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Ron Chester
She said, "You're smart, stable, sexy, funny and fun to be with!" Another said, "True, like ice, like fire!" A third said, a "very refined, articulate and well-educated gentleman." Most recently, yet another wrote, "an intelligent, rational person with a pleasant disposition. Do you have any idea how rare that is?? It's very rare!"
She said, "You're smart, stable, sexy, funny and fun to be with!" Another said, "True, like ice, like fire!" A third said, a "very refined, articulate and well-educated gentleman." Most recently, yet another wrote, "an intelligent, rational person with a pleasant disposition. Do you have any idea how rare that is?? It's very rare!"


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The Most Famous Tambourine of All Time
The Inspiration for Dylan's Song

It is a 17" Turkish tambourine, about 4" deep, with a sheepskin head and jingle bells around the edge, property of Bruce Langhorne, that Bob Dylan has said was the inspiration for the image in his song, Mr. Tambourine Man. It was on exhibition at The Experience Music Project in Seattle, the Morgan Library & Museum in NYC, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland, and the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis. On October 6, 2007 it was offered for sale in auction, but no bid met the reserve amount, so it was not sold.

Just this month Bruce Langhorne has announced a new album, Tambourine Man, and he looks very nice holding it on the cover!

Dylan told the story in the liner notes to the Biograph box set:
"Mr. Tambourine Man,” I think, was inspired by Bruce Langhorne. Bruce was playing guitar with me on a bunch of the early records. On one session, (producer) Tom Wilson had asked him to play tambourine. And he had this gigantic tambourine. It was like, really big. It was as big as a wagon-wheel. He was playing, and this vision of him playing this tambourine just stuck in my mind. He was one of those characters…he was like that. I don’t know if I’ve ever told him that.”

When I read Langhorne's biography, I was very surprised to learn that his right hand is missing fingers or parts of fingers, the result of holding on to a lit cherry bomb for too long. In what must be one of the most dramatic examples of looking on the brighter side of things, he said to his mom in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, "At least I don't have to play violin anymore." Well he has certainly made a fine career for himself playing this tambourine, guitars, mandolins, piano and percussion. I'll bet he could do okay on the violin too, if he really wanted to.

Clinton Heylin tells the story of the song, Mr. Tambourine Man, in his recent book, Revolution in the Air [Pgs 181-186] with a nice description of the instrument by Langhorne himself. The song was the first number one hit that Dylan ever had, both in the US and UK, as performed by the Byrds.
[Page up a bit to page 181.]

Here is the Byrds version which hit #1, which I'm sure you've all heard.
The Byrds - Mr Tambourine Man (Remastered)

Here is Dylan doing his song at Newport in 1964.
Mr. Tambourine Man - Bob Dylan Live @ Newport Folk Festival 1964

Other Dylan versions of the song, from this century, will be coming in another posting shortly.

I won't link to the William Shatner version of the song, or the tons of other covers of the song. I'll leave that as an exercise for the reader.

The Tambourine (10 photos)
10 Photos - View album
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Bob Dylan Haiku
He's a poet and he knows it.

Haiku defined
A form of Japanese poetry. A haiku expresses a single feeling or impression and contains three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five syllables, respectively.

The perfect form of poetry for accountants, as it requires counting.

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Bob Dylan: The Truth Is, There Is No Truth
By Joe Levy

Joe Levy is Editor at Large for Billboard and a former editor at Maxim, Blender, Rolling Stone, Details, Village Voice and Spin. I don't know whether he is related to Lou Levy, Dylan's first music publisher.

Medium is a publishing platform (silo) for longer-form articles founded by the co-founders of Twitter in August 2012.

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Why Use Fargo?

I've got my reasons.

Benji Franklin or Tommy Paine might have used it too.
Why Use Fargo?
Why Use Fargo?
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What Is It That Makes a Dylan Performance Special? My #1 Reason.

Bob Dylan 

Jackson County Fairgrounds
Medford, Oregon
9 October 2001

I'll tell you a story about this song. Here we have Dylan's first live performance of the song. It is not often that you can watch a World Premier of a Dylan song with a video this good, in spite of its brief dropout in the middle of the video. 

My Dylan buddy, Shasta Bates, posted this performance on his Facebook wall on 7 May 2011, saying "Gotta post this again! So cool!" It was the last Dylan song he ever posted. On 19 May 2011 he posted, "I'll be playing at Bobby's Idle Hour tonight around 10 pm with Tom Rogers." Eight days later he had a heart attack after performing at a club in Nashville that night and we lost him. Now he lives in our hearts and our memories.
Shasta had excellent taste in music, a longtime Bobcat and taper. When he said a performance was cool, he was usually right!!

"Every step of the way we walk the line
Your days are numbered, so are mine
Time is pilin’ up, we struggle and we scrape
We’re all boxed in, nowhere to escape"

Back in the day, I would go visit Shasta and as soon as I walked in the door, he'd say, "Oh great, hey you gotta hear this. I just got it!" And he'd proceed to play some new cool Bob performance he had received. He always had something he was excited about. Or I'd call him on the phone and tell him about something I just discovered.

