Nomological Net

Stray thoughts from here and there. The occasional concern for construct validity. No more logic. Fish.


faults in the clouds of delusion

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Someone's got it in for me

... They're planting stories in the press...

Much of this last week I've been captivated once more by Blood on the Tracks. A passing thought made me pull it out from my shelves. I realised that I had bought a new SACD copy over two years ago to celebrate my new rig, but never opened it. After all, I know every scene by heart; all the songs. There was no tearing hurry. I'm the type that saves for a rainy day.

Well, it's been raining cats and dogs since I got back here last week and one day I just needed to hear Idiot Wind. I can't help it if I'm lucky.

I popped it in and sat back to savor. This is a brilliant album. I was half my current age when I first fell in love with it, and it's only grown better with time. Listening to it now, it struck me that it's an album about love. Every song in this album is about a different face of love. Not just the obvious ones like Tangled Up in Blue and If You See Her Say Hello, but even the others such as the tangential story told in Lily, Rosemary or the post-apocalyptic wildfire of Idiot Wind. They're all about love.

The priest wore black on the seventh day and sat stone-faced while the building burned.
I waited for you on the running boards, near the cypress trees, while the springtime turned
Slowly into autumn.

Everybody please note that the springtime turned into autumn. I think that makes my point.

Revisiting this treasure, I fired up Google to search for something. Instead I got distracted by this review. Jon Landau, in the Rolling Stone, 1975. Aha!

Mr Landau, you got an awful lot right in your time, but I'm afraid this one you got wrong. The review started off interestingly enough:

Bob Dylan may be the Charlie Chaplin of rock & roll. Both men are regarded as geniuses by their entire audience. Both were proclaimed revolutionaries for their early work and subjected to exhaustive attack when later works were thought to be inferior. Both developed their art without so much as a nodding glance toward their peers. Both are multitalented: Chaplin as a director, actor, writer and musician; Dylan as a recording artist, singer, songwriter, prose writer and poet. Both superimposed their personalities over the techniques of their art forms. They rejected the peculiarly 20th century notion that confuses the advancement of the techniques and mechanics of an art form with the growth of art itself. They have stood alone.

But then it all fell away. I cringed when I read the following lines:

- ...if the unit of rock & roll art were only what survives on vinyl, exclusive of anything else and undivided into its component parts, then I don't believe that Bob Dylan would qualify as a great rock artist.
- The record itself has been made with typical shoddiness. The accompanying musicians have never sounded more indifferent.
- the snarl he resurrects from "Like a Rolling Stone" in order to sing "Idiot Wind" sounds like a shadow of his former self
- To compare the new album to Blonde on Blonde at all is to imply that people will treasure it as deeply and for as long. They won't.
- Blood on the Tracks will only sound like a great album for a while. Like most of Dylan, it is impermanent.


A shadow of his former self? To me, with the benefit of *years* of hindsight, of course, this is the best album in an unparalleled catalog. Where Like a Rolling Stone was the uninhibited snarl of a twenty year old, Idiot Wind is much deeper. It's that snarl grown up, weathered, lashed, given body, insight, and penetrative power. He's a big girl now.

I been double-crossed now for the very last time and now I'm finally free,
I kissed goodbye the howling beast on the borderline which separated you from me.
You'll never know the hurt I suffered nor the pain I rise above,
And I'll never know the same about you, your holiness or your kind of love,
And it makes me feel so sorry.

Sorry. Yeah, right.

Take that.


Unrelated But Splendiferous Good News Section: Garaj Mahal is on the road again!! With a sackload of new tunes! (Including one called "Low Self-Esteem" written for GWB :-)

Here's Massive (streaming MP3, takes a bit of a while to get going but when it starts it's serious as ever) from 5/18/07, and
Gulam Sabri (ditto) from 6/02/07. If you've ever wondered what the frontier between Hindustani classical, trance, and jazz-rock looked like, or if such a place even exists, it is this, it is this, it is this.

It's a trip.


Blogger km said...

Well, sir, seeing how BoTT was released in 1975, it obviously does not qualify for Rock Greatness. (The cut-off is 1970.)

//It's a freaking *painful* album. I love it deeply but I can't listen to it too much. And thanks for that link to Landau.

6/12/2007 10:23 PM  
Blogger Falstaff said...

Entirely with you. I'm not sure I share your enthusiasm for Idiot Wind, but BoTT is a great album (and yes, km, I know the cut-off is 1970, but I think there are exceptions).

At the risk of blowing my own, errr, harmonica, see:

6/13/2007 1:10 AM  
Blogger MockTurtle said...

"Kahethe hai ki maine Gray naam ki aadmi ko maar dala
Aur uski patni ko Italy le gaya"

Oh sorry, were we done with that?

6/13/2007 9:51 AM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

yes, it's painful. but what shapes it can create inside your head!

ps. yes WE KNOW rock died with miles at the fillmore. sheesh!

ahh, but you have to live it to know it. a lot of his early work (which i love to pieces and would defend till the internet burns over) is essentially wordplay. but this is quibbling for the sake of it.

super! oh no we weren't... please keep going, and hope to see you at the other end of buckets of rain.

6/13/2007 10:07 AM  
Blogger km said...

His early work is essentially wordplay?

And the problem with that is...? :D

/I know, I know.

//I think his early work is over-earnest and I don't like that in my music.

6/13/2007 10:19 PM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

hey, *i* didn't say it was a problem :-)

if you like wordplay, you've come to the right place. here's some more (from his later work, so you can like it):

Knockin' on the door, I say, "Who is it and where are you from?"
Man says, "Freddy!" I say, "Freddy who?" He says,
"Freddy or not here I come."

which song?

6/14/2007 7:02 AM  
Blogger km said...

That's from Love and Theft! Don't remember the title, sorry.

I laughed out loud at first and then realized this was yet another bad joke by this man. Not quite on the same scale as "smoked my eyelids and punched my cigarettes", but still. It's kinda endearing. He's 64 and still writes bad jokes.

6/14/2007 8:21 AM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

not bad, not bad! the track's called "po' boy".

i totally agree about the endearing bit. it's so, "hah, deconstruct this!"

6/14/2007 9:08 AM  
Blogger Rahul said...

Have you heard the "Idiot Wind" on Hard Rain? To me, it blows the BoTT version away. (Otherwise, that's a mediocre album.)

This was the second half of the Rolling Thunder Revue tour, which (unlike the first half) was mostly a disaster. Dylan's marriage was on the rocks. It was a wet and stormy day at Fort Collins. Easily the most venomous Dylan ever, with a few biting lyric changes thrown in.

Sara was in the audience, getting the full blast of it.

6/14/2007 6:30 PM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

i must have heard it but i don't remember. your description sounds awesome - the 30 seconds on itunes sounded good too. unfortunately, they don't have the whole track for download -- don't ask me why.

6/14/2007 10:13 PM  
Blogger wildflower seed said...

"that's such a sexy veggie burger ... think I'll give it some mayo"


6/15/2007 12:14 AM  
Blogger Rahul said...

Here you go...

6/15/2007 12:17 AM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

hope you're not forgetting the body language.

wunnerful, thanks!

6/15/2007 12:54 AM  
Blogger AakASH!!! said...

And Mr. Watson snubbed PC's as well. Led Zep too was labelled impermanent.

To err was human right? :-)

6/15/2007 12:19 PM  
Blogger km said...

@Aakash: What did Mr. Holmes think of PCs?

6/15/2007 9:41 PM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

dood, no one claimed jon landau was divine.
(what, two comments and not one rhyme?)

as you often put it -- LOL!

6/16/2007 1:00 AM  

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