Wednesday, September 28, 2005

I enjoyed the Dylan fest on PBS. the sudden flashes get me: a brief shot of Muddy Waters working his mojo at high giddy up, a wee bit of Mike Bloomfield, that sort of thing. Allen Ginsberg acknowledging a poet more famous than he. I'd never seen/heard the infamous Newport show. not only was Bloomfield playing hard and loud, he was giving good guitar face. total folkie shock. the transformation of Dylan from soso folkie to champion songwriter is not news, but it was interesting to watch. all these pointless labels that people depended on. which is why I get squeaky over the usage of the phrase School of Quietude, with its gravity of laziness. best rock song of all time is a silly claim, albeit right in keeping with a pop slum like Rolling Stone. I would humbly offer the song "Omaha" by Moby Grape as the best, if someone really needs that kind of info. I'll grant "Like A Rolling Stone" is anthemic, tho that AAAA rhyme scheme hinders my ability to anoint it. and mid-tempo rocker doesn't quite seem appropriate for the award. whereas "Omaha" proceeds, in 2 1/2 minutes, to skip along with brisk delivery. but really, except to sell mags, who needs the notion? I almost got the point of Dylan's harmonica playing while watching the film. he uses the instrument not so much musically as gesturally. I've seen the Irish musician Andy Irvine play the melody on guitar and harmonica simultaneously, so it's possible to make much more of the guitar/harmonica arrangement than Dylan does. his harmonica playing is more like an idea, like a performance art piece. really, I got to thinking that. I liked the bit with the intense weirdo who asked Dylan about the t-shirt Dylan wears on the cover of Highway 61 Revisited. what kind of answer did this guy need? figure it out for yourself. that aspect of Dylan's audience is spooky. that the art is taken into realms of arcana, that there's some prophetic expectation from the audience. we worry that he let "Blowin' In The Wind" attach itself to whatever grim exploitation, but I see it as a reasonable recognition that the song is "out there", no longer Dylan's. tho yeah he gets the royalties. I haven't read Al Kooper's books (I think it's plural), reminiscences of his years in the music biz, but I got to put them on my list: he's got good perspective. Dave van Ronk and Maria Muldaur showed good perspective too.
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