It’s Bob Dylan’s birthday - Happy Birthday Bob. But rather than the usual cake, candles and documentary clip, here’s a slightly different birthday card: 2 versions of Dylan’s “Masters of War” slowed down by 400% and 800% by Angel Musicfication.
Oregon -based artist Kay Petal makes these whimsical sculptural needle-felted rock star dolls. Kay says, “Using single, barbed felting needles I sculpt wool fibers into solid felted wool characters with heart and soul. My characters are soft and flexible yet strong and durable.”
And guess what? Kay will even make one of YOU! You can contact her on the website Felt Alive for more information.
Famous visitors and “beautiful people” with “star potential” who visited Andy Wahol’s Factory studio in the 1960s were often shot for Warhol’s “screen tests,” his silent “parodies” of the Hollywood studio system. No one was really auditioning for anything, it was just an excuse to run a single reel of 16mm film through his Bolex camera and engage someone in a staring contest with it, one they normally lost (after a minute or so of trying to look “cool,” the mask was normally dropped and the simple portraits become quite revealing). The two and a half minute reels were then slowed down and printed.
Some of the more notable subjects included Italian model Benedetta Barzini, model/actrress Marisa Berenson, poet Ted Berrigan, Salvador Dalí, Donovan, Marcel Duchamp, Mama Cass, Allen Ginsberg, Beck’s mother, Bibbe Hansen, Baby Jane Holzer, Dennis Hopper, actress Sally Kirkland, Nico, Yoko Ono, Lou Reed, photographer Francesco Scavullo, Edie Sedgwick, Susan Sontag, artist Paul Thek, Viva and Mary Woronov
When Dylan stopped by the tin-foil covered Factory, he is alleged to have taken an immediate dislike to Warhol and the “phonies” of his entourage. It has long been suspected that the spitting lyrics of “Like a Rolling Stone,” in part, describe Dylan’s feelings about Warhol—was he “the diplomat on the chrome horse”?—and how he felt about the artist’s perceived exploitation of Edie Sedgwick, who Dylan was at one point romantically involved with (and who was his muse for some of Blonde on Blonde).
After the screen test was shot, Dylan grabbed a large silkscreen (as “payment”) that Warhol was going to give him anyway and headed for the door (before allegedly strapping the canvas to the roof of a station wagon). Such was his dislike of the artist that he later traded the piece to his manager, Albert Grossman, for a couch. That silkscreen, “Double Elvis,” is now part of the permanent collection at MOMA.
Here’s Factory photographer Nat Finkelstein’s account of what happened:
“Andy gave Bobby a great double image of Elvis. Bobby gave Andy short shrift. Shooting and plundering finished, the Dylan gang headed for the door, me and my Nikon on their heels. They left as they had entered…‘Bobby the Waif’ emerging as ‘Robert the Triumphant’. They departed having tied the Elvis image to the top of their station wagon, like a deer poached out of season. Much later, Bobby told me he’d traded the Elvis (now worth millions) to his manager Albert Grossman for a couch!”
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.
Beatle George Harrison died ten years ago on November 29, 2001.
Below, you can watch the entire historic Concert For Bangladesh performance featuring George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Ravi Shankar, Leon Russell, Ringo Starr, Billy Preston, Badfinger, Jesse Ed Davis, Klaus Voorman and Mother of Invention Don Preston.
Harrison walks onstage at 22 minutes in—after a fiery opening set by Ravi Shankar—and the supergroup (led by bandleader Leon Russell) launch into his blistering anti-Macca number “Wah Wah,” one of the best songs on his sprawling All Things Must Pass album.
(You might not want to wait too long to watch this one, who knows how long this is going to last on YouTube…)
In January 1964, Bob Dylan released his classic third album The Times They Are A Changin’. As part of the promotion for the record, Dylan was offered a half-hour slot on Canadian TV’s arts series Quest. The loose form of the show suited Dylan and allowed him to showcase 3 tracks from his new record and 3 from previous album, Freewheelin Bob Dylan.
