Welcome to my 'Evert Listens to Dylan'-blog.
In this blog I describe my listening experiences to 'Bob Dylan - The Complete Album Collection, Vol. 1'.
(I love that 'Vol. 1' - as if Vol. 2 with another 50 or so CDs is to appear soon).
If you want to know why, read the very first blog entry of this blog.
Comments welcome!
And may I invite you to check my other blog, 'Everts World of Music'?

zaterdag 20 januari 2018

15. Before the Flood

And on we go.

I write something directly after the first listening of Before the Flood - as if I have been to a live concert by Dylan. Because this is a live CD.

I knew all the songs sung by Dylan. And many of the songs sung by The Band. It felt as if I was, indeed, witnessing a live concert on the basis of listening to his LPs for years; a concert with The Band, more than just a backing band but relatively unknown to me.

The recognition of his songs, of which some are played very differently live. The energy - maybe too much energy, sometimes. The consistency in all of it. Especially 'Knockin' on Heaven's Door' was an experience - but all of it was great.

I guess I will do repeated listening, by which it becomes a CD rather than the once-in-a-lifetime experience of the live concert. But then again: each hearing of a CD is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, inni'?

14. Planet Waves

Different. Very different.

I know it's The Band playing.
I know it's all Dylan songs.

It's an album I can listen to again and again. 'Forever Young' - the wish we would speak to any child. The out-of-tune guitar at 'Dirge' - and again: who cares?

The great images and sentences. "Twilight on a frozen lake" - yes, I immediately know what that is about. For me, that is.

We'll see what happens over time. For me, it seems to be somewhat comparable to 'New Morning' - a pleasure to listen to.

13. Dylan

I've been listening occasionally to this one. Hard to write about it. I notice myself occasionally humming 'Saroh Jane' and wondering why he pronounces it not as 'Sarah Jane'. I kind of like the folksy atmosphere of such songs as 'The Ballad of Ira Hayes' (the 'come all ye...'-feeling) and 'Mary Ann'.

I love the background choirs - they seem to refer, to me, to the upcoming religious period I am looking forward so much to listen to.

I am glad he has found back his 'normal' abnormal voice - but not on 'A Fool Such As I'; which I do not really get into contact with. And the final song, 'The Spanish Tongue', still feels outright ridiculous to me - which then again leads to admiration for the guy who includes it in his repertoire, regardless.

donderdag 25 mei 2017

12. Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid

I am going to be very short on this one. I knew "Knocking' on Heaven's Door". For the rest, if ever there will be an opportunity to see the movie, having heard the sound track will surely be another way of making connections to the moving.

11. New Morning

Long, long time ago I wrote an entry here. The thing is, as I wrote earlier: I keep going back to those 3 albums of the mid-1960s. I can't get enough listening to Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, and Blonde on Blonde. And occasionally I go back to the albums before that. So there I am: supposed to be walking in a forward direction, but after having travelled a mile or so I keep returning on my earlier footsteps, walking back and forth. It seems to become a form of the nowadays so popular mindfulness: abiding in what is already there, rather then adding to it.

Well, anyway. It is nearly summer holiday by now. And New Morning was the album I listened to last summer holiday, when we were on a camping in Luxemburg. The album has stuck to my memories of that holiday. It wasn't the best one we ever had - a camping slightly too crowdy, and because of a hurt foot I couldn't do the hiking I had hoped to be doing with the family; so we were rather stuck on the camping. It was nice enough, however. And the songs of the album do remind me immediately of the camping, of sun, of making a coffee and then sitting on the veranda of our holiday cottage at 11 o'clock in the morning, of doing the dishes and listening to 'Day of the Locusts' and seeing the face of David Crosby ("his head was exploding", as Dylan sings) and hearing in the recording the chirping of the locusts - and now I am thinking about the story behind that song, about Dylan getting a Princeton honorary degree and being upset because he had to wear a robe and hat for the ceremony, and I am thinking of my own inauguration ceremony in fall where I indeed have to wear a robe and hat - a Harry Potter disguise, in a sense, which my two youngest kids like because they have been reading and watching the Potter oeuvre very intensely lately. But of course last year summer I did not know I would have a inauguration ceremony coming a year later...

And in that way the 'webs of meaning' keep on forming around the Dylan oeuvre (having visited a concert recently hooks me up especially to the idea that I 'Went to See the Gypsy', another song at the album). I like this album - apart from 'If Dogs Run Free' because the scatting of the jazz singer in that song puts me off; to me it's a form of senseless virtuosity, something I don't like in jazz in general. It sounds too convinced to my ears - the 'listen what I can do, isn't it great'-atmosphere doesn't connect to what I have constructed over the years as what music in essence is for me personally.

