Wednesday, June 21, 2017

INTRODUCTION



WELCOME! Here, I will be attempting to review and write about every Bob Dylan record, and rate every song on every Dylan STUDIO album. How could someone do this, you ask? Easy. Very easy. I will also be eating my dinner while I do this, which is ever easier, but harder to type on occasion.

I WILL BE UPDATING THIS WEEKLY (perhaps 2 a week on occasion when the hunger strikes!)

Bob Dylan was born Robert Zimmerman in Duluth, MN and took the world by storm in the early '60s. He continues to write, record, and tour to this day. For additional information on Bob Dylan, please refer to outside sources accessible in under 1 minute or less.

Each song is accompanied with a numerical rating as follows:
5- PERFECT
4- ALMOST PERFECT THERE, ZIMMY
3- I'LL TAKE IT, ZIM!
2- ZIMMERMAN!!! GET IN HERE AND EXPLAIN YOURSELF!
1- GET OUF MY OFFICE, ZIMMY. YOU'RE FIRED! 


With that I say, happy travels, safe listening, and MANGIA! (Italian for "chewy your food slowly"... if you do not chew slowly you may choke on your food. If you find yourself in this situation, please refer to the international sign for choking)
 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Planet Waves (1974)

Planet Waves
(1974, Asylum Records)


MY DINNER

(rosemary potatoes, lentils, and tempeh strips in buffalo cheddar sauce).

WELCOME BACK.... is something I should say to myself first. I bet you thought I'd died. Huh? Be honest. Thank you to all who sent donations in lieu of flowers to my family. They were very confused, upset, and then overjoyed when I confirmed I wasn't yet dead. Thanks for making this guy feel alive again! Well, a lot has happened since I last posted in December. A half a year has passed in fact. During that time, I ate many dinners. Sometimes as many as two a night because I am a glutton. I listened to much music, underwent a major residential move, took on a big promotion at the big job for a small increase in pay, and lost but then found one of my 3 cats. Yes, I've been keeping busy, but not so much in blog land (a strange universe full of encrypted texts and shitty opinions).  And to you, the reader, I offer this; WELCOME BACK!

Here at Dinner with Dylan, we strive for excellence. Delicious vegetarian meals for 1 (me), shitty pictures of said food (for you), and a rundown of each Bob Dylan LP. For tonight's meal, I have prepared myself some rustic looking rosemary potatoes, a hard-on-the-eyes heaping of lentils, and vegan tempeh strips smothered in a buffalo cheese sauce. Bone app a teet.

NOW, LET'S GET DOWN TO THE RECORD!

No, friends. This Planet Waves you see before you is not a Beach Boys' record I decided to slip in as some sort of rock review rues, and such a rues shall never come to be. It's Bob Dylan's 14th LP recorded with his old backing band... uhhhh, The Band. You might remember the band for helping "take a load off [of ol'] Fanny" and being Bob Dylan's band in the late '60s when people where shouting things like "Judas!" and "Robbie Robertson is a weird name!" at Bob Dylan.

But first, where was I? Well, I just sat down to eat my dinner and review Mr. Robert Dylan's half-decent album, when all of a sudden, my feline friend Mitzi decided to drop a couple of her post dinner bombs in her litter box below my computer's desk. Always at our most triumphant times of solitude, the stench of reality creeps in. Woof! It's getting rank in here, so I'll get right to the point, and light a scented candle or two. 

After, or in the throes of, Bob Dylan's intentional throwaway, contractual-olbigation album Dylan, he made the move to David Geffen's new record label Asylum. The stay wouldn't last long. With his next proper LP, Blood on the Tracks, he'd be back on Columbia Records for good, where he continues to age oddly. David Geffen would go on to pose as the world's coolest record exec.; jumping out of airplanes, attending Lakers' games in front row fashion, and signing Sonic Youth to a major label contract, eventually allowing the band Nirvana to become a band your parents could happily fear. Nice work Lord Geffen.

First off, this LP is called Planet Waves. Let's not mince words here, folks. That's a really stupid name. Like incredibly bad. So what I've done is try to piece together some examples of Waves and Planets over the years to make sense of it.

Here's some famous Waves for reference:

(a Beach Boys cover band)

(the band Wavves, which is spelled incorrectly)

(a frightening movie about Waves)

(famous people and their famous hair Waves)

\
(The Pope giving a Wave to the herd)


Get the picture? Good.  Here's some famous planets...

