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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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Friday, January 13, 2012


Great to see him so upfront, without the hat, without the keyboards and without any faltering over the words.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Surely there is a "but" coming Michael??

3:28 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

a blistering performance, such grain in the voice, the words rasped but in a good way! A bob way!

kingsley bray

3:53 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quite a hoot. But it's not the only one. Bootleg contraband in your hand - corruptible seed. Call it a proxy: the first-fruits of incorruptible seed. Your long-term preoccupation with this song is such that you overlooked its highly significant conceptual relationship to the very album whose omission of it you so lamented as if singing your own elegy. You lambasted its exclusion but never told us HOW it would have fitted: the central word to "Infidels" occurs only in this song. Yet it does appear on the album but in a different form - in fact "on" in two different ways. What could be more Dylan?

4:30 pm  
Anonymous Jack Evans said...

The band was very tight and seasoned from the road.
I Love the Lounge band twist on the song. Bob plays some fine harp and looks good for a guy that was once written off as a has been... You know it's Good when even the legendary scribe enjoys it...

8:20 pm  
Blogger Jack said...

I am curious about why he leaves out the verse about slavery. In the original it is the atmospheric centre of the song which flows cathartically into the next...'there's a woman by the river...'.
I associate it with his ommision of the verse about WWII in 'God on Our Side'. There was an obvious problem with the words ('in the ovens they fried'), but he could have sorted that out.

9:41 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's a dark irony in the, at least initial, geographical restrictions on seeing this legendary piece of contraband partly about contraband. And as far as I can tell, the only way to see it any further east than approximately New Orleans in the direction of Jerusalem is by, shall we say, a bootleg method - until it gets stamped on by a copyright claim, as keeps happening. But of course, if you're very smart you can smuggle it into your web blog but without advertising it; the last thing you would want in this case is a (Scott-free) link to expectingrain. Very clever. And there's a further Dylanesque interactivity here: when I first read about the song in TELEGRAPH, I became quite irritated because on my copy of Infidels there was no such song. But then quite a few years later I read something about "only half bothering to document information". So best not to make a song and dance out of this song. As for the omission of the slavery verse, a phrase of Greil Marcus comes to mind from a chapter on the song in some book of his in the local store in, I think, '98. He was commenting on the moral landscape Dylan depicts: "Nobody could forgive it, not even Jesus".

4:35 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why does a 70 year old hide all that hair under a hat?
I've gotten over the rasp ages ago.
When he's connected a performance is as great as ever.

patrick ford

6:27 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Liz in even more of a tiz next to Scorcese there at the end? Emotionally hers.

Another thing: the GENUINE recognition of this song, ie among hardcore Bobcats like yourselves (notwithstanding "greased enthusiasm", Michael), is in inverse proportion to the lukewarm attitude towards (the construct of) "Eighties Dylan". So I find the comment by mfox5446 at this Youtube link to the Band's version which Dylan ripped off as it were, lyrically and musically, quite ironic. With Dylan and commentary on him irony is multiple and complex; and on expectingrain there are many.

6:45 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On lyrical fluffs (normally): a curious, characteristic, thing about Dylan is he seems to repeat the same ones as if it were a virtue to parade, "Hey, I don't give a ****" when his ace musicians have, implicitly, to be note perfect. So, for example, from around '97 and into the 00s: "the stars above the bonly trees . . ." Surely not "bonely trees"? The issue is complicated by his trademark garbled diction and what Ginsberg described, rather idealistically I think, as "not afraid to make 'em up on stage". Which is it? Should we care any more than he does? Now the beach is deserted, it's been there since June

7:35 pm  
Blogger Michael Gray said...

On lyrical fluffs: that's really interesting observation and comment. I'd like to hear others' views. As for "Surely there is a 'but' coming", well yes - but I'm not sure what it should be!

12:46 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't it "barren trees" (leaves have fallen)? That's what I hear, just listened twice to confirm.
Love the shoot of the young woman as 1:45. My first reaction was she was horrified and thinking "WTF is this?"
But at the end there is another cut to her, and she's clearly feeling it.
Hats off to the man. A wonderful performance which rewards close scrutiny.

patrick ford

7:05 am  
Anonymous Kieran said...

You know, watching this reminds me of what it was attracted me to Dylan in the first place. Here he is, like antique furniture in an IKEA showroom, dark and grainy, watched by the sparkling Hollywood clean cut kids, and he outshines them all.

He has an archival presence in a digital age. His voice was okay, but I don't think the last line scans so well at the end. But really, unless Clint Eastwood was in the same room, who can represent to much Americana to so many as Dylan?

Maybe Scorsese, who clearly relished this performance...

2:53 pm  
Blogger Michael Gray said...

Nicely put, Kieran. Except that I don't think Eastwood or Scorsese can hold up alongside Dylan's overall achievement. There are other fine film directors, and actors too, and those two stand among them. Dylan had to invent his genre. No-one stands with him.

3:17 pm  
Anonymous Kieran said...

"Dylan had to invent his genre."

Given that he didn't invent the blues, or folk music, gospel music or rock, I still agree with this. Whatever he's touched, borrowed or invented, he's expanded on old forms until they become something larger than we might have thought they could be.

Maybe the new genre he invented is "Being Bob Dylan", a worthy creation in itself.

