Archive for the ‘music_history’ tag
Proving that old adage that sometimes death is good for one’s career…
Lou Reed famously didn’t sell many records during his five decades in the music business, but after he died Sunday at age 71, sales increased significantly. So did radio play of “Walk On the Wild Side,” “Sweet Jane,” “Perfect Day” and “Dirty Blvd.” Reed’s album catalog sold 3,000 copies on Sunday alone, compared to fewer than 1,000 the previous week, an increase of 607 percent, and his solo digital-song sales jumped from 2,000 to 17,000, a 590 percent bump, according to Nielsen SoundScan. His Spotify streams increased 3,000 percent in the first day after his death, radio spins went up 140 percent, and Transformer and Rock N’ Roll Animal hit Amazon’s Top 25.
(click here to continue reading Lou Reed Record Sales Spike After Death | Music News | Rolling Stone.)
I noticed on Monday that most of the Lou Reed albums were back-ordered at Amazon, with the exception of Lulu…
…notice that Amazon is “temporarily out of stock” of most Lou Reed albums. Not Lulu though…
— Seth Anderson (@swanksalot) October 28, 2013
Lou Reed Sold Out 2013-10-27 at 10.13.21 PM.PNG
Lou Reed Sold Out 2013-10-27 at 10.13.40 PM.PNG
and this is good news for crotchety rock snobs like myself, even though White Light White Heat is my 3rd favorite Velvet Underground record, ahead of Loaded, and behind the other two…
Reed’s best-selling posthumous titles, according to SoundScan, were Transformer, the Velvet Underground & Nico and tracks “Walk On the Wild Side” and “Sweet Jane.” But it’s unlikely that demand will lead to a wave of new box sets.
A 45th-anniversary edition of the Velvet Underground’s classic White Light White Heat, which Reed helped compile, will come out December 3rd as scheduled, according to a Universal Music spokesperson.
Linda Ronstadt is one of those artists whose name is familiar, but I don’t have a deep understanding of their oeuvre. I own, and like, her California country-rock album Heart Like a Wheel, but I cannot say much about the rest of her output, other than Phillip K. Dick always raved about Ronstadt’s voice. That said, she sounds like an interesting cat, I’ll have to dig a bit deeper into her music.
Ms. Ronstadt was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s, and acknowledged her singing career was over because of it. Stephen Deusner of Salon asked her a few questions…
SD: The descriptions of your childhood in Tucson are very poignant, but also very melancholy in the way the desert has changed culturally, geographically and especially politically.
When you’re desert born, you love the desert. It’s a harsh environment. People ask me why I don’t go where there are trees and streams and mountains. But when there are too many trees around me, I can’t see and I think somebody is going to sneak up on me. It makes me nervous. And I love the desert. I love those big, wide, sweeping vistas. During the time I was gone, developers came in and scraped it all away with bulldozers. They put up the ugliest tract houses you’ve ever seen, which aren’t built to last. They’ll be tomorrow’s slums because people won’t be able to live in those houses very long. They’re starting another Dust Bowl era by scraping away the topsoil. People don’t realize how serious that is. The Dust Bowl was the biggest natural cataclysm of the 20th century, and it’s starting again and no one’s taking an interest in it. They just continue to scrape off the topsoil and turn the desert into a wasteland.
Is there anything that can be done?
They have to stop scraping up topsoil. We lose in topsoil the equivalent of the size of Texas every single year. Without topsoil you can’t even grow any food. But people are making money and they’re greedy. There’s no regulation because the Republicans who control those areas don’t want any regulation on anything. They want developers to be allowed to operate in a completely unbridled manner and make as much money as they can — even if that means taking it from other people. That’s wrong. If we’re going to have capitalism, we have to carefully regulate it.
That sounds very similar to the fracking controversy in Appalachia, where they continue to use this technique despite its horrible consequences.
They’re going to do fracking in the Central Valley in California, and there won’t be any regulation. The pollution will get into the water and destroy the farmland. It’s a terrible thing to do, but people are only thinking in the short term and the Republicans are full of climate change deniers and science deniers. They don’t want to deal with inconvenient facts.
Early in “Simple Dreams,” you write very briefly about the immigration controversy in Arizona, comparing the border to the Berlin Wall.
What’s going on on the border is a disgrace. It’s just pure racism. They put the fence up as an affront to a country of incredibly rich cultural tradition. They didn’t put one up on the northern border. There’s no fence between the United States and Canada. So it’s just based on skin color. It’s racism.
