Category Archives: lyrics

Poet Larry Beckett & Michael Goldberg to Read at The Octopus

An Evening of Poetry & Prose: Larry Beckett & Michael Goldberg

Celebrated poet and songwriter Larry Beckett will be reading from his epic poem, “Paul Bunyan,” for the first time in the Bay Area at The Octopus Literary Salon in Oakland, CA on Thursday, March 30, 2017. Joining Larry Beckett will be novelist and former Rolling Stone Senior Writer Michael Goldberg, who will read from his new novel, “Untitled.” The reading will begin at 7 pm.

If you are interested in attending, please head over to the event Facebook page and let me know.

Larry Beckett’s “Paul Bunyan” re-tells the legend of the giant lumberjack for the twenty-first century. Drawing on logger folklore, James Stevens’ stories and the Davy Crockett almanacs, Larry Beckett’s poem is a modern epic in ‘long-winded’ blank verse. It is a celebration of the everyday poetry of colloquial North American English, loose and rough, bragging and unbelievable.

Larry Beckett’s songs have been recorded by musicians all over the world; “Song to the Siren,” which he wrote with Tim Buckley, has been covered by David Gray, Robert Plant, Bryan Ferry, George Michael and Sinead O’Connor. Larry Beckett’s other books include “Songs and Sonnets” and “Beat Poetry.” He has translated many poets, including Heraclitus, Goethe and Li Po. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

About “Paul Bunyan,” San Francisco Poet Laureate Jack Hirschman wrote: “A terrific, epic-like poem based on the story of Paul Bunyan, in which Beckett creates a gigantic working-class type who is also everything and everyone. He’s mythic and his shibboleth is: Work. Beckett has written a rollicking, truly inventive long poem whose lines are sustained by a brilliant haiku-syllablation (each line has 12-15 syllables) coupled with images that bring the Bunyan myth right into the 21st Century. Certainly Beckett’s finest work to date.”

“Paul Bunyan” publisher’s page for more info is here.

Michael Goldberg is the author of three novels, “True Love Scars,” “The Flowers Lied” and “Untitled,” which comprise the Freak Scene Dream Trilogy, a rock ‘n’ roil coming-of-age story set in the late Sixties and early Seventies.

What the critics say about Goldberg’s novels:

“Radioactive as Godzilla!” – Richard Meltzer

“Kerouac in the 21st Century.” – Dennis McNally

“Penned in a staccato amphetamine grammar…” – Simon Warner

“Holden Caulfield meets Lord Buckley?” – Paul Krassner

“Our hero drinks and drugs and dances to the nightingale tune while birds fly high by the light of the moon.” – Larry Ratso Sloman

“If Lester Bangs had ever published a novel it might read something like this frothing debut by longtime music journalist Michael Goldberg.” – Colin Fleming, Rolling Stone

The Octopus Literary Salon is located at 2101 Webster St #170, Oakland, CA 94612

Phone: (510) 844-4120

Event Facebook page.

Video: Bob Dylan & The Band Open 1974 Tour with ‘Hero Blues’

Forty-one years ago, Bob Dylan and The Band opened their historic 1974 tour with “Hero Blues,” an unreleased Dylan song that he recorded in 1962 during The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan sessions but left off the album.

The show took place at the Chicago Stadium in Chicago, Illinois.

Here are versions recorded during The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan sessions:

Take one:

Take two:

Tale four:

Lyrics:

Yes, the gal I got
I swear she’s the screaming end
She wants me to be a hero
So she can tell all her friends

Well, she begged, she cried
She pleaded with me all last night
Well, she begged, she cried
She pleaded with me all last night
She wants me to go out
And find somebody to fight

She reads too many books
She got new movies inside her head
She reads too many books
She got movies inside her head
She wants me to walk out running
She wants me to crawl back dead

You need a different kinda man, babe
One that can grab and hold your heart
Need a different kind of man, babe
One that can hold and grab your heart
You need a different kind of man, babe
You need Napoleon Boneeparte

Well, when I’m dead
No more good times will I crave
When I’m dead
No more good times will I crave
You can stand and shout hero
All over my lonesome grave

— A Days Of The Crazy-Wild blog post —

Video: Johnny Depp & Haim Join The New Basement Tapes to Sing Dylan Songs at Ricardo Montalban Theatre

Johnny Depp, Marcus Mumford & Jim James.