As for Clint and Scorsese, they borrow too and refer to the past constantly in their movies. They're both restless and endlessly relevant creators of their art - but neither has the flexibility or depth of Bob Dylan, great though they both are at what they do...

6:30 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bootleg Blind Willie in your hand, Michael. My brother in an email:

"Easy – use a contact in US to download and SAVE and then upload to youtube or other site. Or just use a U.S. proxy service.Like I do when I am in the U.S. I can use a UK proxy to watch BBC iPlayer in my hotel room – without this proxy I cannot do it. The service I use only works to mask U.S. IP address not the other way around which is what you would need."

I know one thing: I won't be telling Web Sheriff or posting to expectingrain.

Unlisted videos What is an unlisted video?
An unlisted video is a different type of private video. Unlisted means that only people who know the link to the video can view it (such as friends or family to whom you send the link). An unlisted video will not appear in any of YouTube's public spaces (such as search results, your channel or the Browse page). An unlisted video is different from a private video in these ways:

◦You don't need a YouTube account to watch the video (you can see an unlisted video if someone sends you the video's link)

1:39 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dylan in film would be more like Bergman, Buñuel, and Fellini, rolled into one.
He truly did create something new. Many of his songs are traditional, things like "I Shall Be Released," but there was never anything like Desolation Row before him, and really no one who has come after him even tries for that form.
For a long time I've thought he was a culmination of everything which came before in what could broadly be called popular music. He's very much standing on the shoulders of giants, and some of them could have done what he's done, but the time wasn't right, they were maybe down at the base of the pyramid, or even close to the top, but it just turned out he's the top of the mountain. It's all downhill from here.

patrick ford

2:43 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now the blog is deserted, it's been there since Jan 2012. I went down to the river, I just missed the boat. Or did you?

"Your HTML cannot be accepted: Must be at most 4,096 characters"

There are no mistakes in life. I was giving you a map, and a key to Sara's door.

Most McTelling that no links on expectingrain to your Blind Willie - quite a hoot. Karl Erik: he's very discrete.

I'm gazin' out the window

3 m 36:

4 m 10:

4:10 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michael, my squire:

"This video contains content from Viacom, who has blocked it on copyright grounds"

Their power and greed and corruptible seed, seem to be all that there is . . .

9:57 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nobody has the screen presence of the utterly screen-inept Renaldo-Jack Fate: the self-mythologized and mythologizing figure who perpetuates an endless soap opera about how he really dislikes getting attention; and he does this cinematically - with such consummate artistry that he could never have made it as a Hollywood actor. Yet we have seen a pic or two of an adolescent De Niro hanging around the set of Rolling Thunder/Renaldo & Clara with other hangers-on (e.g. Sally Kirkland). Dylan has always had cinematic pretensions: the plot is always about how Alias doesn't really want the attention, you know. Yet it never occurred to him to wear a paper bag over his head on his album covers - a much better disguise that hats and/or shades when performing. During his Desire-Rolling Thunder-Renaldo & Clara period, I think one of the multiple personalities Alias fancied himself as was Clint Eastwood - just check out his posture and squint in cowboy hat on that Jap Masterpieces double album. Or how he enunciates "this is a song about marriage" in the intro to Isis (on Biograph). Two Mules for Sister Sara. Wilfrid Mellers does not treat the Western feel like a stranger here.

Having said all this, for me (dirty) Clint was never anything more than a very watchable guy, of limited acting ability leaning heavily on rugged features, playing out his fantasies of being a thug-hero: it's always the same plot whatever the century. And even the "revisionist" Unforgiven (was it that one? '92 seems too long ago) is self-indulgent in its pretence of soul searching. I always knew you were a fantasist killer and sex addict, Clint, all along. But the screen-inept Renaldo really is a method actor way surpassing Hollywood Clint. Remember how Dylan lamented that people just didn't get Renaldo? I certainly didn't.

Changing subject to who can or can't sing the blues like Blind Willie: in a piece on this John Bauldie contradicted himself, sort of. In the middle of his short piece he wrote: "and it's that knowledge that is being bewailed - not just the fact that no-one can sing the blues like Blind Willie McTell, but that Bob Dylan knows that no-one can." But at the end he writes: "The irony is that in attempting to express that inadequacy, in lamenting the oppression of his knowledge, Bob Dylan sings the blues indeed: and such a soul-rending blues as any of the old bluesmen - Blind Willie McTell, Robert Johnson - might have sold their souls to be able to sing." I get his point but think he was over-egging it a little, a bit like Andrew Muir's slightly over-labored emphasis in Troubador on the "irony" of "L&T" Dylan having finally acquired the voice of old bluesmen that he, supposedly, felt unable to live up to in his growly Woody Guthrie period (when it was more his harmonica and strumming that actually sounded like Guthrie). Personally, I find the vocal (and instrumentation and production) on "L&T" too be a little too on the compressed side, producing in me a feeling of irritation up the spine like his ludicrously low-pitched '95 vocals in the acoustic numbers did.

12:32 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ps: several rejections there on supposed account of incorrect word verification. But they were right. However, the (only) difference on that last one, if you posted it (even if you didn't), is that I decided not to bother with PREVIEW.

12:35 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should make this link live!


11:48 pm  
Blogger mondal said...

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Concert Tickets

7:46 am  

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