Every f*#ker needs a home....

Desert Island ranh ("ranh ranh", for the unitiated, more or less means "aggressive music, esp. with loud guitars", and was my wife's pejorative for music that hurt her Indigo Girl-swaddled ears...until The Strokes sparked an appreciation for ranh-ranh that has only snowballed to this day)? This is not easy.

I cannot pick one song, but the band that came to mind were Supergrass. Their first record has so much energy, so much melody, and such great musicianship that it is the closest thing I know to a guaranteed mood elevator. If I were stuck on a desert island, I would want 1) a mood elevator 2) music rich and well-played enough to allow you to switch out air instruments frequently, to help avoid boredom 3) a sturdy boat stocked with flares and plenty of food, water, and Cadburys. The first Supergrass album fits two of these criteria.

To wit: Lenny and Strange Ones.

I like Weezer OK -- my favorite song of theirs is I Just Threw Out The Love Of My Dreams, which is brilliant -- but ultimately I have to consider them underachievers. They can bring the ranh though.

Lots of potential avenues to explore -- the qualities of ranh ranh music, possibly a diversion into list songs, what gives someone the Listen To Me gene (I agree Conor Oberst has it, although I don't always like what he does with it). Where to go, where to go....

MP3: Supergrass -- Lenny
MP3: Supergrass -- Strange Ones

Desert Island Ranh

Alex, if you were going away to desert island (or you were going to be trapped on top of a flooding jail in New Orleans) and could only take one ranh ranh song with you, what would it be?

This is list song that might make Cole Porter blush.
Check out the ranh ranh at 2:40!

MP3: "Tired"(?)!


Listen To Me!

(You know, I just got four versions of Bob Dylan’s 49th Beard courtesy of Michael and Dimeadozen.org . I think I will have to be deleting a couple!)

Alex, there is so much to cover in your post, methinks you are trying to keep the subject on Dylan as long as possible!! My favorite Dylan covers are all cheesy album rock versions like The Neville Brothers, Rolling Stones, U2, Sheryl Crow or Jimi Hendrix. Or that’s all I really ever heard.
However, you have put a stop to that by giving me Mojo: Dylan Covered (who here thinks Fairport Convention is cheesy?). And that gives me a great opportunity to mention Conor Oberst theory. I have just heard a small fraction of his prodigious output, HOWEVER, he has the knack for virtually forcing his listeners to listen to what he is saying. That is, I’m sure, what the appeal of Dylan was in 1962. And Dylan probably recognized and loved this trait in Woody Guthrie, who I like more than Dylan, but not more than Johnny Cash, who also has the “Listen To Me!” gene. So he is an appropriate response to your cyber challenges. Also singing on this cover is M. Ward. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for exposing me to this heavenly performer, Alex and Sonnet. He has had a very high rate of success getting stars in my itunes. We should talk about him more in depth later cause he belongs in the firmament.
I have no idea who Jim James is. But he is singing too.

Born in 1970, Neko.

MP3: Girl From The North Country


Buckets of Ranh

You may not know what the title of Tangled Up In Blue means, but then again you do, don't you? It makes emotional sense even when it doesn't make literal sense. TUIB is one of the first Dylan songs I truly loved -- I'd heard it on KERA 90.1 in Dallas, and as non-Dylan fan at the time found it to be more melodic and more straightforwardly emotional than I expected from Zim (although there are some good jokes buried in those lyrics). I then picked up the record it came from at a particularly opportune time...Blood On The Tracks had a reputation as the king of all breakup records, and I found that to be true. Loss, anger, self-loathing, other-loathing, depression, romanticizing your pain, stubborn hope...it's all there. Who knows how crucial my immersion in that record proved to be in the Journey That Is My Life.

Here is Buckets of Rain, Blood On The Tracks final song, although this version is by the immensely talented (and immensely hawt) Neko Case. What do you think of people covering Dylan? And are there any other artists who you don't care for, but whose songs you like when covered by other people?

