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…

“Keep On Going” (Original Wednesday Acoustic Song)

Originally posted 2009-04-29 20:32:23. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

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.

See you next session!

“Beyond Here Lies Nothin'” by Bob Dylan – Chords, Tabs, and How to Play (Lyrics from “Together Through Life”)

Originally posted 2009-03-30 06:33:41. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

For the cover song music video, CLICK HERE!

” Beyond Here Lies Nothin’ ”
Bob Dylan

Am – Am – Dm – Am – E – Am

Am
Oh, well, I love you pretty baby;
You’re the only love I’ve ever known.
Am                                  Dm
Just as long as you stay with me,
Dm                               Am
The whole world is my throne.

Am                      E
Beyond here lies nothin’…
E                                      Am
Nothin’ we can call our own.

Well I’m moving after midnight
Down boulevards of broken cars.
Don’t know what I’d do without her,
Without this love that we call ours.

Beyond here lies nothin’…
Nothing but the moon and stars.

(SOLO)

Down every street there’s a window,
And every window’s made of glass.
We’ll keep on lovin’ pretty baby,
For as long as love will last.

Beyond here lies nothin’…
But the mountains of the past.

(SOLO) x2

Well my ship is in harbor,
And the sails are spread.
Listen to me, pretty baby:
Lay your hand upon my head.

Beyond here lies nothin’…
Nothin’ done and nothin’ said.

Am

** These chords and lyrics are interpretations and transcriptions, respectively, and are the sole property of the copyright holder(s). They are posted on this website free of charge for no profit for the purpose of study and commentary, as allowed for under the “fair use” provision of U.S. copyright law, and should only be used for such personal and/or academic work. **

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

Originally posted 2009-04-11 22:07:07. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

With just over three weeks to go before the release of Bob Dylan’s thirty-third studio album, Together Through Life, anticipation is high.  A couple weeks ago, a free download of the lead track “Beyond Here Lies Nothin'” was released as a temporary free download at bobdylan.com.  In typical Dylan fashion, his music remains enigmatic, even in the age of digital music and online samples.

Even iTunes does not provide the standard 30-second preview tracks for any of the songs on Together Through Life — aside from the aforementioned first song, of course.

What we do have — and what is somewhat surprising — is Dylan’s own words about the upcoming release.  In Bill Flanagan’s ten page interview, Dylan reflected on some of the new songs and upon the overall ideas and themes of the upcoming album.  When asking about the lack of guitar solos, Flanagan referred to the integral aspect of solos in Aerosmith recordings.  I had to laugh at Dylan’s response.  He said, “What can I say?  If I had Joe Perry with me, everything would obviously be different. As it is though, he wasn’t there. Soloing is not a big part of my records anyway. Nobody buys them to hear solos. What I try to do is to make sure that the instrumental sections are dynamic and are extensions of the overall feeling of the song.”

While this was an interesting response, I most enjoyed reading about his take on dreams.  He said, “Dreams can lead us up a blind alley. Everybody has dreams. We go to sleep and we dream. I’ve always thought of them as coming out of the subconscious. I guess you can interpret them. Dreams can tell us a lot about ourselves, if we can remember them. We can see what’s coming around the corner sometimes without actually going to the corner.”

In a lot of ways, that’s what Dylan’s songs have always done for me and what they seem to have done for many of his fans — lead us to corners that we couldn’t even dream of and take us around them, if only for the duration of the performance.

So, what is a person to do while waiting for this new release?  In my case, I decided to listen to all 678 Bob Dylan tracks on my iPod.  This included all seven tracks of Dylan and the Dead, so you know I’m serious!  The only rules to this little game are that I couldn’t skip any tracks, even if I ended up listening to fifteen versions of “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)” in one day.

