California

Everyday since the election I’ve woken up happy to be a Californian. Not only did we as a people soundly reject Trump’s bigotry and hatred, but our state legislature came together to draft a statement making it very clear that they will fight any attempts by the Trump administration to deport or discriminate against hardworking Californians. And we elected an extremely competent and inspiring woman of color to the Senate. And we achieved a super majority of Democrats in the state legislature. Annnd we legalized weed.

I’m even happier to have grown up a San Franciscan. Our troubled city that I doubt all the time was the bluest part of the whole state in the 2016 election.

Living in New York, I dream about Northern California’s rolling hills, clean clean air, rocky coast and evergreen trees.

So listen to Joni croon about California and thank god for Canada too.

You Turn Me On I’m A Radio

This live version of You Turn Me On is insanely beautiful and so god damn soulful. This whole 1974 live album (Miles of Aisles) is ridiculous, and if you even remotely like Joni Mitchell you gotta get with this album. Just listen to her go off at the end of this. Wonderful thing, although it does make me miss my mother’s beautiful voice. She sang us a lot of Joni when we were young.

I’m also putting the Miles of Aisles version of Big Yellow Taxi on here. It’s honestly a lot better than the recording. Her band is SO good. It’s just JAZZIER. And who doesn’t like jazzier . . . that solo at 1:30 . . .

Congratulations Bobby!

Today our greatest poet was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. This is an astounding, wonderful, well deserved honor for Dylan and folk and music and popular culture. I’m so absurdly thrilled about it. In their article on the award the Times said:

“Sara Danius, a literary scholar and the permanent secretary of the 18-member Swedish Academy, which awards the prize, called Mr. Dylan ‘a great poet in the English-speaking tradition’ and compared him to Homer and Sappho, whose work was delivered orally. Asked if the decision to award the prize to a musician signaled a broadening in the definition of literature, Ms. Danius jokingly responded, ‘The times they are a changing, perhaps.’ ”

“His lyricism is exquisite; his concerns and subjects are demonstrably timeless; and few poets of any era have seen their work bear more influence.”

These are things we of course already know but are so happy to hear.

Read my past articles about Bobby: I’m Not There: ReviewedThe Last Waltz: ReviewedBuckets of RainThe Art of the AlbumDylan for NighttimeIdiot WindDylan for SleepLate Night Track.

Listen to Dylan snarl and sing about the unfair death of William Zanzinger. For now is the time for your tears. 

Schmilco Review

First of all the name. Wilco gets some credit for the amusing self-deprecation. The name was likely intended to lighten the mood of the album. Tweedy’s lyrics are emotional and personal, more so than any recent Wilco and maybe ever. Consider these lines from the first song on the album “Normal American Kids:”Oh, all of my spirit leaked like a cut / I knew what I needed would never be enough / I was too high to change my bid / Always afraid to be a normal american kid.” Themes of childhood, growing up, and trying to be happy are present lyrically throughout the album. In this way the album feels quite introspective and honest.

Musically, I found the album a bit boring. Largely acoustic, the songs all sound pretty similar. I didn’t find it as artistically interesting as Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (an aside: YHF is one of the 20ish CDs I keep in my car which only plays CDs, so I listen to it and love it a lot.) Schmilco is super mellow and great easy listening but lacks enough musical variation to really capture the listener’s attention. Locator (9th song on the record) gets kinda noisy towards the end which lends a bit of interest.

Regardless of my quibbles the album is worth listening to if not at least for the title. He makes fun of “We Are the World” in track 11, “We Aren’t the World (Safety Girl)” which made me laugh a little. With songs like that, the album title, and the amusing album art we can’t really be sure how serious Wilco is taking themselves right now which I kinda like. But also the lyrics are sometimes quite serious so I’m not sure what to make of everything.

Okay this is a pretty mediocre review, but I have to write a paper.

Idiot Wind

I love this album. I love this song. I love Bob Dylan. I’m going to miss listening to Blood On the Tracks in my lovely little car in the San Francisco fog (Karl).

Even you, yesterday
You had to ask me where it was at
I couldn’t believe after all these years
You didn’t know me better than that
Sweet lad-AYYYYYYYYYYYYY

Idiot wind
Blowing every time you move your mouth
Blowing down the back roads headin’ south

I’m Not There: Reviewed

This film is required viewing for anyone who even KINDA likes Bob Dylan, folk music, and/or great cinema. Ironically and hypocritically my dear father had been telling me to watch this film for years, and I’d been blowing him off until the other night my friend Kavi also demanded I watch it. Two was enough, and I caved.

Directed by Todd Haynes, I’m Not There breathlessly and beautifully chronicles bits and pieces of Dylan’s life. Six different exceedingly talented and brilliant actors play Dylan in the film, an approach that highlights the many faces and lives of Dylan, who is, in my mind, the most complicated and also frequently over-simplified artist of our time.

The different Dylans show different parts of our greatest poet: the troubled husband and father, the eager child, the tortured artist, the born again Christian, the lonely mountain man escaping life, and the eerily wise beyond his years storyteller. Cate Blanchett, interestingly, plays the most recognizable Dylan during the time before and after Dylan goes electric. She gracefully inhabits a struggling, awkward, self-conscious and unhappy young Dylan. Each Dylan shows us something different and often things previously unknown.

The film-making is spectacularly gorgeous. Each Dylan shows us different colors of life. Young Dylan lives in a yellow-y dreamworld while the tortured musician lives, of course, in black and white. The camera work is equally intriguing and unique, panning over the audience and pausing frequently to show us the candid expressions of random onlookers and fans.

And the music of course. The Dylan songs chosen are so well chosen that the film risks coming off as a little cheesy in certain moments, but ultimately the songs enhance both the literal messages and the artistry of the film. Example: Simple Twist of Fate is playing and Dylan and his wife, Claire, are at the park which cues, “They sat together in the park / As the evening sky grew dark / She looked at him and he felt a spark / Tingle to his bones / ‘Twas then he felt alone.” The scene changes and Claire is alone at a party and Dylan is paying her very little attention which cues, “People tell me it’s a sin / To know and feel too much within / I still believe she was my twin / But I lost the ring / She was born in spring / But I was born too late / Blame it on a simple twist of fate.” As I said, risks being obvious, but ultimately works well.

Just like Bob Dylan this film is anything but predictable. It takes a windy road through Dylan’s life that surprised me at every turn. Watch this film!