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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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Sunday, January 10, 2010


It's finally snowed here now. It fell during the night of the 8th, and then all day yesterday. It's looking very beautiful and this morning the sky is blazing blue and there's real warmth in the sun. Luckily we're not stuck in an airport or in an all-mouth-no-trousers 4x4. Ain't no reason to go anywhere, except to take Mavis for a walk in the local woods.

No-one here talks about the weather. If, out walking, you say to someone "Ooh, it's cold today!" they smile a small nonchalant smile and say "Well, it's the winter." And that's it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hadn't seen much on the CITH sessions, but found these comments in the Chicago Sun Times. Pat Ford

Chicago-born guitarist Phil Upchurch has played on Christmas recordings by Donny Hathaway, Natalie Cole and Lou Rawls, including Rawls' final project before his death in 2006.
But Upchurch's halls were decked when Bob Dylan's camp asked him to play on his rootsy "Christmas in the Heart" album this year.
"It was one of the most amazing calls I ever took," said Upchurch, who has also played with Carmen McRae, Michael Jackson and Cannonball Adderley. "Never in a million years did I expect to hear from Bob Dylan's people. Never worked with him. Never met him.
A devout musicologist, Dylan knew of Upchurch's work as in-house session player at Chess Records, which included a stint as a member of the trippy soul-rock band Rotary Connection. Upchurch, 68, also cut his soul music chops at Vee-Jay, Mercury and Brunswick when the labels flourished in Chicago during the 1960s. Upchurch's first gig was with the Kool Gents, who featured Cicero Blake and Dee Clark and were named after Chicago radio personality Herb "Kool Gent" Kent.

"Bob was very loose and cordial during the sessions," Upchurch said from his home in Los Angeles. The Christmas record was made in September at Jackson Browne's Groove Masters studio near Dylan's home in Santa Monica, Calif.

"We went into rehearsal and there were 10 to 15 different versions of the songs we were doing," Upchurch said. "We'd sit in the control room and listen to all these versions and made up our mind which arrangement we wanted. We did this at the end of the day. We were allowed to put our two cents in." The album's credits list Dylan as arranger and his alter ego Jack Frost is producer.

Upchurch's favorite Dylan holiday track is "Here Comes Santa Claus."

"That was the best representation of my contribution," he said. "The solos. Bob is a very learned individual. We had some great conversations during breaks. My wife [Sonya Maddox] did her research on Bob, and when she asked him about his artwork, he looked at her inquisitively and said, 'How did you know about that?' and went on to talk a lot about other Renaissance artists."

Dave Hoekstra

7:15 pm  

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