John to - I take your comment as asking me for more detail as to what I hear in Dylan’s new album - so hear goes.
The main musical theme in the album is simplicity. You can still make great music with limited musicians - piano, Hammond B3, acoustic guitar guitar, snare drum. He focuses on delicate rhythms for the majority of the album. He did I add strings to ‘Murder Most Foul’.
oOn ‘Mother of Muses’ he adds a bass drum to the rear of the soundstage to great effect.
Two of the cuts are what I consider Honky Tonk - ‘Goodbye Jimmy Reed and Crossing The Rubicon’. More guitar and drum kit and cymbals.
The star of the album are the lyrics in all of the songs - like I said in my original post - he is a Poet - his ability to paint a picture in my mind while he sings is a gift he offers to those who want to listen, he makes me think, and he creates a musical web to help me focus on the story he is telling in his lyrics.
enjoy the music
I like it a lot. Wonderful, well recorded album. I always admired Dylan's poetry and compositions, but singing was not his forte. Surprisingly his singing is really good. Songs, on slow side, are very melodic while the band and musical arrangements are first class. Strings in Murder Most Foul are brilliant addition. All lyrics are very interesting (need more time to digest). I'm not sure about Amazon Prime - Music bitrate, but CD sounds much better (cleaner and more open).
I really enjoyed it. His singing is more straightforward and his poetry and subject matter are still weighty and the music itself is enjoyable. I like the elder Bob more in some ways than the young Bob. Blood on the Tracks will always be my favorite, but I also really enjoy Time Out of Mind. There's a lot more gravitas to some of his later work.
I’m a big Dylan fan, but some of his later releases have been hard to become attached to as opposed to Highway 61, Blond on Blond, or Blood on the Tracks, his work with The Band, etc. Yea, I know, old stuff.
I’ll tell you though, I last saw Bob was around 2000ish. Natalie Merchant opened, and to be honest, I went more for Natalie than for Bob, but he and his band kicked butt, and he ‘blew me away’. Unfortunately his albums at that time seemed inconsistent, and really were not recorded/engineered (perhaps over engineered) well. So, I’ve really not paid much attention since Modern Times.
OK, this album; actually, I enjoyed it, probably because he did strip it down more bare. perhaps that’s where Bob is right now in his life, just concentrating on his poetry and lyrics more than the actual music. Unfortunately that also shows. It all started sounding the same. Great lyrics and poetry (as usual and expected), but the music seems like an excuse to make an album instead of a book.
As I was listening I kept thinking of Leonard Cohen. Leonard has made many albums this same way, but to me, there was usually still a greater musical diversity no matter how ‘simple’ in accompaniment. Do we really need another Cohen?
A lot of his later stuff is overly compressed, I look for cassettes like Time out of Mind, Love and Theft but the one I really want, Modern Times, is only available from Russia, at some insane price. I met Paul Clayton a long time ago in Charlottesville, he was Dylan’s best friend in the early Village years. Clayton was a dulcimer player and singer of sea chanties.
I am not too impressed with Bob's raspy, nasal recitations. He doesn't sing much anymore. IMHO, he would be better off finding a singer if he still wants to play in a rock band. I doubt he will give up that much control, though. I give his albums a listen nowdays, but I'm not likely to listen to them more than once or twice.
There may already be a few out there in the world, and may have been, but language barrier becomes a real barrier.
Oh, there are, such as an album I have by John Trudell - Johnny Damas And Me
It’s interesting, and I used to listen to it a lot when I was younger. Tried to again not so long ago, but just lost interest. It wasn’t his message, but rather his method to the musical part of it, or a lack thereof.
Cohen is ‘the granddaddy’ of this style, and he still interests me as he does it so well. Same to a degree with Tom Waits. Or, later, Laurie Anderson who I have a lot of work of, but she never really touted herself as a musician or singer either. Simply a performance artist and composer. She may of rubbed off on Lou, or Lou her.
"I doubt Dylan ever ‘wanted to play in a rock band’."
He probably did, unless Little Richard had a chamber orchestra, You could say that “To join Little Richard” meant "to play in a rock band’."
(There are pictures of that yearbook on the Internet.)
