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Bob Dylan’s ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ was recorded 50 years ago today
01.14.2015
11:45 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Bob Dylan


 
Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” one of the young folk bard’s first “electric” numbers, was recorded on January 14, 1965. The personnel at the session were Dylan on acoustic guitar, harmonica and lead vocals; Al Gorgoni, Kenny Rankin and Bruce Langhorne on guitars; Joseph Macho Jr. and William E. Lee on bass; and Bobby Gregg on drums. (I guess it would have taken that many musicians to achieve such a perfectly ramshackle sound.)

“Subterranean Homesick Blues” was put out as a single by Columbia Records on March 8, 1965 two weeks before the song would appear on the Bringing It All Back Home album. It was Bob Dylan’s first top 40 hit, although it only made it to #39.

In part “Subterranean Homesick Blues” is an homage to the Beats with Jack Kerouac’s novel The Subterraneans referenced in the title. There’s also an echo of the Woody Guthrie/Pete Seeger song “Taking It Easy” (“Mom was in the kitchen preparing to eat/Sis was in the pantry looking for some yeast”). Dylan would later say the number was influenced by Chuck Berry’s “Too Much Monkey Business” and scat songs from the 1940s.
 

 
John Lennon was reportedly so in love with the song’s surrealistic wordplay that he told friends he didn’t know how he’d ever be able to write something better (high praise indeed) and Rolling Stone magazine listed “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” as the 332nd “Greatest Song of All Time” (whatever that’s worth.) An acoustic version of the song, recorded the day before the single, was later released on The Bootleg Series Volumes 1–3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961–1991.
 

 
D. A. Pennebaker’s Dont Look Back includes what is now seen as one of the earliest examples of a music video—it was intended to be a Scopitone—the famous one-take cue-cards “performance” of the song. The iconic and much-imitated sequence provides the energetic opening of the classic documentary on Dylan’s 1965 tour of England and it also served as the “coming attraction” trailer before the film was released.
 

Pennebaker and Neuwirth discuss the shoot.
 
The cue cards were Dylan’s idea and the handwriting on the cards are that of Donovan, Joan Baez, Bob Neuwirth and Dylan himself. Neuwirth and poet Allen Ginsberg—who would both later take part in Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue—are seen in the clip, which was shot behind the Savoy Hotel in London. There were two alternate versions shot at the nearby Embankment Gardens and on the hotel’s roof, where the trio was joined by Dylan, Zappa and Velvet Underground producer Tom Wilson (bits from these additional takes were seen in Martin Scorsese’s No Direction Home doc).

In 1994, The Day Today claimed that Dylan’s song plagiarized a song written by WWII-era ukulele player George Formby. The BBC program aired a clip of what was claimed to be the newly discovered original, showing Formby performing to British troops in newsreel footage:
 

 
Thank you Whiz Kid of Los Angeles, CA!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Tangled Up in Dylan’: Insane documentary about Bob Dylan’s most obsessive fan
01.07.2015
08:19 am

Topics:
Kooks
Movies

Tags:
Bob Dylan
A.J. Weberman


 

I noticed that the (excellent) Bob Dylan fansite, Expecting Rain, was sending a lot of traffic this morning to a post from 2012 about the fascinatingly strange film Tangled Up in Dylan: The Ballad of AJ Weberman. This unique documentary—which I quite enjoyed—has now been posted in its entirety on YouTube (see below). Here’s a link to a related post from the archives: ‘Dylanologist’ AJ Weberman (supposedly) goes through Bob Dylan’s trash, 1969.

If you appreciate whimsical documentaries about eccentric or marginal types—much of Louis Theroux’s work, the Wild Man Fischer doc dErailRoaDed and Keith Allen’s deliriously insane Little Lady Fauntleroy would fall into this category—or if you are a Bob Dylan completest, then you might be interested in Tangled Up in Dylan: The Ballad of AJ Weberman directed by James Bluemel and Oliver Ralfe.

AJ Weberman is infamous, if he is known at all, among Dylan aficionados for being the obsessed stalker who Bob Dylan physically assaulted in 1971 because he had been harassing his family. Weberman picked through their trash (he calls his stinky style of sleuthing the science of “Garbology”) and staged demonstrations (with the “Dylan Liberation Front,” the students of his “Dylanology” classes) outside of Dylan’s MacDougal Street brownstone, apparently with the aim of convincing Dylan to, uh, join the revolution, man… but having the result of really pissing him off.

Bob Dylan vs. A.J. Weberman is the title of a much-sought after Dylan curio, a bootleg LP made from recordings of Weberman and Dylan talking on the telephone. It’s a fascinating conversation—indeed it’s what got the filmmakers interested in such an odd character in the first place—but it’s baffling why a superstar like Bob Dylan would have given such a freak his phone number in the first place (Weberman taught a class in “Dylanology” and had interviewed Dylan for the underground press before he got weird on him).

Here’s what Weberman told Rolling Stone’s Marc Jacobson, years later, about the time Dylan beat him up:

“I’d agreed not to hassle Dylan anymore, but I was a publicity-hungry motherfucker. . . . I went to MacDougal Street, and Dylan’s wife comes out and starts screaming about me going through the garbage. Dylan said if I ever fucked with his wife, he’d beat the shit out of me. A couple of days later, I’m on Elizabeth Street and someone jumps me, starts punching me.