So I'm gonna write what I would be telling him tonight, if he were still around. . . 

Here's how I rediscovered this cool Dylan performance of "Mississippi."

A blogger had posted about a collection of women who had done some Dylan covers. I thought Susan Tedeschi was the best of the lot. Patti Smith, one of my favorites, was also there, but the article featured the wrong one of her performances of "Changing of the Guard." 

There were also two performances of "Mississippi," one by Sheryl Crow, which she introduced by telling the story of Dylan sending her the song, then she sang it along with a large string section. Another was by the Dixie Chicks with a total of 26 musicians playing it.

Both Crow and the DC did the song well, no big complaints, all the notes in the right place, polished, enjoyable.

The next night it occurred to me that I should compare their performances to one by Bob. That's because in her introduction, Crow told about running into Dylan a few years after she had recorded the song and she said, "So Bob, how'd you like my version? and he like..., How'd you like mine??"

So he didn't answer her question directly, he just asked her how she liked his version! So I started poking around on my computer to see what I might have with Dylan doing the song. I wanted a live version to compare to the other two live versions. That led me to this version that Shasta had posted on FB. So I listened to it again.

The difference was apparent to me right away, summed up in my mind with one word: authentic. Dylan's performance immediately sounded authentic to me. When I was listening to the other two performances it didn't occur to me that they didn't sound authentic, but when I played Dylan, it immediately sounded authentic to me, much more than their versions did.

He was singing about big life issues, mortality and accountability. He sounded like he was very interested in those issues and he meant every single word he sang about them, right there in that moment. He wanted us to know what he had to say about them.

I went back and listened to the ladies again. As I listened to one of them, I thought, "Well now, this is a jaunty little tune!" I was tapping along with my toe. The lyrics all came rolling off their tongues, smooth and clear. All the performers seemed to be enjoying themselves, and why not, they were performing a great Bob Dylan tune. I was listening to the music, rolling along with them, kinda happy, but not taking the lyrics very seriously. 

They were not authentic. They were not delivering the message of the song. They were performing the song (all the notes) and doing it well, but I was not drawn into considering the words they were singing that much. It was clear those weren't their words. 

Back to Bob. Of course he has an advantage right out of the box. They really ARE his words. But I don't think it's as simple as that. It is more than that. He is just soooo skilled in his singing. His pacing and tone is appropriate to what he is singing about at every point.

"Every step of the way we walk the line
Your days are numbered, so are mine"

There's some meat to this stuff and he sings it that way. His spirit elevates as he sings, he gets stronger, and he delivers each line like the thought just came to him, it interests him and he wants us to know about it. He's not trying to impress anyone, to win us over, to be a star. He's just teling us how he sees it, take it or leave it.

The ladies and their bands are trying to be as interesting as possible, to wow us, impress us, to do a good job. And they do, but not in the way that Dylan does.

This is the crux of Nobody Sings Dylan Like Dylan! 

That's what it is to me. Dylan is authentic.

I believe him when he sings one of his songs. When others sing his songs, I might believe that they're doing their best to do a good job, but rarely have they made it their own song. There are exceptions, such as Nina Simone doing a riveting performance of "Ballad of Hollis Brown" in Holland in 1965. She meant every word she sang in that performance. Not so for the ladies singing "Mississippi."

As often happens, Dylan's performance got me to open the lyrics to follow along, to really get as much as I could. And then to be fair, I did the same with the ladies. Sheryl Crow changed Rosie to You, okay I don't really object to that. Maybe that made it more her own. 

But something else jumped out at me in the third verse.

"Got nothin' for you, I had nothin' before
Don’t even have anything for myself anymore
Sky full of fire, pain pourin’ down
Nothing you can sell me, I’ll see you around"

That's how Dylan's website has it and how he sang it in this performance. But Crow sang "rain pourin' down"!

Did she think she was correcting a typo? Dylan clearly sings pain. And pain is more true to the serious issues he is addressing in the song. Rain seems to make some sense, to fit right in, but it doesn't seem to be what Dylan wrote, and it is not as intense as pain. It's more like Fred Astaire singin' in the rain.

In fact, Fred Astaire singin' in the rain fits right in to the jaunty feeling I had been having listening to the ladies. But Dylan didn't write a jaunty little tune for Fred Astaire to sing!

Dylan has performed this song 75 times. Do me a favor and listen to some of the live Dylan performances of the song that you have. Is there any where Dylan sings "rain?"
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Sophie B. Hawkins
"I Want You" by Bob Dylan
Madison Square Garden in NYC
Bob Dylan's 30th Anniversary Concert 
16 October 1992

This performance by Sophie B. Hawkins is one of the most unique covers of a great Dylan song of all time. She was a new artist on Dylan's own Columbia label, having released her debut album only six months before. She was the only newcomer invited to sing at this concert, Dylan's 30th Anniversary Celebration. Everyone else performing that night was well known and made up sort of the royal family of American popular music, hobnobbing with and performing in honor of the great Dylan. 

