JOTTING DOWN NOTES
Eyes On The Prize
On Wednesday 12th January Bob Dylan and violinist Isaac Stern won Sweden's Polar music award, dubbed the Nobel Prize for musicians.
The international prize, awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Music, has been given to musicians since 1992.
"Bob Dylan's influence as a singer-songwriter on the development of 20th-century popular music is indisputable," the academy said in a statement.
"Through his modest, persuasive musical approach he has demonstrated an impressive ability to question the most determined political forces, to fight all forms of prejudice, and to offer unflinching support for the less fortunate."
Dylan and Stern will be presented with their prize of one million Swedish crowns ($119,400) each by King Carl XVI Gustaf at a ceremony in Stockholm on 15th May.
The Polar Prize was by established by the late Stig Anderson, former manager of pop group ABBA, through a donation to the academy in 1989.
Previous winners include Stevie Wonder, Ravi Shankar, Ray Charles, Elton John, Quincy Jones, Paul McCartney and Bruce Springsteen.
Bob Tops The Charts
When Gabrielle was number one on the U.K. singles chart with "Rise", this gave Bob his first taste of the elevated position. The song features a sample of Knockin' On Heaven's Door and its inclusion was approved by Bob himself. Gabrielle has revealed that Bob chose to waive 50% royalties on the single 'Rise' because he liked it so much. "I was really honoured. I think we're all aware of the Verve case where 100% royalties were expected whereas Bob Dylan was saying 50% is the music and 50% is my lyrics'.
After being played the original sample by the head of her record company, Gabrielle went on to write the lyrics and started recording vocals before being told to send the song to the composer to see if he would agree to the sample usage.
'I got really scared when they sent the demo to Bob Dylan but I got a note back saying he liked it and I could use the sample. It was really wonderful'.
Not this Time .
On Saturday 26th February 11.40pm BBC 2 broadcast the highlights of this years Grammy Awards. After receiving the Album of the Year award for Time Out Of Mind this time it was Bob's turn to present it. Along with Lauryn Hill he presented this to Carlos Santana for his album Wall Of Sound.
Down In The Groove
Once again it is noted that on the Sony Legacy release schedule for 9th May 2000 are remastered "expanded editions" of Blood On The Tracks and The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan.
Last August Bob Dylan was in a studio, in New York, with the Touring Band recording a new Dylan song called, Things Have Changed and the released version is one of three takes. This is his first new recording since the 1997 Grammy-winning album Time Out Of Mind. The song was specially written for the soundtrack of the new movie, "The Wonder Boys" starring Michael Douglas, and is featured in the film as both the main- and end-title theme. The soundtrack album was released on 15th February but there is no single scheduled. However, radio station promos of the track have been sent out and gained airplay in the United States. There is also a five-track promo which includes two Dylan tracks Things Have Changed (18 seconds longer!) and Shooting Star.
The soundtrack album features music from some of the world's most popular and acclaimed singer/songwriters - as well as Bob Dylan there are songs from John Lennon, Van Morrison, Neil Young and Leonard Cohen.
A video for the song, featuring both Bob Dylan and Michael Douglas, and directed by Curtis Hanson, has also been released. This was available to view on bobdylan.com.
In addition to Things Have Changed, Hanson chose three other Dylan songs for inclusion in the film's score, including Buckets Of Rain, Shooting Star and Not Dark Yet.
"I've been a fan of Bob Dylan's music his entire career," Hanson said. "Ever since first seeing Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid, I've hoped to work with him on a movie. When he walked into our editing room nearly 30 years later, my expectations were high and I wasn't disappointed. Things Have Changed is a compelling song that brilliantly captures the spirit of the movie's central character, Grady Tripp. It's been a long wait, but it was definitely worth it."
The Ultimate Grammy Box on Grammy (Related Recordings) features Cold Irons Bound but there is nothing new here.
Original Soundtrack of Universal Pictures film "The Hurricane", released on MCA, features the Bob Dylan's classic, Hurricane and a newly-recorded version of the song by a host of hip-hop's finest, including the Roots, Mos Def and Common and New Music From The Roots, K-Ci & JoJo, Black Star and Me'Shell N'degeocello.
Featured on the soundtrack album of the film High Fidelity which is based on the book by Nick Hornby, is Most Of The Time. This is released on the UNI/Hollywood label.
London bookseller Andrew Sclanders has just published a catalogue called Bob Dylan & The Beat Generation. This booklet contains literally hundreds of rare, hard-to-find Dylan titles, plus dozens of magazines with Dylan-related material.
