The Other DYLAN


Anybody else catch "No Direction Home," Martin Scorcese's 3.5 hour documentary on the rise of BOB DYLAN? If you didn't, you missed a hell of a document on the man and what events forged his legendary status. Full of all kinds of never-before-seen footage, the flick took us from Bob's childhood in Minnesota to the motorcycle crash that put him in seclusion from touring for years in the late 1960s.

Every few months I go through a Dylan phase. I'm sure this isn't news to anyone who reads this blog. This is probably the second or third time I've written about the guy since January. What can I say... I've been fascinated by the guy since I took a gamble and bought "THE FREEWHEELIN' BOB DYLAN" when I was in high school. I liked Dylan a bit before that, but hearing that record blew me away. Here's a high school kid listening to all kinds of punk, hard rock and hip-hop, and in comes this raw little heartbreaking record featuring a guy and his acoustic guitar singing songs about the world - and his heart - in collapse.

Last week, a few days after watching that Scorcese doc, I got to interview JOAN BAEZ for one of the local entertainment papers in town. I was talking to the person who was personally responsible for putting one of my favorite songwriters on the map. I wouldn't say I'm the world's biggest Joan Baez fan (I own none of her records), but I have a newfound respect for her after speaking with her and watching her interviewed in that movie.

Her interpretations of Dylan's songs have always been stirring and pretty powerful. Tonight I'm putting up a few more interpretations of his work. While none of these songs - in my mind - top the originals, I hope that maybe they'll steer a few people towards his work who may have ignored him in the past.

"Don't Think Twice, it's All Right" by NICK DRAKE
"Mama, You've Been on My Mind" by JOHNNY CASH
"Mama, You've Been on My Mind" by JEFF BUCKLEY
"Lay Lady Lay" by MAGNET (w/GEMMA HAYES)
"I Shall be Released" by MARION WILLIAMS
"Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" by NINA SIMONE

For more on some of tonight's artists:

- One of my previous Dylan posts
- A pretty comprehensive Nina Simone site
- Home of Magnet
- The official Jeff Buckley site.
- Nick Drake, A to Z
- A Wikipedia entry on Marion Williams
- The White Stripes performing "Ball and Biscuit" with Bob Dylan. Tons more downloads available at WhiteStripes.net.



Dylan Gaughan said...

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John S. said...

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thevitaminkid said...

There's an options thingy in blogger that you can turn on which requires a human being to read distorted numbers/letters to verify that a human is really composing the comment. I guess that reduces spam. I dunno. I don't get much traffic on my blog, but I did get some spam comments. I turned on the verification option, so we'll see if that works.

I did see part of the Dylan doc. Can someone 'splain to me what connection Maria Muldaur had to Dylan? Was she a back up singer for him or something? I know her as the one-hit wonder "Midnight at the Oasis" gal. But I saw her in the Dylan doc several times, which surprised me.

Sarah said...

Funny - I was just talking about Dylan covers last night, and then I found this post this morning. I was telling a friend last night that, while his songs are some of the easiest to play and sing, they are harder than anything else to cover. I think part of it is because Dylan doesn't really SING his songs, he SPEAKS them. There is that easiness in his timing, his inflection, his diction (or lack thereof) that is just impossible to recreate.
But secondly there is the ownership of feeling in his music. I never used to believe all that "Dylan is a prophet" nonsense, but I'm beginning to think there is some truth to it, especially after watching No Direction Home. How many people sat down with Scorcese and said that there was something magic in Dylan's eyes? Something palpable in the room, a feeling that would overcome you when he opened his mouth...? While that magic comes across remarkably well in his recordings, it's his immense physical presence that really carries his music to a higher level. I've seen him four times and was brought to tears each time. And that clip of the acoustic "Visions of Johanna" is one of the most moving things I've seen on television in years.
At any rate, I've heard lots of brilliant interpretations of his songs over the years (some of which are posted here). The trick is obviously to make it different enough to transfer that ownership and presence to the performer. Jack White is incredibly successful at this.

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