Tag Archives: bob dylan


Yes, I Saw You Making Love To Him, You Forgot To Close The Garage Door


“Duquesne Whistle” 

Levon Helm’s Top 10 Vocal PHRASES

Survived Arkansas, survived the road, survived cancer. Today’s his birthday. Keep a going, Levon Helm. Here are some perfectly phrased snips of tunes that never leave your head once they’ve entered. 

1. “It just old Luke, and Luke’s waiting on the judgement day.” – The Weight

2. “The bourbon is 100 proof.” – Rag Mama Rag

3. “And before the leaves all turn brown, before they tumble to the ground…” – All La Glory 

4. “So to his father Daniel did run, and he said ‘Oh father what have I done?” – Daniel & the Sacred Harp 

5. “If I were a barker in a girly show, tell you what I’d do…” – Jemima Surrender

6. “And like my brother above me, who took a rebel stand.” – The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down 

7. “Everybody says you oughta marry that rich man down the line.” – Strawberry Wine

8. “Was it something that somebody said? Mama I know we broke the rules.” – Ophelia 

9. “Oh those mighty kings of the jungle, I can hardly stand to see ‘em.” – When I Paint My Masterpiece

10. “Pick a card before you go, it’s a long trip to Mexico.” – Yazoo Street Scandal


On The Radio

Bob Dylan At 70: Together Through Life

Yep, he’s turning 70. But one spin through Modern Times and other recent discs illustrates both his stamina and creativity are standing tall. This birthday prompted a list of 10 great jazz spins on Dylan tunes, and a list of his funniest songs, but it also reminded me that I edited a celebration of his 60th birthday as well. Some of the pages now reside in 404ville, but several fun pieces live on, like C. Bottomley’s musings on how he fell for Zimmy, Steffie Nelson’s look at others attempting Bob’s tunes, and Kevin Whitehead’s explanation of the master’s improv skills. Several artists, like Rosanne Cash and Sting, take a sec to reflect on their hero as well. Thanks to all who helped back then. Here are a couple excerpts below.

“There so few artists who haven’t started doing parodies of themselves at around the age of 45 or 50, and Bob hasn’t done that. He’s been completely original from ’64 on. That’s a tough trick. To keep going to the same well, and finding new things there, to be young and vital regardless of age. Impressive…I must have played Desire 400, 500 times – I’m not exaggerating. That entire record carved a space in my psyche that led to a lot of other stuff for me.” – Rosanne Cash 

“I think Dylan has said it himself, but “Like a Rolling Stone” is one of the greatest songs ever written. I’ve always wanted to cover it. I sing it in the shower.” – Michael Stipe

“I always knew when I heard Bob, when my parents played Bob Dylan records, when I heard them, that this man was speaking. When Bob’s voice came on, I knew it was important.” – Chris Robinson

“He managed to fuse Allen Ginsberg and Sonny Boy Williamson, and that’s just at one phase of his career.”  – Marshall Crenshaw

“Even in the Wilburys, you do it Bob’s way, which means you do one vocal and that’s it. That’s your lot. That’s the performance. It’s a very brave way of doing things and very honest.” – Jeff Lynne

“And I know that he has a philosophy of ‘Strange is better.’ At 60 or even after 40, you’re usually thinking ‘Well I’ve done that, now I should be normal.’ And he doesn’t think that way at all.” – Joe Doe 

50 Best Dylan Covers – Paste

Alex Ross

Through the Ages

Bob & the boys at the Boston Garden, 1974 

“I can do other things, now, but I can’t do that.” 

David Yaffe at Sound of the City: 70 Bob Dylan Songs

Bob’s Birthday Present

More Zimmy Than You’ll Ever Need

Great Rolling Thunder Pictures

Bob Talks Heroin 

Rolling Stone tribute to Dylan’s 70th Birthday

10 Great Jazz Spins On Bob Dylan Songs

Since the main thrust of Dylan’s canon has been the way he’s wielded words, it’s a bit odd that instrumentalists would be jumping into his songbook. But those Zimmy melodies are rather remarkable as well, and from Bill Frisell’s “Just Like a Woman” to Marty Ehrlich’s “I Pity The Poor Immigrant,” they offer improvisers some sweet turf to plow. Everyone’s celebrating the man’s 70th birthday, which takes place on Tuesday. Here are 10 jazz pieces to plop on your playlist.

1 “Blind Willie McTell,” Marty Ehrlich’s Dark Woods Ensemble, Sojourn (Tzadik)

Slave ships, chain gangs, bootleg whiskey – Dylan drums up a portrait of psychological decimation citing spots “where many martyrs fell” while burglarizing the melody of “St. James Infirmary.” Ehrlich salutes such incisiveness with one of his most passionate soprano outings ever. With guitarist Marc Ribot plucking along, the saxophonist goes for several deep moans, sustaining the melancholy and milking the sorrow.

2 “Dark Eyes,” Jewels & Binoculars, Jewels and Binoculars (Ramboy)

Michael Moore, Lindsay Horner, and Michael Vatcher get the prize for the deepest dedication to the Dylan songbook. From “Lay Down Your Weary Tune” to “One More Cup of Coffee” to “Sign On the Window,” they have turned overlooked nuggets into unexpected beacons on three distinct albums. “Dark Eyes” is a perfect example. Eloquence is everywhere on this genteel stroll through the sullen ballad. Somehow it finds beauty at each turn.

