Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Highway 61 Revisited (1965)

HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED
(1965, Columbia Records)




 MY DINNER


Strap on your shades, toke up, and turn up, cause it's the '60s baby, and it's rock AND roll time.





Just to put us in the mood of things that roll and rock, here's some images of rolling stones.


(Rolling Stones with American hats...)




(And Rolling Stones gathering NO moss)



For those ready to get down and dirty, you can now have both of your favorite "R" words together all in one compact Zimmy album, if your favorite words are indeed "rock" and "roll," and not "radicivorous" and "rusticate."

Summer 2016 is officially here, so let's keep this ball rolling, like a stone. First, a quick run down of my weird plate... I have purchased myself a hefty falafel platter dinner from the Eddie's Falafel, a takeout spot in central NJ. Here, I've found myself with 5 falafel balls over brown rice, lathered in a light yogurt dill sauce. For crunch factor, we're looking at onions, tomatoes, and some hot sauce for a guttural burn. Some added pita slices appease the hungry man, for sure.

ON TO THE RECORD..... If you thought things were changing for the Zimmaster last go round, we've now hit dead man's curve with severed brake lines. After Highway 61 Revisited, things would never be the same for our wiley haired coyote.... One, he exiled his beloved followers for good with this one. And two, because Bob Dylan would soon change his sound yet again (to country!?!), because this walking bag of nuts can't wade in one musical lazy-river for too long without creatively pruning. 

SO, to catch up on the generals, Dylan finally went electric on his last record Bringing It All Back Home, but HERE, Dylan is the rock god of Macdougall, Houston, and Bleecker Streets all rolled into one tightly packed NYC subway map of a doob. See, said NYC streets weren't known for rock Gods, but rather for ho-hum types with clunky acoustic guitars. Dylan just happened to be their God. With this LP, Dylan had finally been ostracized full on by the moarning folk crowd, joined arm in sweatered arm ready to burn his records.

(a "betrayed" Dylan fan, circa 1965)


If Bringing It All Back Home got everyone hot under the collar, check this. Exactly one month prior to Highway 61 Revisited's release, Dylan hit the stage at the Newport Folk Festival to perform his now famous set with full-electric backing band, effectively spearheading a cold war between the dying folk breed and the growing American rock enthusiast. Bringing It All Back Home was the foundation. Highway 61 Revisited was the sprawling mansion on top.

(Dylan and his band at the Newport Folk Festival, seconds before the the earth split open and swallowed hundreds of well groomed weirdos)


Anyways, Dylan keeps things moving here, working with new producer, Bob Johnston (mainstay from the previous LPs, Tom Wilson did record "Like a Rolling Stone"),  giving the this record a loose, ragged, rollin' feel. Like a bumpy car down a dirt road, with some empty beer cans rattling in the trunk, it's a beautiful mess that'll take you there and back. Dylan continues to wander around his headspace piecing together endless streams of diction into unbelievable lyrical tomes. Also, devoid of hyperbole, this happens to be one of the greatest records of all-time!

Finally, let's take a look at the cover before diving in. This front sleeve is pretty classic in it's own right, but not as classic as say, The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. In reality, it just shows Dylan sitting looking like a really bored fella with a rye smile. I can't explain why this resonates with people but it must have to do that strange jacket he's wearing.
Also, if you look closely, Dylan is sporting a t-shirt with a motorcycle emblem, which seems to foreshadow his much discussed 1966 motorcylce accident!!! In a way, it's like THE FIRST Beatles' Death clue.  NICE!

THE WALRUS WAS BOB!

(It is believed Paul McCartney died in a car accident chasing after his dream to be Bob Dylan. Fortunately, his body double succeeded in forming the band Wings.) 





THE SONGS!!!

SIDE A:
Like a Rolling Stone- There's this whole rock theory discussion where balding nerds argue over what exactly that majestic, yet unmistakable guitar chord actually is that rings out during the opening of The Beatles' "A Hard Day's Night." Whatever the chord, it's engrained in the hearts and minds of countless uncles who wear denim. To me, that same feeling of jubilation strikes with the muffled snare hit that leads this stone a'rollin' (aka Dylan kicking out the jams). Also, what would this song be without Al Kooper's legendary organ riff? Apparently, Kooper was just hanging at the studio, invited to play, and made it up on the spot? WHAT? How's that for striking gold repeatedly, miner Zimmerman?
("Not bad"- Bob Dylan, down in the mines)

 And with that, an improvised organ riff worth 1 million dollars in ivory piano keys helped shape this EPIC opener. Dylan also confidently delivers on what is, perhaps, the most pivotal point of his career. Outside of this LP, there's like 20 different rambling bootleg versions of this song, and while they're good, this take is lightning in a bottle. A lot of people hate it. Also, I'd like to point out a lot of people hate Bob Dylan. And a lot of people hate Rolling Stones. Also, a lot of people just love stones in general. They're called geologists.


(The Rolling Stones on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine and Bob Dylan looking up at them on a cover of Rolling Stone like "wait... what the devil, maaannnn? huhuhuhuh." He was still in a perpetual fog of brilliance and street narcotics during 1965)


















Tombstone Blues- 5  Just like the old days, this song starts off with some acoustic Dylan. Then, three seconds later he kicks his folk fans in the face (literally, some say, the no good rascal), as this song rips along in a raucous stomp fest full of string pluckin' and organ blasts! Dylan bring his freeform kolydespoic poetry into the mix and jams it in your skull. What's a man to do when he's got so much to say, but none of it makes sense? A wise psychiatrist might have once said this is exactly what the "tombstone blues" is, Zimmy. Dylan's on fire, but the local fire company is at the annual crosstown softball game chuggin' beers. Ain't no one gonna extinguish this genius (wait until the late '70s, though).

