Tag Archives: 1967

Audio: Bob Dylan Released ‘John Wesley Harding’ 47 Years Ago – Dylan: ‘I took more care in the writing’

Forty-Seven years ago, on December 27, 1967, following just three one-day recording sessions, Bob Dylan released his minimalist masterpiece, John Wesley Harding.

“We can all relax now,” wrote the music critic Ralph J. Gleason in Rolling Stone following the release of John Wesley Harding. “Bob Dylan isn’t dead. He is all right. He is well and he’s not a basket case hidden from our view forever, the lovely words and the haunting sounds gone as a result of some ghastly effect of his accident.

“And his head is in the right place, which, is after all, the best news of all.”

While the best-known song off the album is “All Along The Watchtower,” due to Jim Hendrix’s explosive rock version, every song is a gem.

Dylan recorded in Nashville with producer Bob Johnston, and for all but the final two songs, was accompanied by just two other musicians, drummer Kenny Buttrey and bassist Charlie McCoy. Pete Drake played steel guitar on the two country songs, “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” and “Down ALong The Cove.”

Some comments Dylan made, according to the Drifter’s Escape blog:

“I didn’t intentionally come out with some kind of mellow sound. I didn’t sit down and plan that sound.”

“There’s only two songs on the album which came at the same time as the music…’Down Along the Cove’ and ‘I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight’. The rest of the songs were written out on paper, and I found the tunes for them later. I didn’t do it before, and I haven’t done it since. That might account for the specialness of that album.”

“I asked Columbia to release it with no publicity and no hype, because this was the season of hype.”

“What I’m trying to do now is not use too many words. There’s no line that you can stick your finger through, there’s no hole in any of the stanzas. There’s no blank filler. Each line has something.”

In an interview published in Newsweek in February 1968 Dylan told writer Hubert Saal:

“I was always with the traditional song. I just used electricity to wrap it up in. Probably I wasn’t ready yet to make it simple. It’s more complicated playing an electric guitar because you’re five or ten feet away from the sound and you strain for things that you don’t have to when the sound is right next to your body. Anyway it’s the song itself that matters, not the sound of the song.”

“I could have sung each of them better. I’m not exactly dissatisfied but I’m just not about to brag about the performance. In writing songs I have one great trouble. I’m lazy. I wish I could but you’re not going to find me sitting down at the piano every morning. Either it comes or doesn’t. Of course some songs, like ‘Restless Farewell,’ I’ve written just to fill up an album. And there are songs in which I made up a whole verse just to get to another verse.”

“It [John Wesley Harding] holds together better. I’ve always tried to get simple. I haven’t always succeeded. But here I took more care in the writing. In Blonde on Blonde I wrote out all the songs in the studio. The musicians played cards, I wrote out a song, we’d do it they’d go back to their game and I’d write out another song.”

Dylan talked to John Cohen and Happy Traum in June and July, 1968, for Sing Out!

Dylan talks about ballads and then John Cohen asks if “Wicked Messenger” is a ballad.

Dylan: In a sense, but the ballad form isn’t there. Well, the scope is there atually, but in a more compressed sense. The scope opens up, just by a few little tricks. I know why it opens up, but in a bllad in the true sense, it woudl’t open ujp that way. It does not reach the proportions I had intended for it.

Cohen: Have you ever written a ballad?

Dylan: I believe on my second record album, “Boots of Spanish Leather.”

Cohen: Then most of the songs on John Wesley Harding, you don’t consider ballads?

Dylan: Well I do, but not in the traditional sense. I haven’t fulfilled the balladeer’s job. A balladeer can sit down and sing three ballads for an hour and a half. See, on the album, you have to think about it after you hear it, that’s what takes up the time, but with a ballad, you don’t necessarily have to think about it after you hear it, it can all unfold to you. These melodies on the John Wesley Harding album lack this traditional sense of time. As with the third verse of the ‘Wicked Messenger,’ which opens it up, and then the time schedule takes a jump and soon the song becomes wider. One realizes that when one hears it, but one might have to adapt to it. But we are not hearing anything that isn’t there; anything we can imagine is really there. The same thing is true of the song ‘All ALong the Watchtower,’ which opens up in a slightly different way, in a stranger way, for here we have the cycle of events working in a rather reverse order.

About songwritng Dylan says: It’s like this painter who lives around here — he paints the area in a radius of twenty miles, he paints bright strong pictures. He might take a barn from twenty miles away, and hook it up with a brook right next door, then with a car ten miles away, and with the sky on some certain day, and the light on the trees from another certain day. A person passing by will be painted alongside someone ten miles away. And in the end he’ll have this composite picture of something which you can’t say exists in his mind. It’s not that he started off willfully painting this picture from all his experience … That’s more or less what I do.

— A Days Of The Cray-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 —

Video: 1967 Velvet Underground Footage Shot By Andy Warhol Surfaces

This film was shot by Andy Warhol in 1967 at the Boston Tea Party, a concert venue in Boston.

It’s quite experimental as a film. The sound quality is mostly terrible. I’ve also included audio of another concert by the VU at the Boston Tea Party with good sound.

But as a document the Warhol footage is fascinating.

Here’s what was posted along with the video on YouTube:

THE VELVET UNDERGROUND IN BOSTON (1967, sound, color, 33 mins. Dir: Andy Warhol):
This newly unearthed film, which Warhol shot during a concert at the Boston Tea Party, features a variety of filmmaking techniques. Sudden in-and-out zooms, sweeping panning shots, in-camera edits that create single frame images and bursts of light like paparazzi flash bulbs going off mirror the kinesthetic experience of the Exploding Plastic Inevitable, with its strobe lights, whip dancers, colorful slide shows, multi-screen projections, liberal use of amphetamines, and overpowering sound. It is a significant find indeed for fans of the Velvets, being one of only two known films with synchronous sound of the band performing live, and this the only one in color. It’s fitting that it was shot at the Boston Tea Party, as the Beantown club became one of the band’s favorite, most-played venues, and was where a 16-year-old Jonathan Richman faithfully attended every show and befriended the group. Richman, who would later have his debut recordings produced by John Cale, and later yet record a song about the group, is just possibly seen in the background of this film.

Here’s geat audio of a live show at the same venue but in 1969:

Thanks Doom and Gloom From the Tomb!

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