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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bob Dylan

I have been a fan of Bob Dylan's music long before I ever knew about Bob Dylan. My dad used to play a lot of his songs on our old upright piano. I remember my dad playing "Bob Dylan's 115th Dream," "Motorpsycho Nightmare" and a lot of the songs off of the Slow Train Coming album. Turns out my dad wanted his Bob Dylan record collection safe, so he kept it in the attic along with some 78's an old turn table. The less valuable records were kept in the regular collection in the front room.

We lived on US 40 in Indiana, and our house had a screened in front porch, that most of the time had windows instead of screens in place. The piano spent many years out on the porch, and I remember the console record player was out there as well. I remember listening to the Beach Boys (which proves that my dad had the right idea about storing his records upstairs, because my brother and I, actually it was probably just me, drew all over the cover of Surfin' Safari', the Beach Boys first album, what a waste. Anyway, we also listened to the Elton John album, his first US album and Madman and Tumbleweed also. I know he had some Ray Charles, and I know my mom had some Roy Orbison and a lot of Moody Blues albums. Not sure what else I listened to when I was a kid, but almost every night my dad would come home and play the piano on the porch.

My dad was a plumber back in those days, and I guess it must have been his way of unwinding. I think he must have played while mom was making dinner, or maybe after dinner. I know he used to watch the news sometimes, usually Walter Cronkite, I think.

Anyway, these are my early memories of Bob Dylan. So many people associate Dylan with Protests or Drugs or whatever, but for me Dylan's music was comfort.

I think I was about 13 or 14 when we moved from our house on US 40 out to the country in a log cabin my parents built. When we moved my dad brought down a box from the attic with all his good records in it, and there were a whole bunch of Dylan albums. "Here, you might like to listen to these." I had just gotten an Emerson record player for either my birthday or Christmas. It had a built in radio and dual cassette deck. I was in heaven.

So I started out on "Highway 61 Revisited" and "Another Side of Bob Dylan" and I think there was "Bringing It All Back Home." Great Albums. After that, I think I went right out and bought a cassette of "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan," and maybe "Blood On The Tracks" and "Blonde On Blonde." In my mind, those two albums were published right after each other, even though I know there were several other albums in between. They just seem to go together for me. I don't know if it's just because I bought them together or if the lyrical style is similar. I don't know.

This was about 1989, and Dylan released "Oh Mercy." That album will always be one of my favorite Dylan albums. I especially love "Most of the Time."

Well, I could probably write a book about my love of Dylan's music, but two other things that I would like to mention, I did get to see Dylan in concert once with my cousin Jonny in Indianapolis at Deer Creek. That was a good show. Ani Di Franco opened for him. That was my first taste of her music. I didn't particularly like it, because I think her bass player was either stoned or drunk. She only had a three piece, and his playing was so bad that it threw off the ability to appreciate the music. One highlight of her performance, however, was when she came out by herself with a banjo and did "Most of the Time." It was great because as I mentioned before I love that song.

The other thing I'd like to mention is when Dylan released the folk albums in the mid-nineties. I really enjoyed those albums, "Good as I've Been To You," and "World Gone Wrong." I think they must have been recorded at the same time, and released as two albums. I never looked it up to find out, but it seems reasonable. I think what is special about those albums is that Dylan is known as a "folk" singer, but aside from his very first album, "Bob Dylan," he didn't really record a lot of folk music. But these albums showed Dylan's mastery of the folk genre, and brought to light some really great folk songs. I really love Dylan's version of Frankie and Albert, an old Mississippi John Hurt song, well, I guess a lot of people probably covered it. I especially like the way he plays guitar on it. What fascinates me about Dylan's playing is often it sounds like he's finger-picking the guitar, but when you see him live or on a video, he does a lot of strumming and more hammering and pulling off with his chord hand. As a guitar player, I haven't seen a lot of people play like him.

Anyway, those are some of my rambling's about Bob Dylan to start off my tenure as a blogger. Hope you enjoy.

God bless,

Willy

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