Your diagnosis with Parkinson’s was so recent it didn’t even make it into the book. You’ve said that it has taken your voice. How else has it affected your day-to-day life?
I’m now experiencing life as a disabled person. It’s quite a shock. The hardest thing is that I just can’t get things done without depending on other people to help me. It’s hard to ask, and I feel like I’m always imposing. But I really am limited. Falling and choking are big danger for people with Parkinson’s. I’ve already had a couple of spills, and I don’t want to have any more. It’s not easy moving. You try to turn around, and you’ll fall down. So going through airports and just living in hotel rooms is difficult. When I came out on this press junket, I didn’t know how I was going to survive it, but it turns out I can do a little more than I thought I could. I won’t be doing it very much in the future. There is no cure. I don’t expect them to find a cure either, unless we get the Republicans the hell out of Congress so they stop holding up stem cell research. That’s what’s most promising in terms of finding a cure for diabetes, for Parkinson’s, for MS, for all kinds of things. It’s a shame to have to suffer from something that we don’t have to suffer from.That’s what’s most promising in terms of finding a cure for diabetes, for Parkinson’s, for MS, for all kinds of things. It’s a shame to have to suffer from something that we don’t have to suffer from.
(click here to continue reading Linda Ronstadt: “There are always predators around, and you have to keep an eye out for them” – Salon.com.)
and from Mary Jordan of the Washington Post:
A 67-year-old woman in a black hoodie stepped gingerly down from a golf cart at last weekend’s National Book Festival on the Mall. Battling Parkinson’s disease, she steadied herself with two walking sticks, and headed, one careful step at a time, toward the stage.
The applause started as a small ripple as the first few people in the audience spotted her. Then it grew into a full-throated ovation by more than 500 fans as she stepped up onto the stage, smiled shyly, and flashed the luminous chestnut eyes that made America fall in love with Linda Ronstadt.
“I guess I have friends here,” she said, to the roaring approval of a crowd that skewed a little gray, many still with a bit of a crush on the woman who sang such songs as “Blue Bayou” and “You’re No Good.”
As part of the festival program, I interviewed Ronstadt onstage about her new memoir, “Simple Dreams,” which focuses on her upbringing in a musical family in Tucson and the evolution of her career. One of America’s most popular recording artists of the 1970s and 1980s, she has been called the most versatile singer of her generation, a talent who could master rock and country and mariachi. Because of Parkinson’s, she’s no longer able to sing.
As we spoke before a crowd of fans, many of whom had lined up hours early, Ronstadt’s backstage shyness faded. Onstage, she seemed stronger, a force — and very funny.
“We weren’t all having orgies and smoking a big spliff,” she said, when I asked her to talk about the “sex-drugs-and-rock-and-roll” lifestyle we all associate with rock stardom. Those stories are exaggerated, she said, and her nightlife was often cuddling up with her stuffed panda reading “Anna Karenina.” She admits that she did drugs, like so many others in her orbit then. But she said they weren’t really her thing: “My addiction was to reading.”
The jet-set days, a different city every night, were not always glamorous. Her luggage often didn’t arrive in time for the next gig, so she kept a favorite striped dress rolled up in her purse. She even wore it on “The Johnny Cash Show” and tossed it only because it was made of a “strange synthetic material that kept shrinking and shrinking” after so many washings in hotel sinks.
Millions of men in were in love with Ronstadt, but she never said “I do” to any of them. “I’ve had lots of nice boyfriends,” she said, describing herself as a devotee of “serial monogamy.” And, then to the delight of the crowd, she added, “with emphasis on the ‘serial.’ ” She was faithful to one boyfriend at a time, but never to one for all time.
“It just wasn’t a requirement for me. I’m not gifted that way. I have great respect for people who do make those kinds of compromises and really build each other up. The only reason to be with somebody is that they make you a better person and you make them a better person.”
Ronstadt famously dated California Gov. Jerry Brown in the late 1970s; they appeared together on the cover of Newsweek. In her memoir she said he was unlike many of the men she met through her music: “He was smart and funny, not interested in drinking or drugs, and lived his life carefully, with a great deal of discipline.”
Ronstadt said she is not political, per se, but she is a Democrat who gets fired up about the immigration debate, which hits close to home. Her father’s family has Mexican roots, and she told me she has many relatives in northern Mexico and Mexico City.
(click here to continue reading Linda Ronstadt, coping with Parkinson’s, reflecting on life in memoir, ‘Simple Dreams’ – The Washington Post.)
