Monthly Archives: March 2015

Bob Dylan’s MusicCares Tribute Concert Due On DVD – But What About Dylan’s Speech?

Dylan giving MusicCares speech.

The MusicCares Bob Dylan tribute concert from earlier this year which honored Dylan as 2015 MusiCares Person of the Year will be released on DVD, according to Billboard magazine.

The concert, which took place on Friday February 6, 2015, included performances by Bruce Springsteen, Jack White, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Norah Jones, Tom Jones, Los Lobos, John Mellencamp, Alanis Morissette, Willie Nelson, Aaron Neville, Sheryl Crow, Bonnie Raitt, Derek Trucks, John Doe, Jackson Browne and Neil Young. It is expected that they will all appear on the DVD.

As of now, it’s not known if Dylan’s 35-minute MusicCares speech will be on the DVD. In an earlier version of this post I reported that it would be included but that was an error. For now there is no info about the speech being included.

Dylan personally chose the performers and the songs they would sing at the MusicCares event.

Here are the songs performed:

Beck – “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat”
Aaron Neville – “Shooting Star”
Alanis Morissette – “Subterranean Homesick Blues”
Los Lobo – “On A Night Like This”
Willie Nelson – “Señor (Tales Of Yankee Power)”
Jackson Browne – “Blind Willie McTell”
John Mellencamp – “Highway 61 Revisited”
Jack White – “One More Cup Of Coffee”
Tom Jones – “What Good Am I?”
Norah Jones – “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight”
Dereck Trucks And Susan Tedeschi – “Million Miles”
John Doe – “Pressing On”
Crosby, Stills & Nash – “Girl From The North County”
Bonnie Raitt – “Standing In The Doorway”
Sheryl Crow – “Boots Of Spanish Leather”
Bruce Springsteen – “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door”
Neil Young – “Blowin’ In The Wind”

Hear excerpts:

The DVD release date has yet to be announced.

You can read the Billboard story here.

Meanwhile you can read the Dylan speech here.

— A Days Of The Crazy-Wild blog post —

Van Morrison & The ‘Astral Weeks’ Backstory – Producer To Morrision: ‘I think you’re a genius…’

Nearly forty-seven years ago, in November of 1968, one of the greatest albums, Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks, was released.

It remains Van Morrison’s masterpiece, and it shows up in all the ‘best albums ever’ lists.

This past week a fascinating story about what led to Morrison recording Astral Weeks appeared in Boston Magazine,

The story, “Astral Sojourn: The untold story of how Van Morrison fled record-industry thugs, hid out in Boston, and wrote one of rock’s greatest albums,” was written by Ryan Hamilton Walsh, who also happens to be the leader of an excellent indie rock band, Hallelujah The Hills.

Walsh’s story is particularly interesting because he got nearly all the key players in the Astral Weeks drama to talk: producer Lewis Merenstein. DJ/ J. Geils frontman Peter Wolf, Morrison’s then-wife Janet Planet, guitarist John Sheldon, Bang Records’ Carmine “Wassel” DeNoia, Warner Bros. executive Joe Smith and others.

Here’s how the story begins:

One day in 1968, when John Sheldon was 17 years old, a short, dough-faced man in a button-down shirt showed up on the doorstep of his parents’ house in Cambridge. It was the Irish songwriter for whom Sheldon, a guitar prodigy, had recently auditioned. Now here the guy was on his porch, all 5-foot-5 of him, with an upright bass player looming over his shoulder.

“I didn’t really know quite what to make of him,” Sheldon remembers. “He didn’t say very much, he had no social, kind of, ‘How you doing?’ There wasn’t any of that. We played for a while, and the first thing I remember him saying was, ‘Are you available for gigs?’”

And so it was that John Sheldon became, briefly, the guitarist for Van Morrison.

