Idiot wind, blowing every time you move your mouth
Blowing down the backroads headin’ southIdiot wind, blowing every time you move your teethYou’re an idiot, babeIt’s a wonder that you still know how to breathe
—  Bob Dylan, “Idiot Wind”, 1974 

Idiot wind, blowing every time you move your mouth

Blowing down the backroads headin’ south
Idiot wind, blowing every time you move your teeth
You’re an idiot, babe
It’s a wonder that you still know how to breathe

—  Bob Dylan, “Idiot Wind”, 1974 

headunderwater:

Michael Kiwanuka - Tell Me A Tale

Yesterday I posted a track by Johan Brännström that draws from Mr. Dylan. Today I offer you this Brit who draws from Mr. Redding, Otis that is. I also hear a pinch of Bill Withers too. I hope that R&B makes a turn towards this classic type of sound. The Weeknd is great and all but I prefer this sound. To me this has so much more feeling and desire. You can tell the amount of love this bro needs.

Been digging this Taj Mahal-esque jam as of late. Excited to see what he’s got coming next.

Originally posted January 19, 2010 via my old Posterous blog:
Celebrity as a cultural beast is quite pleased. Unlike the fiscal economy, the economy of celebrity grows larger each quarter without exception. The more data that swirls through our multi-dimensional media web, the more celebrities are born. And — unlike a few generations ago — once you’ve become a celebrity, you’re always a celebrity. With so many niche media outlets all competing for their own marketshare, even the fallen celebrity is celebrated, as are the D-listers and coulda-beens. On some level this helps explain why it seems like so many people are dying recently. Last Wednesday, for instance, I’d already muttered two “RIPs” via my Twitter account (for up-and-coming garage rocker Jay Reatard and soul legend Teddy Pendergrass) when — late in the day — I heard from my good friend that Bobby Charles had passed away. 
What a disappointment. And a disappointment that I felt I had no currency left to express. My articulated sentiments were cheap by now. But this was sad news to me, and it was sad news that I knew wouldn’t be getting above-the-fold headlines anywhere. I’ve seen a handful of pieces written in the last few days, each talking about how the Louisiana-born Robert Charles Guidry was a founding father of swamp pop, how he got into the business as a singer-songwriter just as rock n’ roll was coming into its own in the late ’50s, cutting singles for Chess, none of which were hits until they were covered by Bill Haley (“See You Later Alligator”) and Fats Domino (“Walkin’ to New Orleans”) to name but a few, but that he couldn’t find traction as a recording artist so he dropped out of the biz. They mention his getting back into music with his underperforming & underappreciated self-titled debut album produced by The Band’s Rick Danko & John Simon (Music from Big Pink producer) released by (Bob Dylan’s manager) Albert Grossman’s label Bearsville. These facts are all covered in near-facsimile.
What isn’t covered is how much heart & soul there is in Bobby Charles. Its vulnerability comes through without a bit of pretension, its levity without the wink of an eye (as with Randy Newman, who shares a sonic and tonal kinship with Charles). It makes even the best albums by The Band (Music from Big Pink and The Band) seem ambitiously vulnerable — even postured, as if The Band were in hot pursuit of an emotional response from their audience. With Bobby Charles it feels to come so naturally, so effortlessly. Now, I don’t mean to tear down The Band in order to build up Charles; such would be foolish (and not just because Danko produced and most of The Band played on Bobby Charles). Over the years, though, The Band has come to symbolize a sense of soulful integrity, American work ethic and whole-is-greater-than-the-sum-of-the-parts potential of a spirited collaboration between Hemingway heroes that somehow places them in that zen-like ring toward the top of the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame Christmas tree which belies their commercial record, and which I’d like to take full advantage of here as I try to make a case for you to return to Bobby Charles or seek it out for the first time (and not give up when you find it difficult to track down). So I stand on the back of The Band’s mythology in order to alley-oop Charles into that special place on the tip of your tongue, such that you may find yourself lucky enough to be walking in the crisp morning light singing “Small Town Talk”, “Save Me Jesus” or “I Must Be in a Good Place Now”, wondering what it must’ve been like to walk in this man’s shoes, whose shoes so closely resemble your own, except that he knew how to speak of those shoes and where they took him as a man. Like Dan Penn & Spooner Oldham, he was a songwriter whose words were catapulted into the public consciousness by singers with more juice than he had as a pop star, but it was in his own small way with his own humble voice that these songs met their greatest potential as human works and were able to transcend our own flawed language and give some shape to the ineffable.