Picked up a fun, buoyant new-to-me album of Brazilian funk and R&B, called The Existential Funk of Tim Maia, put out on the great Luaka Bop label in 2012. As a side note, I wish all music labels made web pages for every album they release, complete with liner notes, photos and lyrics.
In the early 1970′s, Brazilian popular music was approaching a high water mark of creativity and popularity. Artists like Elis Regina, Chico Buarque and Milton Nascimento were delivering top-shelf Brazilian pop, while tropicalists Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil and Os Mutantes (see World Psychedelic Classics 1) were entertaining the college set with avant-garde fuzz-pop poetry.
Enter Tim Maia with a massive cannonball into the pool. It was the only dive Tim knew. Standing just 5’7 (6′ with the Afro) Tim Maia was large, in charge and completely out of control. He was the personification of rock star excess, having lived through five marriages and at least six children, multiple prison sentences, voluminous drug habits and a stint in an UFO obsessed religious cult. Tim is also remembered as a fat, arrogant, overindulgent, barely tolerated, yet beloved man-child who died too young at the age of 55.
From the liner notes of the Tim Maia compilation, we laughed at this:
In 1971, fresh from the big hit of his first album, Tim went to London and spoiled himself. He smoked, inhaled, drank, traveled on acid, listened to music, argued with his wife and returned to Brazil with 200 doses of LSD to distribute amongst his friends. As soon as he arrived, he went to (recording company) Philips’ offices, which he called “Flips,” where he visited various departments, beginning with those he considered most “square,” like the accounting and legal departments, where he acknowledged the boss and repeated the same introduction, in a calm and friendly voice: “This here is LSD, which will open your mind, improve your life, and make you a better and happier person. It’s very simple: there are no side effects. It is not addictive and only does good. You take it like this . . . ”
He would place the acid in his mouth, swallow it and leave another at the front desk. Since he was one of the best-selling artists for the company, everyone thought it humorous. In the production and journalism departments, the gifts were a success. Even Andre Midani, the president of the company, received his.
Tim returned home in his jeep, certain that he had saved “Flips’” soul.
(click here to continue reading Tim Maia – Nobody Can Live Forever.)
Cool, we’ll have to go to this…
David Bowie is the Thin White Duke, Ziggy Stardust, Major Tom, as well-known for his five decades of music as for his slippery personas. David Bowie begat the shape-shifting of Madonna, who begat Lady Gaga. David Bowie, who earlier this year released his first album since 2003, is also likely not touring any time soon.
But “David Bowie is” … coming to Chicago.
“David Bowie is,” the blockbuster retrospective on the life and influence of the iconoclastic artist — which closes Sunday at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London — will open at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago in September 2014. Right now, the MCA is the only U.S. stop for the exhibit, which travels to Toronto next month and has drawn more than 300,000 visitors to the V&A since it opened there in March.
The show, which features 300 objects culled from the artist’s personal 75,000-piece archive, will include set designs, video installations, music-video storyboards, handwritten lyrics, photos and, of course, decades of his wardrobes — including pieces from designer Alexander McQueen and Bowie’s legendary Ziggy Stardust tour. The show, which unfolds as a kind of biography, aims to place the singer in a larger context, reflecting on Bowie’s own avant garde influences while pointing toward Bowie’s prescient merging of sound and vision.
…Asked if the MCA would try to recruit Bowie — who has lived in New York City for many years, and become increasingly known for his reclusive, elusive, J.D. Salinger-esque existence — to attend the Chicago opening, Darling said: “Of course. Of course. We will do everything we can, but then, I don’t know …”
(click here to continue reading David Bowie art exhibit coming to the MCA – Chicago Tribune.)
from the MCA website:
David Bowie is presents the first international retrospective of the extraordinary career of David Bowie—one of the most pioneering and influential performers of our time. More than 300 objects, including handwritten lyrics, original costumes, photography, set designs, album artwork, and rare performance material from the past five decades are brought together from the David Bowie Archive for the first time. The exhibition demonstrates how Bowie’s work has both influenced and been influenced by wider movements in art, design, theater, and contemporary culture and focuses on his creative processes, shifting style, and collaborative work with diverse designers in the fields of fashion, sound, graphics, theatre, and film. The exhibition’s multimedia design introduces advanced sound technology, original animations, and video installations to create an immersive journey through the artistic life of one of the most iconic figures of our time, David Bowie. This exhibition was organized by the V&A Museum in London.
(click here to continue reading David Bowie is | Exhibitions | MCA Chicago.)
Interesting discussion of the digital music industry, including this breakdown of what the artist gets from three of the largest digital options, iTunes, Pandora, and Spotify. Selling a single on iTunes is much, much more lucrative to the artist than streaming.
