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the pioneer of Dylan Studies; writer, public speaker, critic; became a Doctor of Letters in 2015 (awarded by the University of York, UK)

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Saturday, March 21, 2009


Thanks to Andrew Muir for keeping me up to speed on this. Here is the full track-list for the 3 disc version - there being multiple different releases of course, and (naturally, these days) an iTunes-only track….

Disc 1:
1. Beyond Here Lies Nothin'
2. Life Is Hard
3. My Wife's Home Town
4. If You Ever Go To Houston
5. Forgetful Heart
6. Jolene
7. This Dream Of You
8. Shake Shake Mama
9. I Feel A Change Comin' On
10. It's All Good

Disc 2 (all from Theme Time Radio Hour with your host Bob Dylan: 'Friends & Neighbors'):
1. Howdy Neighbor (J. Morris) - Porter Wagoner & The Wagonmasters
2. Don't Take Everybody To Be Your Friend (M.Gabler/R. Tharpe) - Sister Rosetta Tharpe
3. Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend (L. Robin/J. Styne) - T Bone Burnett
4. La Valse De Amitie (O. Guidry) - Doc Guidry
5. Make Friends (E. Mcgraw) - Moon Mulligan
6. My Next Door Neighbor (J. McCain) - Jerry McCain
7. Let's Invite Them Over (O. Wheeler) - George Jones & Melba Montgomery
8. My Friends (C. Burnett/S. Ling) - Howlin' Wolf
9. Last Night (W. Jones) - Little Walter
10. You've Got a Friend (C. King) - Carole King
11. Bad Neighborhood (Caronna/M. Rebennack) - Ronnie & The Delinquents
12. Neighbours (M. Jagger/K. Richards) - The Rolling Stones
13. Too Many Parties and Too Many Pals (B. Rose/M. Dixon/R. Henderson) - Hank Williams as Luke the Drifter
14. Why Can't We Be Friends (S. Allen/H. Brown/M. Dickerson/J. Goldstein/L. Jordan /C. Miller/H. Scott/L. Oskar) - War

Disc 3:
1. Roy Silver (DVD content)
2. The Lost Interview (DVD content).

Naturally Disc 1 is the crucial bit, though Disc 3 is as intriguing as it's no doubt intended to be. As for Disc 2, well for me the highlight is when he's referring to the Carole King track, and he mentions her teenage-years friend Neil Sedaka, slips in something about how Neil had wished for more than friendship and then as her record starts, Bob just says "Oh Carol"... [or, if you will, "Oh Carole"...]


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't see many people bothering with the 2- or 3-disk sets of this one - especially if the pricing is anything like Tell Tale Signs.

10:06 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Part 2 of the Flanagan interview is up
unless this Dylan guy is palming a blackberry he's one smart cat. tosses off historical, and literary references like a search engine.

2:47 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Michael. Not strictly relevant to the topic, but.... Before we get to the new album (and please, for Bob's sake, let it be as dissimilar to 'Modern Times' as possible), can you backtrack a while to the Tell Tale Signs set for us?

Where is your compilation of the 'best' of TTS? And/or a review. I'd be particularly interested to hear your thoughts, now that the material has had more time to sink in.

Congrats on the US publication of your Blind Willie book by the way (what took them so long?), I may be in touch re. that soon. All the best, JC

2:46 pm  
Blogger Michael Gray said...

Dear John C
Ah yes, my Tell Tale Signs Best Of compilation. I'd forgotten about that. OK... I'll offer it up for agreement & disagreement later this week. Thank you for the reminder.

5:11 pm  
Anonymous Lee Morgan said...

Well, Beyond Here Lies Nothin' has been out for a day and already the overblown praise has started to flood in. I have listened to it many times over, going away and coming back to it, searching for a hook, or at least some depth of feeling. I don't believe there is any.

Musically it is sturdy, but lyrically it is a virtual throwaway. Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, even Thunder on The Mountain, were infinitely more intriguing. This seems a return to the dark milieu and contrived mood of Love Sick (although the rhythm lifts it just slightly). Even minor soundtrack contributions like Tell Ol' Bill and Huck's Tune have more to sink your teeth into.

I know it is just one song, and the hope is that the others on Together Through Life will offer more. But as the lead single and opener, this should have been the one to entice and attract. Its title promised much, but instead delivered an accordion-flavoured Someday Baby.

Still, that song and other mediocre efforts on Modern Times received such a wealth of praise, perhaps we can’t blame him for returning to the well.

Oh go on then, we can.

2:20 pm  
Anonymous Lee Morgan said...

Well Michael, you will have to forgive me, as I seem to be the bearer of bad tidings with regards Dylan’s new material. As you may or may not be aware, the second song from Together Through Life has been released online: I Feel A Change Comin’ On.

Over on the message boards, Dylan enthusiasts are already referring to it with such superlatives as ‘great’ and ‘classic’. As with Beyond Here Lies Nothin’, I have listened to the song repeatedly, concerned by my cynicism, and wondering if maybe I have missed something. I am certain I have not.

It certainly sounds more cheerful than anything on Modern Times. But like the opener, it lacks lyrical bite and any authentic musical hook. There is nothing about it that can be called bad exactly; it is inoffensive enough – middle of the road – with a tune that recalls a slower, more plodding version of Handy Dandy. You can imagine Dylan croaking his way nondescriptly through it in concert, as people whoop and holler to the Billy Joe Shaver and James Joyce references.

But that line, already much hyped, is delivered without conviction. The follow up line is even more unconvincing: “Some people they tell me I’ve got the blood of the land in my voice.” He does not sound like he believes it, and while I am sure it will be mentioned again and again in reviews, it is nowhere near as effective as less exaggerated boasts on “Love and Theft” (“I don’t carry dead weight, I’m no flash in the pan,” for example).

The lyrics of the song are, for the most part, totally banal. There is only so long he can deliver lines such as, “I just can’t wait for us to become friends,” and have them defended as being knowing or ironic. Lines like these are exactly what they sound like: Dylan being lazy.

The sooner his new songs are held to account rather than held aloft, the sooner he might decide to up his game.

8:43 pm  

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