Pushed It Over The End (AKA Citizen Kane Jr. Blues)
Long May You Run
On The Beach
Roll Another Number
Pardon My Heart
Dance Dance Dance
Jesse Malin and Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins covered Bob Dylan’s “From a Buick 6” at photographer Danny Clinch’s book release party last night (Tuesday, October 14, 2014) at the McKittrick Hotel in New York.
Plus check out Gary U.S. Bonds covering “From A Buick 6”:
When Bob Dylan arrived in New York in January 1961, he found himself in a cultural paradise, a city that offered him access to art and music and film that he could only have read about back in Hibbing, Minnesota.
But he had always been curious about the world.
According to Dylan in his autobiography, “Chronicles Volume One,” back in Hibbing he’d already been absorbing a fantastic amount of culture, reading “Voltaire, Rousseau, John Locke, Montesquieu, Martin Luther – visionaries, revolutionaries … it was like I knew those guys, like they’d been living in my backyard.”
Thelonious Monk, “Misterioso”:
He’d seen 100s of films and already had an encyclopedia of music in his head. Sure there were all the folk and blues and country records he’d heard, and many live performances he’d attended (Slim Whitman, Hank Snow, Web Pierce and others), but he’d listened to rock ‘n’ roll and jazz too. And pop music and classical!
As Dylan recounts in Chronicles, once he got to New York he had the opportunity to stretch even further. He saw Fellini films and hung out with Thelonious Monk at the Blue Note and attended performances by many jazz legends, read the poetry of Rimbaud and Baudelaire and Ginsberg and so many others, and even saw Jean Genet’s play, The Balcony.
Trailer for Fellini’s
And he was still reading all the time: Robert Graves, Thucydides, Gogol, Balzac, Maupassant, Dickens, Dante and so many more.
It was not a narrow focus on folk music and on playing folk songs that allowed Bob Dylan to become one of the greatest artists.
No, it was his wide-ranging curiosity. Dylan has a curious mind that constantly seeks out and absorbs new information from wide-ranging and eclectic sources.
The point I’m making is that Dylan exposed himself (and continues to expose himself) to a all kinds of new information. All of that forms the backdrop for his own unique art.
And this leads me to Festival Albertine, a six-night event curated by arguably the leading Dylan expert, Greil Marcus.
“Engrenages” – Season 1 – Trailer:
Marcus’ worldview is certainly informed by his love of Dylan, who he was been listening to and writing about since the ‘60s. Marcus has written three books about Dylan, including his “Basement Tapes” masterpiece, “The Old, Weird America.”
Next month, Festival Albertine will take place from October 14 through October 19 in New York, and videos of the panel discussions will be available for all to see at the Albertine website after the festival ends.
This festival itself, like Marcus’ own approach to writing about culture and history, reminds me of Dylan’s curious mind.
Marcus has reached out to radical French filmmakers and experimental novelists, a Foucoult expert, and the genius mathematician John Nash, TV show auteurs and rock, film and book critics, fashion experts and screenwriters, graphic novel creators and political science professors, and organized a wide-ranging series of panels on topics ranging from “Extremist Fiction in Ordinary Language” to “Olivier Assayas in the Post-May Period.”
All of them and more will be at Festival Albertine.
The trailer for “Après- Mai”:
For more about the festival, please check out my previous post on it here.
If you care about Bob Dylan, you should care about Greil Marcus, and if you care about Greil Marcus, you should care about Festival Albertine.
[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.]
Forty-nine years ago, on June 16, 1965, Bob Dylan and a handful of ace session musicians including the great blues guitarist Michael Bloomfield and a upstart organ player, Al Kooper, recorded the take of “Like A Rolling Stone” that established Bob Dylan as one of the great rock ‘n’ rollers of all time.
The session took place in Columbia Studio A in New York, where Dylan was comfortable working, and where he had recorded his previous albums.
Dylan had started recording the song the previous day but didn’t cut a killer take.
Michael Bloomfield, guitar, Joe Macho, Jr., bass, Bobby Gregg, drums. Al Kooper, organ; Paul Griffin, piano; Bruce Langhorne, tambourine.
Greil Marcus writing about the fourth take on June 16, 1965, the take with the magic:
Take 4 — 6.34
“Four,” Wilson says. As it happens, this will be the master take, and the only time the song is found.
“One two, one two three”: the bang that sets it off is not quite as big as in the take just before, but it somehow makes more space for itself, pushes the others away for the fraction of a second necessary to mark the act. Gregg, too, has found the song. He has a strategy, creating humps in the verses and then carrying everyone over them.
