Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Zim Bob Way: Dylan 75

OK, it's time for Tuesday and the second of three milestone birthday extravaganzas... this is the 2nd 75th birthday bash in a row, so get your party hats on.
Today's honoree has graced this page before, but because it's his 75th and all I thought I'd give him a second helping. His contribution to the continuum of popular music and culture are, after all, a wee bit significant.
Very few artists command the hyperbole that states that there was music -- and, really, songwriting itself -- before them and there was something totally different afterwards. I can think of a handful. Louis Armstrong. Cole Porter. George Gershwin. Miles (come back in two days) Davis. Then there is this guy.
Ol' Bullseye Bob Dylan is 75 today, can you believe that? Before he started, songs were largely about how much you loved your sweetheart, expressed in the most direct and literal terms possible. No one thought that songs could rival, say, literature. Or express complexities theretofore reserved for the long form novel. Almost no one, anyway.
It has been said that Lou Reed saw what Dylan started to do and took it to the "Here, hold this syringe, will you?" extreme. But for Lou to do that, Dylan had to get the ball rolling on the expansion of the permissible content of the popular song to include more than "Oh, baby I love you, why did you leave me?" And that was even before he plugged in and really started to fuck things up.
You all know the story, so there isn't much for me to add. Songs existed as tossoff indulgences to saccharine melody and largely insipid lyrical odes to adolescent love. Then this crazy Jewish dude from the hinterlands of Minnesota showed up and made everyone piss themselves by diversifying the material and dragging the art form into adulthood.
Everyone under the age of 30 then grabbed a guitar and started warbling about Justice and race relations and other non-adolescent-love-oriented subjects. Soon, there were so many they all needed amplifiers to be heard. Do the math.
He hated it and tried to get out from under the "voice of a generation" label, largely to no avail until he broke his neck in a motorcycle crash and really had to disappear. When he returned, he disguised his voice as that of a country crooner so the kids would at last reject him and leave him be. They didn't. 
He kept going through all sorts of changes and seminal records of confessional expression that established him further as the Songwriter of the Millennium. He converted to Christianity, and sang about that for a while. He likely could have written about the phone book and had the whole planet hanging on every word. Almost 60 years after he began to play music in high school, he is still one of the world's biggest concert draws and his records keep the pressing plants busy.
When he eventually passes, the whole world will stop in tribute, but let's not wait for that, OK? 75 is a huge milestone a lot of folks don't see, so let's fire up some treats, shall we? Being the very first artist to be bootlegged as such -- The Great White Wonder, the first boot LP, appeared in 1969 with the first inklings of what became the treasure trove known as The Basement Tapes -- you can imagine that there's a lot of unissued stuff to choose from.
I settled on two gems: one is a complete concert from the time leading up to The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan broke him globally, recorded by Columbia but never issued officially until part of it came out on vinyl in Europe in 2013. The other is a full show, professionally filmed but also never released, of his Gospel tour from 1980, with hi-fi sound stripped in for extra measures.
Bob Dylan

Town Hall
New York City, New York

01 Ramblin' Down Thru the World
02 Bob Dylan's Dream
03 Talkin' New York
04 Ballad of Hollis Brown
05 Walls of Red Wing
06 All Over You
07 Talking John Birch Paranoid Blues
09 Hero Blues
10 Blowin' In the Wind
11 John Brown
12 Tomorrow Is a Long Time
13 A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall

01 Dusty Old Fairgrounds
02 Who Killed Davey Moore?
03 Seven Curses
04 Highway 51
05 Pretty Peggy-O
06 Bob Dylan's New Orleans Rag
07 Don't Think Twice, It's All Right
08 Hiding Too Long
09 With God On Our Side
10 Masters of War
11 Last Thoughts On Woody Guthrie

Total time: 2:01:32

Bob Dylan - vocals & guitar, harmonica

Rattlesnake label CDs of a master soundboard recording, intended for release by Columbia in 1963 but shelved; part of this concert was issued in Europe in 2013 on the "50th Anniversary Collection 1963" vinyl-only box, but this is the whole thing

Massey Hall
Toronto, Canada

01 Can I Ride
02 (You've Got to) Hold On
03 It's Gonna Rain Again
04 Show Me the Way
05 Look Up and Live By Faith
06 Gotta Serve Somebody
07 I Believe In You
08 When He Returns
09 Ain't Gonna Go to Hell
10 Cover Down/Break Through
11 Man Gave Names to All the Animals
12 Precious Angel
13 Slow Train
14 Stranger In the City (Healing)
15 Walk Around Heaven All Day

01 Do Right to Me Baby (Do Unto Others)
02 Solid Rock
03 Saving Grace
04 Saved
05 What Can I Do for You?
06 In the Garden
07 Are You Ready?
08 Pressing On

Total time: 2:07:00

Bob Dylan - vocals, guitar & piano
Fred Tackett - guitar
Spooner Oldham - keyboards
Tim Drummond - bass
Terry Young - keyboards
Jim Keltner - drums
Clydie King, Gwen Evans, Mary Elizabeth Bridges,
Regina Havis & Mona Lisa Young - vocals

unissued NTSC DVDs from the original liberated master tapes, with substituted hi-fi sound
5.13 GB total

both the CDs and the DVDs are in the same folder/May 2016 archive link
There you have it... a nice pair of shows for those that knows. I'll return on Thursday with more reverent ramblings concerning more gargantuan and innovative cultural icons, but for now please grab onto one or both of these performances and try to remember that before he showed up, the radio and the record store were pretty much a wasteland of puerile, infantile horseshit. If that's not reason enough to acknowledge Bob Dylan -- born today in 1941 and celebrating his Diamond anniversary on Earth -- then I don't know what is!--J.

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