(Mars is one of the greatest hits of Planets)

(Saturn? A good Planet, most would say)

(footage from the Planet Tatooine... a place that existed a long time ago, and far far away)

(a Planet made of Pizza)

(a Planet with great gas mileage?)


So now that we all know what Planet Waves is all about, what's the overall legacy of Dylan's 14th LP? Well, at the time, fans went nuts for the record, being his first "real" album since 1970's New Morning, and his first in which he announced an actual accompanying tour. Now-a-days, Planet Waves is more of a... "Oh, have you heard Dylan's 14th record, Planet Waves? Oh you did, huh? Wow, cool. Wanna go to Planet Honda and buy a car so we can eat breadsticks over at Pizza Planet?" Happens every time. 

Grab your boards and find a planet. LET'S FEAST, and ride the wave...


SIDE A:
On a Night Like This- Let the roots rock take hold and sink into ya baby. This is a swinging' shuffle, Dylan sounding well rested, years away from a motorcycle accident he probably made up anyway. The Band backs him up, and does the Zim a real solid on this. Boarders on cornball, but a little bit out of left-field and fairly tight. I'll take it.

(this is what Bob Dylan's motorcycle accident might've looked like, if he was smart enough to wear a helmet)


Going, Going, Gone- Also known as "Dylan Invents the Home Run Call" among baseball aficionados who love to talk Dylan in between innings.

(Muscular Zimmy swings for the fences, in a computer game)

However, let's not joke too much, because this song is about suicide. However, if M*A*S*H* taught me anything, it's that "suicide is painless," so it's back to being okay to make jokes.

First, TIME OUT... time to tackle this dinner. Well, these potatoes sure are starchy. You can always count on that with our friend, the potato. Also, this rosemary is really making it. I love rosemary. Let's talk about some other rosemary's I enjoy for a second: Clooney, Baby, that song that's also about thyme.... So many classics. The cheddar sauce on this tempeh is exceptionally rich and delicious. The lentils, while gag worthy to ogle, are hearty and attack the taste buds with delight despite their muddy texture. GREAT combo here.

In the song department though, this song's got the feeling of getting over a fever; you don't wanna be touched, the lights hurt your eyes, and spooned soup is a viable remedy. In that regard, I think The Band and Dylan conjured up some subtle suicidal feelings quite nicely. Although, that title kind of makes suicide seem like a homerun which is often looked upon fondly in the game of baseball. Often, they're referred to as "dingers!"


Tough Mama- Dylan and The Band decide to get a lil' funky here, probably because the word "Mama," is used in the song title. However, the song's anything but "tough." It's more of a domestic cheese that hasn't aged all that well. The Band is struttin' 'round the dance floor, flashin' that funk-rock with a country slant. But I gotta say, through the stench of the Funk (yes, with capital "F"), Dylan is dialing in one strong vocal showing. Also, this song does feature the lyric from our recent Nobel Prize winner, "it was a-hotter than a crotch," so that's a good thing.

(For reference on "a-hotter than a crotch")


Hazel- 2 This has got '70s coke sadness dripping from every pore. You can almost see the smoke collecting above the lounge stage. It's last call people! The ruffled pink tuxes worn by the band are dripping with night old sweat accented by the gaudy tri-colored stage lights. You can't feel the heat, but they've sat through it all night playing this stuff for you people. It feels so wrong to keep staying, but you don't wanna go home, so "Hazel," it is. Unfortunately, the next morning you won't remember this song anyway due to your debilitating lounge hangover. There, I saved you the time of listening. Sleazy Dylan and the boys rock a forgettable, yet barely passable one. 

Something There is About You- Zimmer-MAN sings four parts, as The Band just kind of plays inoffensive roots rock alongside. So inoffensive, I'm deeply offended. If you want some mind-fodder to snack on while floating along a lazy river at your local water park, turn this on in your (waterproof) cans. Musically, lyrically... it's not turning heads, but ride the chill wave.

(Zimmy getting ready to ride a wave with a very large Cheeto)


Forever Young- This is NOT the song Faces' singer Rod Stewart would eventually sing. If you swear it's Rod's song, then matters are actually WORSE than they seem. Rod Stewart actually RIPPED IT OFF. Eventually, the two of these aging beauties (Dylan and Rod) would settle out of court on the matter of said song. But let it be known, all you weepy eyed Aunts and Uncles who love a good wedding reception, Dylan claimed "Forever Young" first. Also, how ironic someone would rip off Dylan so blatantly! How does it feel Mr. Zimmerman. That IS your real name, isn't it? Anyway, Dylan apparently wrote this for his son Jesse, a nice gesture for a world famous poppa with a big Cheeto. This is a slow building, sentimental prickly country tinged, roots rocker. Sentimental to a fault, at times, but keep it in your hearts for a rainy day. It's okay to be a concerned parent, at all times, even if you don't have kids. 

