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>Blood on the Tracks – Bob Dylan

23 February, 2010 Leave a comment

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There could have been three or four Dylan albums in this list, but for me, this is his real masterpiece – when both musically and lyrically, he surpassed even himself. Dylan’s ‘divorce’ album, his lyrics are more direct, less allegorical than usual, lending them a power that hits you between the eyes.

The opening trio of Tangled Up in Blue, Simple Twist of Fate and You’re a Big Girl Now would grace any album – then to be followed by the icy blast of Idiot Wind, possibly the most vicious put-down ever recorded. Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts is possibly the best cowboy film never made and Shelter From the Storm, steeped in Biblical allegory, foreshadows Dylan’s later ‘Christian’ period.

There is, of course, nothing straightforward about a Dylan album, and the ‘official’ release may not even be the best version of Blood on the Tracks out there. Having recorded the album and delivered it for release, Dylan had an uncharacteristic wobble, and re-recorded five of the songs in Minneapolis for the final release. Many would say the the original, ‘New York Sessions’ album is the better album, with a coherence and ‘flow’ that results from the album being recorded in one place and time.

But then – that’s what you get with Dylan. Sometimes frustrating, wilful and perverse – but always brilliant.

Here’s the ‘New York’ version of Tangled up in Blue – see what you think!

http://www.divshare.com/flash/playlist?myId=10565394-0f4

Categories: Bob Dylan

>Day 38: Breaking Eggs With a Big Stick

22 April, 2009 1 comment

>Today’s soundtrack: Bob Dylan – Bringing It All Back Home

“Breaking eggs with a big stick” is one of my mother’s expressions (she’s got a few) that I have always taken to mean ‘taking a lot on, getting loads done’. Which is what I’ve been doing today. I googled the expression though, just to see if I was right. Apparently it actually means doing things in a showy or ostentatious manner…so I’ve been wrong all these years.

I don’t care. I’ll carry on using it the way I’ve always used it.

So I’ve been breaking eggs with a big stick today.

Started out by taking myself off to Tesco to do the shopping. (In Northwich, not Helsby – I’m still boycotting that store until they revise their checkout policy. However I have to go to Tesco somewhere to get the points on the credit card!) That done, it was back home to clean the fridge out. Actually, I’ll rephrase that. It was back home to disinfect the fridge, which had sadly degenerated into a state of some squalor. So it was out with the Mr Muscle, all detachable parts chucked into the dishwasher, and the fridge innards sprayed and swabbed. Happily our fridge is now so clean, you could store food in it. Safely.

Having got the fridge into shape, it was on with the (metaphorical) pinny to get some cooking done. ” Yay!” shouts the Massive. “Recipes! At last!!” Well, ok then. Reflecting my current circumstances, it was bread and soup again.

But posh bread and soup. I have standards, you know.

Bread was (of course) made in the breadmaker, but this time with added seedy stuff. Linseed, poppy seeds, sesame seed, sunflower and pumpkin seeds all added to the regular white bread mix. And we’ll be nothing if not regular with all that lot flushing through our system.

I know. Too much information.

So the soup – carrot and coriander today. With three separate coriander elements to consider. Firstly fry up an onion (or two, if they are little) in some oil, along with a teaspoon or two of ground coriander.

While the coriander and onion are frying off, dry roast some coriander seeds (again, a teaspoon or two) in a hot frying pan (just the seeds, no fat or oil) until they begin to brown. Using a pestle and mortar, crush the seeds until you have a fine powder and add that to the onion mix.

Take a couple of pounds of carrots and chop up into discs and add to the pan. I also added a couple of sticks of celery (to add some depth to the flavour) and a couple of peeled, chopped potatoes (to help thicken the soup) but these are optional – it’s the carrots that are important (like, duh!). Stir them round so they are coated in the spice mix, then add some stock (again, I used chicken but vegetable stock would be fine) to cover the vegetables. Add some water if you need to to achieve coverage.

Bring to a boil then leave to simmer for as long as you like, but at least until the veg are tender. Whizz them all up with your whizzy thing until you have a smooth texture. Take a pot of fresh coriander, and snip the stalks into the soup. Stir this round and cook gently for a while. Then add the coriander leaves and stir gently. Your soup’s now ready for freezing (and eating), although you might want to stir in some cream or creme fraiche before serving.

Phew! And if that wasn’t enough, while all the cooking was going on, I tidied up my ‘study’ (my den, really), putting shedloads of free magazine cds into big storage boxes I bought at Homebase yesterday, and then I got out into the garden to tidy up some of the lawn edges, trim the plants around the border and re-compost the flower beds.

Not bad eh? I’m goosed now though. Oh, and I’ve also got a meeting in my diary with a recruitment consultant in Chester arranged for Friday morning as well. Also toying with applying for a job advertised on t’internet today, although as it’s overseas we need to have a talk about it before I commit.

