garage sale, one dollar, u2’s boy (cardboard gatefold sleeve, too). i’ve said before that u2 never held quite the allure, for me, that it seems to hold for my friends. i’d never heard this album before. but spinning it in the car this week, i have to say it’s a good listen. bono’s new wave melodies kinda tickle my funnybone. adam’s bass is classic! am i the last one to have heard boy? anyone else have a fond place in their heart for this album?
a) luke and michael are tearing it up at spinning.
b) drove to detroit last night to see bob dylan and his band with my mother and my father-in-law. the three of us had dinner downtown detroit with my sister. it’s exciting to me, to feel the obvious anticipation that my family has for my moving back to the detroit area. they’re so happy, i can feel it, it makes it all feel like even more an adventure. there’s going to be so much re-patriating to do… i can’t quite remember what living in detroit feels like. but we’ll relearn.
c) bob dylan. first of all, one day i’ll be able to say to my kids, ‘oh yeah, your jaja and your grandma and i saw him way back in the day.’ so there was the star-struckness of it all, because, you know, that was bob dylan, right there in person! also, he was unintelligible. i don’t know what critics mean exactly when they say ‘his voice isn’t that worn.’ it’s worn. by the encore, he was literally croaking like a frog. and if you don’t know the words to his 16 billion songs, you might have a hard time identifying anything he sings.
surprising as it seems, given the above, it was a really good show. i mean, for one thing, his band is awesome. two guitarists (larry campbell and freddy koella) who are on top of their game, two drummers, they’re all so tight you can bounce a quarter on them. bob barely played a keyboard all night… you get the feeling he just wants to ‘play with the band.’ which, if your voice is a croaking piece of dung, you better have a really good band to fill in between your unintelligible-but-culturally-canonical verses. so the band was amazing, and there was some eye-popping guitar playing going on last night (but not by bob).
for another thing, bob dylan is really generous about playing his back catalogue live. his band must know every song he ever wrote, every single one. here’s a list of songs/albums/years played last night:
boots of spanish leather (the times they are a-changin’, 1964)
it ain’t me babe (another side of bob dylan, 1964)
highway 61 revisited,
like a rolling stone (highway 61 revisited, 1965)
stuck inside of mobile with the memphis blues again (blonde on blonde, 1966)
all along the watchtower (john wesley harding, 1967)
tell me that it isn’t true (nashville skyline, 1969)
watching the river flow (greatest hits 2, 1971)
senor (street legal, 1978)
silvio (down in the groove, 1988)
shooting star (oh mercy, 1989)
cat’s in the well (under the red sky, 1990)
make you feel my love,
cold irons bound (time out of mind, 1997)
cry a while,
honest with me,
summer days (love and theft, 2001)
and, for that matter, bob seger’s ‘get out of denver,’ probably because seger is a hometown boy who got inducted into the rock-and-roll hall of fame this past weekend. at first, i was just focusing on the fact that he didn’t play some songs i was hoping he’d play (‘drifter’s escape’ from john wesley harding, or ‘saving grace’ from saved, two songs he’d been playing recently, or anything from blood on the tracks, etc.). but then, i gotta admit, the guy’s got so many songs, and so many of them so good, that how could he not leave out some of your favorites? and he really visited some obscure corners of the back-catalogue (‘cat’s in the well’? ‘tell me that it isn’t true’?), which is every super-fan of every band’s dream in concert (‘please don’t just play your hit(s), please play that obscure track from side two of the overlooked album that i love but nobody else even listens to’). so, score one for dylan. plus, he was lyrical (‘shooting star,’ which i’ll talk about in a moment) and political (‘senor,’ subtitled ‘tales of yankee power,’ which i can’t help but think was a sly comment on the current state of foreign affairs: “senor, senor, do you know where we’re headin’? / lincoln county road or armageddon? / seems like I been down this way before… / well, the last thing i remember before i stripped and kneeled / was that trainload of fools bogged down in a magnetic field / a gypsy with a broken flag and a flashing ring / said, ‘son, this ain’t a dream no more, it’s the real thing’“). and he reinvented ‘it ain’t me babe,’ it sounded great, and ‘all along the watchtower’ was a barnstormer. i realized how ominous those lyrics are, and how much i want the song to continue. dylan leaves you hanging at the end: “outside in the distance / a wildcat did growl / two riders were approaching / and the wind begins to howl…“).