Originally posted January 19, 2010 via my old Posterous blog:

Celebrity as a cultural beast is quite pleased. Unlike the fiscal economy, the economy of celebrity grows larger each quarter without exception. The more data that swirls through our multi-dimensional media web, the more celebrities are born. And — unlike a few generations ago — once you’ve become a celebrity, you’re always a celebrity. With so many niche media outlets all competing for their own marketshare, even the fallen celebrity is celebrated, as are the D-listers and coulda-beens. On some level this helps explain why it seems like so many people are dying recently. Last Wednesday, for instance, I’d already muttered two “RIPs” via my Twitter account (for up-and-coming garage rocker Jay Reatard and soul legend Teddy Pendergrass) when — late in the day — I heard from my good friend that Bobby Charles had passed away. 

What a disappointment. And a disappointment that I felt I had no currency left to express. My articulated sentiments were cheap by now. But this was sad news to me, and it was sad news that I knew wouldn’t be getting above-the-fold headlines anywhere. I’ve seen a handful of pieces written in the last few days, each talking about how the Louisiana-born Robert Charles Guidry was a founding father of swamp pop, how he got into the business as a singer-songwriter just as rock n’ roll was coming into its own in the late ’50s, cutting singles for Chess, none of which were hits until they were covered by Bill Haley (“See You Later Alligator”) and Fats Domino (“Walkin’ to New Orleans”) to name but a few, but that he couldn’t find traction as a recording artist so he dropped out of the biz. They mention his getting back into music with his underperforming & underappreciated self-titled debut album produced by The Band’s Rick Danko & John Simon (Music from Big Pink producer) released by (Bob Dylan’s manager) Albert Grossman’s label Bearsville. These facts are all covered in near-facsimile.

What isn’t covered is how much heart & soul there is in Bobby Charles. Its vulnerability comes through without a bit of pretension, its levity without the wink of an eye (as with Randy Newman, who shares a sonic and tonal kinship with Charles). It makes even the best albums by The Band (Music from Big Pink and The Band) seem ambitiously vulnerable — even postured, as if The Band were in hot pursuit of an emotional response from their audience. With Bobby Charles it feels to come so naturally, so effortlessly. Now, I don’t mean to tear down The Band in order to build up Charles; such would be foolish (and not just because Danko produced and most of The Band played on Bobby Charles). Over the years, though, The Band has come to symbolize a sense of soulful integrity, American work ethic and whole-is-greater-than-the-sum-of-the-parts potential of a spirited collaboration between Hemingway heroes that somehow places them in that zen-like ring toward the top of the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame Christmas tree which belies their commercial record, and which I’d like to take full advantage of here as I try to make a case for you to return to Bobby Charles or seek it out for the first time (and not give up when you find it difficult to track down). So I stand on the back of The Band’s mythology in order to alley-oop Charles into that special place on the tip of your tongue, such that you may find yourself lucky enough to be walking in the crisp morning light singing “Small Town Talk”, “Save Me Jesus” or “I Must Be in a Good Place Now”, wondering what it must’ve been like to walk in this man’s shoes, whose shoes so closely resemble your own, except that he knew how to speak of those shoes and where they took him as a man. Like Dan Penn & Spooner Oldham, he was a songwriter whose words were catapulted into the public consciousness by singers with more juice than he had as a pop star, but it was in his own small way with his own humble voice that these songs met their greatest potential as human works and were able to transcend our own flawed language and give some shape to the ineffable.

That was the year Bob Dylan put out Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan and “Blowin’ in the Wind”. Dylan was the one that impressed me because of his speaking-voice style, which I was really interested in. I also looked at his written lyrics and realized that he didn’t capitalize his letters. He was trying to copy e.e. cummings and, while it was transparently imitative, I thought it was a good position. 
— Van Dyke Parks, in his 5-10-15-20 Pitchfork featurette 

That was the year Bob Dylan put out Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan and “Blowin’ in the Wind”. Dylan was the one that impressed me because of his speaking-voice style, which I was really interested in. I also looked at his written lyrics and realized that he didn’t capitalize his letters. He was trying to copy e.e. cummings and, while it was transparently imitative, I thought it was a good position. 