(Dylan after creatively spontaneously combusting, circa '65)



It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry- And it takes a lot of words to complete the whole song title. I realize I've yet to comment on my dinner, as it's now almost depleted at this point. Got caught up in the precious moments! This cold takeout is surprisingly DELICIOUS, as is everything I seem to eat. OK! Is that alright with you? My tolerance for food is high, and I make every bite an optimistic one. This falafel plate is none too spicy, just oniony enough. The falafel itself; quite crips, yet moist, which is what you want in a quality falafel. Good lord, it's on point.
Anyway, this one's got a real rainy day, smokey blues feel throughout. It's like Dylan has copped the coolest blues song of all-time and made it cooler. The chorus is pretty much the hook lifted from "Like A Rolling Stone" but who cares. What's a Dylan to do but steal from himself (after already stealing from everyone else). The feel good blues trudge of the summer of '65. Also, shoutout to the tuba! 

From a Buick 6- 5  One of my favorites! Zimmy gets all unhinged, hot, bothered, tarred, feathered, barred, discharged, short pants, romance, learn to dance, try to be a success, please her, please him, 20 years of schoolin' and they put you on the day shift, the pump don't work cause the vandals took the handle.... WHOA! I'm sorry, I went into a Zimmy word seizure and let my fingers do the walking. Speaking of walking, that bopping blues baseline? To die for. Literally. Offer yourself up as sacrifice. And that screeching organ? You guessed it. Too die for. See you on the other side! All the while, Dylan's in the studio whining away desperately, with piss and vinegar charging through his speed coated veins (and that snarl? At this point it is safe to assume he was actually a goat wearing sunglasses). If this didn't give one of those smug folkies a heart attack then what else could (besides years of careless smoking).
Also, I have finished my falafel platter. Cheers to another day of being able to eat food! It was quite good.


(Bob Dylan during the recording of "From a Buick 6", reportedly)

Ballad of a Thin Man- Have you ever been at a real feel good party and then out of nowhere the cops are at the door and someone screams from the other room because some uninvited guest just OD'd, and meanwhile there's a dog just peeing on your new sneakers? I should hope NOT!!! But, that's sort of what this abprut shift in the LP feels like. And fittingly enough, this falafel is giving some wicked agita right about now. I knew it was gonna happen, and yet, I did not prepare. Prilosec was not my appetizer, and now I shall suffer slowly. Anyway, this tune hangs heavy in clousds of cigarette smoke, as Dylan delivers a scathing, drawling epic of confusion, scorn, and black sunglasses sexy kewlness. What does all of this mean? I don't really know, Mr. Jones. I have heartburn!

(This song is reportedly not about Mr. Jones, a member of television's The Monkees).




(William Powell starred in the Thin Man films of the '30s and '40s. Unfortunately everyone in this photo has passed on, except the dog who continues to act to this day!)


SIDE B:
Queen Jane Approximately- Welcome to the other side. Here, Big D really lets this one breath, the organ spreading its wings and letting the spring air underneath for a change. Everything up to this point on the LP is either smokey blues chocking your lung or rocking the rafters. This opener to side B is the most upbeat hybrid of the airiness found in "Like a Rolling Stone" spliced with that of a dove taking flight. A beautiful, beautiful dove. And unlike the white winged dove, Dylan's obtuse poetry sounds downright spiteful. You gotta love this. Everywhere the guy turns he's proclaiming his genius while setting shit on fire, in the figurative sense of course.



(how you should feel listening to this album right about now, and how my indigestion feels after eating this falafel platter. Zimmy does not need no water, and shall let the mother burn)

Highway 61 Revisited- According to various sources such as books and internet (which essetinally rip-off books), Zimmy had to fight the powers that be to name this album after Highway 61 in the first place. The highway goes from his boyhood home in Duluth, MN down to the dirty delta bayou of the deep south. While I'm not a cartographer, I'll take others people's word for it as I search for my atlas. This is the loosiest, goosiest track of the whole album. There's an annoying, (somewhat brilliant), tin whistle wailing about in the back. Even the piano romps appear to be out to tickle a funny bone or two. And for that, I decline one star as this being the WEAKEST track on this GREAT ALBUM!

Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues- 5 Holy shit. After tin whistles and backwoods hilarity, we're thrust back into one of Dylan's expansive, winding, rhyming narratives about some sort of bullshit. It's beautiful, it's long, it's beyond cool. It'll make you jealous you didn't write it, and you'll realize you didn't deserve to write it anyway. Apparently it was one of the longest songs to record to tape during the sessions. Thankfully, for the human race, it happened. And here we sit, with one of the greatest Dylan tunes of forever and ever, amen.

(for reference: an example of Tom's thumb)


Desolation Row- This song is longer than the Bible so good luck getting through it. What am I saying? Put your feet up, let the guitar sweeps take you away into the deep sea of poetic verse and be happy to drown there. The only none electric song on the record, Dylan spins another never ending tale in a bottomless bowl of lexicon soup, contrasting startling imagery and allusions matched with one of the greatest, simplest guitar hooks of all time. Perhaps the BEST of Dylan's epic closers? Wait around on this site and see so you can disagree with me and pour hot gravy over my head. After all, this IS a food blog! Revenge is a dish best served in a gravy boat.


Until next time, eat up, plug in, tune in, drop out, hang ten, hang loose, loosen up, out last, and peace out...

("Where you goin' maaaaaaannnnnn? Is dinner over? Daammmmmnnnnnn.- Bob Dylan, missing meals in '65)




STAY TUNED NEXT WEEK FOR THE EPIC DOUBLE LP Blonde on Blonde, another one of the greatest records of all-time according to the United Nations. 






Friday, June 17, 2016

Brining It All Back Home (1965)

Bringing It All Back Home
(1965, Columbia Records)


MY DINNER



Low and behold, I have returned with yet another dinner, this time presenting a dish that would make one long for Christmas.  Some of you strange ghost busting fans may be thinking "Is that pile of ectoplasmic residue you're eating?" and no, it's also not left over gook from the set of You Can't Do That on Television, you even stranger fans of kids television references. It IS, however, spaghetti squash topped with an avacado based pesto sauce, topped with tomatoes redder than the nose of a drunken Rudolph.  Let me tell you, this dish is simple, effective, and actually pretty good for you. Diverging slightly from my seemingly strict "fried hash brown on top of a weird sandwich" cuisine I seem to stick to. I am sorry Dylanphiles but it's just gotta be this way. Like many American Doctors seem to be saying: "Be kind to your arteries, because they are God's play things inside your body, keeping you alive, you stupid idiot." 

