A Six-pack of Dylan

Every now and again I put together six tunes by a particular artist that I like. They are not necessarily my six favorite songs by, in this case, Bob Dylan. Just six songs that struck my fancy today. It’s hard to find Dylan on YouTube so I hope you have Spotify. 

I did a series on Dylan a while back. I don’t think I did any of these tunes and if I did, oh, well. I haven’t gone through his entire career here. maybe just to the Seventies. Next time.

First up – I heard “Highway 61 Revisited” on the radio the other day and I bopped right along with it. According to Wikipedia, “Highway 61 runs from Duluth, Minnesota, where Bob Dylan grew up in the 1940s and 1950s down to New Orleans, Louisiana.

It was a major transit route out of the Deep South particularly for African Americans traveling north to Chicago, St Louis and Memphis, following the Mississippi River valley for most of its 1,400 miles (2,300 km).” The whole God and Abraham thing is classic.

Spotify link

There was an odd little movie a few years back called I’m Not There wherein six actors play Dylan and “depict different aspects of his persona.” My wife fell asleep during it but I think it’s worth seeing if only for Cate Blanchett’s dead-on impersonation.

The song “I’m Not There,” was actually an outtake of Dylan’s work with The Band on the so-called Basement Tapes. It didn’t surface until this movie and it reveals something about Dylan that, well, we kinda already knew.

She’s a unforsaken beauty
And don’t trust anyone
And I wish I was beside her
But I’m not there, I’m gone

 Spotify link

Rubin “Hurrican” Carter was a middleweight boxer who spent 20 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. As his story became more widely known – and as people who testified against Carter recanted – celebrities such as Muhammad Ali and Bob Dylan started taking up his cause.

Dylan co-wrote (with Jacques Levy) the song “Hurricane,” which laid out the facts of the case. (With perhaps, some artistic license.) I can’t say that it was this song, in particular, that got Carter released but it sure did bring the facts to the surface in a way nothing else had

To the white folks who watched he was a revolutionary bum
And to the black folks, he was just a crazy nigga
No one doubted that he pulled the trigger
And though they could not produce the gun
The D.A. said he was the one who did the deed
And the all-white jury agreed

Spotify link

When Dylan came along, everyone thought he was the natural successor to Woody Guthrie (who he greatly admired.) We figured he’d be the troubador for truth and the moral scold that the Powers That Be always need as counterpoint.

But no. Dylan could write beautifully (and sometimes nastily) about his relationships with women. Which one is “Just Like a Woman?” Maybe both. I think at the end of the day he’s dealing with conflicting feelings about this gal, whoever she may be. This is from the great Blonde on Blonde album.

Spotify link

Let’s go way back to Dylan’s third studio album The Times They Are a-Changin’. Here’s some info about the song “When the Ship Comes In.”

“According to biographer Clinton Heylin, “When The Ship Comes In” was written in August 1963 “in a fit of pique, in a hotel room, after his unkempt appearance had led an impertinent hotel clerk to refuse him admission until his companion, Joan Baez, had vouched for his good character”. Heylin speculates that “Jenny’s Song” from Brecht and Weill’s Threepenny Opera was also an inspiration.” Baez confirmed this story. Odd.

Spotify link

Jakob Dylan has referred to the album Blood on the Tracks as “my parents talking.” This was in reference to Dylan’s then-wife Sara. I guess they didn’t talk enough because the album came out in 1975 and they split in 1977.

Suddenly I turned around and she was standin’ there
With silver bracelets on her wrists and flowers in her hair
She walked up to me so gracefully and took my crown of thorns
Come in, she said
I’ll give ya shelter from the storm

Now there’s a wall between us, somethin’ there’s been lost
I took too much for granted, I got my signals crossed
Just to think that it all began on an uneventful morn
Come in, she said
I’ll give ya shelter from the storm

Spotify link

20 thoughts on “A Six-pack of Dylan

    1. How about that? Great minds think alike. 🙂 I had a bunch of other ones I might have used as well but these in particular just resonated with me when writing the post.

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  1. Y’know, it’s always great when someone picks out some Dylan tunes that I might not necessarily pick myself (I rarely choose to listen to Just Like A Woman and Hurricane… great songs, but I may have heard them a bit too often)… it’s also great when a few of my favourite Dylan tunes are mentioned (all but I’m Not There).

    And yeah, Cate Blanchett’s turn is wonderful. She really puts the rest of the cast in the shade…

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    1. Funny but I hadn’t heard ‘Just Like a Woman’ in a long, long time. I heard it on the radio and knew I just had to feature it. ‘I’m not there’ is maybe an acquired taste but there’s something about the spooky marriage of music and lyrics that appeals to me here.

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  2. You know CB loves a good story song and ‘Hurricane’ fits the bill bigtime. The violin kills it. Rueben hung out in Canada for a while. I think a few Canucks were instrumental in getting him released.

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    1. And so maybe we discussed this before, can’t remember, but Dylan found the violinist, Scarlet Rivera, on a chance encounter. He saw her walking through the Village, stopped her and voila! Right place, right time. Carter actually became a Canadian citizen but I don’t know if he revoked his American citizenship.

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      1. No I didnt know the Scarlet story. For the longest time I thought Papa John Creach was playing it. Scarlet is perfect. Yeah Carters story was all over the news back then. He found a home here and some peace. Great tune.

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        1. I like Creach and yeah that’s going back Huh? Little heads up on my take tomorrow. You played a part in the inspiration. You will have no idea and if you do I’ll send you 10 bucks.

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        2. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say it’s “Lullaby of Broadway,” from the classic film Gold Diggers of 1935. Stars Dick Powell, Adolphe Menjou, a very young CB and Rex the Wonder Horse.

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    1. “Masters of War” was on my short list and almost made it to the post. I don’t know if I’d 100% agree that that song was the closest. What inspired the post is a book I’m (occasionally) reading that goes through his albums one-by-one. I think the first album and to some extent the second (which has “Masters”) are greatly influenced by Guthrie. He eventually gets away from that but that’s where he made his reputation I think.

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      1. Your last sentence is bang on Doc. I can’t help hearing Woody in all that early stuff. Bob made no bones about it. I think he called himself “A walking Woody Guthrie jukebox”. I’ll pop over to your new post in the am.

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