Contact Andrew Sclanders: 32 St Paul's View, 15 Amwell Street, London EC1R 1UP. Tel/Fax: (020) 7278 5034.
email: firstname.lastname@example.org. website: www.beatbooks.com.
There have been very few new tracks on the site for some time but now things have changed!
BOB ON THE NET
The first song is no longer on the site now but the six additions, all from a PA recording, are excellent:
56 Folsom Prison Blues, New Haven Coliseum, New Haven, Connecticut, 11/10/99
57 I Am The Man, Thomas, Continental Airlines Arena, E. Rutherford, New Jersey, 13/11/99
58 Song To Woody, Continental Airlines Arena, E. Rutherford, New Jersey, 13/11/99
59 It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding), Continental Airlines Arena, E. Rutherford, New Jersey, 13/11/99
60 Ring Them Bells, Continental Airlines Arena, E. Rutherford, New Jersey, 13/11/99
61 Visions Of Johanna, Continental Airlines Arena, E. Rutherford, New Jersey, 13/11/99
62 Hoochie Coochie Man, Continental Airlines Arena, E. Rutherford, New Jersey, 13/11/99
From the new release of Don't Look Back on DVD and VHS these tracks were also included: To Ramona:
April 30, 1965 Sheffield, England
It's All Over Now, Baby Blue: May 10, 1965 London, England
As a first the website also included a version of Things Have Changed both as a video and a downloadable audio file.The website now has the official lyrics for Things Have Changed.
Again there are quite a number of Dylan covers to consider in this issue. Here goes with as much information as we can include:
Phish have a new 6-CD box available on the WEA/Elecktra label called "Hampton Comes Alive" and this includes Quinn The Eskimo.
"Rarities, B-Sides and Slow, Sad Waltzes" by the Cowboy Junkies, on the Valley Entertainment label, contains a version of If You Gotta Go, Go Now plus a Dylan related song The Water Is Wide.
On the 'Michel Montecrossa Sings Bob Dylan Site' you will find a variety of CDs and videos with Bob Dylan songs performed by American-European new style rocker Michel Montecrossa and his band The Chosen Few. Details are available from: Mira Sound Germany, Danziger Str. 1, D-82131 Gauting, Phone: 089-8508555, Fax: 089-8509178 - E-Mail: Mirasound@Mirapuri-Enterprises.Com The web site is at http://www.mirapuri-enterprises.com/Michel-BobDylan/index.html.
Danny O'Keefe has a new album out on Miramar Recordings entitled "Runnin' From The Devil". One of the tracks is Well, Well, Well, co-written with Bob Dylan, which incorporates O'Keefe's passion for the environment and his desire to inspire and educate others about environmental issues through song. On this particular track, O'Keefe sings about the role Man has played in destroying the Earth and its resources, leaving listeners lamenting about the loss of those precious resources in the same way they might mourn over a lost love.
Birabent EP (Subterfuge Records 21.179) is the title of a 5-track CD released in the Autumn of 1999 by Antonio Birabent, a young Argentinian songwriter based in Madrid. This CD includes two of his own songs, taken from his first CD, Azar - "Chance" - (Subterfuge records, 21.161), plus unreleased alternative versions of both. The last track - third on the CD -, however, is a rather strange, moody cover of Dylan's One Too Many Mornings, with a jazzy feel. Here's what Birabent himself has to say about the song in the CD's liner notes:
"It could have been a Cole Porter tune or even a classic Brazilian hit but in the end we chose to juggle with the melancholy of this old song, that we had already performed live. To teach me English, my mother used to sing it to me when I was a child, and at the same time we read the lyrics in translation from a book with a black cover."
The CD can be ordered from Subterfuge Records, P.O. Box 46055, 28080 Madrid (Spain), fax: 34 91 429 82 84. Their web site is at: www.subterfuge.com
Also from Spain comes Garcini Troupe's CD "La mejor hora", i.e. "The Best Hour" (Seminola Records, SE0199-18CD). This strange record features Valencia poet Fernando Garcín reciting or chanting his poems with a vaguely folk-rock accompaniment. One of the poems, "Hay días raros" (i.e. "There Are Strange Days"), is "sung" to the music of Knockin' On Heaven's Door. This hardly qualifies as a Dylan cover, but may nevertheless be of interest to collectors.