Okay, so on to the main reason we're all here; Robert Zimmerman, later born again as the three syllabled Bob Dylan (easier on the ears while sipping latte in a Barnes and Noble for sure). While Dylan's career was pretty freakin' amazing before with all of his folking around, here’s where things start to get pretty darn good. And I mean really DARN good. This is FINALLY that much talked about moment when Bob Dylan plugged in and turned the world on its ear. It's also the record that personally got me hooked on Dylan. I listened to it with my windows rolled down, barely even acknoweledging Yield signs, running my tires up against curbs, and dropping money at Taco Bell with my brand new license in back pocket. I didn't even have a wallet yet! My trips down memory lane are far from scenic, and full of potholes. But this album remains unchanged. VroomVroom

Bringing It All Back Home, an LP far from Dylan's comfort zone, came out seven months after Another Side of Bob Dylan. Dylan plugs the electric slinger in for all of Side-A, gets ridiculous, beautifully abstract, goes off the deep end, and hits his head on wild success and self-inflicted alienation of his fans. And this is a good 2-3 years before everyone else in the “rock” world went off the deep end with all the damned drugs and the epileptic dancing. With this, Dylan’s first “electric” album, we get a great mix of obtuse, poetic rhyme schemes, haunting imagery, raucous roadside jams, all with a killer rhythm section assembled by producer Tom Wilson. 

What evidence do we have that Dylan's gone electric, you might be asking (besides the buzzing of the 6 string)? Hmmm, how about Exhibit A), the only exhibit we'll need. You can tell Zimmy's electric on this album by his hair. 

(Robert Zimmerman aka Bob Dylan)

It's clear while plugging in the amplifier, something he'd never done in the past, it sent the helmet skyrocketing. It's science involving electric currents and one's body acting as a conductor, but I won't bore you with the details. I'm neither a scientist, nor a detailer. While some may receive electric shocks and die, others turn out to be geniuses, I guess. 


(Einstein was all about Science and was also a doctor. Here, he sports his best Dylan-do after going electric)

(Filmaker, Yahoo Serious went electric, plugging in for his 1988 movie Young Einstein, who's pictured above. Here, he is not Bob Dylan)


(This guy)

(Einstein from Back to the Future, pictured next to Michael J. Fox's crotch. Here, he's not understanding the complexities of The Times They Are A-Changin' for he was a dog, not a doctor or scientist)


At this time, Dylan was practically killed by the folk faithful who felt betrayed, and felt as though they just got beat up for their lunch money by the principal himself. Meanwhile, Dylan limped around full of electricity like Frankenstein's Monster, who also could read Rambaud. He was still a couple months shy of making his public "electric" debut at the Newport Folk Festival in '65, an incident that went down in history as the second most important incident to involve electricity in American history.


(Yet another man goes electric as the history books would lead you to believe. Like Dylan, the history books  are lying to you)

Starting with Bringing It All Back Home, Dylan released a near perfect trilogy of LPs, culminating in what was the drug tinged, blues frenzy of a double LP titled Blonde on Blonde. It was a time when rock critics salivated and took home a nice paycheck for a weird job. 

This LP goes great with dinner too, despite the fact I’ll probably keep jumping up to cheer every time the next song comes on, choking on my food like a jerk. Also, no wine with this dinner tonight. I think I've realized I just hate the juice when coupled with food.





THE SONGS!!!

Subterranean Homesick Blues- 5 This LP starts off like a burst of lighting. The short tune opens up with that classic rock-hillbilly guitar twang and breaks into that undeniable backbeat before turning into the world's first rap song by a Jewish artist nearly 20 years before The Beastie Boys became the illest. Well this song is a steaming bowl of word soup with nearly annoying hooky rhymes, but it's all pretty brilliant! If I were Vice President, Hubert Humphrey, I'd tell my boy President Lyndon B. Johnson to declare this a national treasure in the act of rhyming. Some people think this song is gimmicky, as Dylan spouts off a bunch of nonsense while the boys behind him pave a rocky road of blues. It almost flies off the rails, but never quite does. This song is also credited for naming a bunch of bands, whether true of not, along with an American radical organization; Weather Underground (the radical organization), fIREHOSE (SST Records indie rock), Pavement (90s hunks), The Vandals (silly dudes making fast punk). 



("Subterranean..." contains most words used in this traditional American coffee table book)

She Belongs To Me- 5 After that proto-punk rap opener, Dylan really scales it back with this introspective, poetic strummer where he places this mysterious woman on a pedestal all while losing his sanity. So basically, we're par for the course. Speaking of course, I'm gonna start my main course. MMMMMM, can't you just feel the steam of the spaghetti squash rising up from the confines of this dish and kissing your face like the rays of an early summer's 'morn? NO? Me neither, because it's fairly lukewarm, but tasty for sure! Sweet, lightly salted. But the avocado pesto? OH Brother, I surrender. This is out of this world if you've come to wrap your tongue up in a lovely basil blanket. Anyway, back to this crowd pleaser. For the first time in a while, Dylan's harmonica actually sounds appropriate in the mix. It fails to lacerate the ears like on earlier albums. The best part about this poetic rant is that it doesn't go on for 12 minutes like some of these typical Dylan escapades did, and eventually will... 