I get ready to flip to side B as I fork around a second helping of this cheese covered tempeh. For those who don't know, tempeh is a hardened block of fermented soy beans, which sounds revolting to no end. However, you can transform this block of bean rock into a substantial protein based chunk of deliciousness. Batter it, fry it, smother, cover, toss, chop, slice, serve and chomp. As you can see, it's quite versatile. Anyway, I'm going to grab a quick helping of potatoes and jump right back into a NEW song.


SIDE B:
Forever Young- 3 WHAT? "Forever Young" again? New song, my rear! Also, the potatoes have gone cold and have gotten rather spongey. Ahhh, to hell with them. I'll keep pocking at my fermented soy bean strips. Yummmm.
Back to the muzak.  Zimny, have you gone mad with outtakes or somethin'!!!?? If you didn't get the message the first side around, flip over the record where you will be relectured by dementia suffering Zimmy dishing out more songs to his son. Dylan must've wanted young Jesse to understand that he must Fucking stay forever young! Like, this shit is imperative son! Goddammit Jesse. Listen to Daddy Dylan. Stay FOREVER YOUNG.  Eventually, Jesse moved to Neverland much to the dismay of his father, because it doesn't actually exist.
This version is the exact same song with a more upbeat feel, backed by the organ. Basically, take your pick. Do you want to stay "Forever Young," while feeling schmaltzy or corny? For me, I pick the former cause it can help bring out the grandma in all of us.

(Forever Young is also a movie with Mel Gibson before he started calling people things like "Sugar Tits" and "Christ")

Dirge- Dylan was ahead of his time in many ways, including naming songs one word titles a sludge metal band would think clever. But this is a FAR cry from sludge metal, as is oddly every song in the Bob Dylan discography. This is a simpleton piano track backed with Robbie Robertson's acoustic, classical guitar plucking. The whole thing goes on for about 10 years, which is vintage Dylan. Zimmy's vocals cut on this overlong, simplistic studio-jam. Also, the lyrics imply Dylan's storybook romance to then wife Sara was on the skids (more on that when we hit Blood on the Tracks. Ouch).

During this song, I was unhappy to report, I choked a little on my fermented soybean strips. Lodged in my chest. Perhaps it was the cold starch of the potatoes. Oh christ, tempeh, you are no good for my acid reflux!!!

(me upset at Tempe, AZ for no good reason)


You Angel You- 2 This is some poppin' standard fair with a silly title. A song that just says, "Hey buddy. Smile." Well, noone tells me to smile except maybe one of those family portrait photographers or my future therapist, so back off. The lyrics are flat out crummy. The Band backs Dylan with some blah-upbeat crud. So average, you'll want to smash Robbie Robertson in the face with a DVD copy of The Last Waltz. 


(me upset at picture of a DVD cover of The Last Waltz because it's really long if you don't like the music of The Band)


Never Say Goodbye- Robbie Robertson plays some cool, effects affected leads as everyone takes it easy on this one. Dylan's lyrics are much better here compared to "You Angel You." Short and sweet, like a roll of Smarties.

Oh, I've finished my dinner a while ago, and have now reverted to flipping off pictures of things online and posting about them. Delicious meal by the way. How do I do it, you ask? Little effort, my friends. 

Wedding Song- If "Forever Young" was a plead to Dylan's son Jesse to stay a young, diaper wearing, wide-eyed toddler who spits up oatmeal, this is a song to his wife Sara, letting her know he's always loved her to the fullest, might make you weep and tingle over a plate full of tempeh. However, just stay tuned for Blood on the Tracks. Interesting, Dylan mentions "blood" in this song. Soon, it'll be spilled all over those proverbial tracks. Ouch. Watch out Sara. BLOOD! TRACKS! ON THE!.... Anyway, this long closer is a Dylan folk throwback; acoustic guitar with a killer vocal offering by Zimmy. The pick clunking is a wonderful unaffected nuance throughout, and even Dylan's oldest friend, Mr. Harmonica, makes a welcomed unadulterated return. Nice wrap up!