Here’s where we stand with iTunes, Pandora and Spotify royalties (because the numbers are dependent on individual contracts and licensing deals, these are estimations):
Per track, iTunes pays $0.105 in performance royalties (15 percent of what the record label keeps) and $0.09 in songwriter royalties, totalling $0.19 per download.
Pandora pays $0.0011 per play in performance royalties, of which approximately 45 percent goes to the artist, resulting in $0.000495 per play. The songwriter royalties are harder to estimate, but if we go by Lowery’s statement, it’s $42.25 for 1 million plays, or $0.000042 per play, resulting in a total of $0.000537 per play. A song would have to be streamed about 350 times to catch up to iTunes 19 cent per download rate.
Spotify’s negotiations are more opaque and variable so we’ll have to go with the best estimates we have. For paid listeners, the average is about $0.006 per stream. Let’s say half of that goes to the artist (that’s how Lowery says his contract works), which would amount to $0.003 per play. But only 6 million of its 24 million users pay for the service. For streams from non-paying users, the rate is estimated to be only one-tenth of that, or $0.0003 per play, which is actually worse than Pandora’s rate. That’d be over 600 plays to catch up to iTunes.
That’s why artists like Thom Yorke have removed their music from the platform. Yorke tweeted, “Make no mistake new artists you discover on #Spotify will no[t] get paid. Meanwhile shareholders will shortly [be] rolling in it. Simples.”
(click here to continue reading Who killed the music industry? An interactive explainer | PandoDaily.)
The whole discussion is worth reading if you are curious what happened to the heyday of musicians being able to fly in private jets. Hint, it wasn’t Napster’s fault…
Since 2000, the amount of revenue created from selling or streaming music in America has been cut in half, from $14.3 billion to $7 billion, according to that most despised trade organization, the Recording Industry Association of America, or RIAA. And yet listeners have more access to music than ever, and there’s nothing to suggest that demand for music is down.
So what or who is to blame?
Is it Apple’s fault for launching iTunes and forever severing songs from albums? Is it the record executives’ fault who, facing this shift from $17 albums to $0.99 singles, continued to rely on old, byzantine licensing and sales models, even as their industry hemorrhaged money before their eyes? Is Internet piracy to blame, with Napster forever changing the way we find and consume music, and BitTorrent bringing about the record industry’s worst nightmare? What about Internet radio stations? Are the rock-bottom royalty payments the result of corporate greed or government meddling? Do we blame Spotify and other music streaming services for striking opaque, unsustainable deals with record labels? And what about the unchecked proliferation of copyrighted material on YouTube and other platforms?
For this explainer, we looked to identify and unravel the complex network of industry stakeholders — the rightsholders, including performers, songwriters, record labels, publishers, and licensing agencies, all of whom play a part in the process of making music, and all of whom expect a cut of the proceeds. There are the digital music sellers like iTunes and Amazon, which have supplanted brick-and-mortar stores and play by a different set of rules. And finally, the webcasters and streaming services, which struggle to achieve profitability even though they only pay artists fractions of pennies per song per play.
Follow us on a trip through recent music history as we try and figure out how we got here, where we’re headed, and whether today’s industry slump is a disruptive dip or the new normal.
(click here to continue reading Who killed the music industry? An interactive explainer | PandoDaily.)
As a long time fan of Black Sabbath1, I’ll have to look for this book.
“Louder than Hell,” the massive (and massively entertaining) new oral history of heavy metal by Jon Wiedenhorn and Katherine Turman, reminds us where the musical portion of this cultural embrace of the demonic began: in the bombed-out ruins of the British Midlands. The founders of Black Sabbath, half of the musicians in Led Zeppelin, and the key members of Judas Priest were all raised in Birmingham and its suburbs, surrounded by the wreckage of Germany’s attacks on Britain’s manufacturing centers. It’s a bleak heritage, but the city should consider building a tourism trade around it, as Liverpool has with the Beatles. “BIRMINGHAM: CRADLE OF HEAVY METAL: COME SLEEP IN THE JAIL WHERE OZZY OSBOURNE DID TIME.”
As the Sabbath front man tells Wiedenhorn and Turman, the Summer of Love never reached England’s second city:
When I was a kid, I was hungry. I had my ass hanging out of my pants I hated the fucking world. When I heard the silly fucking words, “If you go to San Francisco, be sure to put a flower in your hair” I wanted to fucking strangle John Phillips [of the Mamas and the Papas]. I was sitting in the industrial town of Birmingham, England. My father was dying of asbestos from industrial pollution and I was an angry young punk.