Maggie’s Farm- Well now that you caught your breath with that slower, folk-frayed second track, Dylan sticks his motorcycle-revin' boot in your ear again. "Maggie's Farm" is a rambuctious, snarling pile of words, Dylan telling how he doesn't want to do this, or that, or work for any members of the titular Maggie and her dumb family. Honestly, this family sounds like garbage, but not as bad as say, The Manson Family.  The guitars are twangin', the ride cymbal is jivin', the chickens are flapping a wing or two in the barn. Dylan’s nasally sneer is equally ear piercing and defiant, in place of traditional harmonica. Zimmerman tells a story while using a bushel full of fresh picked allusions off the apple tree of adjectives. Also, this dinner just is delicious, but I'm not used to using a fork and listening. I'm generally holding a sandwich. Relearning old techniques help make life new again!  



(an alleged rendition of the wretched conditions on "Maggie's Farm" in the mid the '60s)

Love Minus Zero/No Limit- The title may be split in two but this song comes in at just under 3 minutes. The whole A-side is one breezy affair, come to think of it. It's like watching laundry flap in the breeze on a picturesque spring day, but there's secondhand doobie smoke everywhere and you hear motorcycles revving in the distance. Here, Bobby Zim goes almost straight '60s pop, complete with melodic jangle, and whimsical guitar strums. To ice that cake, Zim delivers an incredibly strong vocal performance. Call it country, call it pop, call it folk. New York's French poet (by way of Minnesota) is laying the groundwork here for infamy. What's he talking about through this whole thing? I don't know, I'm not a genius like all of the people pictured at the beginning of this entry. 

Outlaw Blues- 3 I really have to start planning ahead on bigger dinners. Honestly, who takes 45 to 60 minutes to eat a dinner besides my dearly departed grandfather who was still getting used to the concept of pens by the time he left us in 2004. Seriously, my grandad was slow mover. I'm nearly done. Maybe my jaw's too big? I don't know. Still not a doctor. This song is a rockin' and a rollin' but for the first time on the record, it's a bit of a bore compared to the sheer output of groundbreaking material that preceded it. This is downright Sticky Fingers Rolling Stones' stuff compared to the gorgeous poetic travels of "Love Minus Zero/No Limit." Still, it's head and shoulders better than the shampoo Head and Shoulders (no Dylan fan talks bout that nearly as much as they do this song!) But like, when your biker Uncle calls you a "sissy Mary puke" for liking Bob Dylan, you can be like "hey, Uncle Biker, listen to this!" Can't guarantee this fictional uncle still won't punch you in the stomach. He sounds like a regressive dick, to be honest. 


(for reference, so Dylan fans can start the conversation about Head and Shoulders. When dandruff's got you down, think H&S). 



On the Road Again- Another smokin' cigarettes/drinking at the bar-rocker where Dylan drops a bunch of nonsensical, but trippy lyrics in the storytelling style. Also, might I add, I really do love the addition of the tomatoes in this dish. Tomatoes were a veg (I'm sorry, a fruit. EXCUSE ME) I wasn't down with until I hit my teens, even though I practically went to bed wearing one of those beer helmets with Prego on one side and Heinz Ketchup on the other. Mwwwwah, to our friend: the tomato. Anyway, this one's short enough. You can dig the shit out it if you wanna throw on your black shades and stare at the wall, thinking about François Truffaut films and the Hell's Angels at the same time. The '60s were really something to behold.


(Not all tomatoes are our friends)

(Just kidding... Tomatoes are friends to everyone. Embrace it)


Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream- Like the song “Bob Dylan’s Dream” off The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, this one’s similarly titled, except Zimmy added the number “115” before the word “dream.” You see what he did there? He's practically rewriting the English language. Unfortunately, it seems since 1963 Dylan only had 115 dreams, which may be attributed to his heavy THC use in that time period. Also, in relation to said THC use, Dylan and producer Tom Wilson open this track up by including a clip of them cracking-the-bleep-up. Well, the lyrics are indeed a mesh of post-modern chop suey in the storytelling tradition again. A true classic, more memorable than the previous two "rockers," however, this one gets quite tedious in its marathon ways. And with it, I have finished the last forkful of my spaghetti squash dinner. Off to the kitchen sink I shall roam to dispose of it.



SIDE B
Mr. Tamborine Man- 5 I'm back from the sink and ready to tackle side B. After showing his newly sprouted but very strong "rock" chops on the first side, Zimmy brings all back home for his"acoustic/folk" fans who haven't already returned this record to Woolworth's (This was '65, of course). This CLASSIC is a meandering, but pleasant fever dream to endure, drifting down a long river of weird dreams. Don't drink the water, kids. On a historical side street detour, Dylan cut a take of this right after Another Side of Bob Dylan was recorded. That original version somehow made it into the hands of The Byrds, who rerecorded a jangley, radio friendly rendition and made 1 million dollars off of it before Dylan could even release HIS version! How about that? That's business, and you can take it to the bank. The chorus is pretty lame, and I don’t need to hear it again for a long while, but those kaleidoscopic verses.... MY WORD! Jeff Mangum eat your heart out. This is Bob Dylan doing Neutral Milk Hotel 30 years before, making him the original Jeff Magnum. Sorry indie kids who don't understand how time works. 

 
(Stevie Nicks would become somewhat of a Mr. Tamborine Man a little over a decade later, while wearing cool boots)


Gates of Eden- Finally, for all the electric haters out there, here's a little protest folk teet for you to latch your hungry mouth around (yikes). But, once again, what the hell is Dylan talking about? And would those starving folkers gain much nourishment here? Can't tell, for I'm am STILL not a doctor, but only a raiser of questions. But it sounds damning, quite anti-establishmentarian, and makes me wanna protest against something. I'm angsty and I'm not gonna take it anymore. A doomy trip worth taking, along the lines of "Chimes of Freedom." The song also had the words "breadcrumb sins" in it, which make me regret ingesting so many starches in my life (think back to last week's Cool Ranch Doritos, for example). 