ALRIGHT... Thanks for coming back for more indigestion down musical memory lane. Got a lot of road left ahead, especially since Dylan just released a triple album of covers. I can hardly wait to fall face first in a plate of spaghetti and suffocate to diner death out of boredom when we cross those tracks. But until then, join me next time when I tackle one of Dylan's most renowned works, Blood on the Tracks. So famous, school kids across Minnestoa sing the entire thing after the "Pledge of Allegiance" in public schools, leading to a 52 minute delay before tackling arithmetic.  Until next time...
(Bob Dylan searching for blood....and finding it!!!!)











Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Dylan (1973)

Dylan 
(1973, Columbia Records)


MY DINNER


(a bowl of white fucking rice, with some Kosher salt, and a dab of butter)


What you see before you is my dinner, a bowl of white rice. Why white rice, you ask? Well, to truly get into the spirit of this 1973 LP, Dylan, that's why. My bowl of rice encapsulates the true spirit of Dylan. Bland, forgettable. I'm like a goddamn martyr tonight. But I'll live. First I boiled water, then I put rice in the pot. No rice cooker was used in the making of this rice. Jesus take the wheel!  I love rice, actually.

This album should not be confused with the 2007 CD "best of" release, also called Dylan. No way, Josè (Feliciano). That 2007 Dylan was released so people shopping at Wal-Mart could buy up Bob Dylan "greatest hits" CDs by the gross and remember how relevant the man once was while stocking them in loved one's stockings. This, the original Dylan LP, was released so Columbia Records could try to make a couple peanuts off their rapidly dimming star, and so Bob Dylan could let everyone know how much he wanted to shat on Columbia.

The album is basically a contractual obligation, both for Dylan and Columbia while reaching an agreement of putting out one final release before Dylan jumped ship from his flagship label. He was on to Asylum Records after this for the grand total of ONE studio LP (Planet Waves), before rebuilding his bridge with Columbia some 2 years later (Blood on the Tracks).

Flat out, this album stinks! I'm sure some contrarians out there like it (and there's some pleasant moments). But, hey, at least it's short. In fact, this record stinks so much, it was never reissued on CD until 2013, when they buried it in his complete album box set The Complete Album Collection Volume 1 (which begs the question, what the hell is going to be on volume 2?). I mean, Bob Dylan's recorded flatulence may have made their way to CD before this ever did. I, for one, found my copy at a Thrift Store, and nearly jumped out of my shoes, even though you can order it online for like 3 bucks + shipping. The "album" consists of outtakes from the Self Portrait and New Morning sessions some 3 years earlier. Also, the (shit)kicker; the album continues NO original Bob Dylan songs. Zero. Not a one. 9 lifeless, crummy cover songs to put you to sleep. Ahhh, damn I'm losing what little appetite I had left for this white rice.

Here's a visual companion to help you understand the overall feel of the record:











When it comes to this album you are faced with a choice; do I listen, or do I take a hard piss into a strong wind gust? I say do both, because at least you'll have a weird, self-degradation story to tell with the latter.

Without any further complaining, here's Bob Dylan's most forgettable LP (and this is taking into account the 1980s).



SIDE A:
Lily of the West- I think I picked a bad time to review this one. The temperature is plummeting outside, my head hurts, I'm on my back in bed, and my rice dinner is cooling over on my desk. Did I just paint a mental Michelangelo on the Sistine ceiling for 'ya or what?
(Bob Dylan was the guy on the right back in the '60s, but on this LP, he's more the one ready to pull God's finger in a classic fart gag)

I'll let you know when I decide to get up and dive into that meal o' mine, by the way.
Here, Dylan does what he does by peeling back the cover (no pun intended, since I'm in bed wanting to go under the covers while listening to a record of covers) and diving head first into another traditional arrangement, one made popular by Peter, Paul, and Mary back in the early '60s. Without having any context to previous versions (like a true scholar), this is a pretty solid arrangement, somewhere between above-average Dylan performance and throwaway country western stomp. Not a bad opener. I'm gonna buck up, you buckaroos.


Can't Help Falling in Love- Oh man, this song really is not doing me any favors helping to peel me off this bed, and I've bucked back the heck down, buckaroos. If you ever wanted to hear Dylan lifelessly cover a pretty cringe worthy version of your favorite Elvis/UB40 wedding song, snag a copy of Dylan ASAP! Creepy crawly backing vocals resonate while Dylan sounds partly dead, maybe deaf, the band certainly half deaf and dead. Flamenco guitar leads  and rhythmic strums on life support fill out the rest just in case you wanted to feel a little more dead inside too. OH brother.