Dylan was a fan of Bobby Vee, born in Fargo, ND of Like a Rubber Ball I’ll Come Bouncing Back to You fame. Dylan progressed from songs about death and doom on his first records to some outright rockers when he went electric. Then back to doom and gloom! 😩
Early in Vee’s career, a musician calling himself Elston Gunn briefly toured with the band. This was Robert Allen Zimmerman, who later went on to fame as Bob Dylan. Dylan’s autobiography mentions Vee and provides complimentary details about their friendship, both professional and personal.
I believe Dylan was asked once ‘what he was’, and he replied a ‘trapeze artist’. That’s exactly how I would expect Dylan to respond to a question like that.
Seriously, I don’t think you can classify Dylan, and I doubt he would do so if asked (see above).
There are a lot of bands I don’t consider rock even though others do, and the ‘Hawks’, er I mean The Band, was one of those. I never considered The Band a ‘rock band’. Some band and musicians just don’t fit in a nice tidy box, some others do.
When Dylan approached The Hawks in 1965, they were only vaguely aware of him. They came from a very different world, that of Rhythm & Blues, Blues, Jazz, Rockabilly (having served as Ronnie Hawkins’ band for a couple of years), and Hillbilly/Country. The Folk music heard on the radio was "p*ssy" music to them, effete urban and suburban "white" music.
They had been playing the "white chitlin" circuit, in working class bars across the east coast, midwest, and south (as well as up in Toronto), to hard drinking audiences, often separated from the audience by a chicken wire screen (to keep the flying bottles from reaching the stage ;-).
It was only after working with Dylan that they became what we hear on Music From Big Pink and the brown album, especially after spending all of 1967 in the basement of Big Pink, making music and recording it (the Basement Tapes, of course). Their influences---like that of Dylan---are deep and wide. Organist Garth Hudson is a classically-trained musician---reads music, knows music theory, etc. Levon Helm grew up listening to local Bluesmen---he lived in the same Arkansas town as Sonny Boy Williamson, sitting in the corner of the local radio station when SB performed live on the air---and The Grand Old Opry, just as had Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, and Carl Perkins. Bassist Rick Danko led his own Country band, once opening for Ronnie Hawkins & The Hawks. Richard Manuel played around Toronto, known for his Ray Charles-influenced vocal style and ability.
The Band were definitely not a Rock band, but they did play Rock ’n’ Roll (if you appreciate the difference). But much more: Hillbilly, Blues, Pop, and music which defies categorization via such crude terms.
Rock music is an amalgamation of blues, country, folk, and even a little jazz sometimes, to keep it simple. A full all-encompassing description of what is rock ’n’ roll or rock would take more time than I have left on this earth. Rock became the term used to describe rock ’n’ roll as it diversified from its 50s roots during the 60s, but either term is still used to describe the music made for young people (and now old people) from the 50s on.
So if the Hawks, later the Band, or any of Bob’s bands since then are not rock bands, what are they? When I used to go record shopping they were always in the Rock section and I’m sure that’s where you’ll find The Band’s and Bob’s music on Amazon or Ebay. And that’s probably where most people who organize their music collections by genre have them. While that category may not be perfect, it’s the most practical. But, if anyone wants to explain why they are not rock, I’d be happy to read it and learn.
No, this all started from you making the statement, ‘if he (Dylan) wants to be in a rock band....’ and implying his current effort doesn’t meet the classification of a being in a ‘rock band’, so why doesn’t he just quit? Or find another singer?? Seriously? 😳 You seem to be putting Dylan in some box that to you think he should remain.
I just don’t get that opinion. It just does not reflect all the various kinds and types of music Dylan has done over the years. I’m sure he is most focused on what he is doing today, just as he has always done.....Dylan has always done what he wants to do...... That is a luxury many without his genius and talent cannot afford. Whether I or you like the direction of his current album or not really isn’t important to Bob. Never has been.
I’m sure he will be just fine.