The CD can be ordered from Seminola Records, GV Ramón y Cajal, 3, 46007 Valencia, or by e-mail: email@example.com
Rich Lerner, no stranger to Dylan's work, had already recorded in the past the occasional Dylan song, not to forget his beautiful Trails and Bridges CD (Rockduster Records # 103095-A), which featured only traditional folk tunes mostly associated with Dylan, plus a cover of Dylan's Long Time Gone. As Rich Lerner & the Groove, he has now released Cover Down (Free the Music, FTM0199), a CD including versions of eleven Dylan songs in Lerner's arrangements. The songs cover all the range, from the usual (One Too Many Mornings, Love Minus Zero/No Limit) to the not so frequent (Every Grain Of Sand) and the utterly unexpected (Covenant Woman, She's Your Lover Now). As Lerner says in his liner notes: "A good cover version of any song has to walk a thin line, expanding the dimensions of the song without betraying the essence. (...) Dylan songs stretch like rubber if you know where to pull". Most of the performances included on this CD are truly very good, although perhaps a bit too close to the original Dylan versions to really take off on their own. Still, a very rewarding listen for those keen on Dylan covers. To order this CD or to sample sound clips from it, please visit Rich Lerner's web site, at:
"Another Sky" is the new CD on the EMD/Narada label from the Irish group Altan and it contains a version of Girl Of The North Country.
Is It Rolling Bob?
Firstly, let me explain how I acquired a copy of this recording on CD. Early this year whilst surfing the web, I noticed a link "Sydney 66 here". On clicking my mouse I arrived at a page which just listed all the individual songs from the Sydney 66 concert, with the option to download them as MP3 files. Now MP3 files can be quite big and can take a long time to download using an ordinary modem, but the task was done and for the cost of a few hours cheap rate local phone time I had the concert. Using a free software programme I converted the MP3 files to Audio format and copied them straight from my hard disk to CDR. I even found a site on the net, that had a scan of the "official" CD cover which is apparently called "Tales of a Mexican Painter".
Now wouldn't it be marvellous if anytime a tape surfaced some kind soul put it on the net for us all to access. Cut out the profiteering and snobbery. The wonders of the net. Long live altruism and naiveté!
What this also means is that when Michael Jackson, Celine Dion, Phil Collins et al. release a new CD, in theory you only need one person in the world to buy the product and put it on the net. Then everyone downloads it for free (or those who feel inclined to be the above named). Total earnings for Celine and Sony $3. Great! The problem, of course, is the record companies have twigged and are worried sick about protecting their profits.
Anyway so what's the concert like? This was Dylan's first ever Australian concert, and the first of two shows at Sydney.
The first thing that's noticeable is that there is no discernible hostility from the audience, apart from someone who keeps shouting "Hard Rain". Dylan, in his state of defensiveness, sees this as provocative. After Ballad Of A Thin Man this request is shouted out for about the third time, Dylan half mutters, half sings into the mike "Hard Rain, Hard Rain".
The sound quality is excellent throughout with the vocals high in the mix. Also prominent is Garth Hudson's swirling organ fills. Robbie's guitar is more restrained than on the British dates, although the basic ensemble sound is fully developed.
The standout song for collectors is, of course, Positively 4th Street and this is delivered in very similar style to the live '66 Like A Rolling Stone. It's a shame that it was not performed more often, although due to the repetitive structure of the song and lack of dynamics there is little opportunity for it to develop musically and this is probably the reason it was dropped.
The whole concert performance is excellent with the acoustic set delivered with that tired world-weary intimacy we know from other shows later in the tour.
All the performances stand up well in their own right, but if you compare this show to the official release from Manchester, you get the clear impression of the later show being more electrically charged with Bob and the Band pushing the music as a reaction to the animosity.
All in all, an essential addition to anyone's collection. .
In 1976 Bob and the group rehearsed at the Instrument Rentals Studio Santa Monica, California for a couple of days to prepare for the Hurricane Benefit. Some tracks from these rehearsal tapes circulated on a bootleg CD. This, however, is a much longer tape and is almost 2 hours long. The tracks from the 22nd January 1976 are almost all complete songs:
You Ain't Going Nowhere/One More Cup Of Coffee (Valley Below)/Oh Sister/Mozambique
The story of the longer session on the 23rd January 1976 is of run throughs and false starts with a few complete performances. There are also some tracks which feature Levon Helm and T-Bone Burnett on vocals. Here are some details of the Dylan performaces but not the full list:
Just Like A Woman/When I Paint My Masterpiece/ Maggie's Farm/One Too many Mornings/Romance In Durango/Isis/Positively 4th Street/Oh Sister/Sara/Just Like A Woman/Hurricane/Lay, Lady, Lay
Robert McCrum, the Observer's literary editor, appeared on Desert Island Discs (Radio 4) on Sunday, March 5. Among the usual angst-ridden memories of prep school, McCrum chose Tangled Up In Blue as one of his favourite records, prefacing the choice by calling Dylan "the greatest songwriter ever". Also on a literary note, the American poet, Mark Halliday, interviewed in the latest issue of Poetry Review (Winter 1999/2000) cites Dylan as a big influence, adding: "Meanwhile, in a more confident way I continue to admire Bob Dylan hugely; the word "great" fits him more decisively than it does any living poet."