None of us knew who Hawkins was and when this young lady walked out on stage in a heavy winter coat, we're all thinking, "What's this??!" We're wondering how could they dare invite this strange woman to the exclusive party of the year? She stepped up, wrapped her coat tightly around her and proceeded to blow us away with her totally original performance! No more than halfway through the song, she had won me over. Kneeling on the stage, she began her own unique chorus, soon echoed by the background vocalists, a chanted wordless sound that made the song totally her own. If you want to cover a Dylan song successfuly, make it your own.

We taped the show as it was broadcast on television and as soon as the broadcast ended, we rewound the tape to watch this performance again! When the official release of the concert came out on VHS in August 1993, sadly this performance was missing from the tape.

Hawkins was nominated for a Grammy as Best New Artist in 1993 and her debut album achieved both worldwide commercial success and critical acclaim, certified Gold in the US. It included a recording of "I Want You," which also reached #49 on the UK pop chart as a single.   

If you watch carefully, you'll see that Sheryl Crow is one of the background vocalists chanting along with Hawkins during the song. Crow had recorded her own debut album that year as well, but it was rejected by her label. You should be able to win yourself a free beer in a bar with that bit of trivia. 

Sophie B. Hawkins "I Want You"
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Bob Dylan
Twelve Show Run at the Fox Warfield Theatre in San Francisco on 9 November through 22 November 1980

Follow this link to a soundboard recording of "To Ramona" with Jerry Garcia on guitar on 16 November 1980. Very delicious.
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The Oberlin College Choir of 1964
Joy Blackett, Mezzo Soprano

In the spring of 1964 one of the most exciting events on the campus of Oberlin College was the nearly two month tour of the USSR and Romania by our great college choir, conducted by Robert Fountain. I just discovered the two record vinyl recording of that tour for sale on the Internet for $158 (link below). Fortunately I still have the copy I bought in 1964. Sorry, that's the wrong cover image, but the right one is there, if you follow the link.

People are still talking about this legendary tour, which was made at a time when there wasn't much friendly talk going on between America and the USSR. We felt that the voices of our classmates were making important inroads towards peace on the planet. And they probably were!                            
The most outstanding of those voices belonged to a lovely woman from Bermuda, Joy Blackett, Class of 1966, a mezzo-soprano studying at our Conservatory of Music. She was featured as soloist in the most amazing version of "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child."  One day I will figure out how to transfer the recording from my vinyl album to YouTube. She did it for us in Finney Chapel either right before the tour, or right after their return. It was breath taking and the recording is as well.

I got to thinking about that performance and wondering how her career had gone. So I spent an evening Googling her name and learning about her career. I found interesting newspaper clippings and articles. And then I hit the jackpot. I discovered a recording she made in 1970. It was the first recording, and perhaps only recording, of a piece by Henri Pousseur, called "Crosses of Crossed Colors." This was a piece composed for "vocal soloist, two to five pianos, six tape-recorder operators, two turntablists, and two radio operators." Joy Blackett is the vocalist in a composition that sounds to me today like it was many decades ahead of its time!

You can get an MP3 version of the album from Amazon for a mere four bucks, which has Crosses, and one other piece, 58 minutes in all. The Joy Blackett recording of Crosses also appears in two places on YouTube. I suspect the Amazon version will have the better sound. 

I have been unable to locate a libretto with the considerable amount of spoken word from Ms. Blackett during the piece. If anyone can tell me where to get a copy, it would be appreciated.

The piece begins with this dramatic statement by Joy Blackett:

In 1855 at a famous pow wow, which took place in the northwestern edge of the United States, the following declaration was made by the Indian Chief Seattle to white negotiators:

Every bit of this land is sacred!!
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Happy Bob Dylan in Performance

Here is a great picture of Bob Dylan, probably from 1980, but the photographer and venue is unknown. Two similar images were found in 1980 at the Dylan Stubs website (bottom left corner.) Any information about these images is appreciated.
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Watch Bob Dylan Official Videos From One Easy Interface

Dylan's own website used to have one page with links to many of his official videos. But that seems to have gone away. You can go to You Tube and search for "Bob Dylan Vevo" which will get you a listing of his official videos, which you can watch from there.

But the Pinterest page from Legacy Recordings is a much better approach. It offers the same Vevo videos, but with some advantages, in my mind.

(1) All Choices Easily Viewed at One Time
You will immediately see all the videos that are available on one page at the same time. Choose the one you want. Click on it and it plays. Simple. Back arrow on your browser when it is done. Click on another and it plays. Very simple.

(2) No Commercials!
If you watch these same Vevo videos on YouTube, you will often get a commercial video before you can watch the Dylan video. That has never happened to me so far, using the Pinterest interface. Each one just plays immediately.

(3) No clutter! 
Each video plays in its own clean frame, free of distractions. On YouTube you've got distractions all around the video you wanted to watch: other videos, ads, comments, and more. None of that with this approach. 

Try it. I think you'll like it. So save it as a bookmark.
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