“The Times They Are A-Changin’”
“Talkin’ World War III Blues”
“The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll”
“Girl from the North Country”
“A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall”
It was momentous piece of television, one that firmly established Dylan as “the voice of his generation”, as he sang his most radical folk songs, which, in light of Occupy Wall Street, are still as relevant and as important today.
Yesterday on NPR, there was a segment where Los Angeles Times music critic Ann Powers was asked if a “new Bob Dylan”—or at least a new “name” singer/songwriter—had stepped forward with a song that really crystalized what the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations are all about. Powers answered that, no, it hadn’t really happened because of the leaderless, un-amplified nature of the movement’s setting, and she was was right, but I’m guessing that she hasn’t heard the music of 23-year-old London-based soul singer Michael Kiwanuka... yet.
Why should we expect that the “Blowin’ In The Wind” of 2011 was actually going to come from Zuccotti Park, anyway? For me, Michael Kiwanuka’s new song, “I’m Getting Ready” could be the song that best sums up the historical moment we’re in. It’s not as if he’s addressing “revolution” or Occupy Wall Street or any other specific location or uprising around the globe with the song’s simple lyrics. There are no grievances aired, no complaints or demands made. But what he has done is compose and perform an “anthem” level song—it’s gorgeous and uplifting, almost a hymn—that makes the case for standing up for yourself. It’s beautifully of the moment.
I haven’t been this knocked out by a new talent since I got hip to Laura Marling. With “I’m Getting Ready,” Kiwanuka takes the whole Nick Drake/Nico’s Chelsea Girl thing and really makes it his own. His voice is strong—Bill Withers-level strong—and he’s a cool-looking motherfucker, too. Dig his Tappa Zukie fashion sense! I have a feeling Michael Kiwanuka is going to become a very big star in the coming months.
If anyone is organizing a benefit concert for Occupy Wall Street, Michael Kiwanuka would be an absolute must for that bill.
See what you think:
After the jump, “Tell Me A Tell,” which is a much different sounding song altogether than “I’m Getting Ready,” but equally gorgeous!
A new series of drawings and paintings by Bob Dylan that form a visual diary of his travels in Asia last spring will be on display at the Gagosian Gallery in New York beginning September 20. The gallery says that this will the first time ever that Dylan’s art will be exhibited in NYC:
The gallery said in a news release that Mr. Dylan’s works would offer “firsthand depictions of people, street scenes, architecture and landscape” with evocative titles like “Mae Ling,” “Cockfight,” “The Bridge” and “Hunan Province.” The release added: “Conversely, there are more cryptic paintings often of personalities and situations, such as ‘Big Brother’ and ‘Opium,’ or ‘LeBelle Cascade,’ which looks like a riff on Manet’s ‘Le Déjeuner sur l’Herbe’ but which is, in fact, a scenographic tourist photo-opportunity in a Tokyo amusement arcade.” Mr. Dylan’s paintings have previously been shown in Chemnitz, Germany (where the exhibition “The Drawn Blank Series” opened in 2007), the Statens Museum in Copenhagen (where his “Brazil Series” was shown in 2008) and any rec room where the cover of his “Self Portrait” album has been prominently displayed.
Novelist and folk singer Richard Fariña is the missing link (or “Kevin Bacon” if you prefer) connecting author Thomas Pynchon (the best man at Fariña’s wedding to Mimi Baez) and Bob Dylan. Some have called Fariña an out-sized influence on the young Dylan, who allegedly aped the older man’s world-weary bohemian attitudes and persona. (It was also Fariña who allegedly suggested to Dylan that he hitch his horse to a then-rising star Joan Baez (his sister-in-law), ditch the folk thing, and start a new genre of music: poetry that people could dance to).