“I turn around and it’s like—Dylan. I’m thinking, ‘Can you believe this? I’m getting the crap beat out of me by Bob Dylan!’ I said, ‘Hey, man, how you doin’?’ But he keeps knocking my head against the sidewalk. He’s little, but he’s strong. He works out. I wouldn’t fight back, you know, because I knew I was wrong. He gets up, rips off my ‘Free Bob Dylan’ button and walks away. Never says a word.

“The Bowery bums were coming over, asking, ‘How much he get?’ Like I got rolled. . . . I guess you got to hand it to Dylan, coming over himself, not sending some fucking lawyer. That was the last time I ever saw him, except once with one of his kids, maybe Jakob, and he said, ‘A.J. is so ashamed of his Jewishness, he got a nose job,’ which was true—at least in the fact that I got a nose job. . . .”

 

 
Weberman has written several books about Dylan (RightWing Bob: What the Liberal Media Doesn’t Want You To Know About Bob Dylan being one of them) and other subjects (such as HOMOTHUG: The Secret Life of Rudy Guiliani) and maintains to this day that Dylan sends him secret messages in song lyrics.

I’ve had my own (one-sided) run-ins with the notoriously prickly Weberman: In April of 1997, only a matter of a few months after Disinformation was launched on the Internet, I posted an innocuous enough item there about Aron Kay AKA “Pie Man,” another aging Yippie holdover like Weberman who was known for his habit of “pieing” people he thought deserved ridiculing like Anita Bryant, William F. Buckley, Phyllis Schlafly, G. Gordon Liddy, E. Howard Hunt and Andy Warhol.

Kay and Weberman are old cronies and I guess what happened is that he told Weberman about this counterculture website that had written about him and Weberman took a look, noticed a collection of links to various JFK assassination sites that I’d prepared, saw that his JFK assassination site wasn’t listed there and promptly started leaving long, hateful, spiteful messages (three in all) on my answering machine. Someone I’d never met was fucking furious at me, over something that I didn’t do. My sin was one of omission—I didn’t know about his website—but it seemed to leave the guy utterly unhinged.

I didn’t hear from him again for ten years until my wife signed me up for Facebook. One day soon afterwards she asked me: “Do you know some dude named AJ Weberman? He’s saying shitty things about you and trolling you on your Facebook wall.”

“Oh that guy. No, I don’t know him, but he’s done this before to me, just ban him, will you?”

That’s the end of my AJ Weberman story, although I suspect he’ll read this post and have something to say in the comments.
 

 
Via email, I asked the filmmakers, James Bluemel and Oliver Ralfeabout getting tangled up with Weberman:

I know that both of you are big Dylan fans. How did you stumble across AJ Weberman and decide to make a film about him?

We first came across Weberman in various biographies of Dylan. He was and probably always will be portrayed as a persistent nuisance in the extreme. The way people wrote about him was purely hateful which stuck out. We then heard the bootlegged phone call him made to Dylan which made for fascinating listening and we thought, ‘I wonder what this guy is doing now?’

What do you make of his “Dylanology”?

Weberman has an incredible analytical brain. His conclusions maybe off kilter but the ride is entertaining and sometimes illuminating. While many scholars interpret Dylan’s work within the vernacular of the blues or folk music traditions, it’s interesting to read Dylan from a street slang, streetwise level, which is where Weberman places him. And some of his insights, the way he sees those songs are fascinating. However, I feel Weberman has an agenda which often shapes his interpretations and distorts them. Some of his conclusions I disagree with, some anger me, some amuse me. It’s important to note for those that haven’t seen the film, that it’s not just a mouth piece for Weberman’s insights and wild fantasies about Dylan – there’s plenty of that you can read for yourselves on the web if you want to.

In the infamous recording of his phone conversation with Dylan, I couldn’t for the life of me understand Dylan’s own motivation in bothering to accommodate an asshole like Weberman. Most people, let alone someone as famous as Bob Dylan, would have told Weberman to go fuck himself or let the police deal with him, but Dylan, even after insulting him, continues to speak with him—albeit warily—and even agrees to a future call. Do you think Dylan was thinking “Well this guys a kook, but he’s a fan, so I owe him politeness” and just trying to deal with him on that level or WHAT? (My wife remarked during that part of your film “Why does Bob Dylan stay on the phone with this creep?” as well. It bothered her!)

I think perhaps Dylan was trying to work out how much of a nut Weberman was. This is a good few years before Lennon was shot but I bet part of Dylan’s receptiveness to Weberman was to try to work out if he was dangerous. By the time of the phone call however, Dylan had met Weberman a number of times and probably worked out that he wasn’t a psycho, so I think there was something else going on. I think in some way Dylan enjoyed the banter. Weberman does not kowtow to Dylan, he doesn’t let him get away with anything on that call, he challenges Dylan and when Dylan counter attacks these challenges, Weberman comes back at him with more. Perhaps Dylan found this refreshing to the hordes of people that fell over themselves to agree with him and praise him.

I’ve never had any personal interaction with Weberman, but he’s called my apartment in NYC and left abusive messages for me and some nasty posts on my Facebook wall. However, I must say, he doesn’t seem nearly as crazy in your film as I imagined he’d be in real life. Do you reckon he was on his best behavior because there was a camera on him?

Not really. Weberman has a nasty streak in him which I think you see in our film but it’s not the only aspect of his personality.

Near the start of the film he admits to getting physical with his wife resulting in a retraining order and also of spending some time in jail. How long was he actually incarcerated for dealing pot?

I forget now – I think the sentence was two years.

How does Weberman make a living these days?