3 “Blowing In the Wind” Stan Getz, Reflections (Verve)

Every time it seems as if there’s nothing left to do but rubber stamp this ‘60s track as misguided hokiness, something about said hokiness becomes a bit more attractive. The soft glow of the tenor giant’s tone – full of air yet full of heart – balances the icky formula moves of the strings and the rhythm section. Commercial silliness with a heart of gold.

4 “Dirge,” Jamie Saft, Trouble (Tzadik)

There’s a chill in the air when Zimmy wanders lower Broadway mumbling “I hate myself for loving you.” Breaking up is hard to do, no doubt. Pianist Saft, in a full Dylan program, lets bassist Greg Cohen do all the emoting on this Planet Waves plaint. And tempo-wise they take the title as an instruction.

5 “I Shall Be Released,” Nina Simone, Just Like a Woman (Sony)

Odd that she would use a slow grind groove to wax plaintive about being hemmed in, but then again idiosyncrasy is her stock in trade. It’s got the church, it’s got the barroom, and the depth of its blues reverberates in several key phrases (“every man must fall”). This album also features a capable take on “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues.”

6 “The Times They Are A-Changing,” Joshua Redman, Timeless Tales (For Changing  Times) (Warner Bros)

He attacks it from the downbeat, like he can’t wait for everyone within earshot to heed the call. When I first heard it I thought it was a tad fussy – over-arranged. But Josh has a way of making intricacy sound natural, and as the blues creep from the piano and the tempos aggressively shift (“the wheel’s still in spin,” indeed) the message hits home.

7 “Mr Tambourine Man,” Abbey Lincoln, Who Used To Dance (Verve)

She once told me that she’d never heard the iconic fantasia before she recorded it in 1996. Seems impossible, right? But the ardent way Abbey dances below that diamond sky glows is full of a newcomer’s joy. Happily, the performance also resounds with a veteran’s perspective for narrative. Gotta think she was reading the lyrics from a page in front of that mic, but between the drummer crashing and the bassist twirling, she sounds like she’s singing a story she’s been waiting forever to tell.

8 “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” Bill Frisell, East-West (Nonesuch)

In the intro, he searches for answers as he twists the melody: “Where did you go/what did you see?.” I didn’t know it was possible for desolation to be dreamy, but acting alone, Frisell comes up with a stretch of sound that could drive a few chapters of McCarthy’s The Road. Later, when Viktor Krauss and Kenny Wollesen kick in, the sweep makes everyone waltz the plank.

9 Masters Of War, Scott Amendola, Cry (Cryptogramophone)

This one takes the protest to the explosive level. You can almost see the drummer and his crew (Cline, Sheinman, Sickafoose, Crystal) landing a punch on the chin of the Bush/Cheney machine (the disc was released in 2003, during the Iraq invasion). Carla Bozulich’s wailing anguish is a blend of Yoko and Diamanda, perfectly integrating with the instrumental onslaught, especially that martial undertow.

10 “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding),” Jewels & Binoculars, Ships With Tattooed Sails (Upshot)

The buzzing alto, the pulsing rhythm section – both ignite to parallel the original’s ornery mania. Some “rules of the road have been dodged,” no question. But the trio makes sure its frenzy is lined with grace. The whole thing is utterly buoyant; even special guest Bill Frisell’s fractious solo errs on the side of shimmer. The galloping tempo is still palpable long after the music fades away.

Jazz Times’ Lee Mergner speaks with Ben Sidran on his Dylan spins.

Jazz  Times’ Tom Wilmeth mulls over Bob’s connection to the music. 

Move In Next Door, Or Marry My Daughter: The 10 Funniest Bob Dylan Songs

“When we’re sitting around at home we like to listen to the wild-ass stuff,” Marshall Crenshaw once told me, “like ‘Motorpsycho Nightmare’ and ‘Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat’ and ‘Million Dollar Bash,’ the humorous stuff with the crazy imagery and jokes – those are the ones I love best.” 

Here are ten that bring laffs to the table. 

1. I Shall Be Free – “I had to sit in the back of the tub.” 

2. Bob Dylan’s Blues – “Watch out so you don’t step on me.” 

3. Motorpsycho Nightware – “There stood Rita looking just like Tony Perkins.” 

4. Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream – “He said, ‘You’re not Him.” 

5. I Shall Be Free No. 10 – “I wouldn’t let him do it for all the farms in Cuba.” 

6. Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat – “You forgot to close the garage door.” 

7. Clothes Line Saga – “Then my neighbor, he blew his nose.” 

8. Please, Mrs Henry – “If I walk too much farther, my crane’s gonna leak”

9. Quinn, the Eskimo – “A cat’s meow and a cow’s moo, I can recite them all.” 

10. Talkin’ John Birch Society Blues – “That ol’ Betsy Ross.” 


Do The Zimmy Scribble

Everybody knows by now that there’s a gazillion books on me either out or coming out in the near future. So I’m encouraging anybody who’s ever met me, heard me or even seen me, to get in on the action and scribble their own book. You never know, somebody might have a great book in them.” – Bob Dylan 

It’s Done With a Flick of the Wrist…

Pushing 70, celebrating his birthday. It all started with Bridget Bardot.