Postman delivered a CD today I’ve been waiting for for a while – it’s a CD by Richard Hawley, recorded live at the charmingly-named ‘Devil’s Arse’ cavern in the Peak District. It’s been uploaded to iTunes, but I’ve yet to give it a listen. But you should investigate Richard Hawley anyway. The self-styled ‘specky twat from Sheffield’ has a voice like treacle and a delightful way with a lyric and a tune. I commend ‘Coles Corner’ to you in particular.

And apropos of completely nothing – have you ever wondered what Led Zep’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ would have sounded like if it had been written and recorded in 1964 by the Beatles instead? Of course you have!

Well wonder no more….

I’ve already written about Bob Dylan, and already written too much today, so I’ll not dwell on today’s soundtrack except to say that ‘Bringing It All Back Home’ is one of the greatest albums ever made – by anyone, ever. Recorded in 1965 and as relevant now as it was then, on the cusp of Dylan’s switch to ‘electric’ music, it includes biting social commentary (Maggie’s Farm, Subterranean Homesick Blues) beautiful love songs (She Belongs to Me, Love Minus Zero) and pure poetry (Gates of Eden, It’s Alright Ma). Oh, and pop songs (Mr Tambourine Man) as well.

If you wish to understand why some believe Dylan to be a genius, you could do worse than start here.

You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows…..

>Day 19: Here comes the weekend

3 April, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: Bob Dylan – Oh Mercy

“So Paul, what are those strange blue boxes running down the right hand side of the screen?” is the question that absolutely none of you have asked me.

Well, I’m going to tell you anyway. They all relate to a website called ‘last.fm‘ which is a website that (amongst other things) tracks the listening choices of its members. You set it up so that every time you play a song on iTunes (or your own media player of choice) it logs the play and adds it to its own record of tunes you have listened to. It also picks up any songs you play on your iPod/Zen/Zune etc when you synchronise back to your computer.

So what, I can hear you thinking. Well, in tracking all the songs I play, over time it can create ‘league tables’ of your most listened-to artists, albums and tracks – my overall and weekly charts are shown opposite. It also shows what I’m listening to at the time you are logged into this site. And most interestingly of all, it creates radio stations based upon your own record collections, playing tracks that it has logged randomly. And indeed, if you click on the big ‘play’ button in the ‘BluePaul’s Radio Station’ box, it will start playing some of my songs for you. Magic! So not only do you get all this writing for free and some lovely tasty recipes to try out, I also let you share in my impeccable music taste. Go on – try it!

Today, fittingly, the soundtrack to my typing comes from my overall ‘Top Artist’ – Bob Dylan. I have loved Dylan for years (as should you) but I wouldn’t say he is by any stretch my favourite artist – I just have more of his material than anyone else. Mainly because he’s been churning the stuff out for longer than most, and he’s been bootlegged more then most.

Oh Mercy is one of Bob’s more recent albums (although having said that, a quick check reveals it was actually released 20 years ago!) and one of his better ‘late period’ albums. Standout track for me is ‘Most of the Time’ which was featured in the film ‘High Fidelity’, although below it’s being used to soundtrack a trailer for ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’, which fits the lyrics very well too.

Unusually for Dylan, the song has a very direct lyric that isn’t couched in allegory or metaphor. It’s a beautiful song about someone just after a break-up, who can deal with the aftermath, ‘most of the time’. The clear subtext is that, actually, the singer can’t deal with the break-up at all.

First verse goes like this:

Most of the time I’m clear focused all around
Most of the time
I can keep both feet on the ground
I can follow the path, I can read the signs

Stay right with it, when the road unwinds
I can handle whatever I stumble upon
I don’t even notice she’s gone

Most of the time.

The rest of the lyrics – and the song itself – are here.

I know Dylan is not to everyone’s taste, but you should give it a try.

In other news, I’ve no new recipes to share with you today I’m afraid – we had steak and chips last night, steak cooked on the George Formby Grill (highly recommended, especially with the removeable hotplates) and tonight we’ve dragged an old curry out of the freezer to watch with our crap Friday night film.

It is tradition at Waring Towers to spend Friday night in front of the telly with plenty of food and booze, watching the worst film we can. Usually one that involves axes, inbred locals with a taste for blood and a stream of young nubiles being offed in a range of imaginative ways.

Tonight’s offering is called ‘Insanitarium‘ which sounds like just the ticket. It managed to score a massive 4.9 out of 10 on the IMDB website, which is quite a high score for us, but still sounds promisingly awful. Will let you know just how bad it is.

Well, as Bob Dylan gives way to Graham Parker, I shall bid you adieu. I have a granary loaf to get out of the machine shortly so must tend to that. A good weekend to one and all.