It’s a good question. I believe he does a bit of work gathering information for the Jewish Defense League. He also writes books – the Dylan to English dictionary, his book on who really killed JFK and Homo Thug which was about Giuliani. I don’t know how much money he makes from these however.

How did he react to your film? Did he throw a tantrum and call your voice mail repeatedly? Nasty emails?

He never really commented on the film. In fact, he has never really asked us any personal questions about our lives at all. When we meet up with him these days, it’s just straight into whatever is on his mind. So no, he’s never let on what he thought about it. He probably would have preferred it if we used more of his Dylanology rants and kept in some of the more outrageous conclusions he comes up with. There was one point while shooting he said he would prefer it if we stopped filming, then he immediately changed his mind and said fuck it, lets keep it in the style of cinéma vérité. I liked that.

Have you ever heard if Bob Dylan saw your doc? I’d imagine that he’d get a real kick out of it.

I really hope he has seen it. I gave a copy to the producer of No Direction Home who promised he’d pass it on to Dylan. Who knows if that happened? If he has seen it, I hope he liked it.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Bob Dylan records with members of the Sex Pistols and Clash, 1987
12.03.2014
07:10 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Bob Dylan
Paul Simonon
Steve Jones


 
Bob Dylan played with just about everybody on his 1988 album Down in the Groove: Sly and Robbie, Eric Clapton, Ron Wood, Mark Knopfler, most of the Grateful Dead, and, yes, Kip Winger all appear on this record. Why, your dear old dad probably blew a little harp on it, too. The album is not one of Dylan’s best, but its cover of Arthur Alexander’s first single, “Sally Sue Brown,” is notable because it features Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols on guitar and Paul Simonon of the Clash on bass.

If you’re expecting rebel rock on the order of “God Save the Queen” or “The Guns of Brixton,” you will certainly be disappointed—let’s call this version of “Sally Sue Brown” a historical curiosity. Jones described the session to Dylan biographer Howard Sounes in Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan:

Why Bob chose to contact Steve Jones remains a mystery to everybody, including Jones himself, who had never met or even spoken to Bob before. “He called me up and said can I put a band together to do some sessions in the studio? I said, Yeah. Paul Simonon was in town at the time, from The Clash. So was the guitar player I was working with [and] a drummer from Pat Benatar’s band.” They met at Sunset Sound in Hollywood. “It was a strange, fucking surreal day.” Bob had a long list of songs and, without preamble, began working through them. The band had to keep up as best they could, but were unable to get a very satisfactory take on anything because Bob would move so rapidly on to the next number. “It was like that all night, basically just fucking about,” says Jones. The only track to make the album was “Sally Sue Brown.”

According to the exhaustive Dylan “session chronology” at punkhart.com, the band recorded six songs on that night in March of ‘87: in addition to “Sally Sue Brown,” they played “Wood In Steel,” “Heaven,” “Shake Your Money,” “Chain Gang” and “If You Need Me.” So far as I know, none of the five unreleased songs has yet surfaced on any medium, bootleg or legit.
 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Bob Dylan, slapstick comedy hero? It almost happened.


 
Larry Charles is a force in contemporary comedy, but to most people he’s little more than a name. Odds are pretty decent that he’s been involved in the creation of something you love—he was a staff writer for Seinfeld for five years; he directed three Sacha Baron Cohen movies, including the immortal 2006 release Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan; he was executive producer on The Tick; he has directed more than a dozen episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Clearly, if you look at that resume, Charles can count Jerry Seinfeld, Baron Cohen, and Larry David as some of his most fertile collaborators. But he has a significant collaborator that hasn’t garnered as much notice—that being Bob Dylan. In 2003 Charles released his first directorial feature, a star-studded “comedy-drama” (per Wikipedia) called Masked and Anonymous, with Bob Dylan as number 1 on the call sheet, as they say in Hollywood (i.e., the top-billed actor). Charles directed the movie, and Dylan and Charles co-wrote it, using the pseudonyms Sergei Petrov and Rene Fontaine, respectively.
 

Larry Charles and Bob Dylan
 
But that (likely somewhat mixed-up) feature started its existence as an HBO pitch for a “slapstick comedy” TV series with Bob Dylan in the lead role—a pitch that was green-lighted after a bizarre meeting with the head of the premium cable network. Charles was on Pete Holmes’ podcast You Made It Weird recently and told the entire story. (In the podcast the story starts around an hour and 26 minutes in, but someone has helpfully created a YouTube video of that section, which we’ve embedded below.)

I’ve transcribed a couple of sections from the story, but it’s rather long (10 minutes) and suitably aimless, being a podcast. Dylan lovers should really listen to the whole thing. The story starts out as follows:
 

I got a call that he was interested in doing, he’d been on the road, he does this endless tour, he’s on this tour all the time, he’s on this bus, most of the time. And he’s got a TV, this was back in the ‘90s, he’s got a TV in the bus and he watches movies and he gets into certain genres of movies, and he gets like addicted to them and just watches every single one of them. And he had been watching Jerry Lewis movies. And he’d gotten deeply into Jerry Lewis, and he wanted to make a slapstick comedy. ... He wants to do it as a TV series for HBO, so I’m called in to meet with him. He wanted to star in it, almost like a Buster Keaton or something.

 
There’s a great section where Charles and Dylan meet in the back of a boxing gym that Dylan owns, that’s also connected to a coffee shop, and Dylan is playing mind games with Charles, whom he’s meeting for the first time, by drinking out of his guest’s ice coffee glass just to see how he’ll react. There’s also a lengthy bit about Dylan’s writing process, at least at that date—suffice it to say that it involves writing snatches of text on whatever scraps of paper are at hand and cobbling something together later on. Very “oblique strategies.” Says Charles, “We wrote like a very elaborate treatment for this slapstick comedy, which is filled with surrealism and all kinds of things from his songs and stuff.”