— Van Dyke Parks, in his 5-10-15-20 Pitchfork featurette 

I can’t feel you anymoreI can’t even touch the books you’ve read

-Bob Dylan, “Idiot Wind”
(via vetyverandleathr)

I can’t feel you anymore
I can’t even touch the books you’ve read

-Bob Dylan, “Idiot Wind”

(via vetyverandleathr)

"Put simply, New Morning is a superb album. It is everything that every Dylan fan prayed for after Self Portrait.”
— Ed Ward, for Rolling Stone, November 26, 1970

"Put simply, New Morning is a superb album. It is everything that every Dylan fan prayed for after Self Portrait.”

— Ed Ward, for Rolling Stone, November 26, 1970

- Damien Jurado, Feb. 17th, 2011, taken by Richard Swift

 ”I had been in a motorcycle accident and I’d been hurt, but I recovered. Truth was that I wanted to get out of the rat race.”
— Bob Dylan, on the time he spent holed up at Big Pink with The Band recording JWH (advertised here in the Jan 20, 1968 issue of Billboard) and what would become The Basement Tapes (1975)
(image via billboardingparty)

 ”I had been in a motorcycle accident and I’d been hurt, but I recovered. Truth was that I wanted to get out of the rat race.”

— Bob Dylan, on the time he spent holed up at Big Pink with The Band recording JWH (advertised here in the Jan 20, 1968 issue of Billboard) and what would become The Basement Tapes (1975)

(image via billboardingparty)

 
 
By 1976 The Band were on their last legs, after more than sixteen years of non-stop touring the stresses of the road had taken their toll. The members agreed to one last show, to be played on Thanksgiving 1976 at the famed Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. The show would feature several notable guest appearances by Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Emmylou Harris, Dr. John, Muddy Waters, Ringo Starr, Ronnie Hawkins, and Eric Clapton amongst others. I have always found this ironic, given that Rock and Roll is big business today with the attendant merchandising and multi-media cash cow to feed, that a group like The Band that still had tremendous commercial appeal would just hang it up. Times were less cynical I suppose.
— The Selvedge Yard on The Band’s The Last Waltz
Though I’m a fan of The Band and Scorsese, I think The Selvedge Yard is giving far too much credit to Robertson & Co. for being zen. The famously self-important Robbie broke up the band and  — though it’s a hoot to watch — The Last Waltz has always seemed like a clear act of auto-hagiographical aggrandizement to me. That’s not meant to take anything away from the musicianship of the group — who were at the height of their powers — but to forget the massive egos behind these humble songs, especially at this period in the band’s career, is akin to forgetting just how expensive that set of china in your parent’s cabinet was upon purchase while admiring its craftmanship as you lament the fact that the set doesn’t get pulled out nearly enough.

By 1976 The Band were on their last legs, after more than sixteen years of non-stop touring the stresses of the road had taken their toll. The members agreed to one last show, to be played on Thanksgiving 1976 at the famed Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. The show would feature several notable guest appearances by Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Emmylou Harris, Dr. John, Muddy Waters, Ringo Starr, Ronnie Hawkins, and Eric Clapton amongst others. I have always found this ironic, given that Rock and Roll is big business today with the attendant merchandising and multi-media cash cow to feed, that a group like The Band that still had tremendous commercial appeal would just hang it up. Times were less cynical I suppose.

The Selvedge Yard on The Band’s The Last Waltz

Though I’m a fan of The Band and Scorsese, I think The Selvedge Yard is giving far too much credit to Robertson & Co. for being zen. The famously self-important Robbie broke up the band and — though it’s a hoot to watch — The Last Waltz has always seemed like a clear act of auto-hagiographical aggrandizement to me. That’s not meant to take anything away from the musicianship of the group — who were at the height of their powers — but to forget the massive egos behind these humble songs, especially at this period in the band’s career, is akin to forgetting just how expensive that set of china in your parent’s cabinet was upon purchase while admiring its craftmanship as you lament the fact that the set doesn’t get pulled out nearly enough.

