What Good Am I?: 70 Reasons Why Bob Dylan is Awesome

Originally posted 2011-05-24 20:00:03. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

(or, Writing 70 Reasons is a Long Time)

By Chris Moore & Nicole Fekete:

Unlike just about every other Dylan article in existence (some of mine included), we’re going to resist the urge to rattle off some witty Dylan-themed puns and cut directly to the point.

Bob Dylan is 70 today!

It’s a bit odd for me to accept that my all-time rock music icon is a septuagenarian, but, even at seventy, Dylan is still making headlines, unpeeling yet more layers of the so-called Never-Ending Tour with a top notch band, and releasing new material at a surprising rate.

Tonight, in no particular order, we celebrate Bob Dylan — holder of the record for most songs by a single artist covered at the Laptop Sessions (63) — for being awesome, for…

1) Coining the phrase, “Keep a good head and carry a light bulb,” after carrying an over-sized light bulb to a press conference.

2) “Going electric” and doing so at maximum volume.

3) Sneaking marijuana innuendo into the major radio hit, “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35.”

4) Getting arrested for looking like a hobo.

5) Spawning co-founding Wallflower and outstanding lyricist Jakob Dylan.

6) Inspiring, in his words, a gazillion books.

7) Remembering words when high, yet forgetting when sober.

8 ) Assembling what is perhaps the first creative, true music video in “Subterranean Homesick Blues” in the opening credits of Don’t Look Back.

9) And for including Allen Ginsberg in it!

10) Having the bitchin’-est background singers around.

11) And for becoming romantically involved with each of them.

12) Coming out with a self-proclaimed terrible album to shirk attention and shed devotees (Self Portrait).

13) Being (one of?) the most covered artists of all time.

14) Having a song called “The Cough Song” (“Suze”).

15) Punning off stoned while being stoned.

16) Dropping my favorite f-bomb of all time (“Play effin loud!” live in 1966).

17) Recording the only country album by someone other than Johnny Cash that I enjoy (Nashville Skyline).

18) Being friends and dueting with Johnny Cash.

19) Being friends and dueting with George Harrison.

20) Making the first Traveling Wilburys session possible.

21) Taking the lead role on Traveling Wilburys, Vol. 3.

22) Writing popular rock songs that feature lumberjacks, sword swallowers, and one-eyed midgets.

23) Inspiring a song about his beard (Wilco’s “Bob Dylan’s Beard”).

24) Busting out a song like “Billy 1” from the Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid for the first time live in concert… nearly four decades after it was released.

25) Inspiring that National Lampoon parody song about the “spangled dwarf in his bowtie.”  (And the infantry don’t ask why!)

26) Walking off the Ed Sullivan Show when he was prohibited from playing “Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues.”

27) Writing Chronicles, Volume 1.

28) Giving us hope that there’ll be a volume two!

29) Rearranging any song from his catalog as though it were the year 1942.

30) Giving the Byrds the boost they needed to truly hit it big.

31) Conceptualizing the Rolling Thunder Revue.

32) Composing some of the most notable protest songs in American history.

33) Avoiding titles like “voice of a generation.”

34) Playing “Oh Sister” at the Hard Rain (1976) concert in response to a request that he play a protest song.

35) Continuing to write subversive protest songs throughout every period of his career (“Gonna Change My Way of Thinking,” “Neighborhood Bully,” etc.).

36) Recording what is perhaps one of his best albums at the age of 59.

37) Being in the midst of a Never-Ending Tour.

38) Playing with the Band, which is best when working with Dylan.

39) Still knowing how to rock out. (see: the version of “High Water” on Tell Tale Signs)

40) “Oh, Mama, can this really be the end? / To be stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues again…”

41) For recording “Spirit of America” with Brian Wilson!

42) Surprising everyone with Christmas in the Heart, the creepy, raspy-voiced curmudgeon’s guide to yuletide tunes.

43) Inspiring a fairly uninspired collection of covers titled Tangled Up in Blues.

44) Inspiring that most ridiculous of cover collections titled Tangled Up in Bluegrass.

45) Sporting a mullet during the only decade that it was even remotely forgivable to do so.

46) Not being ashamed to wear that sequined jacket in the seventies.

47) Developing an aura that led to wild rumors regarding subjects like his legs (amputated in the motorcycle accident?) or the motorcycle accident itself (did it ever even happen?).

48) Recording and writing with the Band (heard of the Basement Tapes, anyone?).

49) Rarely swearing, then dropping just about every swear and slur of his catalog in “Hurricane.”

50) For inspiring controversy over his first performance in China (see: Maureen Dowd’s editorial, Ron Rosenbaum’s reaction on Slate.com, etc.).

51) For becoming deathly ill… right after releasing an album that was all about death… and shortly after saying that the album wasn’t necessarily about death.