("Breadcrumb sins" in action)



It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)- One badass song title way before GG Allin made a career out of bleeding. This is about as far left of traditional folk as you can get. With lyrics so twistedly haunting, Dylan should have been subjected to a on-the-spot urine sample by the FBI. What kinda drugs you got flowing through you, Zimmy?, they might say. And he'd be all How do you know my name's Zimmy... WOW do you guys see those dancing goats over there, all while licking a Hogan's Heroes commemorative stamp laced with acid. Great minor chord descending riff plays throughout as Dylan invents hip-hop yet again, jamming about 47, 549 words into this song, somehow rhyming them in a way that doesn't make you roll your eyes. It's like that Barenaked Ladies song "One Week," but TIMELESS and without anyone "losing" one's "shirt."
 
(a chill kid taking Dylan's song title literally. Kid, Dylan is poetry... in motion  note the candy behind him, it will make him feel better

It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue- 5 Zimmy has totally cross-pollinated with a goat on this song, as his high-pitched nasal snarl is taken to new heights. It's like he's being held captive back on that damned Maggie's farm. Yet, it's got a great little hook in there, as Dylan strums along with sparse electric guitar backing. Possibly the least impactful of the b-side tunes, in terms of it's lyrical barrage, but what goddamn closer. At the time, one of the non-haters would only hope that Dylan would release another album, say, a scant four months later being a confident goat... Oh wait. He did. 





Join me next week when BOB DYLAN goes so electric he makes Motley Crüe look more like Motley Cure (a make-believe band front by a confused Vince Neil singing "Friday I'm in Love") 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Another Side of Bob Dylan (1964)

ANOTHER SIDE OF BOB DYLAN
(1964, Columbia Records)



MY DINNER



Welcome back all you D(ylan)innerphiles! If you're keeping stats at this point, you can tell a couple things about me. First, I'll eat any ol' hunk of vegeterian friendly junk. The more carbs the better. Salt, an added bonus. Protein, sure if it's there, I'm in. This is the second dinner to be prepared by my loving and supportive girlfriend, who can make a killer combination of weird items we have in our freezer. Today, I'm diving into a Morningstar Blackbean burger, topped with a hash brown (fried to perfection), avocado slices, and yellow american cheese (straight from the Whole Foods). I mean, does it get better than this?


(NOOOO!)

Yes, the answer is no. So, without any further hoopla about another disgustingly photographed sandwich (including that tacky plate inherited from my late grandmother's pantry), let's get down to brass tacks.


We are almost there. Almost out of the cloud of folk we’ve been wallowing in for the past few albums and into the frying pan of electricity. You’ve all heard the expression; “Dylan goes electric.” Well, that is NOT happening on this LP. The extension cord is still several feet from the outlet, and the alleged axe wielding of Pete Seeger is nowhere to be found. While several months away from shocking the world, shunning a bunch of crying folkers, and alienating some sweater wearing protesters, Zimmy still had his foot firmly planted in the folk world as (what I like to call) Emperor Dylan. 

After the immense success of The Times They Are A-Changin’, Dylan was still about a year away from breaking out his electric FULL band at the Newport Folk Festival (causing folk legend Pete Seeger to allegedly grab aforementioned axe to cut Dylan's power, seriously, which actually would've probably killed him), forever changing rock n roll history and practically inventing the genre of heavy metal (?).  Some important events, nevertheless, began to unfold during 1964, helping drive Dylan towards more abstract, poetic territory, and evolving into somewhat of a mad man. He took a life changing/affirming cross-country trip in a station wagon prior to recording this LP, scrolling poetry along the way, developing some of his free-form, stream-of-conscience word play. Additionally, he became somewhat obsessed with the Beatles at this point, even acquiring an electric guitar for the first time in his life, effectively breaking many folk-spackled hearts. Also, in early ’64, Dylan apparently dropped acid for the first time, turning him into a sunglasses wearing maniac for the better part of two years. Finally, Dylan was in a heated affair with fellow folker Joan Baez at the time, effectively destroying his relationship with longtime girlfriend Suze Rotolo (the one lookin’ all chipper on The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan). So what does it all mean? I'm no psychologist but what a weird time to be alive, maaaaannnnn, but what do I know. Seriously. (I was born during the release of Dylan's Empire Burlesque. Christ, look at the reviews of that piece of dumper. be posting that dinner in about 19 weeks or so).

To elaborate on the album's cover, as I have for the others, would be wasting  precious breath in a vacuumed sealed torture chamber. Who gives a crap about this LPs cover. Looks like garbage, or more similar to this....


(that gull in the forefront could be Dylan, high on the goofy grass, circa 1964)


In the end, Another Side of Bob Dylan adds up to less of a “protest” folk record and more of a French poetic album full of metaphor, a diver-friendly pool Dylan was about to drown himself in following the release of this LP. Also, if you want to wax prolific, this whole LP was tracked in one night with producer Tom Wilson! How’s that for efficient? Way to go Emperor Dylan. Alright, I’m off to eat my food. Let’s give this sucker a spin… The last of the early ‘60s' Dylan folk records. 

Also, I am eating a side of Cool Ranch Doritos with my dinner. 



THE SONGS!!!!

SIDE A:
All I Really Want To Do- 5  This one's a bit "goofy" as Bob Dylan attempts to rhyme every verb in the English language with another verb. He comes mighty close to achieving this strange feat. The harmonica is a-blastin' as usual with producer, Tom Wilson, making sure the piercing tones reach the earth's core to disrupt the mole men's sleep patterns. The vocal performance is tops, with Zimmy morphing into full on goat-voice man right out of the gate, and going Appalachian hillbilly on the high parts. This is infectious, if not obnoxious material! Damn the man, Zimmy! 

(Anyone of these goats could be Emperor Dylan racing out of the gate on this opening classic. Because he is a goat.)


