I burst out laughing yesterday. I was listening to “Wigwam,” the version of the song on the new release from Bob Dylan, Another Self Portrait: The Bootleg Series Vol. 10, without the overdubs from the original Self Portrait album in 1970. Heard this way, it is a very unassuming performance: voice, guitar, piano: a pleasant, contemplative melody. I think that it is, in its way, a joke, however, because, while there are no lyrics, Dylan sings “la da da da” type stuff throughout. Put that together with what he said (in 1984) about the original 1970 release of Self Portrait, and how he wanted to alienate the people who were looking to him for big statements and answers:
I wish these people would just forget about me. I wanna do something they can’t possibly like, they can’t relate to. They’ll see it, and they’ll listen, and they’ll say, ‘Well, let’s get on to the next person. He ain’t sayin’ it no more. He ain’t given’ us what we want,’ you know? They’ll go on to somebody else.
What better way to do that than for the great lyricist and poet and “voice of a generation” to record a song with nothing but “la da da’s” in it? Continue reading Another Self Portrait – Bob Dylan (Bootleg Series Volume 10)
Some say fifty thousand. Some say twice that number. No one questions that there are tens of thousands of owner-less dogs in an American city that once had a population of 1.8 million people and now has perhaps 700,000 human inhabitants remaining. Dogs left behind by their owners breed with others and roam the city in packs and singly, traveling empty streets and using abandoned houses as dens.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who saw this story and thought of these lines from William Blake, from his “Proverbs”:
A dog starved at his master’s gate
Predicts the ruin of the state
The ruin of Detroit is a reality. Whether it be a harbinger of much more of the same … well, keep an eye on your pooch. Please. Continue reading 50,000 Stray Dogs in Detroit
I don’t know exactly when this performance by Chrissie Hynde of Bob Dylan’s song “Property Of Jesus” took place, but it’s embedded via YouTube at the bottom.
I’d heard reference before to Chrissie Hynde singing this song, and was curious about it, but I hadn’t actually heard it until I came across this clip the other day. The rendition is word perfect and tightly-performed, so it’s clearly not a casual or one-off thing. Musically, Bob Dylan’s original on Shot of Love from 1981 is pretty much straight-ahead rock & roll, but Chrissie Hynde and her band turn it into a kind of shuffle, and a pretty groovy one at that. Continue reading Property of Jesus – Chrissie Hynde
My abusers, in their terrible arrogance, took photographs while they tortured me. They should have realized that these things always get out. Continue reading Incontrovertible Evidence
A preview consisting of fifteen songs from Bob Dylan’s forthcoming album Another Self Portrait (part of his Bootleg Series) is available on the NPR website. (The two-CD version of the album will contain 35 previously-unreleased tracks.) That NPR link also has features a short and very good piece by Ann Powers on the release.
Nowhere is Dylan’s ability to see the whole patchwork tapestry of our musical culture more evident than in the music he made in the very early 1970s, when he was running from his own burdensome greatness and jumping into the great scrap heap of American musical tradition.
It continues to be amusing to play “think back” games with this. E.g.: Think back to 1970, and imagine telling someone who hated Self Portrait (i.e. virtually everybody) that in forty years time there were going to be outtakes from this album released to great acclaim … Continue reading Fifteen Song Preview of Another Self Portrait by Bob Dylan
Another day, another dog food (and cat food) recall: The Procter and Gamble company has recalled a variety of dry dog and cat foods under the IAMS and Eukanuba brands due to a risk of contamination with salmonella. (Full list as of today is at this link.) The symptoms which can affect animals that have ingested same include lethargy, “diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain.” Similar symptoms can be experienced by humans who have ingested salmonella, and humans can pick it up from infected pets or simply by contact with their contaminated food.
We happen to give our dog home-made food, which isn’t necessarily practical for everyone, but she’s a small dog with an eclectic palate and preparing meals for her is a pleasure and quite inexpensive. Not to overdo a sense of vindication from these frequent recalls, but it does make you wonder how often contaminated or sub-standard food gets out there and stays out there without notice; perhaps, for instance, in smaller batches. Dogs (and cats) do have a tendency to throw up a lot anyway, as pet owners know, and pets also sometimes will just up and die suddenly. How many people pay for an autopsy when their dog or cat dies? The answer is virtually none, as it will not bring Fido or Fluffy back, and veterinary bills are quite bad enough when the animal is alive. So toxic dog food (and cat food) is only even identified as a problem when the effects are widespread enough to attract attention. Or, as in this case, the recall takes place voluntarily because the manufacturer is worried about a potentially big problem. (And since salmonella is communicable to humans too, it holds a special risk of liability for the pet food companies.) Continue reading Eukanuba and IAMS Recall (Dog and Cat Food)
Lady Gaga has released a new single titled “Applause,” the first song to be heard from her forthcoming album Artpop. (Video at bottom.) Frankly, to these ears, it is three minutes and thirty-three seconds of brain-battering bombast. Not long ago, I wrote about the recent Miley Cyrus hit (“We Can’t Stop”) and—although both the song and the video have fairly obvious objectionable elements—it was possible to appreciate some qualities of the tune purely as a pop-record that were well-executed and attractive to the ear. It’s understandable why it would be a hit. Unfortunately this is not so for Lady Gaga’s “Applause,” although it is getting plenty of attention and views on YouTube and is likely to be a very big hit in the coming weeks. Purely from the point of view of sound, however, it seems like something she might have cooked up in her bedroom with an electronic keyboard in about twenty minutes. Of-course, people can dance to it in the clubs, and that might be all the success that really matters to her and her business colleagues, but as a lasting and worthy piece of pop-music it falls rather short; actually, it doesn’t even arrive.
Lyrically the song disappears into an abyss of self-regard. Gaga is aware that she’s been criticized for being highly unoriginal, and in “Applause” she seems to be basically calling out to her fans to defy her detractors:
I stand here waiting for you to bang the gong to crash the critic saying
Is it right or is it wrong?
If only Fame had an IV
Baby could I bare being away from you
I found the vein, put it in here
I live for the Applause, Applause, Applause …
This may all be very meaningful for Lady Gaga, but it’s a slight stretch to imagine listeners relating to it and singing along, or even remembering it a few months from now. Continue reading Lady Gaga – “Applause”
A teaser has been released from the forthcoming Bob Dylan Bootleg Series Volume 10, Another Self Portrait. It is his solo acoustic performance of a song titled “Pretty Saro,” an eighteenth-century English ballad that was kept alive in the Appalachians and enjoyed a twentieth-century revival (video below). It is said to be from the original sessions for Self Portrait.
It’s a lovely performance, and one thing that struck me while listening to it is how, when Dylan sang in this smooth, crooning, almost-genteel voice all those years ago, he came in for a lot of mockery. “Why’s he singing like that?” “What’s he done to his voice?” It was one more reason to brand him a sell-out of some kind. But all these decades later, I would be surprised if many could listen to this without agreeing that his singing is really rather appropriate to the material; it is sensitive, even reverent, and, in the end, just beautiful. Whether it was really because he quit smoking (as he claimed at the time) or not, it’s a nice thing that, for a while at least, Bob Dylan was able to make records with this more pure and melodic voice. He would get back to his other kind of singing soon enough. Continue reading Bob Dylan – “Pretty Saro”
The sun’s magnetic field is expected to reverse its polarity in the next few months, flipping the north pole to the south and vice versa. It is said to occur every 11 years. Researchers have assured that “we have nothing to fear.” Solar physicist Phil Scherrer told SPACE.com that “the world will not end tomorrow.” Continue reading Sun to Undergo Total Magnetic Flip