to the others is something of a mystery.

Read the rest of this review at Addicted To Noise.

– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post –

Simon Warner Reviews ‘The Flowers Lied’: ‘Beat spontaneity meets punk insolence’

tfl-fb copy

Great review by author Simon Warner, who wrote the excellent “Text and Drugs and Rock’n’Roll: The Beats and Rock Culture.”

Beat Spontaneity Meets Punk Insolence

By Simon Warner

4 stars

Delivered in a sparky, yet splintered, patois, falling somewhere between Beat spontaneity and punk insolence, Michael Goldberg’s The Flowers Lied picks up where 2014’s True Love Scars left off, as the second part of the ‘Freak Scene Dream’ trilogy carries his narrator protagonist Michael Stein into further labyrinths of neurotic insecurity, a campus caper where boy might meet girl but where the roses of romance are snared with the jagged thorns of rejection and betrayal.

Not that this is any mere love story: it’s the tale of the would-be rock ‘n’ roll writer who still believes that his new journalistic prose, and his passion for Dylan and Beefheart, can lead him towards some kind of elevated self-fulfilment. But will an enthusiasm for the Stones or the New York Dolls, a blind belief in the existential promises of the electric guitar, be enough to compensate for wretched affairs and failing friendships?

Achingly self-conscious, riddled with agonising self-doubt, Stein has the flavour of a re-cast Holden Caulfield, as this raw-nerved rite of passage travels some way from Salinger’s immediate post-war world and places itself in the early 1970s at a moment when the hippie dream seems to have lost its enticing glow.

The very title of the novel is a comment on the fact the hopes and dreams of the Sixties have largely evaporated and Stein feels caught on the lip between the fading utopian buzz and a decade hurtling towards a state of nihilistic disillusion. Writerman, as he styles himself, is keen to reject the cynicism of the age but the pallor of personal crisis tends to cloud his day-to-day judgement.

Goldberg’s skill in this dark comi-tragedy is to energetically convey his feelings – the gauge on the emotional candour button is set to 9 – and he does this through a variety of techniques: a version of the gonzo syntax, occasional stream of consciousness ramblings and a secondary internalised narrative providing commentary on his own inner curdlings.

For readers who recognise the names – the rock stars, of course, but also the great rock writers of the day, like Christgau and Willis, who also pepper the pages from time to time – this is an engaging affair, as hot music, the powerful influence of music criticism and the spice of emotional turbulence become entangled in a tornado of twisting moods: the brief elation of a Fender lick is quickly balanced by a carousel of catastrophe; the ups are fleeting, the downs last longer.

The Flowers Lied, like its predecessor, has an edgy, fractious manner, but once you get used to the frenetic style, the prose moves forward with impressive vigour and the story, quite self-indulgent in many ways, has a definite resonance for a certain generation. The fact that this second instalment ends somewhat in mid-air might be a criticism, but it certainly leaves you hungry for the concluding episode, due in 2016.

Simon Warner, author of “Text and Drugs and Rock’n’Roll: The Beats and Rock Culture”

Writer Michael Goldberg Interviewed: Dylan, Rolling Stone & More

ATN MG int cover 2

Andrew Hamlin interviews me for Addicted To Noise.

Among other things I talk about how Bob Dylan, Captain Beefheart and Diane Arbus changed my life, some of the most difficult artist interviews of my rock journalism career, and how I wrote my latest novel. The Flowers Lied.

Here’s how the interview begins:

From his early rock writing, to a spot as a Rolling Stone mainstay, to a pioneering Web editor/publisher, to rock as literature, Michael Goldberg, founded of the original Addicted To Noise in 1994, keeps moving and keeps his thumb pushed down deep on the blurt.

Goldberg was immersed in the punk scene in the mid-1970’s, interviewing Patti Smith and The Ramones and the Talking Heads for stories that ran in the Berkeley Barb and the San Francisco Bay Guardian. The Clash nearly threw him out of a San Francisco recording studio, the Sex Pistols tried to break his tape recorder, and Frank Zappa said if Michael Goldberg was one of his fans he was in big trouble.

Prior to starting ATN, Goldberg was an associate editor and senior writer at Rolling Stone for 10 years. His writing has also appeared in Wired, Esquire, Vibe, Details, Downbeat, NME and numerous other publications.

Goldberg has recently published The Flowers Lied, the second of three books detailing the life, work, frustrations, and passions of his protagonist, Writerman.

Who were your earliest powerful influences, literary, musical, and otherwise?

It’s rare that something you read or hear has a direct, clear-cut influence…

Read the entire interview at Addicted To Noise.

– An Addicted To Noise blog post –

Rock’s Back Pages ‘Rock Critic Excerpt’ From “The Flowers Lied”

RBP - final 2

Those awesome editors at Rock’s Back Pages have featured me and an excerpt from my new rock novel, The Flowers Lied, on the home page of their site.

In the excerpt. which is the third chapter of the book. the narrator, Michael Stein AKA Writerman, meets two of his rock critic heroes for the first time when he visits them at The Pad, the rather decrepit apartment where both critics live and work.

The introduction to the excerpt begins:

Michael Goldberg’s rock ‘n’ roll coming-of-age novel, The Flowers Lied, has just been published. Richard Meltzer wrote that Goldberg’s first novel, True Love Scars, was “Radioactive as Godzilla.” Goldberg has been called a “21st Century Kerouac” by Kerouac biographer Dennis McNally and compared to Lester Bangs by Rolling Stone. The new novel focuses on Writerman (Michael Stein) a sophomore at The University, which is located in Northern California on hill above a beach town not unlike Santa Cruz. He’s a music freak and wannabe writer – he struggles with a Captain Beefheart album review, and tries and fails to type a single word of the Great American Novel he is so desperate to write. He pursues a hip but traumatized 18-year-old artist named Elise, who introduces him to tequila and Almaden Red. And he becomes best friends with Jim AKA Thee Freakster Bro, the over-the-top, gregarious writer/poet/music obsessive stoner he first meets in True Love Scars.

Read the entire excerpt at Rock’s Back Pages. Enjoy!

– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post –