Well, I have finally posted one of my own! In the wake of Jim’s revival of lesser-known (and lesser-appreciated) tunes, I decided to try Bob Dylan’s early-70’s “Living the Blues.” It is certainly not the best (nor even among the best) of his catalog, but I’ve always loved it. And I hope you do too!
And welcome one, welcome all to my Laptop Session for this very special Original Wednesday here at your source for the best acoustic cover and original song music videos available on the internet today! (That’s a mouthful…)
You may be wondering, why is this day so special?
Well, for one, this is the birthday of Laptop Sessions series creator Jim Fusco. On behalf of the other contributors and the loyal viewers of this blog, I’d like to wish him a very happy 25th birthday! Only a quarter century in, and he’s accumulated quite a back catalog of music, writing, and side projects. If you haven’t already, you should head on over to jimfusco.com.
Take it from me: the best gift you can get Jim this year is to spend a measely $10 on his brand new album Halfway There. Go ahead, check out the album in streaming audio at his official website, or use the search function at the top of this page to listen to Laptop Sessions of many of the Halfway There tracks, read a full review (another one from Jeff coming soon…), and see the beautiful, custom artwork he used for the cover.
Okay, that’s enough plugging for one post.
Tonight’s session is based on a song that I never recorded for an album. “Keep On Going” is an early track, as you will most likely be able to tell! Although the words are straightforward and the chord progression is simple, I’ve always liked this little tune. I originally wrote this song as a direct statement to my best friend (Jim, if you haven’t made the connection yet), assuring him after a rough week that things really will turn out all right, even though people — particularly high school aged people — can be cruel. I hope he’s seen that to be true, as he’s moved on to college, made many lifelong friends, and become engaged to Becky Daly. For all you former Pine Loft faithfuls: yes, this is indeed the same Becky Daly of Chris, Jim, and Becky fame!
I still sing “Keep On Going” when I feel stressed out or begin to think something — a relationship, a professional endeavor, etc. — won’t work out. I hope you like it.
As a final note, stepping back into the present, I just started listening to the new Bob Dylan album, Together Through Life. In case you’re questioning my devotion, there’s only one reason why I didn’t start listening yesterday: I pre-ordered the album on Amazon.com and didn’t spring for any more than Free Super Saver Shipping. So, I’m cheap. What do you want???
Did I mention I’m loving the album? As I type, it’s blaring through my room and probably throughout the condo complex. I may even get a letter in the mail from the condo association condemning me for noise pollution or disturbing the peace or some other such nonsense, but it will be worth it! I spent the day at school today wearing the Best Buy exclusive Together Through Life t-shirt that Mike so graciously passed along to me from his purchase of the album (thanks again, Fusc!!). I made certain to wear a white button down shirt today and a narrow tie, so as to have the Dylan t-shirt show through. Thanks to at least one inquisitive student in each class I taught, I got to talk about the new album at least once every 82 minutes today!
I’ll save my commentary on Together Through Life for the review that will most certainly come, but allow me to share a couple comments. First, this is not what I was expecting after Love & Theft and Modern Times. Then again, that’s pretty much what Dylan himself suggested, so I’m not really surprised. My favorite line thus far is the chorus to track three: “Hell is my wife’s home town.” As if there’s any question as to whether Dylan’s dry sense of humor is still intact, just listen for his chuckling — yes, his chuckling — in the outro of that song. Finally, although it’s a slow album to start, just wait for “Jolene” and “Shake Shake Mama” to really get your foot tapping.
And, with that taste of this new Dylan album, I’ll emphatically suggest you need to buy both Halfway There and Together Through Life and be on my merry way.
Never in my life have I felt that this song was more relevant than it is tonight and–especially–tomorrow. This is Bob Dylan’s classic protest song, “The Times They Are A-Changin.'” I’ve always appreciated the song, but I don’t think I’ve ever related to it as much as I did tonight as I was recording this music video. Personally, I have always been more interested in the other songs on Dylan’s album of the same name, such as “Only a Pawn in Their Game” and “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll.” Yet, on the eve of the 2008 Presidential election, I could think of no song more fitting to record than this one.
And, God save me, I will be recording “With God On Their Side” for my Thursday video if McCain wins! (Just search the lyrics to this song if you’ve missed the reference…).
I’ve tended to stay away from Dylan’s protest songs. I have a great deal of respect for them, but as Dylan himself, I hate to see him labeled simply as “the voice of a generation.” I am most interested in his more recent material — for instance, I’m still blown away by the new Bootleg Series release.
But tonight is a special occasion. As I began practicing this song, I found that (although I haven’t heard or played this song for months and months) all the words came to me easily. Line after line, verse after verse, this song rings so exceptionally true to me. It doesn’t take a literary critic to connect lines like the following ones to contemporary society:
“Admit that the water around you has grown…”
“Don’t speak too soon, for the wheel’s still in spin…”
“Come senators, congressmen; please heed the call…”
“Don’t criticize what you can’t understand; your sons and your daughters are beyond your command. Your old road is rapidly aging…”
“Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend a hand!”
There is indeed a reason why Dylan’s lyrics have been lauded for decades, and this song is one of the many that have stood the test of time. I hope that you’ll listen to the words and consider their meaning, and then think about “the state of this great nation of ours” (to quote the great Ben Folds) — it’s interesting and not so much of a coincidence that Obama’s campaign calls not only for change, but for “Change we can believe in.” I haven’t been this hopeful for real change for a good long time!
In fact, I was just flipping through a book I bought before the 2004 elections, as I decided who to vote for. I did a lot of research, reading that book and deciding between Bush and Kerry. Looking back, I can’t believe I even hesitated on that particular choice.
This year, I saved the ten bucks I would have spent on a new campaign book, as I didn’t need to do any further research beyond the Presidential debates and subsequent news reports and fact checks, not to mention the SNL skits.
Well, I’m just rambling now, as I’m tired and currently in bed, listening to acoustic Dylan and dreaming of… well, dreaming! Sleep is good. Change is also good. As my super-cool sister reminded me today, how could Obama not win with a catch-phrase like “BA-ROCK the vote!”
Okay; that’s it for me for a few days, but please hurry back to read Jeff’s election night blog post and Jim’s post-election Original Wednesday (I’m anxious to see what appropriate song he’ll choose). Then, I’ll be back on Thursday.