Three weeks ago, I brought you the first five in my list of ten Bob Dylan rarities that I had either forgotten about or hadn’t listened to in a long time.  Today, I bring you the final five in my list.  I hope you enjoy this trip down Obscurity Lane, and I hope this helps you cope with the wait until April 28th…

Ten (Officially Released) Bob Dylan Rarities:

6) “Gonna Change My Way of Thinking” (with Mavis Staples) – Okay, I know what you may be thinking.  Yes, this is the version from the compilation album Gotta Serve Somebody: The Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan.  While I’m not a gospel enthusiast, I had to hear this new recording by the man himself.  I don’t know what I expected, but it certainly wasn’t what I got.  This version of “Gonna Change My Way of Thinking” is no more gospel than it is hip hop.  It is 100%, pure rock’n roll with a driving beat, ragged vocals from Dylan, and a heavy-handed drum beat from George Receli. The most soulful part of the song is the guitar solo.  Not only is it an amazing track, but it has an unprecedented breakd0wn 30 seconds in, complete with Dylan inviting Mavis Staples onto the recording, admitting to her that he’s been reading “Snooze-Week” with the blues, and Mavis telling him that he’s got to sing!  Then, they proceed to duet for the remainder of the track.  (Some may disagree with me on this choice, but it has a soft spot in my heart — what a great rarity!)

7) “Goin’ to Acapulco” – I hadn’t listened to The Basement Tapes in full for a few years.  I had sort of forgotten about this simple, but wonderful track.  “Goin’ to Acapulco” is one of the first songs I learned to play on guitar.  I always loved how it (along with many other songs from the sessions) appeared non-sensical at first and yet offered so much after a close listening.  I mean, come on.  There is certainly a double meaning to lines like “She gives it to me for a song” and “Rose Marie, she likes to go to big places and just set there waitin’ for me to come…”  Classic Dylan.

8 ) “Country Pie” (Live) Bob Dylan Live 1961-2000: Thirty-nine years of great concert performances, the compilation from which this track hails, was my initiation into the world of Bob Dylan bootlegs.  Or, so I thought at the time.  It turns out it’s just an import and therefore a semi-official release…  Regardless, this is a great track for anyone who enjoys seeing Dylan play live these days.  Recorded in 2000 in Portsmouth, England, this track is a nice example of why I’ve been anxiously waiting for a live Dylan release based in the new millennium.  And, of all tracks to dust off, “Country Pie” is an interesting choice.  As per usual, Dylan reinvents and reinvigorates this Nashville Skyline classic and made me love it all over again.

9) “I Was Young When I Left Home” – A traditional song that Dylan recorded on the “Minnesota Hotel Tape” in December 1961, I first heard this track when it was released in the limited edition packaging of Love & Theft.  Aside from presenting such a stark contrast — both vocally and instrumentally — to the material on his 2001 album, this song immediately stood out to me.  It has a warm quality, probably due to the fact that the recording quality is limited.  There is something fitting about releasing this early track so late in his career.  The main focus of the song is leaving home and heading out to the world at large, only to find that things are not going well at home.  Still, the singer is broke and feels he “can’t go home this a-way.”  There are some great lines, such as the double meaning in “I’m playin’ on a track…” (he means a railroad track, but it also carries the musical reference of recording a song).  Fortunately, this song was released on the No Direction Home soundtrack, so much more of Dylan’s fanbase has been able to hear this little gem.

10) “Maggie’s Farm” (Live at the Newport Folk Festival, July 1965) – Last but certainly not least — and also from the No Direction Home “Bootleg Series” release — this version of “Maggie’s Farm” finally, officially presented we latter-day Dylan fans with a primary document of sorts.  From all the stories that have been told about that year’s Newport Folk Festival (the Pete Seeger ax story being my personal favorite legend), I think I honestly expected more.  This performance is fairly straightforward, complete with a Tennessee Three-esque static bass line.  And yet, I can understand from hearing this track what a shock it must have been to have the typically solo Dylan appear with a full band and with amplifiers cranked to the maximum to boot.  This is truly a historic track that I was thrilled to finally hear — and in those terms, it’s really second only to the “Judas!” 1966 Royal Albert Hall performance of “Like A Rolling Stone.”

** Even as I type the final words of this post, I realize just how many other amazing tracks that I have omitted from this list.  I hope you’ve enjoyed my choices, and please feel free to share any other tracks you think should have made the cut! **