Last night (Nov. 13, 2014) the band T Bone Burnett put together to turn a bunch of lyrics Bob Dylan wrote in 1967 while recording the Basement Tapes in upstate New York into an album, performed songs from the new album, Lost On The River: The New Basement Tapes, at the Ricardo Montalban Theatre in Los Angeles.

That band, dubbed The New Basement Tapes, consists of Marcus Mumford, Elvis Costello, Taylor Goldsmith, Jim James and Rhiannon Giddens. For the show, they were augmented on a few songs by the three women of Haim, and Johnny Depp.

Rhiannon Giddens and the Haim sisters.

Here you can see them perform “Kansas City,” with Marcus Mumford on lead vocal, “Duncan and Jimmy” with Rhiannon Giddens singing, “Card Shark, with Taylor Goldsmith taking the lead and some of “Married To M Hack,” which Elvis Costello sings.

“Kansas City”:

“Duncan and Jimmy”:

“Card Shark”:

“Married To My Hack” (partial):

Plus here they are with Elvis on vocals singing “Lost On The River” on Jimmy Fallon. This aired on NBC on November 10th, 2014.

And here’s Marcus Mumford taking the lead on “Kansas City” on Ellen today.

Setlist:

Down on the Bottom – Jim James vocals
Spanish Mary – Rhiannon Giddens vocals
Liberty Street – Rhiannon Giddens vocals
Married to My Hack – Elvis Costello vocals
The Whistle is Blowing – Marcus Mumford vocals with Haim on backing
vocals
Diamond Ring – Taylor Goldsmith vocals
Nothing to It – Jim James vocals
Lost on the River – Elvis Costello vocals
Florida Key – Taylor Goldsmith vocals
Stranger – Marcus Mumford vocals
Hidee Hidee Hidee Ho – Rhiannon Giddens vocals
Hidee Hidee Hidee Ho (alternate version) – Jim James vocals
“Unreleased track” – Elvis Costello
Kansas City – Marcus Mumford Vocals with Johnny Depp on guitar and Haim
on back-up vocals
Duncan and Jimmy – Rhiannon Giddens vocals with Johnny Depp on guitar
and Danielle Haim on shakers

– Encore break –

When I Get My Hands on You – Marcus Mumford vocals
Lost on the River – Rhiannon Giddens
Card Shark (unamplified) – Taylor Goldsmith vocals
Quick Like a Flash – Jim James vocals
Golden Tom – Silver Judas – Elvis Costello vocals

[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.]

Exclusive! Bob Dylan’s Handwritten Lyrics For ‘New Basement Tapes’ Song, ‘Liberty Street’

Page one of Bob Dylan’s 1967 lyrics to “Liberty Street.”

Yesterday I got access to a copy of Bob Dylan’s two pages of handwritten lyrics for “Liberty Street,” a song completed by Taylor Goldsmith of the band Dawes for the album Lost On the River: The New Basement Tapes (produced by T Bone Burnett).

I like what Dawes has done with the song, creating a piano ballad along the lines of “Dear Landlord.” Dawes’ voice is too smooth for me, and I’d love to hear Dylan sing this one (and bring his distinctive, bluesy approach to the piano part).

Dawes took quite a few liberties with Dylan’s words, only using a portion of the original lyrics, and by leaving out some key lines, turns it into a very different song, which is fine. I’m sure Dylan would dig that. Still, it’s worth noting a few of the missing lines. Dawes used some lines from these verses, as you’ll see:

In one verse, Dylan writes:
“6 months in Kansas City, can’t find no room and board,
6 months in Kansas City, what can’t lead to what kind of reward,
All my friends in jail lost out,
Some who ain’t got no bail bust out, but then find the tracks did make you come back,
Down on your knees, ain’t it a pity, not even a breeze,
6 months in Kansas City, make a man ready to do anything.”