Eventually they go to meet with the president of HBO, Chris Albrecht. At the meeting, Charles is wearing pajamas, which was his habit for a couple of years around then, and Dylan is dressed like a cowboy, all in black. Albrecht attempts to break the ice by bringing up Woodstock, to which Dylan says (pretty reasonably), “I didn’t play Woodstock.” After that Dylan spends the entire meeting standing with his back to the group staring out the window. At this point Charles’ agent Gavin Polone leans over to Charles and whispers, referring to Dylan, “Retarded child.”

However, despite all of that, they do in fact come to an agreement on a deal to do a slapstick TV series starring, of all people, Dylan. As they’re walking out to the elevator, Charles and Polone and Dylan’s agent, Jeff Kramer, are of one mind about the project to come, but Dylan’s head is elsewhere. As Charles tells it: “The three of us are elated, we actually sold the project, and Bob says, ‘I don’t want to do it anymore. It’s too slapstick-y.’ He’s, like, not into it. That’s over. The slapstick phase is officially ended.”

So instead they worked for another year or so on Masked and Anonymous.
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Be a fly on the wall when Bob Dylan and Bette Midler went into the studio together, 1975
07.21.2014
11:06 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Bob Dylan
Bette Midler


 
Bob Dylan and Bette Midler recorded together in October 1975 duetting on a cover of “Buckets of Rain” for her Songs for the New Depression album. Dylan apparently also wanted Midler to be a part of his Rolling Thunder Revue. Six years ago, a 27-minute long fly on the wall recording from this session started making the rounds on bootleg sites as part of Bob Dylan New York Sessions 1974-1975.

The original bootlegger says:

“It opens with some upgrades of the original Blood On The Tracks sessions from September 1974, and progresses chronologically through some early Desire sessions, winding up to the main event: almost half an hour of never-heard October 1975 session outtakes of the recording of Bette Midler’s cover of “Buckets Of Rain” with Dylan, which would show up on her Songs For The New Depression album the following January.”

At one point Midler demures saying, “I can’t sing ‘I ain’t no monkey,’” but Dylan gently coaxes her into it.  Moogy Klingman backs them on piano and at one point Dylan sings a full-throated version of Smokey Robinson & The Miracles “You Really Got A Hold On Me” with and Midler. The Divine Miss M also dishes on Paul Simon, who she says refuses to speak to her.

“This’ll show him!”

Midler cattily refers to Patti Smith as well, saying “At least I can sing in tune!” What exactly she is referring to here is not spelled out, but in an interview with Barry Miles, Smith tells the story of Midler throwing a beer in her face at a Dylan-related private event in New York around this time. Maybe she saw Patti as competition for Dylan’s affections? (Midler later revealed that she got to “first base” with Dylan in his Cadillac, so perhaps that’s what the remark and the beer incident was all about?)
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Bob Dylan turns 73 today (plus historic 1969 live footage at the Isle of Wight festival)
05.24.2014
10:36 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Bob Dylan
The Band



 
Bob Dylan turns 73 years old today. Long may he stay on the Never Ending Tour.

Below, historic footage of Dylan and The Band caught on B&W half-inch open reel videotape at the Isle of Wight Festival on August 31, 1969. Dylan had rejected an offer to play at Woodstock to headline the festival.

Allegedly this was shot by a friend of John Lennon and Ringo Starr (who can be seen in the audience here). This makes sense because a) only someone relatively wealthy would have had access to a half-inch open reel video-recorder at the time and b) whoever shot this was right up front. The sound drops out for several minutes, sadly.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Eric Clapton, Neil Young & The Band in ‘The Alternate Last Waltz’


Japanese cinema poster

I was looking for something else entirely when I stumbled across THIS buried treasure: The Band’s complete “Last Waltz” concert, as shot from what must have been the house cameras at Winterland. The audio and video sound quality is amazing and best of all, this is not only how it went down, in the order that it went down, and it’s actually how it sounded before Robbie Robertson went in and overdubbed everything. (It’s also not had that blob of cocaine hanging from Neil Young’s nose edited out through frame by frame rotoscoping….)

As much as you might love The Last Waltz, this is probably even better. I do hope that several of you download this for safekeeping, ‘cos it may not last that long…

1. Introduction / Up on Cripple Creek 0:00
2. Shape I’m In 5:55
3. It Makes No Difference 10:15
4. Life Is A Carnival 17:28
5. This Wheel’s On Fire 22:51
6. The W.S. Walcott Medicine Show 27:26
7. Georgia On My Mind 31:20
8. Ophelia 35:05
9. King Harvest (Has Surely Come) 39:18
10. The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down 43:26
11. Stage Fright 48:16
12. Rag Mama Rag 53:23
13. Introduction / Who Do You Love (with Ronnie Hawkins) 57:26
14. Such A Night (with Dr. John) 1:02:45
15. Down South in New Orleans (with Dr. John) 1:07:58
16. Mystery Train (with Paul Butterfield) 1:13:23
17. Caledonia (with Muddy Waters) 1:18:27
18. Mannish Boy (with Muddy Waters) 1:26:20
 

 
Part two begins with Eric Clapton coming onstage to join The Band, followed by Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Neil Diamond and Van Morrison and then poetry from Digger Emmett Grogan, Lenore Kandel, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Michael McClure and others.