This song's about as fun as getting shot with paintballs...

("having fun yet?"- weird girl looking provocative after getting hit by paintballs while listening to "Can't Help Falling in Love") 


Sarah Jane- Okay, I'm up now and ready to eat. Fork in hand. Needle in groove. Shine on you crazy Dylan. This rice is warm and white for sure. Can't deny any of the facts. Boiled that water and dropped in one cup, and it couldn't have come out better. Kind of grainy through, y'know?

The end of "Can't Help Falling in Love" dragged on for several months so I had to go do something with me life, like finish this entry. So here we find ourselves with another traditional tune, "Sarah Jane." Compared to the last track, this one's practically a pogo punk anthem with its unbridled energy, poorly mixed "la-la-la-la-la" vocal parts, and rambunctious session playing. Not breaking any new ground here, but this sticks to the parts of my brain that celebrate both the "catchy" and the slightly "bizarre." So weird, I kind of LOVE it. Crap, but crap that should be revisited.


The Ballad of Ira Hayes- Bob Dylan covers his buddy, classic folker Peter LaFarge in what has become a folk classic, mainly due to Johnny Cash's version. You'll know that version, if you've bothered to even google Johnny Cash and hear a few songs. And you know what, Mr. Man In Black, I'm gonna say Bobby did it better. Yeah, that's right. Come fight me, Jaqcuin Phoenix... Ira Hayes, a native American who helped raise the flag at Iwo Jima, returns home to find his people disowned him. So do the American public at large. Ira Hayes met his maker at the end of a bottle some ten years after raising that flag. A tragic tale put to tape. On this cover, Dylan kills it vocally, the whole song playing out like a slow, weepy gospel tune, with some questionable musical accompaniment that really MAKES this song. Another bizarre affair, à la Self Portrait. A long and strangely beautiful rendition.

Also, this rice is still pretty damn ricey. I think I added the right amount of salt. Not bragging or anything, just sayin'.

(Actual photo of Johnny Cash hearing about Ira Hayes from a skull-capped newsy waving a paper. Historic)




SIDE B:
Mr. Bojangles- Not to be confused with the tap dancing actor Bill Robinson, or the fried chicken chain, "Mr. Bojangles" was originally written by country crooner Jerry Jeff Walker.

(Bojangles is a possible shitty place where you can write your own "Dinner with Dylan" entries)

Here, Dylan gives a soulful take on an old favorite to many aging men who know their country history.  The organ kind of rips, the gospel girls are giving an eerie, haunted-church choir performance, and Dylan bellows to the heavens. Overall, this song is like an avant nightmare. It's dreary, haunting, kind of great, slightly unnerving. Is it all really necessary? Is any of this necessary? Which brings me to my next question; why are we here?

(God explains to a casual Dylan fan the meaning of life and the purpose of 1973's Dylan)


Mary Ann- 1 I'm finishing up my rice, but it got stuck in my throat for a while and I'm getting nasty, starch induced acid reflux. I'm gonna gag to death... Cause of death; Gagging? Dylan? Blogging? Oh, the prospects are so embarrassing. I must clear this blockage and live on.

Wow. Deep breath after that one.... Between trying to find out the meaning of life and choking on white rice, things got a bit existential but thankfully NOT gastrointestinal for a second. A little too deep for a casual music write-up, perhaps, but I'm grounded and ready to tackle another song that was not written by Robert Zimmerman of Duluth Minnesota. Okay, here we have a lifeless Dylan delivering a lifeless country folker. The gospel singers are busy planting nightmare seeds in my brain. Truly an unnecessary song, but at least it's over in under three minutes, just enough time to pick any stray grains of rice out of my teeth. Lifeless. Garbage. Dead on arrival with guitar. Thanks, lifeless Zimmy.

("You're welcome"- lifeless Zimmy, circa '70s talking to me)


Big Yellow Taxi- You may know this song because it was written by and got Counting Crows elected into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame, and subsequently led to Adam Duritz unanimous victory as Mayor of Cleveland. Okay, I may have underestimated your intelligence. It's written by the everyone's favorite Bleacher-sitter, Joni Mitchell. Also Adam Duritz never held office in Cleveland. That honor, of course goes to....
(Howard the Duck, or late Toronto Mayor Rob Ford... we may never know)

Here, Dylan delivers a weirdo, bent-out-of-shape version full of obtrusive bongo spanking, ear piercing back-ups, and some half-assed vocal delivery. If this is what paradise looks like, bulldoze it and start over. Oh yes, and pave it silly!