52) Writing “All Along the Watchtower” and admitting to the superiority of Jimi Hendrix’s version.

53) Writing “New Pony,” and enabling Jack White and the Dead Weather to create the rare arrangement that, by far, surpasses Dylan’s own.

54) Having one of the wildest rock star heads of hair ever.

55) Introducing the Beatles to drugs.  Imagine how the sixties would have been different without that…

56) Transforming and altering the public perception and memory of the Newport Folk Festival.

57) Having more talent in his left jowl than the sum total of most popular contemporary artists.

58) “Mississippi.”

59) Hardly acknowledging the stage invader during the SOY BOMB incident (1998).

60) Writing “Masters of War” (1963), a song that would eventually (2004) cause the Boulder, CO high school band Coalition for the Willing to be investigated by the Secret Service for allegedly threatening President Bush when alarmists overreacted to the final lines of the song.

61) Releasing an album on September 11, 2001 with an eerily timely amount of twin imagery.

62) Imagining and filming the incredibly lengthy and as-yet unavailable on DVD Renaldo and Clara, yet another artifact from the Rolling Thunder Revue era (the Bootleg Series live album being the premier artifact).

63) Inspiring terms like Dylanologist, Bobolator, and more.

64) Adding sound and voice to a Victoria’s Secret commercial and releasing a limited edition compilation CD via store locations.

65) Writing and recording what is arguably the best “break-up album” of all time.  Twice. (see: Blood on the Tracks)

66) Playing lead and soloing during the 1995 MTV Unplugged concert.

67) Inspiring tales such as those told by Highway 61 Revisited-era electric guitarist Mike Bloomfield, the best of which are inappropriate for a family-friendly blog.

68) Accumulating such an impressive vault of alternate versions (most recently, beautiful versions of “Mississippi,” “Most of the Time,” and others have emerged), live tracks, and more.

69) Having the guts to leave his hometown, travel east, change his name, and reinvent himself as an authentic performer and, eventually, songwriter.

70) Living a life that is more the stuff of legends and rock star biographies than any of us will ever experience or even be able to imagine.

This is, admittedly, a limited list.  It was developed and written on a whim in one draft, so we encourage you to add reasons via the comment box below.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this, and until next May 24th, a happy Bobby’s B-day to one and all!

P.S. I almost forgot! 

71)  Inspiring an outstanding website such as Expecting Rain, which enabled my two installments of “Together Through Life: A Look Back at Ten (Officially Released) Bob Dylan Rarities” to earn the record for first and second most views in a single day of any post at LaptopSessions.com!

“How Good It Can Get” (Wallflowers Cover)

Originally posted 2008-04-12 15:44:16. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

Welcome to your Saturday edition of The Laptop Sessions with me, Jim Fusco!

Today, I join the Wallflowers group with Chris and Jeff (who’ve done quite a few already) and do one of my favorite tunes, “How Good It Can Get”.

This song has one of the best hooks I’ve ever heard, plus it was my “anthem” song during my trip to Italy last year. I remember one night, after an amazing Tuscan dinner, walking through the streets back to the hotel. I was singing this song at the top of my lungs. Clearly less-than-level-headed, I kept also yelling out that I was still on key!

Well, this was recorded long after that night and I was STILL on key! I hope you enjoy today’s Session and make sure to keep checking the blog at LaptopSessions.com for exclusive videos from our first ever LIVE concert tonight!



Bob Dylan – CONCERT REVIEW!- 8/15/2008 at the MGM Grand in Mashantucket, CT

Originally posted 2008-08-16 10:44:49. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

Click HERE to view the SET LIST!

Okay, so I had what was potentially (literally) the worst seat in the house, a position so high as to be unreachable by today’s best air conditioning systems. And I may have walked in late, after having sat in stop-and-stop traffic for half an hour, just as the familiar voice-over finished — “Ladies and gentlemen… Columbia recording artist… Bob Dylan.”  It doesn’t sound like the ideal way to begin a live concert experience…

But this was the MGM Grand in Mashantucket, CT.  Even a bad seat — the worst seat, in my case — is a good seat with a great view of the stage and excellent acoustics.  I could hear every word Dylan said… when it was possible, of course!

Seriously, though, aside from the first song (when I couldn’t figure out what he and his band were playing until the very last line when he annunciated and almost shouted “your Leopard-skin Pill-box Haaaat!”), the set list of songs was amazing and the performances were exciting and entertaining.

After starting with a track from 1966’s Blonde on Blonde, Dylan went on to reach as far back as his acoustic folk records and as recently as his 2006 album Modern Times.  And he presented a healthy variety of songs from every phase in between.  Some highlights were — “Things Have Changed” from the Wonder Boys soundtrack, a rocking version of the Time Out of Mind track “Can’t Wait,” and a passionate version of “Just Like a Woman.”  The latter was perhaps the most impressive, if only for the fact that he still gives this mild hit (still played on oldies stations) his complete attention, even after performing it live for over four decades.