It wasn’t just a mood. The industrial surroundings directly influenced the development of the heavy metal sound. Sabbath’s lead guitarist, Tony Iommi, who’d gone to school with Osbourne, lost the tips of two of his fingers in a workplace accident in (ironically enough) a metal-fabricating plant.
“I had to come up with a different way of playing because I couldn’t play the conventional way anymore,” Iommi says in “Louder than Hell.” He created his own fingertip prostheses from melted liquid-soap bottles, tuned down the strings of his guitar and combined them with banjo strings, which bent more easily. Not long after the accident, Iommi came up with a composition that tapped into a dread that was centuries old.
Discussing the opening song on Sabbath’s self-titled début, Wiedenhorn and Turman explain:
The three-chord riff in “Black Sabbath” has been credited as the first use of the tritone, or diabolus in musica, in heavy metal. In the Renaissance era, the tritone was feared by the Church because of its ominous sound. Later on, various classical composers—including Richard Wagner and Gustav Holst—would incorporate the tritone into their compositions.
(click here to continue reading Black Sabbath and ‘Louder Than Hell’ : The New Yorker.)
Black Sabbath’s new album, 13, is not bad. It isn’t as great as their classics, but it doesn’t suck either. As a lot of folks have noticed, the long-time Sabbath drummer, Bill Ward, sat out this album and tour, and his jazzy, swinging rhythms are sorely missed. Any drummer who modeled his sound after Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich is all right by me. Ozzy’s voice is even worse than you’d think, but the album is decent.Footnotes:
- And no longer in the closet about it because who gives a shit what someone listens to after a certain point [↩]
Some additional reading June 26th from 17:22 to 17:22:
- Interviews > Moby: Wait For Me – I love a good old Clash record and I love listening to Pantera, I love listening to the Rolling Stones but the music that I adore the most is Nick Drake or Joy Division or Sigur Rós, quieter records and music that really aspire to be beautiful.I tend to think of it in terms of there’s social records and personal records. I love the Clash, it’s very social. If you had 20 people over on a Friday night and you’re all drinking beer put on a Clash record and it’s great. Lying in bed at 9 o’ clock on a rainy Sunday morning you want something that is more personal, and, as much as I love social records, it’s those personal records that I tend to really cherish. I listen to a lot of classical music, a lot of quiet electronic music, everything from Nick Drake to Leonard Cohen. I mentioned Sigur Rós, some Radiohead songs, songs where you really feel the artist, whether they are or whether they aren’t, but you feel as if the artist is making themselves vulnerable through their work.
Some additional reading May 27th from 11:09 to 11:13:
- By Joe Hagan: Steve Earle and the Ghost of Townes – Too bad this isn’t online, wanted to excerpt a couple of paragraphs. Good article, but no longer on the newstands, so no way to read it now.”a profile of Steve Earle in the latest issue of ROLLING STONE magazine. Here’s the tagline:
The country rocker almost died emulating his damaged mentor, Townes Van Zandt. On a new tribute album, Earle looks back.
- Stupid and Contagious: Townes Van Zandt – “Rake” – One of Townes Van Zandt’s greatest of many many great moments? Impossible to say. There are so many classics in his almost peerless catalogue.But playing Steve Earle’s remarkable new reinterpretation of this classic track over and over and over this past week – less ostensibly mournful and a little more revved up perhaps, yet also, strangely, at the same time gloriously sparser than Townes’ original – we’ll say maybe it is!
Beautiful poetry. Magical music. A superb performance. A pristine piece of perfect art.
A true classic. If not only for the superb unforgettable line “except for the turning of night into day and the turning of day into cursing’”!
“I covered my lovers in flowers and wounds”
For some reason, when I saw the above sculpture installation at LACMA, I didn’t remember that Walter De Maria was part of the NYC underground scene that also evolved into The Velvet Underground…
Walter De Maria, a reclusive American sculptor whose multifaceted achievement and sly Dadaist humor helped give rise to earthworks, Conceptual Art and Minimal art, on an often monumental scale, died on Thursday in Los Angeles. He was 77 and lived in New York.
In a career of more than 50 years Mr. De Maria made drawings of all-but-invisible landscapes, gamelike interactive wood sculptures and a record of himself accompanying the sound of crickets on the drums.