a little story, to end my dylan story. when i got the job at osu here in mansfield, i celebrated with a trip to used kids in columbus, and picked up oh mercy, which i hadn’t listened to before (good album. side note- larry campbell, dylan’s touring guitarist, played on joan osbourne’s relish, on which album she covers dylan’s ‘man in the long black coat,’ which is on oh mercy. because you care.). anyway, i was unexpectedly touched when bob played ‘shooting star’ last night. his band quieted down a bit, and his singing was clearer than at other times in the night, and it was a fitting bookend to my time in mansfield, as we’re moving next weekend.
“seen a shooting star tonight slip away
tomorrow will be another day“
1. an example of good web design.
2. from the link above, in a feature about the new ‘33 1/3rd‘ record booklets, yancey strickler pegs the modern rock-crit as “wordplay-description-reference-wordplay-soundbite.” now, how can i crib that for spinning?
3. yo la tengo‘s 1997 barnstormer, i can hear the heart beating as one, is now one of matador record’s midprice classics: only ten dollars. in fact, most of matador’s midprice classics would be great buys. anyone wanna loan me ten dollars?
i’m not going to link directly to jaguaro.org/feature/archives/000007.html because the writing is a little too vitriolic (i.e., read this with discretion if you’re easily offended). but the recommendation is intriguing: 100 albums you should remove from your collection immediately. from the site:
“the entries on this list fall roughly into three categories:
“- critically bullet-proof artifacts whose weighty presence on the shelf is complimented perfectly by their perpetual absence from the cd player.
“- albums by new artists that have only their newness and the marketing efforts of music conglomerates to recommend them. alternately, new albums by established artists that are slavishly hailed as the big comeback.
“- nostalgic favorites that maintain their place by tradition and neglect more than actual merit.“
i’ve actually already taken jaguaro’s advice in a surprising number of cases, including nirvana’s nevermind, lou reed’s transformer, every morrissey album, and u2’s zooropa (among others, 17 of them in all). i plan to add, as recommended, stereolab’s transient random noise-bursts with announcements: i never ever listen to it.
and he perfectly sums up my feelings about sarah mclachlan with recommendation no. 65:
“‘fumbling towards ecstasy / surfacing’ — you get to keep one. which one? flip a coin. it won’t make any difference.“
rhino records is reissuing an expanded-remastered marquee moon, on which television debut right and tight and rewrite the book on new york art punk in 1977. if you’ve never heard it, you can listen here. what was that game about ‘if i had a free 20 dollars’ again? this is a fantastic album; as chris dahlen writes at pitchforkmedia.com:
“the things that make the record so classic, that pump your blood like a breath of clean air, are the guitars. this whole record’s a mash note to them. the contrast between these two essential leads is stunning: richard lloyd chisels notes out hard while verlaine works with a subtle twang and a trace of space-gazing delirium. they play lines that are stately and chiming, rutting and torrential, the riff, the solo, the rare power chord, and most of all, the power note: the second pang on the riff to ‘venus de milo’ lands like a barbell; the opening bars of ‘see no evil’ show one axe rutting the firmament while the other spirals razorwire around it.”
it took me years to understand this album, but isn’t that the way with great albums? the ones that get you going right away never seem to have staying power. it’s the whiny ones, the ones that demand you spend time with them, pay attention to them, the ones that poke you and shout ‘me, me, listen to me’ that turn out to be the keepers.