Great paintings shouldn’t be in museums. Have you ever been in a museum? Museums are cemeteries. Paintings should be on the walls of restaurants, in dime stores, in gas stations, in men’s rooms. Great paintings should be where people hang out. The only thing where it’s happening is on radio and records, that’s where people hang out. You can’t see great paintings. You pay half a million and hang one in your house and one guest sees it. That’s not art. That’s a shame, a crime. Music is the only thing that’s in tune with what’s happening. It’s not in book form, it’s not on the stage. All this art they’ve been talking about is nonexistent. It just remains on the shelf. It doesn’t make anyone happier. Just think how many people would really feel great if they could see a Picasso in their daily diner. It’s not the bomb that has to go, man, it’s the museums.
— Bob Dylan 
(text via crashinglybeautiful)

Great paintings shouldn’t be in museums. Have you ever been in a museum? Museums are cemeteries. Paintings should be on the walls of restaurants, in dime stores, in gas stations, in men’s rooms. Great paintings should be where people hang out. The only thing where it’s happening is on radio and records, that’s where people hang out. You can’t see great paintings. You pay half a million and hang one in your house and one guest sees it. That’s not art. That’s a shame, a crime. Music is the only thing that’s in tune with what’s happening. It’s not in book form, it’s not on the stage. All this art they’ve been talking about is nonexistent. It just remains on the shelf. It doesn’t make anyone happier. Just think how many people would really feel great if they could see a Picasso in their daily diner. It’s not the bomb that has to go, man, it’s the museums.

— Bob Dylan 

(text via crashinglybeautiful)

(Source: suicidewatch)

I was just out of high school when I bought my first Randy Newman album. It was 12 Songs, his second album from 1970, and it was an important moment for me. I picked it up in Moorhead, MN, at a used CD store on Main Ave. whose name escapes me; frustrating considering how many hours I spent in there flipping through jewel cases, looking for a gem.
This was one of them. It was the album cover (photographed by Tony Newman and looking a great deal like the visual work of both William Eggleston and Jandek, neither of whom were yet on my radar) that first spoke to me. Like an old postcard affixed to the bathroom doorway of a diner, it just reeked of a very particular kind of mid-century Americana for which I longed and with which I was just beginning to obsess myself. I devoured the Beats, Dylan, Tom Waits, John Fante, The Last Picture Show, Hud and contemporary songwriters like Jack Logan and Vic Chesnutt. I was a lyrics man at that time and Newman delivered. The imagery was so striking:
Let’s burn down the cornfield

Let’s burn down the cornfield 

And I’ll make love to you while it’s burning.

Heavy tackle for a boy of 19 wanting nothing more than to feel like a man. And the characters from whose perspective he wrote his songs were all so colorful and skewed. They’d have nothing but bit parts in most people’s songs or plays, but on Newman’s stage, they were stars. They were the folks you wanted to hang out with and get to know. Misfits reigned in his world, and it emitted a sense of authenticity that struck all the right chords for me. It actually took me years to actually be able to appreciate the actual musical elements of 12 Songs. At the time I loved these songs despite the seemingly flippant music and oft-kilter voice, embracing instead the lost era concept and appreciating the stories and the bare unadorned nature in which they were presented above all. It seemed a bit crazy to me that someone got paid to make an album like this, and I still had no frame of reference for the fact that he would actually become quite successful a few years later. While I’d eventually grow to appreciate Sail Away as his true masterwork, that initial impression that 12 Songs made on me would was significant enough that I consider it my favorite Randy Newman album, the one that will continue to have the most conjuring power over me through the years as I surely turn to dust.

I was just out of high school when I bought my first Randy Newman album. It was 12 Songs, his second album from 1970, and it was an important moment for me. I picked it up in Moorhead, MN, at a used CD store on Main Ave. whose name escapes me; frustrating considering how many hours I spent in there flipping through jewel cases, looking for a gem.

This was one of them. It was the album cover (photographed by Tony Newman and looking a great deal like the visual work of both William Eggleston and Jandek, neither of whom were yet on my radar) that first spoke to me. Like an old postcard affixed to the bathroom doorway of a diner, it just reeked of a very particular kind of mid-century Americana for which I longed and with which I was just beginning to obsess myself. I devoured the Beats, Dylan, Tom Waits, John Fante, The Last Picture Show, Hud and contemporary songwriters like Jack Logan and Vic Chesnutt. I was a lyrics man at that time and Newman delivered. The imagery was so striking:

Let’s burn down the cornfield

Let’s burn down the cornfield 

And I’ll make love to you while it’s burning.