Meeting Bob by Terry Kelly
Meeting Bob Dylan is surely part of the personal mythology of many serious fans. Most of us must have imagined how we would react if we had the chance to actually meet the great man. The fact that the majority of us will never enjoy or endure that experience only adds to the richness of our mythical encounters. In my perfect Dylan meeting, I would naturally be super-cool, give Bob a high-five, stare into those famously piercing blue eyes and say: "Hi Bob, you may call me Terry!" In reality, yours truly would probably be reduced to a stammering wreck. Let's be honest: meeting Bob would be akin to chatting with charisma kings like Elvis, Sinatra or Buddy Holly.
Bob Dylan: Man on the Road
The Never Ending Tour 1988-1999 by A. J. Iriarte
This handsomely produced hardback volume by Christof Graf may be accurately - if none too elegantly - described in the words of its subtitle: "Essays about and Photos of Bob Dylan in the Nineties". Graf, a business graduate and journalist, is the author of three books on Leonard Cohen, and has published several articles on Bob Dylan in the German press during the nineties. It must be made clear that, in spite of its English title, this is a German-language book, from the presses of a small Luxembourg publisher. But let not this discourage anyone, for the language barrier is only apparent, as this is, to a considerable extent, an English-German parallel text edition, and a large part of its contents will be readily accessible to readers not fluent in the language of Goethe.
Christof Graf's Bob Dylan: Man on the Road. The Never Ending Tour 1988-1999 (Editions Phi, Echternach, 1999; ISBN 3-88865-177-8) costs $30 US, including p&p, and may be ordered directly from the publisher: Editions Phi, P.O. Box 66, L-6401 Echternach, Luxembourg, or by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Life On The Tracks
Lebensspuren in Bob Dylan's Songs by A. J. Iriarte
The Swiss author Guido Bieri has self-published this interesting and well-researched study of biographical traces in Bob Dylan's lyrics. The book is in German - this time unfortunately without any English parallel text - and the edition is limited to 200 numbered and signed copies. The volume includes 40 black and white photographs, all of them familiar, and poorly reproduced.
Bieri's aim is to explain Dylan both as artist and as man, by examining his songs in relation to their author's life, not as independent creations which may be interpreted without taking into account Dylan's personal experiences. The basic theory he sets out to prove is that, no matter how secretive and protective of his privacy Dylan has always been, his life is implicitly contained in a fragmented, disguised or encrypted manner in many of his songs, and may therefore be decoded. In support of this, he quotes Dylan himself, who in 1990 stated that "People can learn everything about me through my songs, if they know where to look. They can juxtapose them with certain other songs and draw a clear picture".
Life on the Tracks. Lebensspuren in Bob Dylans Song's costs 30 Swiss Francs, plus p&p, and can be ordered directly from the author: Guido Bieri, Sarnerstr. 19, 4055 Basel, Switzerland. E-mail: email@example.com
Del Huracan A Las Tierras Atlas: Escritos y canciones 1975-1997
Antonio J. Iriarte and Francisco J Garcia Cubero
The Masked Tortilla Productions, Inc 1999
This lovingly-produced tome has been issued as a limited edition of 200 numbered copies. The authors have translated a large batch of Dylan songs into Spanish and present the lyrics in album order starting with Desire and coming right up-to-date with Time Out Of Mind. Whilst we are not able to comment on the accuracy of the translations, rest assured that the authors are very thorough and operate at a high level of quality. Apart from the album songs, many of the songs associated with the sessions are included, as are the liner notes for Desire and World Gone Wrong. The volume is enhanced by the inclusion of sixteen colour photographs Dylan's series of 1999 Spanish shows. Undoubtedly a quality offering which you should buy if you get the chance.
Bob Dylan Leksikon
Karsten Jorgensen Borgen 2000
This hardback Danish publication is an encyclopaedia-style effort containing entries on Dylan's songs (released and unreleased) and characters and events in his life. At 300 pages it is quite comprehensive, delving as it does, into some of the quieter corners of Dylan's work. The book concludes with a biography and reviews of the main Dylan-related web sites. Impossible to judge the substance of the entries due to the language barrier but, regardless of that, it is a nice artefact.
Tarantula Bob Dylan
(Swedish translation by Gorgen Antonsson) - Bakhall 1999
A most interesting and well-produced addition to the Tarantula collection of editions.
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