A Bob Dylan Mix Tape…
An idea stolen from a friend (http://newjonnytransit.wordpress.com/), his rules can be found below….
Some good old-fashioned mix-tape fun. No thrills (on my part, at least) – just a simple, daily (#more likely to be weekly) celebration of especially excellent music-making.
Shits and giggles. And because “nothing better fills up the time between birth and death than listening to music” (p. 2, The Idiots Guide to Avoiding Existential Angst).
10 songs each, that’s all.
My friend has already covered most of the great songs by these artists that it would be nearly impossible to leave off of a mix tape if you were making it for someone else. For the purposes of my own indulgence, I wanted to include some of my personal favourites and the reasons why I often listen to the album through but before taking it out of the CD player or moving on, I go back and listen to these particular songs one more time, almost as a nod to there importance to me…
Before reading on:
Check out my friends original mix tape here… His song list was as follows: Tangled Up In Blue, Love Minus Zero/No Limit, The Times They Are A Changin’, I Want You, Desolation Row, Like A Rollin Stone, Simple Twist Of Fate, One More Cup Of Coffee, Mississippi, Its All Over Now, Baby Blue… (A pretty darn good mix tape, I’m sure you’ll agree).
Here’s my Dylan 10:
Girl From The North Country: Last time I listened to this song, in a pensive mood on a particularly rainy day, I remember thinking if I could ever write something so simple, so beautiful and so perfectly earnest I think I would die a contented man. Dylans often underrated guitar skills underpin the simplest of melodies. One of the most beautiful songs about longing you could ever hope to hear. (That it’s followed by ‘Masters Of War’, Dylan at his most caustic, only adds to its beauty.)
The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll: Where do you begin with this song? To handle a heartbreaking tale with such deftness, subtletly and above all maturity is something that is beyond pretty much 99.9% of any other songwriters out there. (I wouldn’t even know where to begin!) Great singing, a wonderful little harmonica solo and one of the most devastating last verses ever committed to tape. The lines “got killed by a blow, lay slain by a cain, that sailed through the air and came down through the room. Doomed and determined to destroy all the gentle, and she never done nothing to William Zanzinger”, always leave me short of breath… That it’s a true story makes it even more vital.
I Don’t Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met) - An underrated gem off of ‘Another Side Of Bob Dylan’. A song I enjoy for many reasons… Firstly, as a fine example of what my friend Mr Petty refers to as ‘Dylan Time’. A habit he has of playing out of time at certain moments, adding extra beats to bars or just playing bum notes. Something, I know certain people dislike but for me it just adds to the realness, it feels like it’s something he’s just thrown together in the studio yet it’s still really accomplished. Secondly, it’s a fine example of Dylans, great use of last verses or lines to tie a song up. Thirdly, although the song is of a slightly frustrated nature, Dylans skill as a writer is to make it seem a lot more playful and, I suppose, just a lot more fun than it has every right to be.
It Aint Me Babe: I always think this song would be a perfect Beatles number. Great structure, a simple conceit told with a relative ease that leaves you wondering why all songs aren’t this good. Brilliant, yet simple melodies in the verse and pre chorus and just a great hook for the chorus. All it needs is some McCartney bass and Lennon harmonies to wrap it up nicely…
Mr Tambourine Man: I know Dylans voice can be somewhat devisive, but in my opinion, he just nails it on this song. The rawness and the flow are just about perfect and I would happily listen to this version 10 times over than hear any of the cover versions. Although, the lyrics are interpretative to the point of reason, there’s just something uplifting about the whole experience… “on a jingle, jangle morning, I’ll come following you”. The only time I’ve actively stopped to listen to a busker was in Brussels and the man had just started to play this song. I walked away from him like someone who had just discovered the answers to all the questions in the universe (though I regretably forgot to give him some change).
Its All Over Now, Baby Blue – Just a brilliantly written song. Great singing, chord changes, melodies and lyrics… and that refrain “Its all over now, baby blue”. It just hits you in the gut everytime. It’s like being set up up for a knock down every verse and being finsihed off with the most devastating of punches over and over again. I covered this song at a gig once and afterwards a young girl approached me and told me how amazing she thought my last song was… I thought about it for a second before telling her that it wasn’t my song but by the man called Dylan.
Desolation Row: Dylan conjures up what seem like dozens of great stories and fits them into a dozen minutes of greatness. Everytime he starts a new verse you’re transported somewhere different with so many great lines, it really is hard to know where to begin. I know it’s cliched but everytime I listen to this song, I swear I get something new out of it. It really is a song that keeps giving…
Queen Jane Approximately: Personally, I feel this is one of Dylans most accessible songs. Uplifting piano and a melody that’s easy on the ears. It’s a song I always skip back to at the end of every ‘Highway 61 Revisted’ listen.
Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again: Whenever I’m doing an impression of Dylan, this is always the song I look to mimic… “Oh mama, can this really be the end”. It’s almost like he’s sending himself up a little. It just moves along at such a jaunty pace, and just when you think he must have run out of things to say, back in he comes with another verse (and another, and another, and another)!
You’re A Big Girl Now: On an album of great songs (Tangled Up In Blue, Idiot Wind, If You See Her Say Hello) this song always holds a place in my heart. A song I found solace in during a suitably youthful angst ridden moment in my life… Everyday girl troubles given scope and grandeur by some great lines “Our conversation was short and sweet, it nearly swept me off of my feet, and I’m back in the rain, oh, and you are on dry land. You made it there some how, you’re a big girl now.”