118. idiot wind

Idiot Wind has to go out to Angela, and me. We officially broke up in 1988. It just took me three years to finally get it one long, strange, lonely summer day that began with an urge to drop a little solo LSD, climb a small mountain, check out the scenery. And it was good. But then came the long descent, lots of time for deeper, darker reflection in the solitude of the forest, and meanwhile, on the walkman I had Bob Dylan‘s Blood on the Tracks playing, because I’d exhausted all the more cosmic stuff on the way up. And damn if all that earthbound grit and spite didn’t just start talking to me, particularly Idiot Wind‘s angst driven symbols and reflections, like nine hundred different stories all kaleidoscoping into one by the end, the part where the idiocy doesn’t just blow when you open your mouth, but also when I open mine. Because like some smartass said just the other day, there’s no I in team, but there’s two of them in idiot. Welcome to love, I guess, the part they don’t mention in all the fairy tales, the not happily ever after part. Which is why we need the music of Mr. Bob Dylan from pretty much any phase of his career. Post-fairy tale all the way.” (Philip Random)

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135. it’s alright ma, I’m only bleeding

Bringing It All Back Home being Bob Dylan’s other 1965 album, the one that preceded Highway 61 Revisited and the apocalyptic Like A Rolling Stone snare shot which gave this whole project impetus. But such is the nature of apocalypse, the space-time continuum gets scrambled. Which makes It’s Alright Ma, I’m Only Bleeding an appropriately timely version of the Six O’clock News circa 1965. Young man wired on amphetamines and Beaujolais and a truckload of symbolist poetry, grabs a great roll of paper and gets to typing, Jack Kerouac style. The words seem to be about all manner of stuff. The words††† seem to be about everything. Hell, I remember an old cab driver friend insisting it was about Jesus Christ himself, up on the cross, having his moment of doubt, seeing through messianic eyes all the future desolation of so-called modern man. Then the vision fades and he notices his mom, Mary, in real time, no doubt as worried as any mother has ever been. So he gives her a wink, says not to worry, he’s alright, except for all the bleeding.”

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159. one more cup of coffee

One More Cup of Coffee is the Dylan track I tend to dig out when somebody feels compelled to tell me he can’t sing. Really? I’d like hear you or anybody you know do what he does in this one, the way he waivers just so, like something out of lost centuries, forgotten languages. The arrangement helps, of course, that wandering fiddle, the whip sharpness of the drums. And what’s the song about beyond a visit to the local Starbucks? The stuff of those lost centuries, I suppose, by way of his then current marital woes, reflections of self seen in distorted mirrors … and hearts like oceans, mysterious and dark. And then there’s my Motron’s theory that it concerns the Jason Robards character from Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time In The West. Because you may be gut shot, dying, bound for hell, but there’s always time for one more cup of coffee.” (Philip Random)

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240. It’s all over now, Baby Blue

Technically, It’s All Over Now Baby Blue shouldn’t be on this list as its recording precedes the Like A Rolling Stone snare shot that allegedly gave impetus to the apocalypse in question. But such is the nature of a rupture in the space-time continuum, there’s often an implosion-like suck that throws key details of the recent past forward, mixes them up with the various smithereens currently floating around. Thus, we find yonder orphan with his gun crying like a fire in the sun. It makes perfect sense if you’ve got the right kind of eyes, and ears. Also worth noting: It’s All Over Now Baby Blue is the solo acoustic piece that young Bob Dylan chose to calm the crowd after his legendary electric set at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival went so horribly wrong/right. No serious apology intended.

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327. tombstone blues

Tombstone Blues comes immediately after Like a Rolling Stone on Bob Dylan’s sixth album, Highway 61 Revisited (the one that changed everything forever). The thought that comes to mind is, hard act to follow, but Dylan being Dylan, he quickly annihilates that concern. Note the use of present tense. This stuff is still very much alive, virulent even. The poetry, that is. Lately it’s been the geometry of innocent flesh on the bone causing Galileo’s math book to get thrown. But maybe six months ago, it was the king of the Philistines, his soldiers putting jawbones on their tombstones and flattering their graves. And back in the early 1980s, it was definitely John the Baptist (after torturing a thief) looking up at his hero the Commander-in-Chief, saying, tell me great hero, but please make it brief, is there a hole for me to get sick in? In other words, yeah just call it Dada, but it’s a fine and enduring Dada. Particularly if you’re driving long distances, gobbling dexedrine, smoothing the edges with cheap red wine, you hit the Pacific coast at sunset, northern California somewhere, take some pictures, but for some reason all you’ve got is black + white film. So the moment is captured without pigment, the sky pure white, like an atom bomb. Which is more or less accurate, I think. If the world didn’t end in 1965 when Dylan released Highway 61, then it was June 1989, and I’ve got pictures to prove it. Which makes what we’re going through now just one more layer of the proverbial onion — everything keeps peeling away.” (Philip Random)

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496. Isis

Isis is one of the songs that forever ensnared me in the mystique of the guy known as Bob Dylan, starting with radio late at night in my teen years, floating strangely past as I slipped into dreams, doing its bit to inform them. And like those dreams, I still couldn’t tell you what it’s about. A journey, I guess, but to where? Maybe that’s the point. It’s about infinity, eternity, the stories found within stories found within stories, snakes eating their tales, a goddess called Isis … and the falling out of love. The live version from the Rolling Thunder era is pretty damned strong, but I prefer the more restrained original, found on Desire. It just seems to go further.” (Philip Random)

809. too much of nothing

Speaking of the Basement Tapes, here we have Mr. Robert Zimmerman (aka Bob Dylan) and the band known as The Band (circa 1967) trading verses, talking about what seems to be the overall problem inherent in the downside of prolonged psychedelic (and other) amplification and expansion of one’s mind, body and soul. What do you do with all that nothing you’re feeling?  In the end, maybe just sing the blues.

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