Morrison was riding the success of his first single, “Brown Eyed Girl,” but he hadn’t yet become a household name. And Boston wasn’t rolling out any red carpets upon his arrival. “There was a gig at the Boston Tea Party,” Sheldon says, “but we had no drummer. I remember going out in a car with Tom [Kielbania, the bass player] and Van. We drove by Berklee [College of Music] and saw this guy on the sidewalk. Tom said, ‘Hey, it’s Joe. Joe, do you want to play drums?’ This is the kind of level that things were happening at then.”

Morrison quickly became a constant presence in the Sheldon household. He would tie up the family phone, carrying on epic arguments over the royalties for “Brown Eyed Girl.” “My parents would come in for breakfast on Sunday,” Sheldon recalls, “and it would be a bunch of people they didn’t know.” One day, Sheldon says, “Van came over to the house in Cambridge and he said that he had a dream and in the dream there were no more electric instruments. So he got rid of the drummer and rehearsed with just me and Tom. Tom played a standup bass, me on the acoustic guitar. So that’s when we started playing songs like ‘Madame George.’”

Read the rest of this incredible story here.

Listen to all of Astral Weeks:

— A Days Of The Crazy-Wild blog post —

Famed Sinatra Producer’s Son On ‘Shadows In The Night’ – ‘…Dylan resurrects it to perfection’

Gordon Jenkins and Frank Sinatra.

Bruce Jenkins has been a sportswriter at the San Francisco Chronicle for over 40 years, but he’s also the son of famed Frank Sinatra producer Gordon Jenkins, who produced some of Sinatra’s greatest recordings. In 2005 Bruce Jenkins book about his father, “Goodbye: In Search of Gordon Jenkins,” was published.

Leave it to Greil Marcus to ask Jenkins for his thoughts on Bob Dylan’s Shadows In THe Night, an album which features new versions of songs that Gordon Jenkins recorded with Sinatra including “Where Are You?,” “The Night We Called It A Day,” “I’m A Fool To Want You” and “Autumn Leaves.”

Bruce Jenkins:

I listened to this album strictly from the perspective of being Gordon Jenkins’ son – and I have to tell you, I found it quite sweet and tender.

“My father always said that he and Sinatra made ‘September of My Years’ at exactly the right time (1965) of their lives: mid-fifties, harboring untold memories of lost love and heartbreak, but still absolutely in their prime. I’m so glad to hear Dylan, in his interviews, speak to this. At his peak, he was far too contemporary to pay much attention to Sinatra. He wrote the smartest lyrics of his generation (and of many others, I might add) and spoke to the people right then and there. It seems that as a lover of words, though, he stashed certain lyrics in the back of his mind, deeply meaningful passages from songs he knew would stand up over time.

“He dug the melodies, too. And it was such a good idea to abandon any reliance upon strings, horns, or even the piano. That’s been done. Dylan went into the studio with a wonderful pedal steel player, Donny Herron, who carried the instrumentals along with two guitarists, a bass player, and a percussionist. The result is a decidedly fresh interpretation of some classic material, and if Dylan’s voice sounds a little raw, hey, the man’s been belting ‘em out for decades. My father used to get up and leave the room if some half-baked singer appeared on television, and Dylan’s work might have driven him crazy after two or three bars. For me — and this is so crucial — the feeling is there, and if a Sinatra-Jenkins record strikes the image of a well-worn fellow pondering his fate in some lonesome tavern, Dylan resurrects it to perfection.

For more from Jenkins, plus the rest of Greil Marcus’ excellent new “Real Life Rock” column, head hear.

— A Days Of THe Crazy-Wild blog post —

Audio: Bob Dylan’s Debut Album Released 53 Years Ago — Plus Outtakes

Fifty-three years ago Bob Dylan’s debut album, Bob Dylan, was released.

Pretty much no one noticed. It didn’t sell.

It would take Peter, Paul and Mary’s cover of “Blowin’ In The Wind” for the world to really take notice.

But Bob Dylan, which contains only one original song, “Song To Woody,” is a great album.

Dylan’s voice is brilliantly unique, and his interpretations of the 12 covers are wonderful.

You can pretty much give the album a listen below if you want. Most of the versions are the studio recordings from that first album. A few aren’t.

I’ve also included three outtakes.


