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Bob Dylan on Hitler and Obama

Bob Dylan on Hitler and Obama

If you’re looking for the big link here, sorry.  No comparison.

I read an interview with Bob Dylan today in the the August edition of Mojo Magazine. Bob had many things to say about his career, his songwriting and his “voice” in the songs that he says is always himself. You can read the whole interview here, but here are a couple of excerpts that I thought were worth passing around. The first is Bob’s impressions of Obama and how he doesn’t expect too much of him, because most all presidents don’t live up to their expectations:

What in his book would make you think he’d be a good politician?

Well nothing really. In some sense you would think being in the business of politics would be the last thing that this man would want to do. I think he had a job as an investment banker on Wall Street for a second – selling German bonds. But he probably could’ve done anything. If you read his book, you’ll know that the political world came to him. It was there to be had.

Do you think he’ll make a good president?

I have no idea. He’ll be the best president he can be. Most of those guys come into office with the best of intentions and leave as beaten men. Johnson would be a good example of that … Nixon, Clinton in a way, Truman, all the rest of them going back. You know, it’s like they all fly too close to the sun and get burned.

The second one jumped out at me because of the Nazi post last week and because I recently saw Inglourious Basterds, about the American team of Nazi hunters. (Quentin Tarantino’s best film in years. Go see it!)

Do you remember images of Hitler from growing up?

No, not growing up. He was dead by the time I was four or five. I never had a real understanding of that.

Never had an understanding of what?

How you take a failed landscape painter and turn him into a fanatical mad man who controls millions. That’s some trick. I mean the powers that created him must have been awesome.

Well, the social and economic conditions of the Weimar Republic were so different than now.

Yeah sure, looking back in hindsight, you can see that someone would have to take control. But still, it’s so perplexing. Like why him? You could see that the man’s a total mutt. No Aryan characteristics whatsoever. You couldn’t guess his ancestry. Brown hair, brown eyes, pasty complexion, no particular type of stature, Hitler mustache, raincoat, riding whip, the whole works. He knew something. He knew that people didn’t think.  Look at the faces of the millions who worshiped him and you see that he inspired love. It’s scary and sad. The torch of the spoken word. They were glad to follow him anywhere, loyal to the bone. Then of course, he filled up the cemeteries with them.

Like Leonard Pitt said last week, Obama is no Nazi and definitely not a Hitler, so he won’t be exterminating the white race like so many of his deluded detractors want every fool to believe.

Record Store Day – Support Your Local Record Store!

Record Store Day – Support Your Local Record Store!

Today is National Record Store Day.  This annual event kicked off last year, and it was a huge success. This year it should be even bigger and better.  For more information about the stores involved and the importance of the event, read The Stranger’s article about it.

Last year I wandered into the Ballard Sonic Boom and watched some live music, including the dynamic 10-year old Vinnie Blackshadow who covered Van Halen, Rolling Stones, and KISS. 

Go to Sonic Boom’s website for this year’s lineup which includes Vetiver at 4:00 p.m. 

Dozens of bands have issued special limited releases that go on sale today.  The list is long and includes Dylan, Springsteen, Wilco, Dandy Warhols, Flight of the Conchords, Moondoggies, Pavement, Tom Waits, and Whiskeytown.  Lot’s of 7″ stuff on the list and some special live recordings.

If you are in Queen Anne or West Seattle, be sure to visit Easy Street Records.  The Moondoggies will be performing at the Queen Anne store at 5:00 p.m. 

Silver Platters on Queen Anne has Barton Carroll and the Toadies.

All in all it’s going to be a great day to buy some new music.  And when you ar done, visit other retailers in the area.  Many of them are offering discounts to people who show receipts from the local record stores. 

And remember, Ballard has lots of bars, so it’s going to be a big party.

Top Ten Albums of All Time – How do You Choose?

Top Ten Albums of All Time – How do You Choose?

KEXP is having a fund drive now and during the drive they are playing the top 903 albums of all time as voted on by their listeners who submitted their lists of top-ten albums.

I meant to vote in the KEXP poll, but I agonized for so long over my list that the deadline passed before I could vote.

And you may ask yourself, what’s so difficult about naming your ten favorite albums?  Well… in many cases it’s difficult to select one album from an artists entire body of work.   What’s the best Dylan album? The best Springsteen?  The best Neil Young?  The best Nick Cave?  Should you choose more than one album from your favorite artists?  How would a list of top-ten albums of all time look if it included three from Dylan, two from Springsteen, three from Nick Cave, and two from Neil Young?  I could easily make that list.  You might be able to create a similar list from the works of your four favorite artists.

Should you stay within the realm of folk/blues/pop/rock/soul or should you include jazz and classical?  Should you care about what era the music was made?  I ask because it would be very easy for me to list the ten best albums from each decade beginning with the fifties and ending with our current decade.  So by not including something from all five decades, would you or I be ignoring great works because they are too old or too new?

Those were all difficult issues for me to resolve.  My wife said I was overthinking it.  She suggested I just go through my albums and pick my ten favorites.   Okay… but that’s a huge stack to sort through.  It would take me a whole lot longer to that than it’s taking me to write this.

So in the end what I came up with is what’s probably obvious to people who don’t dwell on these types of decisions like I do.  I started thinking of the albums that I never tire of hearing and that I listen to quite often.