Black Crow Blues- Okay, I'm drinking wine with tonight's dinner again, so things are about to get mildly fuzzy in the brain. Just kidding. I'm a seasoned drinker, and unlike last dinner, I'm going to down some water to keep the blood flowing and not drift into a sodium abyss. Regardless, sit back, relax, and watch me have a good time folks. Speaking of having a good time, Dylan was puffing hard on the jazz cigarettes on this LP. I'm certain! This one's got some piano, which is like half way to this Minnesota boy going electric, right? The piano is all bouncy and saloon-like. Dylan sounds like he's in the clouds, even declaring how "metaphorically" HIGH he is. This guy's stoned as shit and the career is really starting to get interesting now! Keep your heads in the clouds, baby.
Also, I'd like to add that this sandwich is great! I'm two bites in, and keeping them small, because the meal is not that big (let's face facts, folks). My planning on meals has been lacking. These records are long, and I'm can finish 40% of meals in 3 bites or less.  I'd hate to keep snacking on these delicious Cool Ranch Doritos after the sandwich is all done with but such is life. 

(Me- a Self Portrait...which is also the name of much hated Bob Dylan album)


Spanish Harlem Incident- Dylan likes to wallow in the acoustic world an awful lot, the way a small child might find itself engulfed in a fast food ball pit. BUT this gets a little rockin' here for a sizzling second on this folky slab of stream-of-consciousness. It's at this point where the uptights (sitting in their NYC dorms in '64 chewing on Number 2 pencils like a bunch of nerds), are starting to look around going "Wait a minute, we're three songs in and there hasn't been a single protest song yet?" Oh shit, Dylan's getting abstract speaking in some carefree, hazy-day tone about getting lost in some woman's teeth and being surrounded by her. What's he even talking about? It's fantastic, so screw you NYC dorm students of '64 that I just made up! Jerks.

Chimes of Freedom- What is considered to be Bob Dylan's epic "protest" song off his 4th LP is actually more of a rambling monumental achievement in poetic acid tripping. But because he mentions the words "freedom" and "chimes" in the title (not in that order, you'll notice), that gives the folk faithful something to latch onto. But really, this is a drawn-out, seven minute song about waiting out a ravaging lighting storm while traveling through the countryside. Zimmy is off in left field smelling daisies and scrolling endless shit in notebooks at this point. Don't bother him. He's busy becoming a budding genius. Also, while this play on I just went ahead and finished this delightful sandwich, WAAAYYY too early. So much for self-control.  I tell you, the avocado added such a wonderful texture when paired with the fried crunch of the hash brown. I'm off to eat Cool Ranch Dortios. 

(another group of American songwriters would eventually write about lightning before accidentally setting one of themselves on fire during a concert)

I Shall Be Free No. 10- I'd rather eat at a diner, but sometimes winer is finer. Glug glug. For my wine, I'm drinking a cheap Pinot Grigio. I know little about wine except it relaxes me and you shouldn't drive while on it. Same when eating Cool Ranch Doritos. What's missing from this album, you might ask, is Emperor Dylan does not sing about Cool Ranch Doritos, which seems like a missed opportunity with every bite since Frito-Lay started manufacturing them in 1964. Okay, let's get grounded folks. This one opens up with some crazy, devil-may-care harmonica rips and contains some real who-gives-a-shit lyrics following the monumental diatribe of "Chimes of Freedom." Okay, I'm far from drunk, but Dylan sounds downright plastered here, as he counts down numbers after figuratively fighting the late-great Cassius Clay, and then rhymes some real unclear nonsense. Not the proudest of moments.

(The late Cassius Clay was a much better boxer than Bob Dylan, as their professional boxing records will show. Muhammed Ali: 56-5, Emperor Dylan 0-0)

To Ramona- After five minutes of gibberish from "I Shall Be Free No. 10" it's tough to get my head readjusted with the genius of early Zimmy. Luckily, "To Ramona" takes a step back in the right direction but still wallows in average territory. I know what some of you are thinking, I hate this guy eating his dinner and his WRONG opinions. Hell, you'd be right to think that, perhaps, but I am no doctor of the mind. A bunch of lyrics here, none of them particularly great, all sung to a melody that sounds a bit like "The Times They Are A-Changin'" mixed with a traditional Spanish folk song (to which I know none). Dylan sounds strong as a lion (who has been spliced with a goat) vocally, but the whole short affair is... a short affair. Apparently, this also alludes to his actual affair with Joan Baez! Time for more Cool Ranch Doritos.


SIDE B:

Motorpsycho Nitemare- This is the tittle to the best Roger Corman movie never made! Zimmerman weaves a new narrative about a traveling salesman stumbling upon a hotel straight out of the movie Psycho who falls in love with a crazy farmer/hotel owner's daughter. Somehow, he gets involved in milking the farmer's cows, says he LOVES Fidel Castro (everyone's fav idol in the early '60s), and gets a "Reader's Digest" thrown at this head. The song as a whole is a never-ending monotonous trip without a hook, but the story itself is pretty zonked out, and semi-funny. Keep smokin' up Zimmy, and forever plaster that brain of yours with blacklights and iridescent posters full of marijuana leaves.

(Bob Dylan's bedroom, circa 1964)


My Back Pages- So after the a few "What in the hell is going on?" songs, Dylan drops this slow, gut-wrenched melody on us, like a bag of Family Size! Cool Ranch Doritos from the top shelf.  Emperor Dylan sounds like a half-man, half-goat searching for some true enlightenment in his new drugged, literary laden reawakening. If goats could read, they'd be Bob Dylan. Also, what a profound piece of work from this youngster.  I mean, this guy was like 24 here, as the world was crumbling into a hellhole, a famed Zimmy, coming to grips with how much the "folk" scene was actually a bit of a drag, and how gnarly French poetry can be (in so many veiled words). This is powerful, earth moving shit.
(Dylan, looking somewhere in the middle pages, and being like "Ummm, wait-what war? He was getting very high around the recording of the album and would read looking confused)

I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Met)- It's 1964. The Beatles just broke in America. And will you look at that, this one conjours up some early Beatles. Go chase the dream Dylan. Really, if the Beach Boys wanted to steal it and harmonize over this, it'sa million dollar dream waiting to happen. However, looks like Mike Love missed that boat. Speaking of the Love Boat, how was that show on-the-air for 9 seasons? Pretty catchy, somewhat depressing (the song, that is). Pop harmonies fused with folk strumming topped off with hill-people type harmonica blues.