“You’re No Good” off debut album:

“Talkin’ New York” off debut album:

“In My Time Of Dyin'” off debut album:

“Man Of Constant Sorrow” off debut album:

“Fixin’ To Die” off debut album:

“Pretty Peggy-O”:

“Highway 51”:

“Gospel Plow”:

“Baby, Let Me Follow You Down” off debut album:

“House Of The Rising Sun” home recording, 1962:

“Freight Train Blues”:

“Song To Woody”:

“See That My Grave Is Kept Clean” off debut album:


“House Carpenter”:

“Man On The Street”:

“He Was A Friend Of Mine”:

— A Days Of The Crazy-Wild blog post —

Video: Neil Young, Dave Matthews Do ‘All Along The Watchtower’ – Farm Aid 1999

Neil Young joined the Dave Matthews Band at Farm Aid on September 12, 1999 in Bristow, Virginia to perform Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower.”

I’ve never cared for Matthews and this performance shows the amazing contrast between an artist, Neil Young, who understands the song he’s playing, and an artist, Matthews, who doesn’t have a clue.

Young takes the second and fourth verses and provides a remarkable solo on acoustic guitar.

Where Matthews vocal is incredibly forced and mannered, Young delivers his lines in the most natural and true way.

At some point Matthews appears to realize he is entirely out of his league as Young offers still more improvisational soloing.

See what you think.

— A Days Of The Crazy-Wild blog post —

Audio: Goldberg On Dylan’s ‘Shadows In The Night,’ The ‘MusicCares Speech & ‘On Highway 61’

On Saturday I was featured on Brian Wise’s Triple R radio show in Australia, “Off the Record,” talking at length about Bob Dylan’s latest album, Shadows In The Night, Dylan’s controversial MusicCares Speech in which he appeared to trash Merle Haggard, and Dennis McNally’s excellent new book, “On Highway 61,” which includes a huge section on Bob Dylan.

The show is available for free streaming. This link will take you right to the section of the show where my conversation with Brian Wise begins.

If you’re a Dylan fan I think you’ll enjoy it.

Check it out!

Off the Record.

-– 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.]

Writer Karl Ove Knausgaard On Bob Dylan – ‘In fact, it was as if he weren’t really a person at all…’

Photo by Peter van Agtmael.

I love Karl Ove Knausgaard’s epic series of novels, My Struggle. Three have thus far been translated into English and I have read them all — and I am well aware that book four will be published and available on April 28 of this year.

I am waiting.

Meanwhile, the New York Times hired Knausgaard to spend ten days in North America, come up with something fresh to say about the U.S. and express whatever he came up with in many thousands of words.

Part two of this multi-part magazine article, “My Saga,” was published today in the New York Times Magazine.

During his time in the U.S., Knausgaard traveled in a rent-a-car with photogrpaher Peter van Agtmael.

I don’t recall anything in Knausgaard’s three books, which are novels and yet are based on his life, about Bob Dylan.

So it was relief, I must say, to learn today that Dylan means something to Knausgaard. A lot I’d say, since he clearly has listened to the six-CD Basement Tapes set released late last year.

Here’s Knausgaard on Bob Dylan and a visit to Dylan’s childhood home in Duluth, Minnesota. (Dylan was born in Duluth and lived there until he was six years old.)

Peter wanted to see Bob Dylan’s childhood home, so we drove there first; it was just a few blocks away, up a steep hill behind the hotel. It looked exactly like all the other houses in the neighborhood, a small wooden duplex with a grassy patch in front. There was no sign indicating that Bob Dylan grew up here, nor was there a statue of him. That seemed appropriate, for in contrast to the other 1960s artists who were still alive, there was nothing about Bob Dylan to remind one of a statue, nothing about his music or his role had become rigid or clearly defined, no final form enclosed him. In fact, it was as if he weren’t really a person at all, but had somehow dissolved into his music. His old songs were constantly in motion, and the new songs emerged from the same stream. As he traveled around, permanently on tour, you couldn’t tell what came from him and what belonged to the American song tradition; he was just playing the music. On “The Basement Tapes,” you can hear how he discovers this mode for the first time, how he begins to live in the music, as he keeps tossing out one tune after the other, song after song, some of it fantastic, some of it junk, some of it interesting, some of it nonsense, and it doesn’t matter in the slightest, for the whole point is the lightness; that all demands for perfection and completion, for flawlessness, have been suspended; and the motion.