1. All Our Past Times (with Eric Clapton) 0:00
2. Further On Up The Road (with Eric Clapton) 5:39
3. Helpless (with Neil Young) 11:52
4. Four Strong Winds (with Neil Young) 18:01
5. Coyote (with Joni Mitchell) 23:52
6. Shadows And Light (with Joni Mitchell)
7. Furry Sings The Blues (with Joni Mitchell)
8. Dry Your Eyes (with Neil Diamond)
9. Tura Lura Lural (with Van Morrison) 44:10
10. Caravan (with Van Morrison) 48:15
11. Acadian Driftwood (with Joni Mitchell and Neil Young) 54:07
12. Poem (Emmett Grogan) 1:01:18
13. Poem (Hell’s Angel Sweet William) 1:02:41
14. JOY! (Lenore Kandel) 1:06:14
15. Prologue to The Canterbury Tales (Michael McClure) 1:07:36
16. Get Yer Cut Throat Off My Knife / Revolutionary Letter #4
17. Transgressing The Real (Robert Duncan) 1:10:26
18. Poem (Freewheelin Frank Reynolds)
19. The Lord’s Prayer (Lawrence Ferlinghetti)
20. Genetic Method 1:14:15
21. Chest Fever 1:20:25
22. The Last Waltz Suite: Evangeline 1:25:45
 

 
Bob Dylan and the big jam sessions after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Watch Bob Dylan in ‘Eat the Document’ (with John Lennon, Johnny Cash and The Band) while you can
02.05.2014
10:34 am

Topics:
Music
Television

Tags:
Bob Dylan
Johnny Cash
The Band


 
Eat the Document was intended to be a TV documentary on Bob Dylan’s 1966 European tour, produced for ABC Stage 67, a prestigious showcase for musicals, documentaries, original teleplays and short films (everything from a rock musical scored by Burt Bacharach and Hal David to a doc on Masters and Johnson to “Skaterdater”), but the network rejected it for being “incomprehensible.” The film captures the madness of that tour and was shot by D. A. Pennebaker, who’d also made Don’t Look Back, the documentary of Dylan’s 1965 tour. Pennebaker’s version was called “Something Is Happening.” The retitled Eat the Document was cut by Dylan himself with Howard Alk, but the network still didn’t want it.

Eat the Document wasn’t seen at all until the early 70s when it was screened at New York’s Academy of Music and the Whitney Museum. Shitty bootleg copies have floated around for decades (I had one that was barely watchable) but in recent years a super clean digital copy has been seen on torrent trackers, and occasionally on YouTube. Dylan was, and is, alleged to hate it, which is why you should probably watch this sooner rather than later. There’s always a bit of Whac-A-Mole going on with Eat the Document there, I’ve noticed.
 

 
In the film we see Dylan tired, jamming with Johnny Cash, onstage with The Band (then still called The Hawks) writing songs with Robbie Robertson and wearily dealing with members of the media. Some of the infamous footage of Dylan riding around in a limo with John Lennon (Lennon claimed Dylan had gotten him high on heroin beforehand) is also seen in the film.
 

 
Thank you Glen E. Friedman of New York City!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Dylanologist’ AJ Weberman (supposedly) goes through Bob Dylan’s trash, 1969
01.08.2014
01:31 pm

Topics:
Kooks

Tags:
Bob Dylan
A.J. Weberman


 
What a bizarre piece of “history” this is…

“Dylanologist” AJ Weberman is infamous to Bob Dylan aficionados for being the obsessed stalker who Bob Dylan physically assaulted in 1971.

Here’s what Weberman told Rolling Stone about the time Dylan beat him up:

“I’d agreed not to hassle Dylan anymore, but I was a publicity-hungry motherfucker. . . . I went to MacDougal Street, and Dylan’s wife comes out and starts screaming about me going through the garbage. Dylan said if I ever fucked with his wife, he’d beat the shit out of me. A couple of days later, I’m on Elizabeth Street and someone jumps me, starts punching me.

“I turn around and it’s like—Dylan. I’m thinking, ‘Can you believe this? I’m getting the crap beat out of me by Bob Dylan!’ I said, ‘Hey, man, how you doin’?’ But he keeps knocking my head against the sidewalk. He’s little, but he’s strong. He works out. I wouldn’t fight back, you know, because I knew I was wrong. He gets up, rips off my ‘Free Bob Dylan’ button and walks away. Never says a word.

“The Bowery bums were coming over, asking, ‘How much he get?’ Like I got rolled. . . . I guess you got to hand it to Dylan, coming over himself, not sending some fucking lawyer. That was the last time I ever saw him, except once with one of his kids, maybe Jakob, and he said, ‘A.J. is so ashamed of his Jewishness, he got a nose job,’ which was true—at least in the fact that I got a nose job.

Weberman, a marginal figure in the Yippies, picked through the Dylan family’s trash (he calls his stinky style of sleuthing the science of “Garbology”) and staged demonstrations (with the “Dylan Liberation Front,” the students of his “Dylanology” classes) outside of their MacDougal Street brownstone.

I’ve posted here before on this character, at length, so I will refer you to “Tangled Up in Dylan: The twisted tale of AJ Weberman” from 2012.

In any case, this 1969 video of Weberman going through what he claims to be Dylan’s garbage is completely and utterly ridiculous.

At one point, AJ claims to have found a syringe. After a while, a Caribbean woman who lives in the building comes out and starts to berate him for this audacious invasion of privacy. She then informs him that Dylan has moved out.