Richard and Mimi Fariña (along with Bruce Langhorne on tambourine), recorded this vaguely Near East-sounding dulcimer drone on their 1963 album Celebrations for a Grey Day, as a tribute to Pynchon’s first novel, V. Fariña said of the song, which seems like it was inspired by the Alexandria of V‘s chapter five, in the liner notes:
“Call it an East-West dreamsong in the Underground Mode for Tom Pynchon and Benny Profane. The literary listener will no doubt find clues to the geographical co-ordinates of Vheissu, the maternal antecedents of the younger Stencil, and a three-dimensional counter-part of Botticelli’s Venus on the half-shell. May they hang again on a western wall.”
Fariña, whose claim to fame was the “road” novel Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me, died tragically on April 30, 1966, in a motorcycle accident. It was his wife’s 21st birthday. Fariña was just 29. Thomas Pynchon later dedicated his classic 1973 novel, Gravity’s Rainbow, to Richard Fariña.
An interview with Bob Dylan dating back to when he was working on the Hollywood movie Hearts of Fire, in which Dylan played a retired rocker called Billy Parker. Hearts of Fire co-starred Rupert Everett, Ian Dury and Fiona, and was written by overblown Hollywood scriptwriter, Joe Eszterhas. The film bombed, and was sadly the last feature from director Richard Marquand (best known for Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, Jagged Edge and Eye of the Needle), who died not long after completing the film.
This interview with Dylan formed the basis for a rarely seen BBC Omnibus documentary called Getting to Dylan (1987), directed by Christopher Sykes.
I guess when you’ve reached 70-years-old, and certain things come out about your past, you can brush if off a lot easier when the events in question have a vintage of 40+ years. Yesterday, the BBC reported that a previously unheard interview with Bob Dylan reveals that he was once addicted to heroin.
After a concert late one Saturday night in March 1966 Bob Dylan, while on tour in the US, boarded his private plane in Lincoln, Nebraska bound for Denver with his friend Robert Shelton.
Over the next two hours Shelton taped an interview with Dylan which he later described as a “kaleidoscopic monologue”.
At one point, the singer, who turns 70 this week, admits he had been addicted to heroin in the early 1960s.
“I kicked a heroin habit in New York City,” he confesses. “I got very, very strung out for a while, I mean really, very strung out. And I kicked the habit. I had about a $25-a-day habit and I kicked it.”
There have been rumours that Dylan was involved with heroin. But Mick Brown, a writer on The Daily Telegraph who has interviewed Dylan, says he has never heard the singer confirm the speculation.
“It’s extraordinary that he should be talking about it quite so candidly,” he remarks.
Elsewhere on the tapes, Dylan reveals he contemplated suicide after people started calling him a genius.
“Death to me is nothing… death to me means nothing as long as I can die fast. Many times I’ve known I could have been able to die fast, and I could have easily gone over and done it.”
“I’ll admit to having this suicidal thing… but I came through this time,” he says.
Shelton describes Dylan as “twisting restlessly” during the interview - animated at times, despondent at others.
Dylan, who turns 70 today also says on the tapes, regarding his songwriting talents:
“I take it less seriously than anybody. “I know that it’s not going to help me into heaven one little bit, man. It’s not going to get me out of the fiery furnace. It’s certainly not going to extend my life any and it’s not going to make me happy. You can’t be happy by doing something groovy.”
On a May 13 note to all his fans and followers, Bob Dylan concludes his blog with a clever idea :
Everybody knows by now that there’s a gazillion books on me either out or coming out in the near future. So I’m encouraging anybody who’s ever met me, heard me or even seen me, to get in on the action and scribble their own book. You never know, somebody might have a great book in them.
Mr. Dylan has certainly tapped an excellent source of publicity (as if he needed any more), while at the same time inspiring other’s to use their talents. Good idea. In the same spirit of enabling others, we at DM thought it would be fun to hear your tales of Bob or any other celebrated Musicians, Writers, Actors, Celebrities or, even (dare I say it?) members of the DM team, who you’ve met, heard or seen.