All writers, artists and musicians know the feeling: when you disappear into what you are doing, lose yourself in it and are no longer aware that you exist, while at the same time the feeling of existing is profound and total and what you make is never better. Work created in this state really shouldn’t be published in the artist’s name, because it has been created precisely by the artist’s nonpersonal, nonindividual, selfless side. Bob Dylan is the master of the selfless self, the king of the not-one’s-one, a deeply paradoxical figure who lived and breathed the music of this deeply paradoxical country.

“I know it’s idiotic,” Peter said, “but could you take a photo of me in front of his house?”

Afterward, Peter wanted to take some more photos of Duluth and Superior, and I drove slowly over the long bridges that connected them above the port area while he took shot after shot through the open window. The sky was gray, the concrete was gray, the snow that pressed against the side of the road was gray, and the landscape that spread out beneath us, full of warehouses, cranes, silos, fences, access roads and quays, and beyond, enormous factories spewing out smoke — all of this was gray, too. I couldn’t believe this was the same magical place we had seen the previous evening, when we emerged from the dark woods and saw those enormous, blinking red towers stretching toward the sky.

In the daylight, we now saw that they were not towers, not skyscrapers, but simply a row of slender antennas, the very plainest kind, for transmitting radio, phone or TV signals.

Read Part One and Part Two.

-– 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.]

Bruce Springsteen’s Manager Jon Landau’s Review Of ‘Blood On The Tracks’ – March 13, 1975

Forty years ago, just after rock critic Jon Landau became Bruce Springsteen’s manager and record producer, his review of Bob Dylan’s Blood On The Tracks appeared in the March 13, 1975 issue of Rolling Stone.

What is most interesting to me about the review, some of which is printed below and the rest of it you can link to, is how, what complains about in critiquing Dylan’s recording style and records — that Dylan makes records too quickly, that he doesn’t use the right musicians, and so on — are the things he made sure Bruce Springsteen didn’t do. What I mean is, Dylan might record an album in a few days and record just two or three takes of a song; Springsteen sometimes would spend a year on a record, recording an infinite number of takes with musicians he worked with for years and years.

Anyway, today we can read Landau’s review of an album that has certainly stood the test of time.

Bob Dylan, Blood On The Tracks

Reviewed by Jon Landau (for Rolling Stone)

Bob Dylan may be the Charlie Chaplin of rock & roll. Both men are regarded as geniuses by their entire audience. Both were proclaimed revolutionaries for their early work and subjected to exhaustive attack when later works were thought to be inferior. Both developed their art without so much as a nodding glance toward their peers. Both are multitalented: Chaplin as a director, actor, writer and musician; Dylan as a recording artist, singer, songwriter, prose writer and poet. Both superimposed their personalities over the techniques of their art forms. They rejected the peculiarly 20th century notion that confuses the advancement of the techniques and mechanics of an art form with the growth of art itself. They have stood alone.

When Charlie Chaplin was criticized, it was for his direction, especially in the seemingly lethargic later movies. When I criticize Dylan now, it’s not for his abilities as a singer or songwriter, which are extraordinary, but for his shortcomings as a record maker. Part of me believes that the completed record is the final measure of a pop musician’s accomplishment, just as the completed film is the final measure of a film artist’s accomplishments. It doesn’t matter how an artist gets there — Robert Johnson, Woody Guthrie (and Dylan himself upon occasion) did it with just a voice, a song and a guitar, while Phil Spector did it with orchestras, studios and borrowed voices. But I don’t believe that by the normal criteria for judging records — the mixture of sound playing, singing and words — that Dylan has gotten there often enough or consistently enough.