And the one that follows:
“6 months in Kansas City! Woe! Can’t be begging for no last meal,
Things sure don’t look too pretty! Cause a man to rob and steal
All my friends confounded, indeed
Some lost and some drown and some turn to greed.”

Elvis Costello also took a shot at this one, and I do prefer his version, which he calls “Six Months In Kansas City (Liberty Street),” but that may be because I’m a big Elvis fan. Soon enough you’ll be able to decide for yourself, as the album will be out on November 10.

Goldsmith starts the song with Dylan’s second line, “He came from the old religion, but possessed no magic skill, Descending from machinery, he left nothing in his will.”

He also uses Dylan’s next two lines — “The crops are failing, the women wailing” — before rewriting Dylan’s first line — “I see by the papers that” — to complete the verse with “it’s in the paper at your feet.”

Although Dylan wrote a couple of possible choruses, Goldsmith made his own using Dylan’s title for the song which appears to have been “Liberty Street (Six Months In Kansas City).”

Goldsmith’s chorus: “Six months in Kansas City, down on Liberty Street.”

The strangest thing Goldsmith does is leave out what to me is a really key pair of lines: “Thank you for not helping me out, for not treating me like a fool.”

Instead, for his next verse Goldsmith jumps to the bottom of the first page and slightly changes Dylan’s lyric to: “It was sad to see it, that little lady goin’ in, arrested for arson, once they’d asked her where she’d been.”

The second page of Dylan’s “Liberty Street” lyrics.

Then he grabs a line from later in the song — “Down on your knees, ain’t it a pity, not even a breeze — and turns it into: “Down on her knees, not even a breeze, another victim of the heat.”

And back to the chorus: “Six months in Kansas City, down on Liberty Street.”

For his final verse, Goldsmith goes to Dylan’s final verse for the lines “Things sure don’t look too pretty, cause a man to rob and steal, I got [unintelligible word] six more months out here, can’t be begging for my meals.”

And turns some lines from the first page — “Now look here Baby Snooks, don’t matter how many books, you got underneath your thumb” — into “Now look here Baby Snooks, doesn’t matter what books, you got underneath your seat,” before ending with “Six months in Kansas City, down on Liberty Street.”

About the song, Goldsmith says in a press release:

“Liberty Street” was one of the last songs I put together for the record. We didn’t see the lyrics for this song until we got into the studio. Bob Dylan has a way of saying lines like ‘Six months in Kansas City down on Liberty Street’ and it having an immediate, yet sometimes ineffable, power. When I started putting these words to music, the structure of the words dictated the way the chords rolled out so it came together really fast. And the recording of it was our first take.”

“Liberty Street”:

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

— A Days Of The Crazy-Wild blog post —

Video: Stream Another Bob Dylan ‘New Basement Tapes’ Song, ‘Liberty Street’

Today we get another track from Lost On the River: The New Basement Tapes.

This one is titled “Liberty Street.” While the lyrics were written in 1967 by Bob Dylan, the music was written earlier this year by Taylor Goldsmith of the band Dawes.

About the song, Goldsmith say in a press release:

“Liberty Street” was one of the last songs I put together for the record. We didn’t see the lyrics for this song until we got into the studio. Bob Dylan has a way of saying lines like ‘Six months in Kansas City down on Liberty Street’ and it having an immediate, yet sometimes ineffable, power. When I started putting these words to music, the structure of the words dictated the way the chords rolled out so it came together really fast. And the recording of it was our first take.”

“Liberty Street”:

The album will be released on November 10, 2014.

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

— A Days Of The Crazy-Wild blog post —

Exclusive: Bob Dylan’s Handwritten Lyrics For ‘New Basement Tapes’ Song ‘Spanish Mary’ – Check Them Out!

Bob Dylan’s notebook page where he wrote the lyrics to “Spanish Mary.”

During the summer of 1967, up in Woodstock, New York, Bob Dylan wrote a batch of song lyrics that he didn’t set music to and didn’t record.