He is genuinely surprised to hear this—you can tell from the look on his face—and doesn’t believe her. Later in the video she tells him that she knows that he brought his own prop garbage, as there was nothing in the trash cans earlier! She saw him bring three bags from the corner she tells him, and stash them in the bins. Weberman tries to deny this at first, but in the face of her relentless opposition, he finally opts to come clean and promptly blames the back-up garbage on the producer, John Reilly!

All this while videotape rolls… Oy vey!

He actually falsified Bob Dylan’s garbage—including the supposed discovery of a hypodermic needle—for the camera? How twisted is that? You can see how outraged Dylan’s former neighbor was by that in particular. She really lets this asshole have it. As she walks away from him, she reminds him once again that Dylan doesn’t even live there anymore and here he is bringing in bags of garbage and claiming they’re his!
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds
Tangled Up in Dylan: The twisted tale of AJ Weberman

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Studs Terkel interviews a very young Bob Dylan in 1963 and it’s incredible
01.07.2014
07:30 am

Topics:
History
Music

Tags:
Bob Dylan
Studs Terkel

Dylan and Terkel
 
If you’re a fan of Dylan’s early work, I implore you to spend an hour with this stellar interview that he did with Studs Terkel from the spring of 1963 . You won’t regret it.  It’s a very cool piece of history in my humble opinion.

Bob Dylan is a notoriously tough person to interview and that’s definitely the case here, even this early in his life as a public persona. On the other hand, Terkel is a veteran interviewer, one of the best ever, and he seems genuinely impressed with the young man who was just 21 at the time and had but one record of mainly covers under his belt. Terkel does a good job of keeping things on track as he expertly gets out of the way and listens while gleaning what he can from his subject. It’s an interesting match-up. 

Dylan seems at least fairly straightforward about his musical influences. He talks about seeing Woody Guthrie with his uncle when he was ten years old (Is this just mythology? Who knows?), and he mentions Big Joe Williams and Pete Seeger a few times.

Much of the rest is a little trickier. Terkel has to almost beg Dylan to play what turns out to be an earnest, driving version of “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall.”  Dylan tells Terkel that he’d rather the interviewer “take it off the disc,” but relents and does the tune anyways. 

In what will prove to be par for the course as his public exposure increases dramatically in the ensuing years, Dylan is an elusive, squirrely moving target who never quite agrees with Terkel’s interpretations of his music.  “No,” says Dylan, ““A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” is not about atomic rain.”  He laughs a lot to himself throughout the hour.  Maybe he’s gaming the interview, but you really wouldn’t call him arrogant. Maybe he just doesn’t want to be pinned down.  Maybe they way he speaks (mountain talk, as Terkel calls it) is a put on; maybe it’s not. If people want to think that he’s really a college educated fake, fine.  He calls his songwriting a gift just like someone who’s good at baking a cake or sawing down trees has a gift, but then he says that the word “gift” is just a word and he can’t really describe the thing that drives his song-writing talent. 

Dylan’s like this the whole way through as he bobs and weaves in and out of the questions and tries, perhaps, to let the songs speak for them selves. He does six:

“Farewell”
“A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall”
“Bob Dylan’s Dream”
“Boots of Spanish Leather”
“John Brown”
“Blowin’ in the Wind”

Towards the end of the discussion, Terkel asks Dylan if he and his contemporaries are looking for some kind of new road.  To that, Dylan replies:

Seems like there’s a board there, and all the nails are pounded in all over the place, you know? And every new person that comes around to pound in a nail finds that there’s one less space. I hope we haven’t got to the end of the space yet.

Dylan would obviously find a lot more space for nails in the future, but man does he sound young in this interview. Part of what’s fascinating about this piece is that, outside of New York and possibly some other folk hotbeds around the country, people would have barely known who Dylan was at the time. The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan would be released very shortly after this interview, changing that irrevocably.

This interview has been floating around as a bootleg for some time, and you can buy your own copy on vinyl here.
 

 
Via Open Culture

Posted by Jason Schafer | Leave a comment
Bob Dylan & The Band at Isle of Wight Festival, 1969
11.22.2013
04:54 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Bob Dylan
The Band


 
Bob Dylan and the Band caught on b&w half-inch open reel videotape at the Isle of Wight Festival on August 31, 1969. Dylan had rejected an offer to play at Woodstock to headline the festival.

Allegedly this was shot by a friend of John Lennon and Ringo Starr (who can be seen in the audience here). This makes sense because a) only someone relatively wealthy would have had access to a half-inch open reel video-recorder at the time and b) whoever shot this was right up front.

“I Threw It All Away”

“The Weight”

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Bob Dylan, Giorgio Moroder, Rambo: Three names you’d never thought you’d see together


 
Not exactly buried in Alexis Petridis’ interview with Giorgio Moroder today at The Guardian—naturally he used all three names in his headline—is this amazing anecdote:

Alexis Petridis: There’s a story that you attempted to collaborate with Bob Dylan, which seems a bit unlikely.

Giorgio Moroder: That’s right. It was actually Sylvester Stallone who asked me to ask him to sing a song for a Rambo movie. So I composed a song. I wanted him to write the lyrics, of course. I went to see him in Malibu, where he had a beautiful house. He listened to it about four times. I’m not sure if he didn’t like the music that much, or if he wasn’t interested because of the nature of the movie, which was totally anti-Russian, anti-communist. I think he didn’t feel like being involved with a movie such as Rambo. It was nice to meet him, and it could have worked, but it didn’t work out.

Christ it’s a shame that never happened!

