Monthly Archives: February 2015

ron sexsmith saint bernard

Ron Sexsmith – “Saint Bernard”

ron sexsmith saint bernardIt’s darned cold, at least around these parts, and it’s been cold for far too long. The following song and video should warm, if nothing else, the cockles of one’s heart.

Who else is gonna rescue me
When I’m face down in the snow?
No other dog looks so much like me
And can fill in when I’m ill and unable to make the show

There’s a flask around his neck
Of brandy for me
To sip on as I reflect
On immortality

That’s Ron Sexsmith, from his forthcoming album Carousel One.

Insult My Mum and I Will Punch You

Pope FrancisHaving objected to his comments in this space at the time, it behooves us to follow up on how Pope Francis’ frankly stupid remarks regarding free speech and respect for religion have already been bearing bitter, if predictable, fruit. It was less than a week after the massacre at the office of Charlie Hebdo last month when Pope Francis, discussing those broader issues with reporters, helpfully explained that if someone insulted his mother “he can expect a punch. It’s normal. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.”

In a protest in London on February 8th—about 3 weeks after the pope said this—thousands of Muslims took to the streets to protest Charlie Hebdo and the use of any expression by anyone to “slander” a figure known as Muhammad, who they believe was a prophet who lived in the 7th century. They bore signs, including many quoting Pope Francis: “Insult my mum and I will punch you.” (Images in Tweet embedded below.) Continue reading Insult My Mum and I Will Punch You

bob dylan interview

Bob Dylan Talks (Post-Speech Hoopla) to Bill Flanagan

Bob Dylan Bill Flanagan February 2015 interviewMany of the remarks Dylan made in his MusiCares speech a week ago are still echoing around the solar system, upsetting some as much as they’ve been entertaining and/or fascinating others. He covered a lot of ground and he named names, not always in a complimentary fashion. He said himself at the end of the speech: “I probably left out a lot of people and said too much about some.” That was a pretty good bet. So, obviously in the spirit of smoothing some, er, misimpressions, Dylan talked to writer Bill Flanagan, who has always been a worthy interviewer of Bob. Their conversation is posted at BobDylan.com and you can read it yourself. He also expands on some subjects he brought up, like the blues, rock & roll and all that jazz. Continue reading Bob Dylan Talks (Post-Speech Hoopla) to Bill Flanagan

Kris Kristofferson Dylan MusiCares speech

Kris Kristofferson in Bob Dylan’s MusiCares Speech

Kris Kristofferson Dylan MusiCares speech
It would be remiss not to make note of the very special tribute that Bob Dylan paid to Kris Kristofferson in the speech he gave last Friday, February 6th, at the MusiCares benefit. (Transcript “from Bob’s notes” now at this link.) After speaking about how the Nashville scene was once “sewn up in a box” by a collection of songwriters and power brokers, he goes on: Continue reading Kris Kristofferson in Bob Dylan’s MusiCares Speech

Blackwood Brothers with Bob Dylan?

Reactions to Bob Dylan’s MusiCares Speech; Plus The Blackwood Brothers Quartet

Bob Dylan Musicares Speech ReactionsIn his speech last Friday night, accepting the “Person of the Year” award from MusiCares, Bob Dylan remembered many old gratitudes, for such as John Hammond, the Staple Singers, Joan Baez, Lou Levy, Johnny Cash, and others, and then he also used the occasion to take issue with many of the tropes that music critics have employed when writing about him. And he also took a couple of knocks at some individuals in the music business who he believes disdained his songs many years ago, contrasting those individuals with others who said nice things about his music. People have been reacting different ways to his speech, some focusing on the gratitudes, some focusing on the knocks, some seeing a lot of humor in it all, and some hitting back at Dylan for being petty or cranky. I think one issue is that people have been reading the speech (full transcript here) and of-course Bob wrote it to be delivered—which is a different kind of writing—and there are laugh lines and so forth which temper the crankiness quite a bit. I haven’t seen much video of the speech as yet, but for some reason this Belgian website has a fairly good series of short clips spliced together that do go a long way towards conveying the tone of the delivery. Bob was having a good time. Continue reading Reactions to Bob Dylan’s MusiCares Speech; Plus The Blackwood Brothers Quartet

The Cinch Review

Bob Dylan Gives 30+ Minute Speech at MusiCares gala

[UPDATE: Full transcript via Randall Roberts of the LA TIMES at this link.]

These are good times. Or maybe the world’s about to end. Or both. Bob Dylan puts out this beautifully recorded, wonderfully executed (my own self-indulgent review to come shortly) album called Shadows In The Night, a tribute to Sinatra but more than that a great work in itself, and now this: Last night Bob Dylan gave a speech well over thirty minutes long when accepting his “Person of the Year” award from MusiCares (a charity for musicians suffering hard times). Dylan, unfiltered by any interviewer or editor, giving his gratitudes and picking some bones along the way.