There were some absolute gems in song choice.  The one that nearly knocked me off my seat (which would have been dangerous, considering how high up I was!) was “I Believe in You.”  This is my favorite — and obscure — track off of his 1979 “Christian album” Slow Train Coming.  The album, of course, netted Dylan his first Grammy award, and this performance is most likely a tribute to his producer for the album, Jerry Wexler, who recently passed away.

And then there was “Nettie Moore,” a deep track from his most recent album — this is where I felt my friend Jim’s absence most profoundly, as it was one of his favorite tracks when he first heard Modern Times.  Now I may be biased (sharing the same last name and all), but this is a great track that was more upbeat than the studio recording.  It drew quite the applause from the first few chords, and this is not to be understated; so unique are his concert arrangements that it often takes the audience until well into the second verse if not the chorus to figure out which song is being performed.  Indeed, it was hard to shake the feeling that there is some connection between his line in “Nettie Moore” — “I’m beginning to believe what the scriptures tell” — and the themes of “I Believe in You.”

But, I’ll leave that for others to theorize on.

Overall, what makes Dylan’s show such an exciting one is not his faithful reproduction of classic hits and fan favorites.  Rather, this Dylan set list combined with the musicianship of his formidable band make for great entertainment.  They may not be a showy band, but he and his current band impress subtly at every turn — Dylan’s organ sound was clear and classic, the violin solo in “Things Have Changed” was cooler than I should admit to thinking, the riff I heard for the first time in “Can’t Wait” was infectious, the guitar solo in “High Water” was great and the one in “Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum” was scorching, and the drumming continues to be one of my favorite aspects of this band — George Recile redefines the terms “driving beat” (on “Honest with Me”) and “machine gun drumming” (on “All Along the Watchtower”).

Thankfully, I wasn’t alone in my excitement.  There wasn’t a still body in the place as Bob Dylan and his band returned to the stage for an encore — after several long minutes that almost made me question whether he was returning — and thundered into “Like a Rolling Stone.”

Compared even to last year’s show, I have to say that I was perhaps more excited last year, probably due to Dylan starting off the show on electric guitar as the lights came up — oh, the applause that brought on! — and his set list last year including some of my favorite tracks.  Still, after the encore, I couldn’t feel my arms from clapping so hard for so long (and, of course, from not visiting a gym anytime in my adult life) and my throat was sore for having cheered so loudly throughout the night, wishing desperately that the show wouldn’t end, making me wait another entire year before he comes around again.

If these aren’t signs of a great show, then I don’t know what are!

“This Wheel’s on Fire” (Bob Dylan/Byrds Cover)

Originally posted 2008-10-07 11:28:14. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

I’ve been so excited recently to see what new bands Jim is going to introduce to the blog — I mean, you really have no idea from one day to the next which band he’ll tap in to.  At this point, he’s done so many different bands that it would actually be just as much a surprise to see him break out a classic standby, such as the Beach Boys.  And, to prove how excited I am about these new bands…

…I’m going to contribute a Bob Dylan song!

Big surprise, I realize.  (For those of you who don’t watch regularly, I’m a big Dylan fan and have recorded more Dylan covers than any other band!)  But I have my reasons, I promise.  First and foremost, today is the official release date of The Bootleg Series, Vol. 8: Rare and Unreleased: 1989-2006.  I’ve only had time to listen to the first two thirds of the first disc, but already I’m really enjoying it.  I’ve been concentrating so much on the new Ben Folds album, Way to Normal, that I was loath to take it out of my CD player.  But I’ve already fallen in love with Dylan’s work, even after hearing the first four tracks.  The version of “Mississippi,” one of my favorite songs of all time, is entirely different.  Then, the version of “Most of the Time” sounds less like the 1989 track I know and love and more like a track out of 1963; it’s entirely different, and yet in typical Dylan fashion, it’s entirely amazing.  Following an interesting little piano demo of “Dignity,” Dylan’s first take of “Born in Time” is — as the liner notes suggest — really the definitive version.

To be honest, I think the set might be worth the purchase if only for the “Born in Time” take and the new single “Dreamin’ of You,” an unreleased song from the Time Out of Mind sessions.  When I got home from a meeting late tonight, my first inclination was to record a song that was (a) comfortable for me to play, so I could get to bed on time, and (b) a Dylan song.

This fits both criteria!

That’s all for me for now, but you can fill your Laptop Sessions cavity with Jeff Copperthite’s offering tomorrow, Jim Fusco’s video on Thursday, and then I’ll be back.

See you next session!