@tomcy6, I don't consider The Band a Rock band for this reason:
If you consider the early-to-mid 1950’s explosion of "teenage" music---Little Richard, Fats Domino, Bill Haley & The Comets, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Gene Vincent, the Sun Records Rockabillies (who combined black Rhythm & Blues with white Hillbilly)---Rock ’n’ Roll (which, for the sake of this argument I will accept, though I consider the late-40’s recordings of guys like Big Joe Turner---who did original versions of songs later covered by Bill Haley and Elvis---the true original R & R, though it was at the time called Jump Blues), then what differentiates it from "Rock" music?
The Rock ’n’ Roll of the 1950’s had Blues/Jump Blues/Rhythm & Blues elements, but also that of another predominantly-Southern music: Hillbilly. But after the music business and musical tastes (and the morality and official police forces) killed that original R & R, by the mid-60’s the music that we now consider Rock had taken it’s place. Gone almost completely in Rock music was the Hillbilly element, the Blues element becoming predominant. The Stones, The Yardbirds, The Kinks, The Who, Cream, Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Santana, Big Brother & The Holding Company (featuring Janis Joplin, of course), The Airplane, etc. had ZERO Hillbilly in their music, and the same is true for the bulk of all Rock music that has followed. There are exceptions, but most bands we consider Rock are largely Blues-based. You want a band that had/has it all? Listen to NRBQ and Los Lobos. For solo artists Dave Edmunds and Buddy Miller.
Well, The Band’s music included that Hillbilly/Country element missing in Rock bands, so I consider them a true Rock ’n’ Roll band (though much more than that). I find it humorous that with the Hillbilly/Country element present n Rock ’n’ Roll almost completely removed in Rock, when that same Hillbilly/Country element was added back in by the likes of The Eagles, the resulting music was called Country Rock. Take the Country element out of Rock ’n’ Roll, call it Rock, then when you put the Hillbilly/Country back into Rock, you call it Country Rock? Shouldn’t it once again be Rock ’n’ Roll? In the case of The Eagles, a quick listen to their music will prove the answer to be no. But that’s because they had no Rock ’n’ Roll in them to begin with! The Band did.
There’s some really good analysis of rock music in this thread. I could quibble with bits of it, but that’s all it would be.
Still, I couldn’t help but recall this classic scene from the film "Diner." In a way, I can relate to each of the characters in this clip.
@cleeds, I love that scene in Diner, and directed people to it a while back. Up above I called many genre distinctions crude. Like using a machete instead of a scalpel. I don’t organize my LP’s and CD’s by genre, though doing so chronologically is an interesting idea.
Big Joe Turner recorded "Shake, Rattle, & Roll" before Bill Haley (and of course Elvis), Turner’s version at the time being called Jump Blues (and "Race" music by some), Haley’s Rock ’n Roll. Is that because Turner was black, Haley white? I don’t know, but I consider Turner’s Rock ’n’ Roll as well, and greatly prefer it to Haley’s. Many have not heard Joe’s version---remedy that situation!
Big Joe Turner came out of Kansas City, so had some (a lot) of Jazz in him as well. Perhaps that’s why his music contains so much "Swing", another characteristic that separates Rock ’n’ Roll (swings) from Rock (doesn’t, generally speaking). Neil Peart couldn’t have worked in Big Joe’s band; he was unable to play the Swing feel, as became apparent at the Buddy Rich tribute show he organized.
I saw The Blasters back Big Joe at The Lingerie Club in Hollywood in the mid-80’s; now THERE was a band that swung! For those who don’t know, Dave Alvin came out of The Blasters (though his brother Phil was the singer/frontman), left to join X, then started his solo career. The Blasters understood very well the connection between Jump Blues, Rhythm & Blues, Rockabilly, Rock ’n’ Roll, and Hillbilly, playing it all. As a bonus, their Non Fiction LP (self-produced, recorded at Ocean Way, the studio preferred by Ry Cooder and T Bone Burnett) and Hard Line LP (produced by Jeff Eyrick) feature great recorded sound. Get hip or go home. ;-)
No, this all started from you making the statement, ‘if he (Dylan) wants to be in a rock band....’ and implying his current effort doesn’t meet the classification of a being in a ‘rock band’,
Sorry, but that’s not what I said. I was saying that Bob’s singing voice had deteriorated to the point where, if he wanted to continue playing in a rock band, he should get someone else to sing. You then said that Bob has never wanted to play in a rock band.