Except that no one at this point seems to have a full transcript, let alone a tape (though the whole event was recorded for later use). However, significant extracts of Dylan’s speech are quoted here, here and here. Sharp, funny, utterly direct, great stuff.


He picked the perfect moment, didn’t he? That’s what usually happens at charity galas: everyone sits around, has dinner, and then there’s a big speech. Except usually it’s not preceded by a two-hour concert. One may recall if one is old enough how Frank Sinatra was awarded some special mega-Grammy award very late in his life. He was introduced by Bono, who got to make a big speech. Then Frank came on and said “thank you” and was continuing, but was abruptly interrupted. The lights went down and the camera went away. They weren’t expecting a speech; he was supposed to just take the award and go. Maybe he wasn’t in great shape to give a speech—I really don’t know. But no one was going to get away with interrupting Bob Dylan last night.

Good times.

Addendum: And if you read the full transcript (now available) you might possibly note like I did that the climax of the speech on paper, i.e. the end of the main speech where Bob is basically talking about himself and his career and his critics, is this section:

The Blackwood Bros. have been talking to me about making a record together. That might confound expectations, but it shouldn’t. Of course it would be a gospel album. I don’t think it would be anything out of the ordinary for me. Not a bit. One of the songs I’m thinking about singing is “Stand By Me” by the Blackwood Brothers. Not “Stand By Me” the pop song. No. The real “Stand By Me.”

The real one goes like this:

When the storm of life is raging / Stand by me / When the storm of life is raging / Stand by me / When the world is tossing me / Like a ship upon the sea / Thou who rulest wind and water / Stand by me

In the midst of tribulation / Stand by me / In the midst of tribulation / Stand by me / When the hosts of hell assail / And my strength begins to fail / Thou who never lost a battle / Stand by me

In the midst of faults and failures / Stand by me / In the midst of faults and failures / Stand by me / When I do the best I can / And my friends don’t understand / Thou who knowest all about me / Stand by me

That’s the song. I like it better than the pop song. If I record one by that name, that’s going to be the one. I’m also thinking of recording a song, not on that album, though: “Oh Lord, Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.”

Anyway, why me, Lord. What did I do?

So that’s how he chose to end, essentially, and what he’s saying there seems clear enough, and also an echo of that quite obscure song once sung by Frank Sinatra that he chose to “uncover” on his latest album, namely, “Stay With Me.”

He then closed by appropriately thanking MusiCares for their work in helping hard pressed musicians, in particular singling out his friend Billy Lee Riley, and then he said “goodbye” this way:

Like the spiritual song, I’m still just crossing over Jordan too. Let’s hope we meet again. Sometime. And we will, if, like Hank Williams said, “the good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise.”

The Wolf Shall Dwell with the Lamb

Wolf shall dwell with the lambDogs, we’ve often been told, are descended from wolves—or perhaps they’re more like cousins, from a common ancestor, depending on who you talk to. Whatever the case, sheep have little confusion over the issue: they recognize dogs as predators. It seems to be hardwired into the sheep’s nature. If you’re a sheep, when a dog starts approaching, you move in the other direction. This fact of life and nature is used to great effect by trained sheep dogs, who by varying their approach, gait and posture can get groups of sheep to do just about anything. Continue reading The Wolf Shall Dwell with the Lamb

Shadows In The Night: A Sinatra Tribute or NOT a Sinatra Tribute?

Bob Dylan Tribute to Frank Sinatra?Back when the album Shadows in the Night by Bob Dylan was first announced, in May of 2014, Rolling Stone magazine and others were all labeling it as “Dylan does Sinatra.” Although Frank Sinatra and Bob Dylan have long been the sun and moon in my own musical consciousness (and I’ve always been fascinated by any even-tentative connections between them) I greatly hesitated about jumping on that notion, knowing that a lot of people who don’t know better tend to regard any old popular standards as “Frank Sinatra songs.” We didn’t have a track list. It wasn’t clear what the album was really going to be based upon.

Then we got the track list, and it was immediately obvious to any serious Sinatra aficionado that this album was in fact centered around songs closely associated with Frank; it included songs written for him, songs debuted by him, one cowritten by him, no less than four from a single Sinatra album (1957’s Where Are You?), and most were songs where Sinatra’s rendition is indisputably the one that matters most in musical history. (“That Lucky Old Sun” is an exception, and “Some Enchanted Evening” is assuredly a song that almost everyone has done.) Continue reading Shadows In The Night: A Sinatra Tribute or NOT a Sinatra Tribute?