As big as the drums are, Griffin plays with light hands; you can imagine his keys loosening. At the very start, piano and bass seem the bedrock — but so much is happening, and with such gravity, you cannot as a listener stay in one place. You may have heard this performance thousands of times, but here, as it takes shape, the fact that it does take shape doesn’t seem quite real. The false starts have created a sense that there can be no finished version, and even if you know this is where it happens, as with all the takes before it you are waiting for it to stop short.
Bloomfield is playing with finesse, passion, and most of all modesty. He has a sense of what to leave out, of when to play and when not to. He waits for his moments, and then he leaps. And this is the only take where, for him, everything is clear.
There is a moment, just after the first “How does it feel?” when Kooper’s organ, Bloomfield’s guitar, and Gregg’s cymbals come together in a single waterspout, and you can feel the song running under its own power. You wonder: what are the musicians thinking, as this astonishing story, told with such a sensation of daring and jeopardy, unfolds in front of them for the first time?
Kooper holds down a stop at the fade, long after everyone else has quit playing. “Like wild thing, baby,” someone says, beside himself. “That sounds good to me,” Wilson says, happiness all over his voice.
You can read Marcus’ description of the entire June 16 session here.
The song that changed everything:
“Maggie’s Farm” into “Like A Rolling Stone” at Newport Folk Festival, July 25, 1965:
Hollywood Bowl, Sept. 3, 1965:
Liverpool, England, May 14, 1966:
The Royal Albert Hall, London, May 26, 1966:
Not sure when or where this is from or who is playing the solo but it smokes:
Bob Dylan with Michael Bloomfield, Warfield Theater, San Francisco, November 15, 1980:
Oh to have been a fly on the wall as Bob Dylan wrote some of his now classic songs.
Until time travel becomes possible, the closest we may get to observing Dylan the songwriter in action are the four pages from the working manuscript for “Like A Rolling Stone” that Sotheby’s will auction on June 24, 2014 in New York.
On the pages, along with many of the lines that ended up in what some believe is Dylan’s greatest song, a song that certainly changed people’s ideas of what rock ‘n’ roll could be upon it’s release in July of 1965, are lyrics that Dylan clearly was considering for inclusion, but which didn’t make the cut.
The chorus, for instance, didn’t fully come together until page four of the manuscript. On page one there is a version of the chorus that reads:
“How does it feel
How does it feel
To be (or not to be) on your own
Direction (road back home)
Like a complete unknown, like a rolling stone.”
Right below the second “How does it feel,” Dylan has added “Is it ain’t quite real.”
And at the side of the page it says “Al Capone” with a line drawn to the word “direction” in the chorus.
On the second page of the manuscript is a version of the chorus with “path unknown” as one of the lines.
At the top of page three is written: “How does it feel/ Behind the wheel.”
At the bottom of page three the chorus is again a work in progress:
How does it feel to be on your own
It feels real (dog-bone)
Does it feel real.”
Then he wrote “New direction home” but put a line through “new” and wrote “no” under it.
Then: “When the winds have (unreadable word that could be “flown”)
“Shut up and deal like a rolling stone
Get down and kneel.”
By page four this is the chorus:
“How does it feel, how does it feel
To be on your own
Like a dog without a bone
Now you’re unknown
Forever complete unknown
New direction home
No direction home
Like a rolling stone.”
“If you look at these four pages, you can see that at this stage there are rhyme schemes that he didn’t pursue, and I suppose the chorus is the biggest surprise,” Richard Austin, Sotheby’s manuscript expert, told the New York Times. “Here you have a chorus that is such an iconic piece of history, but it clearly didn’t arrive fully formed. And you wonder, if he chose another rhyme, would it have had the same impact?”
Dylan has written names of songs and books on the pages, which may or may not relate to the song itself: “Pony Blues,” a song by Charley Patton; “Midnight Special” (and above it “Mavis”); “On the Road”; and “Butcher Boy,” which likely refers to “The Butcher Boy,” an old folk song that the Clancy Brothers recorded.
“It was ten pages long,” Dylan once said of the manuscript for “Like A Rolling Stone.” “It wasn’t called anything, just a rhythm thing on paper all about my steady hatred directed at some point that was honest. In the end it wasn’t hatred, it was telling someone something they didn’t know, telling them they were lucky.”
There’s also a mostly discarded verse that reads:
“You never listened to the man who could (illegible) jive and wail
Never believed ‘m when he told you he had love for sale
You said you’d never compromise/ now he looks into your eyes
and says do you want make a deal.”
And what ended up being the third verse reads like this in part:
“You never turned around
To see the frowns
On the jugglers and the clowns
When they all came down
And did tricks for you to shake the money tree.”
There’s a line drawn through that entire last line.
The four manuscript pages for “Like A Rolling Stone” could sell for as much as $2 million.