East Bay View (a blog about several things)

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A Bob Dylan sampler

The game: Compile as much of Dylan's talent as can fit on a CD-R.

The Sixties: "I'll know my song well before I start singing"

1. Love Minus Zero/No Limit: His most beautiful straight love song is really that straight, as his loaded double rhymes rise and fall twice a verse. Dig the way he vibratoes "broken".
2. I Want You: If you still doubt he's a great vocalist, how many singers could make such a simple statement so seductive?
3. Positively 4th Street: When the rolling stone stops, watch out.
4. Mr. Tambourine Man: Remember when drug songs were pretty? More proof they banned the wrong shit.
5. Like a Rolling Stone: Because schadenfreude is OK when it's class war. You know it's really about the organ, but how about that piano?
6. Bob Dylan's 115th Dream: If only all Great American Novels were this funny.
7. A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall: More than any other song, this opened up pop music to pretentious lyrics. Bobby had been reading the Symbolists, and decided the best way to capture this in song was to pile on image after image.
8. Visions of Johanna: What do you mean best lyrics ever? "Fish truck", jeez.

The Seventies: "Still on the road, headin' for another joint"
9. Knockin' on Heaven's Door: Concise.
10. If You See Her, Say Hello: After the end of the road.
11. Shelter from the Storm: It's rare for him to be understated, but it makes his refuge alluring.
12. Tangled Up in Blue: Fully-formed short short stories, each with a kick to them. The compression is skilled; the slight fluctuations in tone as they're stitched together is Dylan.
13. Idiot Wind: To some his great confessional (just because he starts off the tonic), this is where he admits he's been playing crooked all this time. Or maybe he really can't help it if he's lucky.
14. Hurricane: His best really long song, partly because it's not really really long. Just about his last attempt at immediacy and his last moment of relevance, though he started making good records again in the Nineties.

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