Read the entire thing at The Guardian.

Thank you Chris Campion of Berlin, Germany!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Watch Bob Dylan’s seldom-seen NBC TV special, ‘Hard Rain’ while you still can…
10.21.2013
11:16 am

Topics:
Music
Television

Tags:
Bob Dylan


 
When Hard Rain, Bob Dylan’s much ballyhooed NBC TV special aired on September 14, 1976, I was nine years old. I’d “discovered” Dylan earlier that year and owned his Greatest Hits album and the single of “Tangled Up in Blue,” which I thought was the greatest song ever recorded. I eagerly anticipated the night that a Hard Rain was a-gonna be broadcast.

However, Hard Rain just perplexed me. I was expecting something more… professional, I suppose, and this was really loose and informal, the opposite of a slick rock show. I couldn’t understand why he didn’t do more of his hits or play his songs the way the audience wanted to hear them, the “right way.”

I’d also been reading about how the Rolling Thunder Revue tour was supposed to have all of this crackling, joyous onstage energy and musical camaraderie among the musicians (Joan Baez, T-Bone Burnett, David Mansfield, Gary Burke, Roger McGuinn, Bob Neuwirth, Scarlet Rivera, Luther Rix, Kinky Friedman, Mick Ronson, Steven Soles, Rob Stoner, Howie Wyeth), but as you can see, the energy is downright subdued, barely a smile is cracked. By the time this performance was shot—May 23, 1976 at Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins, Colorado—the Revue seems to have run out of steam. Only four of the eleven performances actually heard in the broadcast (“Maggie’s Farm”, “One Too Many Mornings”, “Shelter from the Storm” and “Idiot Wind”) were included on the Hard Rain live album released ten days before the special aired. Rob Stoner would later remark that Dylan had been “hitting the bottle all weekend” and speculated that the album’s sloppy “punk” energy was a result of that bender. The fact that Dylan and his soon-to-be ex-wife, Sara, had been arguing for the entire Colorado stay may have also contributed to what went down onstage (Watch him spit out “Idiot Wind. It’s easy to interpret this performance as a “fuck you” to her.)

Although the program was highly touted in advance by NBC—Bob Dylan even made the cover of TV Guide, it doesn’t get anymore mainstream than that—it fared poorly in the ratings and has never been released on DVD. Below is Hard Rain as it was recorded off air in 1976, when it was presented by Craig Audio. Dylan thanks Arthur Rimbaud at the end and there’s a credit to poet Anne Waldman for the “headgear.”

Although this was posted a year ago, as often happens with videos we link to on this blog, I wouldn’t expect this one to last forever…
 

 
Thank you Michael Simmons!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Dylan reselling everything at once, because, hey, let’s face it, people will buy it
09.26.2013
12:33 pm

Topics:
Music
Superstar

Tags:
Bob Dylan

that bucket is full of cash
 
At age 72, with a career behind him spanning just a bit over 50 years, Bob Dylan is releasing this November a boxed set spanning his entire oeuvre, titled The Complete Album Collection Volume 1.

“Volume 1.”

At a cost of over $250, the massive set contains 35 studio albums, 6 live albums, and two discs of rarities, some remastered, some appearing on CD for the first time, posh book, blah blah blah, can we circle back to this “Volume 1” thing? It implies a presupposed Volume 2, kinda, a little, doesn’t it? But for such a volume to be comparably exhaustive, it would seem like it would have to wait until the durable (won’t get off the stage) and prolific (enraptured by the sound of his own voice) icon reaches about 120 years of age. Or so.
 
look at all that crap
 
Come to think of it, it’s not so doubtful that he could pull that off. Though haggard, he’s still decently preserved and he has more money than God. Might a Volume 2 comprise his groundbreaking head-kept-alive-in-a-jar years? Will submersion in formaldehyde affect the tone of his harmonica reeds?

Or, given that he’s hardly released a single note worth listening to since Desire, maybe this set is a bloated, hubristic exercise in wrenching one last big wad of cash out of nostalgia-obsessed baby boomers before they all go on Social Security?

Obviously early Dylan is worth being nostalgic for, and if someone is really itching for a box set, there’s already 2010’s The Original Mono Recordings, comprising his first eight LPs, and though it’s a few albums shy of completely collecting his best work, it doesn’t charge exorbitantly for three and a half decades worth of stuff that nobody wants.

For a taste of Dylan’s mastery at the height of his early, folkie phase, check out this stunning rendition of “North County Blues,” from 1963.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
The Band live at The Academy of Music, 1971: The ‘Rock of Ages’ concerts
09.19.2013
04:00 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Bob Dylan
The Band


 
If I am to judge the product purely on the quality of the music and how much I enjoyed it, I would be obliged to give the new box set Live at the Academy Of Music 1971 by The Band a 5/5. It sounds really good. The performances are nothing short of incredible. It blew my doors off.

The four CDs and one DVD are encased in a nice glossy hardback cover with slick embossed lettering, short essays and color photos. It’s a nice thing to hold in your hands and it got me listening to The Band again. Box sets are good that way and I reacted in the expected Pavlovian slobbering fanboy manner.

Oh children, believe me when I tell you that I can rhapsodize about The Band and this is them at the height of their powers, playing their hearts out over the course of a four-night stint at the old Academy of Music on 14th Street in New York, the cavernous venue that would later become the Palladium nightclub, the set of Club MTV and is now… NYU dorms! They were accompanied by a crack horn section arranged by Allen Toussaint that gave their Civil War folk rock a Stax/Volt swing. Bob Dylan even showed up for the encore of their New Year’s Eve set and performed four numbers with them.