Bonus cartoon of Dylan meeting The Beatles, after the jump…
Since there is no such thing as a music “mainstream” anymore, and if there is, it’s one that I can easily ignore—I have never heard Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” that I am aware of—so I don’t really feel that out of it. Or care. Where do you find out about new music, though? It used to be you found out about new music because you’d see something in a record store and think “That looks interesting” but that hardly happens anymore. Radio sucks. For me, it’s not going to be Pitchfork, I just don’t relate to most of what I find there. Now it’s often a matter of happy accidents or friends’ recommendations.
Sometimes it’s good to consult with the experts. Of course, I realize that I’m more than a little late to the party on this one, but hey, better late than never. Last week I was reading something on the Guardian’s website and I found, by accident, a year-old blog post by Creation Records founder Alan McGee where he compares British singer-songwriter Laura Marling’s 2010 album, I Speak Because I Can to Joni Mitchell’s Court and Spark. Huh? That’s a rather strong statement to make, I’m sure most of you reading this will agree. Court and Spark? There are precious few albums I revere like Joni Mitchell’s masterpiece. It stayed in my car stereo for about a year and a half, once, I kid you not. And there’s also a comparison to Bob Dylan’s, Blood on the Tracks, probably THE classic break-up album. Again, it’s another record I’ve played so much it’s a part of my DNA. Laura Marling is supposed to be that good? Court and Spark good? Oh, please. Nothing is that good these days…
Still, when it’s coming from the fellow who signed My Bloody Valentine, Jesus & Mary Chain and Oasis, it’s probably worth investigating.
So I did. And holy shit was McGee’s assessment right on the money. Laura Marling is a fucking genius. Marling, born in 1990 and just 21-years-old, is almost a child, but she doesn’t sound like one. Where does her incredible depth come from? I don’t know, but I don’t care, sometimes it’s better if rare and special talent like hers remains a mystery, like Antony Hegarty’s or a young Kate Bush (another particularly apt comparison given both her age and absolutely prodigious talents). She’s got a powerful, exceptional and uncommonly beautiful voice, perfectly suited to her compositions. Here’s what Alan McGee wrote that sent me out to find the album:
I Speak Because I Can could have gone wrong. It could have been a bleakly pale and introverted take on lost love. Yet it runs much like Bob Dylan’s Blood On the Tracks. Marling explores a broken relationship with blind rage and biting power, yet still manages to leave the listener with hope and salvation. In capturing a sense of love won and lost, and independence gained and fought for, Marling has scored an extraordinary songwriting achievement.
The album sees Marling developing a sound that is distinctly non-twee (listen to the Led Zeppelin-like title track or Devil’s Spoke). Her voice is deceptively huge – it gives the impression of unknowable, boundless territory without sounding loud or exerted. The sound can be unnerving and is not easily assimilated into a pop record. Marling is far from the Larkin-loving teen of her debut, Alas I Cannot Swim.
It’s pleasing to see a truly great British artist gaining popularity. I usually despise awards shows, but when Marling’s album, Alas I Cannot Swim, was nominated for the Mercury prize, I was glad that her genuine talent (in a sea of Lily Allen clones) was acknowledged.
It’s tempting to draw parallels between Marling and other figures of the alt-folk resurgence; Will Oldham, say, or Bon Iver. But if we’re honest, I Speak Because I Can plays more like a modern version of Joni Mitchell’s Court and Spark. It has a classic feel. And Marling deserves comparison to the greats.
I Speak Because I Can sounds like an intimate conversation between performer and listener. When it’s finished, you’ll feel as though you’ve just come away from a deeply involving and curious encounter with a stranger. It’s an experience that will stay with you for a long time to come, and one that you’ll want to revisit frequently.
Fans of emotionally intense and “literary” performers like Neil Young, Nick Cave, Nick Drake, Leonard Cohen and yes, Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell will find much to like with Laura Marling. I’m only now, with each successive play of I Speak Because I Can, beginning to appreciate the jaw-dropping talent this young woman possesses. If she’s this good at 21, her promise as a maturing artist is practically off the scale. This is the kind of talent that comes along once or twice in a generation and I think she must be aware of it.
Laura Marling is someone I plan to follow throughout her career.