Here’s the list is in alphabetical order because it’s impossible to rank them numerically:

Hector Berlioz – Symphonie Fantastique/Tristia, Cleveland Orchestra, Pierre Boulez (1997)

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Let Love In (1994)

Miles Davis – Kind of Blue (1959)

Bob Dylan – Highway 61 Revisited (1965)

Alejandro Escovedo – Gravity (1992)

P.J. Harvey – To Bring You My Love (1995)

Nirvana – Nevermind (1991)

Patti Smith – Horses (1975)

Bruce Springsteen – Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978)

Neil Young – Rust Never Sleeps (1979)

That’s ten.  It wasn’t easy because my first draft was twice as long, so I’ve left off at least ten more really great albums that deserve to be on this list.

What albums are on your list of the Top Ten Greatest Albums of All Time?  I want to know!  Please click on “Comments” below this post heading and tell me.

Not Bob Dylan

Not Bob Dylan

Cate Blanchett looks a lot like Bob

That looks like Bob but that’s not Bob.  That’s Cate Blanchett as Bob Dylan during the Blonde on Blonde years from the upcoming film I’m Not There.

Other actors playing Bob in this film are:  Christian Bale, Marcus Carl Franklin, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger and Ben Whishaw.  David Cross shows up in the film as Allen Ginsberg.

Each actor plays Bob at some time in his life from his early folk-singer days to his current “never ending tour” days.

To learn more about this film project, go here and here.

Watch the trailer here.

Labor Day

Labor Day

Listen to Bob Dylan’s “Workingman’s Blues #2” today.

There’s an evening haze settling over town
Starlight by the end of the creek
The buying power of the proletariat’s gone down
Money’s getting’ shallow and weak.

Well the place I love best is a sweet memory
It’s a new path that we trod
They say low wages are reality
If we want to compete abroad.

From his new album, Modern Times.  Great stuff!  Go buy it today.

Bob Day

Bob Day

Listen to Bob Dylan today. He’s 65.

Subterranean Homesick Blues

Johnny’s in the basement
Mixing up the medicine
I’m on the pavement
Thinking about the government
The man in the trench coat
Badge out, laid off
Says he’s got a bad cough
Wants to get it paid off
Look out kid
It’s somethin’ you did
God knows when
But you’re doin’ it again
You better duck down the alley way
Lookin’ for a new friend
The man in the coon-skin cap
In the big pen
Wants eleven dollar bills
You only got ten

Tombstone Blues

Tombstone Blues

Back in the Reagan years I was in college, and the politics then were a lot like they are now. We had a dishonest president that fought an illegal war and granted huge tax cuts to those who needed them the least. His secret war destroyed our credibility abroad, and his fiscal policy resulted in a tremendous increase in federal debt that was the first in a series of such fiscal train wrecks under Republican administrations.

There was a lot of “Rah! Rah! Rah! U! S! A!” going on at the time, and those of us who knew the Reagan Administration was corrupt and beholden to it’s wealthy supporters were sickened by how the public bought into his “Morning in America” crap.

More than twenty years later many members of the Reagan Administration are back in the Bush Administration. They are again pushing forward their failed schemes to dominate the world and destroy the working class. So it’s no surprise that things are very bad again… Worse.

During the eighties I became political, and that’s also when I started really listening to Bob Dylan. His music helped keep me sane. Still does…

I swear Dylan has written songs about pretty much everything, and they’re all relevant thirty and forty years later. Take “Tombstone Blues” for example:

John the Baptist, after torturing a thief, looks up to his hero, the commander-in-chief, saying, “Tell me great hero, but please make it brief.

Is there a hole for me to get sick in?”

The Commander-in-Chief answers him, while chasing a fly,

“Death to all those who would whimper and cry.”

And dropping a barbell, he points to the sky, saying, “The sun’s not yellow; it’s chicken.”

Steven Laffoley wrote a column centered around those lyrics. You can read it here.

Sponge Bob

Sponge Bob

During the second half of No Direction Home one of the musicians featured throughout the film (I think it was Dave Van Ronk, but I’m not certain…) said something about how Bob Dylan had absorbed, like a sponge, all the music and styles that he was exposed to and then invented himself as something new. The movie documented Dylan’s metamorphosis into a near god-like pop star with interviews, photos, movie clips, and archival footage of performers that influenced him.

During the first half of the show, there were some great clips of old folk and blues artists like Bill Monroe, Hank Williams, Howlin’ Wolf, Billie Holiday, and Odetta, who scared me (in a good way.) But the one clip that I thought was the most interesting was of a freaky old guy sitting to play a guitar on a table with a few people standing around listening to him as he sang with “Lon Chaney” like facial expressions in an operatic folk style. I had no idea who the guy was until today when I visited this site (Thanks Reid!) and found out it was John Jacob Niles.

The weirdest scenes in the second half of the film are the Dylan press conferences. Do pop stars have press conferences these days? I can’t recall any recent interviews with pop stars that were even remotely like what I saw in the film: Dylan sitting at a table in front of dozens of reporters asking him very stupid questions about the meaning of his shirt or why he sings.

Anyway… It was a great documentary of Dylan’s life and career through the mid sixties, and I must highly recommend it to everybody-Dylan fan or not.