Mr. De Maria himself was a sometime percussionist who played in jazz and rock groups in New York in the 1960s, including one that evolved into Lou Reed’s Velvet Underground. Yet as an artist in later years he avoided the limelight, rarely giving interviews or letting himself be photographed.…
In other works Mr. De Maria favored shiny metals and pristine floor-hugging geometric forms that were often repeated in great numbers.
From 1953 to 1959 he attended the University of California, Berkeley, studying history and painting, the latter under the painter David Park, who was also a musician and had a jazz group in which Mr. De Maria occasionally performed.
During these years Mr. De Maria was part of San Francisco’s developing avant-garde scene, participating in “Happenings” and theatrical performances and turning increasingly to three-dimensional works. His friends included the composer La Monte Young (later to become another Dia beneficiary) and the dancer Simone Forti, whose task-oriented choreography made him interested in interactive sculpture. Mr. De Maria moved to New York in 1960 and immersed himself in the downtown scene. He participated in Happenings with Robert Whitman (who was then married to Ms. Forti) and briefly ran a gallery on Great Jones Street with him, exhibiting Minimalist sculptures made of wood.
The sculptures were often Dadaist in intent. A piece called “Ball Drop” consisted of a tall columnar structure with a small hole at the top and bottom and a small wood ball. The viewer could drop the ball in the top hole and retrieve it from the bottom.
During this time Mr. De Maria performed with jazz musicians, including the trumpeter Don Cherry, and joined a band called the Primitives. It would evolve into the Velvet Underground.
(click here to continue reading Walter De Maria, Artist on Grand Scale, Dies at 77 – NYTimes.com.)
Bob Dylan is releasing some more from his vast archives of unreleased material, this time focusing on 1969-1971 songs.
Critic Greil Marcus spoke for countless Bob Dylan fans when he began his Rolling Stone review of 1970′s Self Portrait with a now-famous question: “What is this shit?” The two-LP set was a bizarre mishmash of pop covers (Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Boxer”), pre-rock hits (“Blue Moon”) and poorly recorded live cuts from Dylan’s 1969 set at the Isle of Wight festival. Nearly every tune was overloaded with weird backup choirs, strings and horns. “I knew that opening was provocative,” Marcus says today of his RS review. “But that’s what everybody in the country was saying, and I had to reflect that.”
Decades later, Self Portrait remains one of Dylan’s least-loved releases. So it came as a surprise when he announced the latest volume in his ongoing Bootleg Series: a four-disc set called Another Self Portrait, drawing on never-before-heard material from Dylan’s original acoustic recording sessions and outtakes from Self Portrait along with select cuts from 1968′s Nashville Skyline and 1970′s New Morning. A deluxe edition will feature a complete recording of Dylan and the Band’s 1969 set at the Isle of Wight Festival as well as a remastered version of the original Self Portrait. Both editions hit shelves on August 27th.
The Self Portrait sessions began in New York at Columbia’s Studio A in April 1969, but after just a few days of messing around with covers like “Folsom Prison Blues” and “Blue Moon,” he abandoned the project for nearly a year. When they resumed in March 1970, Dylan had very little original material, and he again returned to covers, this time recording with a small band that included David Bromberg on guitar and bass and Al Kooper on organ.
“It was bizarre,” Kooper tells Rolling Stone. “He wasn’t writing any of the songs, which is an important part of a Bob Dylan album. He had a pile of Sing Out! magazines and he was taking the songs, as in the chords and lyrics, straight out of them. They were his main feed, then they pulled other things like ‘Mr. Bojanges’ and ‘The Boxer.’ I was like, ‘Yikes!’ At one point we recorded ‘Come a Little Bit Closer’ by Jay and the Americans. Hopefully nobody ever hears that.”
(click here to continue reading Bob Dylan Revisits ‘Self Portrait’ on Next Edition of the Bootleg Series | Music News | Rolling Stone.)
From Bob Dylan’s website:
In the Self Portrait sessions, Dylan played a selection of songs accompanied by a small ensemble of musicians, primarily David Bromberg (guitar) and Al Kooper (keyboards, guitar), with producer Bob Johnston later adding overdubs to the basic tracks in Nashville. Another Self Portrait presents these original session masters for the first time without overdubs.
Another Self Portrait reveals fresh aspects of Dylan’s vocal genius as he reimagines traditional and contemporary folk music as well as songs of his own. Across these unvarnished performances, Dylan is the country singer from Nashville Skyline (“Country Pie” and “I Threw It All Away”), an interpreter of traditional folk (“Little Sadie,” “Pretty Saro”) who’s right at home singing the songs of his contemporaries (Tom Paxton’s “Annie’s Gonna Sing Her Song” and Eric Andersen’s “Thirsty Boots”) before returning to writing and singing his own new music (“Went To See The Gypsy,” “Sign On The Window”).
