Showing posts with label symbolism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label symbolism. Show all posts

Friday, July 24, 2015

In Honor Of Newport 1965- Bob Dylan- Unplugged and Plugged at Newport 1963-65

Bob Dylan- Unplugged and Plugged at Newport 1963-65

Bob Dylan: The Other Side of The Mirror: Live at The Newport Folk Festival 1963-1965,Bob Dylan and various other artists, 2007

Were we ever really that young? That is the first reaction I had in viewing this film. A young Bob Dylan featured with his lady at the time (I believe, if memory serves) a young Joan Baez. And who, at least for the controversial 1965 concert (where he did that taboo couple of electrified guitar numbers that freaked the old-time folkies out) had a young Markin as part of his audience. I am not altogether sure that in the end Bob Dylan cared one way or the other whether he was the voice of a generation, my generation, the generation of ’68 but in this very well configured musical documentary there is certainly a case to be made for that proposition. This is the high tide of Dylan’s career as an acoustic folk performer making the transition to, for lack of a better term, folk rock or just flat out rock.

Probably the most important reason to view this documentary, however, is to observe Dylan’s visual, vocal and professional transformation during this short two year period. In 1963 Dylan is dressed in the de rigueur work shirt and denim jeans with an unmade bed of a hairdo. His voice is, to be kind, reedy and scratchy, and his songs sung at that time are things like Blowin’ in the Wind (done here with Baez and others in an incredible finale) and With God on Our Side (with Baez) reflecting the influence of traditional folk themes and of a style derived from his early hero Woody Guthrie. Newport 1964 is a transition. The hair is somewhat styled, the outfit more hippie than traditional folk garb, the voice is stronger reflecting the established fact that he is now ‘king of the hill’ in the folk world. And he sings things like the classic Mr. Tambourine Man that give a hint that he is moving away from the tradition idiom.

Newport 1965 gives us the full blown Dylan that we have come not to know. The one that once we think we have him pegged slips away on us. Here we get no mixing it up with Baez or other folkies but a full-bore rock back up band to play Maggie’s Farm and one of the anthems for my generation, Like A Rolling Stone. Then back to acoustic with It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue and Love Minus Zero, No Limit (which is something of the love anthem for my generation or, at least, one of them). All done in a very strong and confident voice that says here it is, take it or leave it. Wow. You know my answer.

This film, seemingly consciously, shies away from an investigation of any of the controversies of the time concerning the direction of Dylan’s work. Pete Seeger’s only shot on film, as I recall, was to introduce Dylan at the 1964 festival. The most controversial subjects addressed seem to be whether or not it would throw the schedule off to give into the crowd and have Dylan play longer. Or whether it was okay for the jaded youth of the day to have folk singers as idols. Aside from that shortcoming, which in any case can be pursued elsewhere, this film will go a long way to solving any lingering controversy about whether Mr. Dylan belongs in the folk pantheon.

Friday, May 14, 2010

*Songs To While Away The Class Struggle By-Bob Dylan's "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues"

Click on the title to link a "YouTube" film clip of Nina Simone performing Bob Dylan's "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" (audio only, but that is just fine anyway, right?

In this series, presented under the headline “Songs To While Away The Class Struggle By”, I will post some songs that I think will help us get through the “dog days” of the struggle for our communist future. I do not vouch for the political thrust of the songs; for the most part they are done by pacifists, social democrats, hell, even just plain old ordinary democrats. And, occasionally, a communist, although hard communist musicians have historically been scarce on the ground. Thus, here we have a regular "popular front" on the music scene. While this would not be acceptable for our political prospects, it will suffice for our purposes here. Markin.

Markin- Any song that starts with "When you're lost in the rain in Juarez and it's Eastertime too..." will always get my attention. And did, along with the other key song from this album, "Desolation Row", back in the day.

Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues Lyrics

When you're lost in the rain in Juarez
And it's Eastertime too
And your gravity fails
And negativity don't pull you through
Don't put on any airs
When you're down on Rue Morgue Avenue
They got some hungry women there
And they really make a mess outa you.

Now if you see Saint Annie
Please tell her thanks a lot
I cannot move
My fingers are all in a knot
I don't have the strength
To get up and take another shot
And my best friend, my doctor
Won't even say what it is I've got.

Sweet Melinda
The peasants call her the goddess of gloom
She speaks good English
And she invites you up into her room
And you're so kind
And careful not to go to her too soon
And she takes your voice
And leaves you howling at the moon.

Up on Housing Project Hill
It's either fortune or fame
You must pick up one or the other
Though neither of them are to be what they claim
If you're lookin' to get silly
You better go back to from where you came
Because the cops don't need you
And man they expect the same.
Now all the authorities
They just stand around and boast
How they blackmailed the sergeant-at-arms
Into leaving his post
And picking up Angel who
Just arrived here from the coast
Who looked so fine at first
But left looking just like a ghost.

I started out on burgundy
But soon hit the harder stuff
Everybody said they'd stand behind me
When the game got rough
But the joke was on me
There was nobody even there to bluff
I'm going back to New York City
I do believe I've had enough.