Chaplin transcended his lack of interest in the function of directing through his physical presence. Almost everyone recognizes that his face was the equal of other directors’ cameras, that his acting became his direction. But Dylan has no one trait — not even his lyrics — that is the equal of Chaplin’s acting. In this respect, Elvis Presley may be more representative of a rock artist whose raw talent has overcome a lack of interest and control in the process of making records.

Read the rest of this review here.

Bob Dylan – Tangled Up In Blue (New York Version 1974 Stereo)

Bob Dylan – You’re A Big Girl Now (New York Version)

Bob Dylan – Idiot Wind (New York Version 1974 Stereo)

Bob Dylan – Lily, Rosemary & The Jack Of Hearts (New York Version Stereo 1974)

Bob Dylan – If You See Her, Say Hello (New York Version 1974 Stereo)

-– 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.]

Robert Hunter On Writing With Jerry Garcia, Junk, & Much More

This week Rolling Stone ran a fascinating interview in two parts with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Huntrr, who also collaborated on songs with Bob Dylan.

Here’s writer David Browne talking to Hunter about the drugs.

When Jerry was busted in 1985, was it all catching up with him?
We all went over once to his house and confronted him, and he opened the door and saw what was going on and said, “Get out of here!” He was trying to shut the door and we all filed in and did the confrontation you could do. And he said he’d do something about it. That’s about all you can do, isn’t it? All I can say is that it more or less ruined everything, having Jerry be a junkie. I remember a time when “junkie” was the nastiest thing Garcia could call anybody. You had such contempt for anybody that would get involved in that.

But what are you going to do when you’re elevated the way he was? He once said, “They’re trying to crucify me, man.” And I said, “Jerry, never mistake yourself for Jesus Christ.” And he really took that advice. He took it hard and well. You’ve got to understand the whole weight of the Grateful Dead scene was on Jerry’s shoulders, to support all the families and everything as well as the audience’s expectations. There were times when I just drove him through the wall.

Then Jerry had his coma in 1986.
Jerry was diabetic, and before he had a coma, he was guzzling down fruit juice. It would’ve been better if he was guzzling down brandy. I believe that sugar put Jerry where he was. He was in terrible health — diabetic and taking immense amounts of sugar, and it did what sugar will do to a diabetic and overloaded him into a coma. I remember going in to see him when he was coming out of it, and he was saying, “Am I insane?” And I said, “No, man, you’ve been very, very ill, but you’re fine, you know, you’re coming out of it.” And he said, “I’ve seen the most amazing thing.” He’d been somewhere.

Read all of part two of the interview here.

There is great stuff in part one as well.

Let’s talk about how you became the Dead’s primary lyricist in 1967.
I got pretty deeply into speed and meth and came close to messin’ myself up. The scene I was in, I had to get out of that scene entirely, because as long as it was around I would be tempted, so I went off to New Mexico. And while I was there I had been writing some songs, mostly before I left Palo Alto. I had written “St. Stephen” and “China Cat Sunflower,” and I sent those — and “Alligator” — off to Jerry, and he uncharacteristically wrote back [laughs]. He said they were going to use the songs and why didn’t I come out and be their lyricist? Which I did.

How would you write songs with Garcia?

Jerry didn’t like sitting down by himself and writing songs. He said, “I would rather toss cards in a hat than write songs,” and this was very true. There were situations where he would come over and have melodies and we’d see what we could get out of that. More often I would give him a stack of songs and he’d say, “Oh, God, Hunter! Not again!” He’d throw away what he didn’t like. I’d like to have some of the stuff he tossed out! I don’t know where it went. I wrote once about “cue balls made of Styrofoam” — that line from “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo.” Jerry took objection to the word Styrofoam. He said, “This is so uncharacteristic of your work, to put something as time dated” — or whatever that word would be — “as Styrofoam into it.” I’ve never sung that song without regretting I put that line in. Jerry also didn’t like songs that had political themes to them, and in retrospect I think this was wise, because a lot of the stuff with political themes from those days sounds pretty callow these days.

Read the entire part one here.

– A Days Of The Crazy-Wild blog post –