While the original Self Portrait was a deliberate act of iconoclasm that shattered Dylan’s image as “generational spokesperson” while stretching the boundaries of pop music and his own, the album’s successor, New Morning, marked Dylan’s return to songwriting. Another Self Portrait gives fans a chance to reappraise the pivotal recordings that marked Dylan’s artistic transformation as the 1960s ended and the 1970s began.
Featured on Another Self Portrait are a previously unavailable version of “Only A Hobo” and the demo version of “When I Paint My Masterpiece,” a track that finds Dylan, who’d been signed as a recording artist not quite a decade earlier, looking to the future, promising that “Someday, everything’s gonna be smooth like a rhapsody, when I paint my masterpiece.”
For the (NSA) record, I listened to Dylan’s Self Portrait today, and there are some glimmers of interesting work hidden there. Maybe when the gloss, backup choirs and strings are removed, there will be some decent tunes left behind. One of my favorite albums of Willie Nelson is his “Stripped” album – his songs sound much better when it’s just guitar and vocal, and maybe an acoustic bass. Perhaps Another Self Portrait will be similar.
Or else, it will still just be shite. Everyone has fallow periods…
and this is good news:
Since launching the Bootleg Series in 1991, Dylan has released eight sets, but has withheld much of the material that fans are most eager to hear. “We’re trying to put this stuff out in an intelligent way,” says the source. “Sets for Blood on the Tracks and Blonde on Blonde will eventually come out. When fans hear the Blonde on Blonde set, they’ll realize that the real hero of the sessions was pianist Paul Griffin. . . There will also be a Basement Tapes box one day. We’re trying to get the best sources on all the Basement Tapes. That’ll happen one day, absolutely.”
I’ve never actually tasted rock and rye, though I’ve heard many, many songs mention it. Charlie Spand, Grateful Dead, Wood Guthrie, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and others come to mind.
Rock and Rye has always been seen as distinctively American—it was one of the few domestic liquors presented at the American pavilion of the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. When sociologist Edward Alsworth Ross wrote about immigrants in his 1914 text “The Old World and the New,” the drink was the very symbol of assimilation: “In the Italian home the bottle of ‘rock and rye’ is seen with increasing frequency by the side of the bottle of Chianti.”
As befits a rock-solid piece of Americana, the drink found its way into a succession of popular songs. There was a “Rock and Rye Rag,” a “Rock and Rye Polka,” and barrelhouse piano man Charlie Spand belted out a blues in praise of “Rock and Rye,” marveling that “You got good stuff/ I can’t drink enough.” Blind Lemon Jefferson, in the “Big Night Blues,” hollered “Wild women like their liquor/their gin and their Rock and Rye.”
The most demonstrative ode to the pleasures of Rock and Rye came in the 1948 ditty of that name sung by Tex Ritter: “When there’s worry on your mind, here’s what you should try/Go to bed and rest your head and take some Rock and Rye.” Soon old Tex is slurring the drink’s praises, and in-between giddy hiccups there comes the declarative clank of ice in a glass, followed by the satisfying gurgle of liquor being poured.
But the greatest musical tribute to the sugared whiskey concoction came in 1934 when Earl Hines and his Orchestra recorded a hard-charging dance chart called “Rock and Rye,” penned by arranger Jimmy Mundy. It was the sort of swing anthem that would soon catapult Benny Goodman and his band to fame. That’s because, in 1935, Goodman hired Mundy away from Hines, and the killer-diller Mundy style on display in “Rock and Rye” would distinguish many of Goodman’s biggest hits, including the definitive Swing Era epic, “Sing, Sing, Sing.”
(click here to continue reading How’s Your Drink? Eric Felten on the Rock and Rye – WSJ.com.)
Here’s a recipe, if you are feeling adventurous. Have you ever tried a sip? or to make it? I’m not quite sure what horehound is, but according to Robert Johnson, it might already be on your trail…
Rock and Rye
Adapted from LeNell Smothers
- 1 bottle rye whiskey
- 3-5 tbsp rock candy
- 2 slices orange
- 2 slices lemon
- 2 pieces dried apricot
- 1 slice pineapple
- 1 tea bag full of dried horehound
Combine whiskey and sugar in a jar or decanter. All other ingredients optional.
Allow all—except for horehound tea bag—to steep for a day or two or more. Leave horehound in for no more than two hours. When sugar is finally dissolved, strain and bottle.