Anyways, I don't know if there's a particular Wilco song that indicates Jay Bennett had been listening to OOUMK(SOL)'s piano part -- I was thinking more about his little piano curlicues when they played live. Tweedy of course worships at Mr. Zimmerman's feet (indeed, he is growing Bob Dylan's beard)

MP3: Neko Case -- Buckets Of Rain


Does, "Ooeeeeeewwww!" count as a melodic leap?

Just Kidding, my friend. I know that Dylan brought you and Sonnet together, but it will not, cannot do the same for us. I respect him, but do not need him. Many of my favorite artists are hugely indebted to him, or at least they say they are. His voice is too rough for me. And he never seems to shut up.

When I was growing up on AOR stations “Tangled Up In Blue” came on all the time. This song has a little something extra that I appreciate. It is probably the proto-rap delivery of the lyrics. What ever those lyrics are is anybody’s guess. I never even understand the title, it was lost on me except for some of the sexy bits.

Dylan puts me in the mood for a songwriter I really like (and your sly invoking of Jay Bennet). Which song of his do you think sounds the most like Dylan?

MP3: “Tangled Up In Blue


You said you knew me and I believed you diiiid....

So I'm excited to start this adventure with Mr. J. We both have wide-ranging tastes, and I hope this blog will reflect that. But I'll start out with a way (one of the ways...there are many, as you will see, hopefully to your edification and entertainment) in which we're different:

My esteemed co-contributor does not. like. Bob. Dylan.

Yes, you read that right. I, on the other hand, just read Mojo's appreciation of M. Zimmerman and their mini-essays on songs like Mississippi, You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go (well done, Richard Hell!) and others stopped me in my tracks a few times, attempting to fathom the artistry of this man.

So my talented wife (have you seen this New York Times...oh, never mind) suggested I post a Bob Dylan song that I think Jeff will like.

Now my over-generalization of Jeff's tastes is as follows: he tends to like music that jars him in some way, does something unexpected musically. Listening to music with him has given me a keener ear and deeper appreciation of just that -- the weird harmony, the strange arranging choice, the daring melodic leap, the road less traveled -- but Dylan tends to work in well-worn blues & country idioms, and therefore his melodies rarely do anything spectacularly frisson-inducing. Plus his devotion to the loose and the rough means he doesn't generally take a lot of care with his arrangements (Lanois productions aside). And on top of that, I don't think Jeff likes his voice.

So here's my first shot (I think there will be a few more down the line, regardless of how J reacts to this one) -- it's One Of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later) from 1966's Blonde on Blonde.

The reason I chose this is that the playing by Dylan's band is spectacular -- clearly a bunch of excited, accomplished musicians vibing off each other and the singer to produce one glorious take. Listen to the piano: the pianist (Al Kooper? or is he on organ?) is playing jaw-dropping stuff all the way through, soulfully darting in and out of the melody and Dylan's phrasing, trailing pretty little counter-melodies. Jay Bennett certainly took some lessons from this performance. The drumming (those rolls as Dylan sings the words of the title) is brilliant, punctuating the swells and climaxes that the band seem to conjure as one. The lead guitar is quiet but near the end it emerges a little, spitting dissonant little phrases. Dylan's acoustic rhythm guitar is typically sloppy but adds a little tension that just feels right. And we haven't even spoken about the lyrics, or more importantly, Dylan's phrasing and timbre -- the way he holds "were" in "I didn't realize how young you were" to let the band rush in underneath him.

So I like this song a lot. It's early electric Dylan and it's the sound of spontaneity. I don't so much like that there's a parenthetical aside in every paragraph I ever write, but that's a matter for another time.

Mr J, your thoughts on this wondrous few minutes of music and Dylan in general? And the rest of you can comment too.

MP3: Bob Dylan -- One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later)

in the beginning...

...there was ranh ranh. and it brought the rock. and the rock was good.

so let it be written.

so let it be rocked.