I would much rather see Bob write poetry, or prose, or just become a treasured songwriter. In general, I prefer to see people and artists age gracefully. To me rock is a young person’s game.
There are exceptions, of course. Rodney Crowell has done his best work since the turn of the century with, "The Houston Kid" in 2001, "Fate’s Right Hand" in 2003, and, "Close Ties" in 2017. Those three albums rock hard and are much better than anything Dylan has done in a long time. Rodney will turn 70 this August. He has other very good albums out in that time frame, but those three stand out for me.
Ray Wylie Hubbard’s first album came out in 1975, but he has done a string of really good albums between 1992 and the present. Ray Wylie will turn 74 later this year. He is beginning to show signs of becoming a caricature of himself, though.
I am with Grace Slick on this topic. Watching a bunch of old geezers trying to play rock is embarrassing. When your voice is gone, mentor someone who can still sing.
I agree with you that the rockabilly edge in rock music faded in the 60’s, but it never disappeared. Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins continued to play their music all through the late 50s and 60s, except when they were in the hospital. The Beatles covered some of Carl’s music and George was a big fan of his.
You can find compilations of all the rockabilly from the 50s and 60s you want.
Then there was the Allman Brothers and the rise of southern rock, which had definite country influences. The Byrds did country music. Linda Ronstadt covered Hank Williams. Creedence had country influences big time.
I think what happened was the British bands weren’t able to do country as well as they adapted blues and R&B, and British bands were a big part of 60s rock.
The Band were unique. No doubt about that, but I don’t think they were the only rock band with country roots showing.
Sorry, but that’s not what I said. I was saying that Bob’s singing voice had deteriorated to the point where, if he wanted to continue playing in a rock band, he should get someone else to sing.
You just said it again. And you call his current album ‘rock’?, seriously? I don’t hear much of a ‘rock band’ in this album, so perhaps you got your desire. Listening to it, I’m not sure Dylan had any desire to make a ‘rock album’ with this release.
Get someone else to sing? Seriously? Dylan ‘is’ is his voice, his delivery, and his lyrics. Without that, it isn’t Dylan.
You then said that Bob has never wanted to play in a rock band.
I think you are totally missing the point. But no, I don’t think he started writing to be in a ‘rock band’.
@tomcy6, Crowell is fantastic! The Houston Kid album is in my Top 10 albums of all-time list, an absolute masterpiece. His former father-in-law Johnny Cash makes a guest appearance on one song, the Rockabilly-esque "I Walk The Line (Revisited)". I saw him perform the album at The Roxy in Hollywood at the time of it's release, and the audience was filled with other artists (Dave Alvin was at the table next to me).
The Houston Kid album reminds me of John Hiatt's Bring The Family, in that each started the second phase of their careers with those two albums, producing music far superior to that of their previous work. Rodney spent time serving as Emmylou Harris' rhythm guitarist/harmony singer/bandleader in her Hot Band, a position now filled by the also great Buddy Miller.
Sure Elvis went Hollywood and then Vegas which removed some of the hillbilly from rock, but you can't really say it died unless you make some sort of artificial barrier between country and folk music. Folk music covers a wide range of styles and most white, American rockers started out as folk singers in the late 50s thru 60s. Even the future psychedelic bands in San Francisco (The Dead, Airplane, Quicksilver, etc.) had strong folk roots. And let's not forget the whole Bakersfield Sound which contributed that country swinging tonk thing. If you listen to the critics rock 'n' roll has more sub-genres that western classical music (1600-1905). It's not true. If it has a back beat and is played with a certain attitude, then it's probably rock.
Gentlemen - and I use this term loosely - thank you for a wonderful walk thru the history of ‘our music’ over the last 60 years! Bob is the only song writer to get the Nobel Prize for literature - quite an exclusive club - as far as I am concerned. At 79 - he can write whatever the hell he wants and he can back it up with whatever music he sees to be correct.
He is a national treasure - thank you all for your input. This is why we all spend so much time and energy into our ‘Systems’.
Enjoy the music -