(Mike Love during the recording of Pet Sounds)


Ballad in Plain D- 1 Cancel your plans because we're in for a cross country word trip. My dinner is long done and the Cool Ranch Doritos are running low. Heaven's no! Speaking of Heaven, sit back and take it in, cause this one's longer than "Stairway to Heaven," and barely better. Ah another thing you just learned-I don't like "Stairway to Heaven". What we have here is Zimmgoat singing an autobiographical account of the disintegration of his relationship with early girlfriend Suze Rotolo and the fight he had with her sister, Carla. The whole thing is self-loathing, ho-hum diary entry devoid of any of Dylan's usual lyrical trapeze. A long-winded snooze, and a bit pathetic.

It Ain't Me Babe- I barely thought I'd get out of that dang "Ballad in Plain D," but here I crawl toward the finish line, sending Emperor Dylan off on his viking folk funeral. Woof, I have to prop myself up from this proverbial hammock and finish this album review. This closer is also, apparently about ex-girlfriend Suze Rotolo, and MUCH better than the penultimate track. Here, Dylan gives Suze's character some credit at least, rather than sitting in his filth and wallowing about like that past stinker. Anyways, the melody here is pretty solid, the harmonica weeps in its own beer glass. A near perfect way to close, even if I'm out of Cool Ranch Doritos and actually I don't think I care for drinking wine with dinner. Oh well, as a wise man with a stick-cane once said, everyday is a path to self discovery. I mean, I'm sure at least once.

("It ain't me, babe"- Mikey Myers now famous response to Barbara Walters when asked about his time on SNL, or so it goes.)




That's it folkers, for this round of chompin', listenin', writin', and stewin'. Stay tuned next week when I chow down on some electric Dylan. So electric, it'll be like sticking a fork in a microwave and setting the time for 1,000 minute just to watch the sucka' burn...

Until next time...  Smoke if you got 'em. 












Thursday, June 2, 2016

The Times They Are A-Changin' (1964)

THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN'
(1964, Columbia Records)

A black-and-white close-up of Dylan's face looking down



MY DINNER

So clearly, I am not the best at plating my food. I think I give up trying to get my name into Platter's World Magazine. Is that a magazine? Lord, I really hope not. But you see here, I did not plate this dinner my faithful readers. I have tricked you with my initial statement, for I am a trickster of the written word. This stuffed concoction was purchased from the locally famous Cinco De Mayo restaurant in New Brunswick NJ, home of the burrito bigger than your head, yet easy on the wallet. The dinner tonight was of the take-out variety, practically room temperature by the time I got it back home some 40 minutes later. The burrito is a Texano Burrito (so says their menu), vegetarian style with a side of guacamole (already devoured at the point of picture taking).  But enough about this 6 dollar delight. Onto Dylan's 3rd LP...

In 1963, Bob Dylan's popularity was on the rise. While still not an everyday household name, the sheer output of new original material began to attract the attention of other performers, chomping at the bit to cash in on performing this HOT new Dylan kid's songs. While everyone under the sun was releasing other writer's "marketable music" in the early '60s, Bob Dylan's 3rd LP is made up entirely of original material. Yup, young Robert Zimmerman of Duluth Minnesota left the covers in the coal bin for this one. The Beatles, in comparison, had to release around 43 LPs before finally settling on including only original material (I believe it was on George Harrison's 1982 Gone Troppo LP). 

For the first time in his short career,  Dylan switched producers, now working with Tom Wilson (a jazz engineer who said he thought Dylan's music was a snooze, but his lyrics were tops!).  This relationship would carry into the next few Dylan LPs, influential in the rock/folk music lexicon beyond anyone's wildest dreams. How does Tom Wilson's production fare on this folk record, you ask? Well, we get more harmonica than usual. In fact, the harmonica is so damn sharp in the mix, my left ear bleeds to the point of near fatal hemorrhage every time I revisit this great record. It's like an aural Q-Tip.

While not as historic as The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan (mostly because the album cover isn't as cool, I'm convinced), this is still a solid, solid follow-up, chock full of early Dylan classics all waiting to individually be inducted into the Rock N Roll of Fame.

Also, speaking of the cover, what is going on here? On his self-titled LP a year and half earlier, Dylan looked like a 16 year old kid trying to emulate a doe-eyed raccoon hunter. Here he looks like a 42 year old man who smokes 400 cigs a day, losing sleep for fear he will one day be hunted by racoons. But fear not. By 1980, Bob Dylan would actually be a 40 old man who smoked 400 cigs a day. Just be patient.

(A raccoon in search of Robert Zimmerman)


Let's get this ball rollin'....


THE SONGS!!!!

SIDE A
The Times They Are A-Changin'- 5  This song is an undisputed classic that may or may not be about Day Light Saving time. Something tells me it's no, but I'm not an Encyclopedia or Junior High History book so don't ask me. I am a person with feelings and an appetite. While we're talking about feelings, as far as this tune is concerned, no matter how many times I hear it I'm still a sad nostalgic son of a gun weeping in my blankets. It's beautiful, haunting, and goddamn life affirming. Sue me, you black-hearted lawyers for the Apathetic. Some of Dylan's best lyrics, oozing with metaphor, this is the verbal cannon that finally catapulted this kid into the big time. How's that old joke go? Oh yeah. Q: How do you get to Carnegie Hall? A: Be Bob Dylan. You can have that joke
.

(a man who is not Bob Dylan attempts to change the times. He would fail)


Ballad of Hollis Brown- 5 This is one downer of Dylan song. Jesus, Bob. I'm eating here, for Christmas sake. And let me tell you about it for a second. The burrito, not only stuffed with tangible ingredients, but with love. The rice, cooked to perfection. The tortilla, so soft and buttery. Mmm, who can discount this delicious sour cream topping? Okay, here Dylan tells of ol' Hollis Brown, the family farmer who ends up killing his whole family and his wife in desperation. Seven shots apparently to kill his family in this song. Morbid shit, but another Dylan classic. So chilling, it's like hanging in a freezer on Halloween.


