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)