Lost On The River: The New Basement Tapes is an album of those songs produced by T Bone Burnett due out November 10, 2014. Elvis Costello, Rhiannon Giddens (Carolina Chocolate Drops), Taylor Goldsmith (Dawes), Jim James (My Morning Jacket) and Marcus Mumford are the artists that came together to record the songs.

Today, one of those songs, “Spanish Mary,” was released and I was able to get a copy of Bob Dylan’s notebook page, on which he wrote the lyrics to the song.

For this one, Rhiannon Giddens wrote the music and her performance on the recording is very powerful.

She stays true to the lyrics as Dylan wrote them.

In examining Dylan’s notebook page, there are a couple of lines he crossed out.

In the second verse, the second line, “Upon their ship quite scary” was crossed out and replaced by “no longer could they tarry.”

Dylan crossed out the beginning of the third line, “it was to see them,” leaving only the end of that line, “Swoon and Swerve.”

Off to the side Dylan tried out some alternatives, writing “Some sing like,” and then right under it, “Song sing like a canary.”

In the third verse, “In Kingsport town was changed to “In Kingston Town,” and minor changes in the line that follows were made.

Minor – one or two word – changes were made in the third, fourth and fifth verses.

Check out the video:

In a press release, Giddens, who wrote the music for the song and sings the lead vocal, says of the track:

“Out of all the lyrics I looked through for the New Basement Tapes project, the one for ‘Spanish Mary’ attracted me first – here was a ballad, and I know ballads! It’s also set in the Caribbean, so I felt the deep African sound of the minstrel style banjo (circa 1856) was appropriate. It was an absolute thrill to get to set music to Dylan’s lyrics, what an opportunity! This project is marked with utter generosity from everyone involved.”

[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.]

— A Days Of The Crazy-Wild blog post —

Audio: Hear Bob Dylan’s ‘New Basement Tapes’ Song, ‘Spanish Mary,’ Sung By Rhiannon Giddens

Here is “Spanish Mary,” the latest song off Lost On The River: The New Basement Tapes to be made available prior to the album release on November 10, 2014.

In a press release, Giddens, who wrote the music for the song and sings the lead vocal, says of the track:

“Out of all the lyrics I looked through for the New Basement Tapes project, the one for ‘Spanish Mary’ attracted me first – here was a ballad, and I know ballads! It’s also set in the Caribbean, so I felt the deep African sound of the minstrel style banjo (circa 1856) was appropriate. It was an absolute thrill to get to set music to Dylan’s lyrics, what an opportunity! This project is marked with utter generosity from everyone involved.”

[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.]

— A Days Of The Crazy-Wild blog post —

Exclusive: Bob Dylan’s Hand-Written Lyrics For ‘Married To My Hack’ – Check ‘Em Out Now!

Bob Dylan’s doodles on the piece of yellow, blue-lined paper on which he wrote the lyrics to “Married To My Hack” during the summer of 1967.

Elvis Costello made only the most minor changes to Bob Dylan’s 1967 lyrics for the song “Married To My Hack” that is included on the not-yet-released album, Lost On The River: The New Basement Tapes — with one exception.

Bob Dylan’s handwritten lyrics to “Married To My Hack.” Note the unfinished final line.

On the copy I got of a piece of yellow, blue-lined paper on which Dylan wrote the lyrics, the final line of the song is incomplete.

Dylan wrote, “Just gimmie a bottle and the”

That’s it.

He never finished it.

But Costello sings, “Gimmie a bottle and someone to throttle ’cause I’d rather be married to my hack.”

It’s certainly a controversial line in an otherwise humorous song in which Dylan details all the many women who apparently want him.

He wrote that he’s “got 15 women,” and later on the page, that he’s “got loose eye’d ladies who never seen a man just waiting around out back.”

The punchline is, of course, the song’s title. Dylan repeatedly tells us throughout the song that he would “rather be married to my hack.”

But the song’s best lines comes early on.

“I move like the breeze, and the birds and the bees
I’m never known to look back…”

[I just published my rock ‘n’ roll novel, True Love Scars.” There’s info about it here.]

— A Days Of The Crazy-Wild blog post —