(The song produces an emotional response, much like this illustration might to a toddler who doesn't know things)


With God On Our Side- This is another one of those CLASSIC Bob Dylan songs. Strap on your boots and load up your buckshot, 'cause this is a LOOOONG one. If you're on your rickety porch, kick back in Pop-Pop's rockin' chair and let the words (hard) rain down. The lyrics to this are long like the Dead Sea Scrolls, but don't need to be translated by some sort of scholar with a monocle. Tales of war,  expounding on how ol' God would not side with countries but humans in general, and how senseless humanity can be getting blinded with our war mongering ways. Which reminds, me. This guacamole is fantastic! Whoa nelly! Also, back to the point, Dylan drops some current Vietnam in there (current for 1964, y'know).  It's a long tale, but it's got it all. Although a masterpiece, I often have to skip this one due to length so I'm not late for school. And to think I graduated over 10 years ago!


(some say THIS is God, a mythical being who crowd surfs while point-shouting the lyrics of his favorite punk song to a unseen charismatic frontman)

One Too Many Mornings- A brittle, saddening composition that feels like the moment you wipe away the hangover and regret from your sleep riddled eyes and try to figure out what the hell is gonna happen when you step foot out the front door. I'm assuming you've been there. I say this as I crack the wine to tonight's dinner. Drink up! Nothing like mixing this salt bomb of a burrito with some alcohol. This won't dry me out at all. I'm young, vibrant, and full of liquids. Also, this song is esstentially the same as "The Times They Are A-Changin'," in terms of melody. If he made a whole album like this, I'd cry myself to death. 

North Contry Blues- 3 Just one LP ago, he was singing 'bout "The Girl From North County." Now Dylan's got the blues, AGAIN! Guy was always sad at this time, even though his public life was taking the velocity train to BANKsville. In comparison, this one's a snooze. We get traditional sounding folk, Dylan telling of a mining town going to hell in a handbasket. If this were incidental music in a movie about a ghosttown, or a mining community going belly up, I'm all for it. Otherwise, it's yawn worthy. Where's my wine? 

(an artist's interpretation of Bob Dylan leaving another successful gig circa the early '60s)




SIDE B:

Only a Pawn in Their Game- 5 I have found my wine and I have consumed somemore. This really is not mixing well with my burrito at all, which his delicious, but I have to admit I'm getting quite sick of it at this point, with only another bite left. I've got grains of rice in between my "6" and "Y" key and I can only imagine what this keyboard will smell liken the morning (probably delicious). For SIDE B, Dylan pushes the proper social activism through the bedroom speakers to kids around the nation. Dylan speaks of the assassination of social activist Medgar Evers, who was shot in the back in Jackson, MS. A great simplistic series of rhyme schemes while an extremely heavy underlying tale plays out. A hopeful tune comes out of terrible social injustice. For real...

Boots of Spanish Leather- 5 It's happening. Between the Mexican takeout salt explosion, and the wine, I think I'm turning into a sodium dowsed slug. My eyes are morphing into sun dried crocodile skins, and my mouth, the far reaching Mexican plateau in mid-August.  Dylan plucks away gently, like a babbling brook. Okay, wait a minute. This song sounds like "The Time's They Are A-Changin'" too! I'm telling you, if the whole LP sounded like this I'd cry myself into the oblivion. Damn, Dylan just keeps latching onto this beautiful formula and reworking it. Stop stealing from yourself, Zimmy! Start stealing from other folk singers like we're used to.



(Other famous boots include the hit film, and eventual musical, Kinky Boots)

When the Ship Comes In- Okay, this one sounds like a FASTER version of "The Times They Are A-Changin'" Like, exactly the same song! Okay, this guys got the right idea. I can't get enough of this song structure. If I were producer Tom Wilson, I'd say "Zimmy, let's slow this one down. No. We'll put this fast version on a rare 7'' or something, but hear me out. Slow it down, and everyone will cry themselves to death because these songs are beautiful, even if they are the same." This would remain faster, and another classic was etched into magnetic tape. Of course, I can't get enough of Dylan plagiarizing himself on this record.  If I were Bob Dylan's lawyer in '63, I'd sue Bob Dylan for all he was worth,  and then make him take me out to dinner with all the money he'd have just won from himself. I should have gone to law school.

(Ouch... Too real)


The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll- Another tale of racial injustice as Dylan sings about the real life murder of black "barmaid" Hattie Carroll at the hands of white tobacco heir William Zanziger in early '60 Baltimore. Dylan points out the bullshit justice system, as real life Zanziger only served 6 moths, after taking the lonesome life of Ms. Carroll. A folk account of another stain on this great nation, Dylan helping to raise the conscience bar a notch higher. It's not too late to take action, you know. Especially now! Eventually, Dylan would end up just covering songs by Frank Sinatra while trying to look cool enough to chaperone his grandkids to the prom.

(Dylan of the future)


Restless Farewell- A fitting, goosebumps inducing parting ditty. I'm WAY done with my dinner so I can cheers to this, as I'm done with this album in particular. This mostly solemn collection is a real winner and deserves all the accolades you wish to bestow upon it. "Restless Farewell" is a prickly farewell best served cold in the sprit of how the times really did change. Man, I need to go out and PARTY after this downer of a record. No wonder the '60s (and ever other decade) was so messed up. Thanks, Bob Dylan for the lack of party tunes on this one. Sheesh. Drop the bass, dude!





A FITTING FAREWELL FOR NOW.... The Times they HAVE changed.


Stay tuned next week for Another Side of Bob Dylan, and album in which he sounds exactly like the SAME side of Bob Dylan as he does on his past 2 records.