Together Through Life: A Look Back at Ten (Officially Released) Bob Dylan Rarities – PART ONE

Originally posted 2009-03-21 11:57:53. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

Ironically, three months after the latest Bruce Springsteen release, we have the “New Dylan” to look forward to…

No, this isn’t a nickname for some new artist on the scene that sounds like Dylan; this is literally a new release from the man himself.  Not a bootleg, not a concert, not a single track soundtrack offering–

–a brand-new Bob Dylan studio album!

Set for an official release date of April 28th, 2009, Together Through Life is comprised of ten tracks that interviewer Bill Flanagan has compared to the sound of early 1950s Chess records.  When asked if he likes that sound, Dylan replied, “Oh yeah, very much so. . . the old Chess records, the Sun records. . . I think that’s my favorite sound for a record.”

Needless to say, the album is reportedly nothing like his 2006 number one album Modern Times.  That makes this new record all the more exciting, sparking many questions regarding what the album will sound like, what the lyrics will be, and how the songs will hold up to others in his impressive catalog.

Some may be content to wait (I mean, after all, the first rumors of the album only broke a few weeks ago, less than two months before the release).  On the other hand, I needed to hear Dylan and lots of him.  Which album did I choose?  Which songs?

All of them.

For the past two weeks, I have been playing my 622 Dylan tracks as a randomly ordered playlist on my iPod.  Currently, I’m listening to “Highlands” — I’m halfway through the song with only eight minutes to go! — which is the 447th song out of 622.  The rules of this game?  You are not allowed to skip a track for any reason, even if the track is from Down in the Groove or it’s the thirteenth version of “Mr. Tambourine Man” that you’ve heard.

It’s been great fun, and so I’d like to share my favorite ten songs that I had either forgotten about or haven’t heard in a long time.  In no particular order, here goes…

Ten (Officially Released) Bob Dylan Rarities

1)  “Last Thoughts On Woody Guthrie” – Both the first and the last time that Dylan would recite one of his poems on stage, this 1963 recitation is among my favorite tracks of all time.  If I close my eyes as I listen, I can picture a young Dylan on a sparse stage, pouring out words upon words at a rapid pace, and all the while, perhaps unbeknownst even to himself, he was about to descend into the crazy blur of groundbreaking songwriting, electricity, and the motorcycle accident that was 1964-1966.  What a poem.  When this came up on my iPod last week, I was about to get out of my car to pump gas.  Instead, I stayed in the car, head bowed and eyes closed to simply listen.  (Passersby must have wondered…)

2) “It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry” (Live, Concert for Bangladesh) -While it can’t hold a candle to the driving beat and electric energy of the Highway 61 Revisited studio version, there is something refreshing here.  Perhaps it has to do with the performance being one of Dylan’s first post-sixties live performances and seeing him dust off a track that was, at the time, six years old and five albums in the past.  As later songs — like “Dark Eyes” from 1985’s Empire Burlesque or his performance of “Girl From the North Country” at the 30th Anniversary Concert — have continued to prove, there is still something special about giving Dylan center stage with only an acoustic guitar and harmonica.  (In this case, it doesn’t hurt to have the likes of George Harrison and Ringo Starr for accompaniment!)

3)  “Up To Me” – Easily the best track from the Biograph boxset, “Up To Me” is a refugee from the September 1974 Blood on the Tracks sessions.  Early in college, the lyrics to this song were taped to the inside of my door above a mirror, and for a long time, I would read them as I combed my hair in the morning.  It has a very similar sound to “Shelter from the Storm,” so I can understand how it ultimately wasn’t a good fit for the album.  Tracks like this make boxsets like Biograph worthwhile.

4)  “Tomorrow Night” – I’ve really never been a fan of the early 90s return to acoustic, traditional songs.  Still, when this song from 1992’s Good As I Been To You — easily my least favorite of the two acoustic releases — came up, I had to stop and take notice.  There is a quality about the sound and flow of the song that is distinct and struck me as unusual for Dylan.  It made me consider giving the album another try…

5)  “If You Gotta Go, Go Now (Or Else You Got To Stay All Night)” – This is Dylan at his peak as a solo performer.  He makes the crowd burst into laughter at just the right times, laying into lines brimming with subtext and a sort of straightforwardness that is refreshing in a set filled with the poetic landscapes of “Gates of Eden” and “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding),” as well as the political undertones of “Who Killed Davey Moore” and “With God On Our Side.”

To Be Continued…

Jim Fusco’s “Halfway There”, due out April 7th from Fusco-Moore Productions

An amazing album cover painting by Ben Quesnel

An amazing album cover painting by Ben Quesnel!

After a four-year stint trying new projects, such as the successful band, MoU, Jim Fusco decided to record an album using all the recording techniques he learned over the years.

Using the latest in recording technology coupled with top-notch musical equipment (including new all-tube amplifiers and organic effects), Jim recorded his most professional and mature album to date in “Halfway There”.

From top to bottom, this album features songs that came to Jim as inspirations- some from analyzing his early-life decisions and some even from his incredible trip to Italy.  The range of instruments (which includes a mandolin) on this album surpasses all previous efforts, as does Jim’s attention to detail in both the musicianship and vocal work.

The album is completely mastered to top studio standards, so the mix sounds clear and loud over any stereo system.  The vocals stand out in the mix (which is definitely a benefit, considering that some songs contain double-tracked five-part harmonies!), as does the bass guitar, which has always been tough to hear in previous Jim Fusco albums.  Somehow, though, the album still retains a warm sound- there’s virtually no way to tell if this album was recorded at a multimillion dollar recording studio or in Jim’s home studio.  We’ll never tell…

So, what is “Halfway There” all about?  Well, in a nutshell, “Halfway There” is really a feeling.  You know- that feeling you get when you sit back and think about where you ended up in life.  You may be perfectly happy, but no matter what, for most people, you never really end up realizing your full potential.  This is a constant for 99% of people, so it wasn’t necessary to point this fact out- moreover, Jim decided he wanted to explore what he felt were the reasons why he ended up feeling “halfway there” in life.  Is it because he settled-down early in life?   Is it because of bad luck?  Is it laziness?  Jim talks about it all and brings it all back around, realizing that maybe feeling “halfway there” was what he really wanted after all.

“Halfway There” may just be the best piece of music you purchase this year- give an up-and-coming artist’s music a chance and we guarantee you’ll be glad you did, or your money back.

Purchase the album at the FMP Store by clicking HERE!