Cough a few times and clutch your chest in distress. Then serve the Rock and Rye on the rocks.
Wow. I can’t say I’m much of a fan of most Rolling Stones records after, say, Tattoo You, but I enjoyed the hell out of his autobiography, and for a few years, the Rolling Stones made some awesome rock and roll records.
Anyway, Keef’ as alchemist…
But with the drugs and all, people will wonder how the hell you made it.
With the smack, I knew: “I’ve got to stop now, or I’m going to go in for hard time.” The cocaine I quit because I fell on my head! Due to that – no more coke. Actually, my body tells me when to stop . . . the hard way. It’s a knock on the head – OK. It’s no big deal to me, to give things up.
Your book suggests you did heroin because it allowed you to work. I find it hard to believe heroin was part of your Protestant work ethic.
It was – either stay up or crash out or wake up. It was always to do something. Also, I’ve got to confess, I was very interested in what I could take and what I could do. I looked upon the body as a laboratory – I used to throw in this chemical and then that one to see what would happen; I was intrigued by that. What one would work against another; I’ve got a bit of alchemist in me that way. But all experiments must come to an end.
Has there been damage done?
I’ve never felt that it affected the way I played one way or another; if I stayed up I got a few more songs out of it. It’s like Churchill said about alcohol, “Believe me – I’ve taken a lot more out of alcohol than it’s ever taken out of me!” And I kind of feel the same way about the dope and stuff. I got something out of it. Might’ve pissed off a lot of people!
Now it’s just a little weed, a little wine?
Yeah, exactly. I hate all this idea of rehab and giving stuff up because it just means you’re hung up on it. It just means, “OK, I’m drinking too much – I’ll cut down.”
(click here to continue reading Profile: Keith Richards at 70 – MensJournal.com.)
Andy Hinds review of Foreigner’s oeuvre made me chuckle.
Although punk rock’s furious revolution threatened to overthrow rock’s old guard in 1977, bands like Foreigner came along and proved that there was plenty of room in the marketplace for both the violent, upstart minimalism of punk and the airbrushed slickness of what would be called “arena rock.” Along with Boston, Journey, Heart, and others, Foreigner celebrated professionalism over raw emotion. And, looking back, it’s easy to see why they sold millions; not everyone in the world was pissed off, dissatisfied with the economy, or even necessarily looking for a change. In fact, for most suburban American teens, Foreigner’s immaculate rock sound was the perfect soundtrack for cruising through well-manicured neighborhoods in their Chevy Novas.
(click here to continue reading Foreigner – Foreigner : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards : AllMusic.)
I wouldn’t say that Battle Bend off of S. Congress in Austin was exactly well-manicured, it wasn’t really urban grit either. When I was a teenager living at 306 Sheraton Avenue, I had a copy of Foreigner’s Greatest Hits, on cassette tape. Amusingly enough, my friend and next door neighbor did have a car which might have been a Chevy Nova, or similar.
Based on courtroom transcripts, Densmore works up a cautionary tale of the ugly collision of art and money. Densmore writes that the opposing legal team attacked his character and labeled him un-American and a communist for not taking the Cadillac deal. "They tried to convince the jury I was an eco-terrorist because I am involved with a handful of peaceful, credible environmental organizations," said Densmore, who was once arrested with Bonnie Raitt for protesting the cutting down of old-growth trees. "I couldn’t believe some of things I heard them say. I felt betrayed, hurt and very alone. . . Now, you can probably google my name and al Qaeda will come up. Great, let’s go to Abu Ghraib! It was really disturbing." During the trial, several musicians –including Raitt, Neil Young, Eddie Vedder, Tom Petty, Tom Waits and Randy Newman – all showed support for Densmore.
Blind Willie McTell is perhaps most famous nowadays for his song “Statesboro Blues,” most likely titled after the city he grew up in. Although McTell was somewhat well-known on the blues circuit during the 1920s and 1930s, most folks who know this song today know it because of the Allman Brothers. Their version is electric and extended. McTell played a fluid twelve-string and the occasional slide. He live for sixty years and played throughout the southern United States in a style of picking known as Piedmont—named after the region of the Carolinas it originated in. While Bob Dylan was recording songs for the album eventually known as Infidels, he recorded his song “Blind Willie McTell.” A masterpiece of a song from a man who has many such songs to his name, Dylan’s work is about much more than the blues singer Willie McTell. It is an angry message transmitted via Dylan from an angry god. Even more, it is about a people & a nation that continues to suffer what Abraham Lincoln…