But for the rest, a fine album. One which I do replay occasionally, if I want to listen to a relaxed Dylan and find myself mentally on a veranda at about 11 o'clock in the morning in a summer's holiday.

zondag 25 december 2016

10. Self Portrait

It took me a lot of time to start writing this one. There was no urgency: I am relistening to the albums of Dylan I have listened to so far, and apparently that is more than enough to keep me busy. I simply didn't feel the need to write so that I could allow myself to start listening to the next album. And I notice that some of these albums already have assembled lots of connotations - for example, Dylan's first album is connected to a camping in Denmark and the world football championships of 2014 (Holland loosing the semi-final).

That is not to say I kept relistening to Self Portrait. Rather, I kept returning to the Big Three: Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, and especially Blonde on Bonde. Occasionally, the earlier acoustic work (I am currently listening more to that) and John Wesley Harding. The span in years of those albums is approximately the span in years of the complete work of The Beatles - and although there is no way to compare both 'oeuvres', it is amazing in both cases that only in some eight years' time a singer or a band can come up with such a body of work.

Having said that, the strangeness of this album makes that I am not attracted to listening to it too much. There are songs I like - the laid back 'Alberta #1' (yes, there is a #2), 'Days of 49'. There is very lightweight but nice music - the Hawaiian tinge of 'Early Morning Rain', or 'Belle Isle' with its humming strong orchestra. There is the instrumental 'Woogie Boogie'. There are completely outrageous songs, like 'In Search of Little Sadie', the remake of 'Little Sadie' also on the album, with all its bizarre modulations just out of reach of Dylan's vocal capacities. And there is the polished crooner's voice of songs such as 'Let It Be Me' and Blue Moon'. And then there are the live versions of Highway 61's 'Like a Rolling Stone' and of 'The Mighty Quinn', and there is a cover of Simon and Garfunkel's 'The Boxer'.

It sounds completely haphazard, and probably that was the idea at the time - to stop being Dylan-the-Saviour and to become Dylan-Just-Another-Musician. The opening song, 'All the Tired Horses', with an absent Dylan (at least I don't recognize his otherwise rather recognizable voice), is telling. He was well on the way of deliberately erasing himself. Which is, having read the biography, admirable in its own right.

maandag 29 februari 2016

9. Nashville Skyline

"Coming back I quickly recorded what apeared to be a country-western record and made sure it sounded pretty bridled and house-broken. The music press didn't know what to make of it. I used a different voice, too. People scratched their heads. [...] Journalists began asking in print, "Whatever happened to the old him?" They could go to hell, too."

That's what Dylan writes about this album. Of course, one notices the changed voice and the flatness of the material on this album immediately. Nevertheless, after some listening I just had set myself a New Project: keep listening to this album until it becomes meaningful to you.

Then I read the above, from Dylan's "Chronicles Volume I", his autobiography. I realized that this album cries out: "'This is not Bob Dylan." As Dylan explained, he did not want to live up to his audience's expectations anymore, who saw him as the Big Rebel, if not the Saviour of the World ("All code words for Outlaw", writes Dylan). And then I became not interested anymore - why listen to albums which were made with the purpose not to show the singer?

But I relistened to it, and I guess in time I will, in spite of myself, build up a relationship with this album or some of its material, in spite of the flatness of it all. Because I guess one builds up relationships by listening in spite of oneself, and because listening is so contextual. For example, I listen to the first song, Girl of the North Country. A duet with Johnny Cash. And through the messy rendering (on purpose?) I hear the greatness of the earlier version Dylan sang, and when Cash starts to sing I hear the absolute greatness of his voice and his possible - unrealized - interpretation of the song. In Country Pie, I am remembered of the Beatles' Honey Pie, and of their Savoy Truffle. Peggy Day reminds me of Ringo Starr's Step Lightly. In To Be Alone With You I hear the excellency of the accompanying band, referring to earlier Dylan albums. Et cetera.

I am now listening to Beatles albums again. Every song is great to me. I know, Across the Universe and The Long and Winding Road could have done without the orchestras and the choirs. But I got attached to them, because I have lived with them most of my life.

And so it will go with Nashville Skyline.

And so I am looking forward to hearing Dylan's next album, which is an album of covers, ironically named Self Portrait.

Is this the album about which Dylan says: "I released one album (a double one) where I just threw everything I could think of at the wall and whatever stuck, released it, and then went back and scooped up everything that didn't stick and released that, too."?