Heavy tackle for a boy of 19 wanting nothing more than to feel like a man. And the characters from whose perspective he wrote his songs were all so colorful and skewed. They’d have nothing but bit parts in most people’s songs or plays, but on Newman’s stage, they were stars. They were the folks you wanted to hang out with and get to know. Misfits reigned in his world, and it emitted a sense of authenticity that struck all the right chords for me. It actually took me years to actually be able to appreciate the actual musical elements of 12 Songs. At the time I loved these songs despite the seemingly flippant music and oft-kilter voice, embracing instead the lost era concept and appreciating the stories and the bare unadorned nature in which they were presented above all. It seemed a bit crazy to me that someone got paid to make an album like this, and I still had no frame of reference for the fact that he would actually become quite successful a few years later. While I’d eventually grow to appreciate Sail Away as his true masterwork, that initial impression that 12 Songs made on me would was significant enough that I consider it my favorite Randy Newman album, the one that will continue to have the most conjuring power over me through the years as I surely turn to dust.

Roy Orbison, American singer and songwriter of great power - died this day in 1988 from a heart attack, aged 52.
With Roy, you didn’t know if you were listening to mariachi or opera. He  kept you on your toes. With him, it was all about fat and blood. He  sounded like he was singing from an Olympian mountaintop. [H]e was now singing his compositions in three or four octaves  that made you want to drive your car over a cliff. He sang like a  professional criminal… His voice could jar a corpse, always leave you  muttering to yourself something like, ‘Man, I don’t believe it.’
— Bob Dylan, from Chronicles
(via i12bent)

Roy Orbison, American singer and songwriter of great power - died this day in 1988 from a heart attack, aged 52.

With Roy, you didn’t know if you were listening to mariachi or opera. He kept you on your toes. With him, it was all about fat and blood. He sounded like he was singing from an Olympian mountaintop. [H]e was now singing his compositions in three or four octaves that made you want to drive your car over a cliff. He sang like a professional criminal… His voice could jar a corpse, always leave you muttering to yourself something like, ‘Man, I don’t believe it.’

— Bob Dylan, from Chronicles

(via i12bent)

Too Much of Nothingby Bob Dylan, 1967 
Now, too much of nothingCan make a man feel ill at easeOne man’s temper might riseWhile another man’s temper might freezeIn the day of confessionWe cannot mock a soulOh, when there’s too much of nothingNo one has control
Say hello to ValerieSay hello to VivianSend them all my salaryOn the waters of oblivion
Too much of nothingCan make a man abuse a kingHe can walk the streets and boast like mostBut he wouldn’t know a thingNow, it’s all been done beforeIt’s all been written in the bookBut when there’s too much of nothingNobody should look
Say hello to ValerieSay hello to VivianSend them all my salaryOn the waters of oblivion
Too much of nothingCan turn a man into a liarIt can cause one man to sleep on nailsAnd another man to eat fireEv’rybody’s doin’ somethin’I heard it in a dreamBut when there’s too much of nothingIt just makes a fella mean
Say hello to ValerieSay hello to VivianSend them all my salaryOn the waters of oblivion
Photo: Robbie Robertson, Michael McClure, Bob Dylan, Allen Ginsberg, 1965.
(photo via anneyhall : magnificentruin)

Too Much of Nothing
by Bob Dylan, 1967 

Now, too much of nothing
Can make a man feel ill at ease
One man’s temper might rise
While another man’s temper might freeze
In the day of confession
We cannot mock a soul
Oh, when there’s too much of nothing
No one has control

Say hello to Valerie
Say hello to Vivian
Send them all my salary
On the waters of oblivion

Too much of nothing
Can make a man abuse a king
He can walk the streets and boast like most
But he wouldn’t know a thing
Now, it’s all been done before
It’s all been written in the book
But when there’s too much of nothing
Nobody should look

Say hello to Valerie
Say hello to Vivian
Send them all my salary
On the waters of oblivion

Too much of nothing
Can turn a man into a liar
It can cause one man to sleep on nails
And another man to eat fire
Ev’rybody’s doin’ somethin’
I heard it in a dream
But when there’s too much of nothing
It just makes a fella mean

Say hello to Valerie
Say hello to Vivian
Send them all my salary
On the waters of oblivion

Photo: Robbie Robertson, Michael McClure, Bob Dylan, Allen Ginsberg, 1965.

(photo via anneyhall : magnificentruin)