A Fool Such as I- For the first time on the record, Bob Dylan, the master of the cover song, dons his deep crooner voice straight out of the Self Portrait sessions. Yes, ol' Meaball throat is back! The song shuffles forward, getting punk as hell, but minus all the punk while retaining some of the hell. Rock n roll country stuff for your tired ear. Again, why? Why are we here? What is the meaning of life? Is there a God?

(Thanks for clearing that up, Stephen)


Spanish is the Loving Tongue- If side B has not reaffirmed your lust for life, this closer isn't going to help ignite any sparks in your blackened soul. First part is straight ballad with lusty crooning. Then the lust really breaks in as the song picks up some lustful steam and but dies listlessly and lustless. It such a shame, especially when "Spanish is the Loving Tongue" What do you think Adam Sandler?

("Hoagies and grinders. Navy beans, navy beans, navy beans"- Adam Sandler talking normally)


Thanks for joining me in a quest for the meaning of life through Bob Dylan's "lost" and "recycled" LP. Things got deep there for a second. By the way, if any readers figure out the meaning of life between now and the next post, please email me at vikingoncampus@gmail.com.

I was able to find this album in a thrift store, as I mentioned earlier. Hopefully, one day this monkey's paw of an LP can fall into your hands and make most of your middle-of-the-road nightmares come true. Excuse me while I go in search of caffeine to kick me back into gear. What'dya say Zimmy?

("Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz"- Bob Dylan and his empty boots... from the Library of Congress)

NEXT WEEK, we get back on track with a REAL LP, as Bob Dylan reunites with THE BAND and rides the WAVES... Planet Waves that is.







Monday, November 28, 2016

Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973)

Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid
(1973, Columbia Records)


MY DINNER

(Thanksgiving leftovers, minus turkey, plus Apple Pie!)

I know I last said I'd be back in time for a quick review before Thanksgiving, but something got in the way; THANKSGIVING. Turns out, working in the food industry and being a part-time record reviewer during the week of Thanksgiving is a fairly impossible task. Clocked 60 hours in the food biz... nearly 0 in music consumption. Yikes!  Now that you're all fed, and I hope you had a jolly time, let's step back into Dinner with Dylan, and give thanks to Outlaw Zimmy for all the bountiful gifts he's bestowed upon us. 

For tonight's dinner, I've smashed together a bunch of delicious, off color, slop onto my plate and called it a night. The food mash you see in front of you was lovingly cooked by my parents for a Thanksgiving feast I was unable to attend this past Thursday. Today, I was rewarded by dropping home for a visit, and tupperwares full of misfit side dishes followed me home. Brioche stuffing? It's in there. Mashed potatoes? Somewhere in there. How 'bout mushrooms, cauliflower, orange cranberry relish, and a single sweet potato? Check, check, check, ANNNND check! A slice of home made apple pie ties this all together. A glass of Shiraz (not pictured) is off the the side, ready to go straight to my head. So, now that I've summed up the hearty travesty you see before you, let's welcome back Outlaw/Cowboy Zimmy to the recorded world. 


Welcome to Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid, Zimmy's 12th studio album. Now, a little background. If y'all like instrumentals, well then has Dylan got an album for you. Why so many instrumentals? Because this is a good ol' fashioned soundtrack to the Sam Peckinpah film... what for it... Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid. Screenwriter, Rudy Wurlitzer, besides having an intriguing name, approached Dylan about writing music for the movie. Dylan being out of work for 3 years to be a boring dad in Woodstock, NY decided no comeback like a soundtrack album. Say what you will... this Dylan knows how to push the boundaries of being difficult.

Also to note, Bob Dylan made his acting debut in the film, as the character Alias. "Name's Alias... Alias, anything you please." Ok, that's a cool line.

(Bob Dylan acting.)


The record just happens to be mostly incidental music played by Bob Dylan and his group of session players (with the original sessions taking place in Mexico City, before 99% of it was finished in Burbank, CA). How does one even listen to, and break this down, as a whole? The playing is not particularly impressive, but it's not bad by any stretch. The songs (for the most part) are far from standouts, but they're decent enough to have on in the background. Sounds like it could righteously accompany a film, which in this case it does well!!! So, I'll just put this one on and let it ride, like Bob Dylan on a horse rented from the lots of MGM Studios.