The recordings of these shows are what became the Rock of Ages album, a 2 LP release from the summer of 1972. That album went to #6 in the album charts and is considered by many to be one of the greatest live albums ever recorded.

I haven’t had a chance to listen to all of the box yet, but the 5.1 surround, mixed by Bob Clearmountain is quite good and discs 3 and 4 with the raw “you were there” soundboard mixes from New Year’s Eve are also pretty cool. But why anyone would require seven of the same songs from the first two discs to be repeated—well same performance, with a different, more immediate, less hi-fi mix—on discs 3 and 4 is beyond me. The 5.1 mix is the same songs (minus the Dylan numbers) from the first two discs. There are only seventeen unreleased tracks here. Most people who would want this already have Rock of Ages and in fact may have purchased it in multiple formats. There have already been several CD versions.
 

 
The problem with reviewing this box is that I like the music, I like it a lot, but it’s so repetitive that the idea of asking fans of The Band to plunk down $109 (Amazon discounts it to $73) and expecting that they’ll do it seems frankly insane to me.

What gives?

The initial Amazon reviews of Live at the Academy Of Music 1971 have been nothing short of brutal, slamming Robbie Robertson for ripping off his biggest fans and decrying the repetitive nature of the box set. They’ve got a point!

What I can’t believe is that the 5.1 mix is just a (lossy) Dolby file on a DVD and not an HD DTS version on a Blu-ray disc. There’s no high-res stereo file, either, just one encoded at 448 kbps/48kHz. For audiophiles, this is a massive turn-off and although this seems to be news to the major labels, they’re the ones who are still buying those round shiny silver things that you can hold in your hand. Don’t get me wrong, I like Bob Clearmountain’s mix, but I’d sure like it a lot more on a Blu-ray disc! It sounds great, but it could sound a lot better. Me, I’d rather have that superior version, especially at this price point.

It stands to reason that the majors would want to appeal to the people—cater to them, kiss their asses—who would *actually buy* what basically amounts to three versions of Rock of Ages by giving them some value for the money. Even those intelligence-insulting Pink Floyd box sets with the drink coasters and Pink Floyd marbles had the surround audio portion on Blu-ray discs. They overlap in the material here, too, is simply so shameless, that you just have to laugh. At either $109 or $73, it’s not a good value for the money.

By comparison, the upcoming Van Morrison Moondance box set has 4 CDs and a high-resolution 48K 24 bit PCM stereo and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround sound mix on a Blu-ray and this will sell for $56. I reckon that this is still too high of a price to ask when everyone knows that each and every song on those 4 CDs would fit onto the Blu-ray. I think a $35 list price for an expanded catalog classic that’s been plundered for profits over and over again is where the multi-generational sweet spot is.
 

 
Fact is, if I was given the option of buying classic albums on Blu-ray, with either a 176/24 version of some album I love or a 5.1 surround mix (or preferably both) and the list was $35, I’d still be buying the same amount of music that I bought back in 2004. But I’m not offered that option or if I am, it’s not at that price point and I get stuck with a bunch of stuff I don’t want, like a “Dark Side of the Moon” scarf… Go much over $35 and you lose me as a customer.

But this is hypothetical, because seldom does what the accountants at the labels think will sell and what the fans want overlap, it’s just that obvious. Many people have excellent audio-visual equipment in their homes and a desire for quality software products to enjoy on their electronics, but the labels never even attempt to engage these consumers. It’s so completely ass-backwards that it’s… annoying.

There are some rays of hope. For instance Panegyric’s upcoming XTC and Yes reissues done by Porcupine Tree’s Steve Wilson—who has previously worked his magic on the King Crimson catalog—feature a CD and a Blu-ray disc combo with high-res audio, 5.1 surround mix and music videos. There’s also a CD/DVD version that will sell for about $25; the Blu-ray/CD pairing goes for around $30.

DING-DONG, this is the perfect formula. I can’t see why the big labels don’t get that. The majors need to look at what Steve Wilson is doing—and no one else but Steve Wilson—and get him to advise them so they stop falling on their faces so hard each and every time they put out these sorts of releases! DO WHAT HE DOES. HE GETS IT. COPY HIM. When they let bean counters and marketers make these decisions they make them based on faulty assumptions of what record buyers and fans want. Steve Wilson? He knows what I want!

In the case of The Band box, the blame for the list price should probably be laid at the feet (or the ego) of the producer, Robbie Robertson. As one Amazon wag put it, there’s only so much ore in that mine. I expect Robertson understands what he means by that. Anyone paying full retail for this box would. The Band’s vault has simply been plundered too many times. The high list price of Live at the Academy Of Music 1971 turns off the most ardent fans and insures that no new ones will be coming aboard. That’s a shame.

Don’t get me wrong, what’s on the discs, well, it’s fine. It’s magic. It’s like having gold poured into your ears. It’s The Band at their very best.

But it’s overpriced like crazy and I gotta call it like I see it. If this was a Blu-ray disc with the Clearmountain 5.1 mix in HD DTS and a high-res stereo mix, plus the soundboard mix as an extra, at a $35 or under price point, I’d be raving like a lunatic telling all of you to run out and buy it. Now.

Not to be a buzzkill(!) here are four songs (“Time to Kill,” “The Weight,” “This Wheel’s on Fire,” “Up on Cripple Creek”) from The Band performing live at The Syria Mosque in Pittsburgh on November 1st, 1970.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
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