("Buy the ticket, take the ride"- Bob Dylan's advice to uncooperative horses)


THE SONGS!!!!!

SIDE A:
Main Theme (Billy)Oh, well this is nice. Some guitar strums out of the right speakers that make me wanna reflect on life. On the left, we have a touching little lead guitar, also causing me to reflect on life. Is that a little tambourine holding it down? Scrumptious indeed! Why yes it is, all of that!!! Dylan, you've thought of everything now. No wait. Now you've thought of everything, because a electric bass started doing some western walking half way through. I can almost see the credits of my life scrawling across the my proverbial life screen, and I want to ride a horse while being all drunk on bathtub whiskey.

Being that this opening is 6 minutes long, I'm resisting the urge to scoop half the plate of this Thanksgiving leftover extravaganza down my gullet. This song is like an unstoppable grease fire; sometimes it's best to let these things burn out. Ride on Dylan.


(It could be speculated that Dylan removed the words to "Main Theme (Billy)" because he originally wrote them about a billy goat, an animal he used to sing like).


Cantina Theme (Workin' For the Law)If you're into "themes," get ready for another rootin' tootin' go-round of songs entitled "theme" on this "comeback" LP. And if you're in need of bongos, well have I got a sleepy, dusty little tune for you. This one packs some more "attitude," but by George, let it stop. Woof! Oh Nay, as the horses say. But in human talk, I really mean OH NO!

This plate I've made myself, by the way, is mostly a mountain of carbs. Hey, you never know when you're gonna have to run a marathon the next day. Tomorrow, I could wake up, lace up my Nike's and go on one of those Forrest Gump type running tours.

(watch for me tomorrow night on the 6 o'clock news, working off my Thanksgiving leftovers)


Billy 1Oh yeah, there's my Bobby, doing another "Billy." He's dusted off an old harmonica on this and summoned the Gods. It's said that when Bob Dylan blew into this harmonica on this recording, the ghost of Billy the Kid came back from his resting tomb and offered Dylan unparalleled success if he sold him his soul at the crossroad. Bob Dylan was like "Get outta here man, I'm a happily married man with kids and wrecked motorcycle. Scram." Thus concludes the greatest made-up rock story never told. Another thing we get from this one is Dylan's first vocal appearance on the record. Sounds good for a guy in his 30's, pushing irrelevance in 1873... I mean, 1973.

(Some people believe the song "Billy 1" is about this number 1 Billy in the hearts of baby boomers, it could be speculated)

Bunkhouse Theme3 It becomes clear around "Bunkhouse Theme," that when it came time to start naming these songs, Dylan wasn't messing around. "Theme" is great to place in any song title, especially when you have a theme to dwell upon. "Hey should I put the word 'Billy' or 'Theme' in this song title?" must have been a question his wife Sara got sick of answering every morning at breakfast.  This is a pleasant little guitar duet at just over 2 minutes long. Really brings me back to my bunkhouse days, as I'm sure it does for all of us living in the 21st century.

This plate is finished, and I'm moving on to the apple pie. Such a scrumptious smattering of greasy festivities with a heavy dose of root vegetable flavor. Thanksgiving is TOPS!

(If you look closely at any of these people pictured in this 19th century bunkhouse, you can pretend you see Bob Dylan). 


River Theme2 Where does he keep coming up with these song titles? It is said that Dylan is the David Copperfield of the Thesaurus. But far from it here folks. After 3 years of no recorded material, I guess Outlaw Zimmy was just like "Throw the word 'theme' at the end of everything, dammit. I'm a tired Zimmy, I am. [zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz]" (the following is Dylan falling asleep int he control room while talking to a producer who, himself, already fell asleep behind the mixing board). As theme's go, "River Theme" is flat out boring, even if it is only 1.5 minutes in length. This is a straight drool worthy duel acoustic and bass track full of incidental "la la la la's." Breaking ground, this is not.

(River Phoenix, despite being a boy with an unusual name, played "River Theme" everywhere he went, it may be said)


SIDE B:
Turkey Chase2 Perfect title in time for a post Thanksgiving binge. Perhaps you were all doing the Turkey Chase the past week. Ohhh, there's a fiddle in the kitchen with Dina, and there's a banjo going off down by the crick. This is real toothless, hillbilly stuff played by Bob Dylan and the boys (possibly cowboys with no teeth and gold records).  I could see how someone would chase a turkey to this song. I honestly don't know if I would randomly chase a turkey because that seems cruel to do to an unsuspecting turkey who does not have the same wherewithal as us humans. Maybe if it stole my watch or something. OR, if someone yelled, "Hey my turkey just got away and is about to run into traffic!" I would chase after a turkey to this song, I guess. I would be a hero, honored in the local paper. In other news, this is perfectly suited for spittin' used chaw into a spittoon.

(One day I hope for a headline as honorable as this, but with a turkey theme)


(It's said this song inspired Sylvester Stallone to not only write all 7 Rocky movies in one night, but to chase live poultry for handouts in Philadelphia)

Knockin' on Heaven's Door4 You might know this song as the song that turned Guns N Roses from multi-millionaires into multi-multi-billionaires, for they covered it in 1987 and classic rock radio won't let us forget. Also, Eric Clapton covered it too, because he knew George Harrison might one day kill him for stealing his wife, and Clapton would be knockin' on heavens door with Harrison's boot in the back of his skull. Unfortunately, Harrison died first and Clapton continued on being a full-time bag of crap.  Or an "Old Sock" of crap, I guess would be more fitting for him. Blech. Anyway, here, in its original form, Dylan finally drops some classic quality to sink your dentures into. The song breathes beautifully, Dylan's reverb slathered vocals give this such a haunting quality. Everything about this song is pretty understated for such an impactful song. The backups can raise a goosebump or two. All at two and a half minutes.

(Billy Corgan is not a member of Guns N Roses, but is credited by Congress as the most famous Billy since "The Kid," and another "full-time bag of crap")

Final Theme3  Well I finished my pie too, and it was scrumptious as well. Flaky crust, a little cinnamon and nutmeg in with the apples. They still retain their crunch after being a few days old. In fact, if you've got some leftover pie in the fridge from this past week, get up off your keister and treat yourself. Don't let it go to waste!!! Save yourself!!!

Back to the song:
Ahhh shit, well forget the two and a half minutes of joy that "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" brought us. Settle in, because these next two really add up and make this a worthy record worth purchasing (in terms of length). Here, a nice little flute like solo provides the whole melodic line in place of where it'd be appropriate to hear an actual Bob Dylan sing his way through. But flutes are cool too. Just ask Ian Anderson.  This is a fitting "final theme" I guess, but I'd hate for this to play at my funeral. Everyone would be like, "THIS is the song he picked? I never knew him to be much for flute rock!" And then I'd come back and haunt everyone who thought this with a flute just to give them the heebie-jeebies.

(Ian Anderson, a flute, and his eye... for reference only)

(me in the future haunting people with a flute)


Billy 4 If "Billy 4" doesn't do it for you, then you always got "Billy 7." Or you can go back to "Billy 1." You can hop from Billy to Billy. Hell, get promiscuous with your Billies. Also, I guess the other Billies weren't available, numerically. You got Billies everywhere, as played by Bobby, and none too shabby. This Billy's got vocals at least, strong one's too. It was at this point, Bob was like "Ahh shit, I gotta give these critics something, I guess." Unfortunately it was too late, and everyone thought this album was a waste of time. Admittedly, it mostly is and the LP sleeve makes a great top for a graduation cap.

(One year after this, another Billy, who once drank furniture polish, would try to jump on the "Billy the Kid" bandwagon. The '70s were a lucrative time to be Billy the Kid, who had died some 90 years earlier).

Billy 7This is prickly folk country number. Cowboy Bob delivers a baritone performance, sounding a little weathered and dusty in the throat. In regards to this LP, I declare this the "Best of the Billies"  A compact, effective little closer with equal parts showmanship and bravado. Also, the playing on this is all over the place and sort of lo-fi. It sort of peters out and fades away, like no player has a goddamn clue on when to stop. Beautiful.




Well, my advice to to skip this soundtrack album and just watch the film instead. Haven't seen it in years, but it's pretty great. Also, check out director Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch, Straw Dogs, and Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia while you still got your hand in the popcorn bucket.

NEXT WEEK.... I slog through, perhaps, the most pointless album of Dylan's career. An LP Dylan didn't even want to release, a true Dylan contractual obligation LP with zero original Dylan input. What Dylan album am I talkin' 'bout Dylan fans? Why 1973's always forgotten Dylan, of course; an LP so forgotten even when Dylan hears it he's like.....
"It ain't me babe... Is it?"