Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Saturday, September 21, 2013


This story’s been told here before. Here it is again. . . . 1965. I’m driving around in my little 1960 blue Falcon, “radio tuned to rock’n’roll.” This country song keeps coming on and I immediately switch stations. What are they doing playing this kind of stuff on my station? One day I tune in just as the song ends and the DJ says, “That was ‘Act Naturally’ by The Beatles.” Whaaat?!? Well, after that, I started listening to it and, eating my prejudice for lunch, began to really like it. 
I mean, it was the Beatles, y’know? Sometime later, one of my friends played me a song he was learning on his guitar, “Buckaroo,” by some guy called Buck Owens. That was pretty fine too. Little by little. . . . Well, at some point along the way I heard Buck Owens’ original of “Act Naturally,” and became a big fan, though the Beatles’ version is still a frozen-in-time favorite. 
And how do you get Ringo to sound good? Have him sing country!

The Beatles • Act Naturally • 1965

Get it: Help!

For Buck’s original, click here.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


In September 1965 the followup single to “Like a Rolling Stone” took to the airwaves. In southern California the song announced as “Positively 4th Street” was a mistakenly pressed early version of “Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window.” It aired for a couple of weeks and then without fanfare a “new” version of “Positively 4th Street” quietly took its place. It sounded much like other songs recorded during the Highway 61 Revisited sessions, with prominent Al Kooper organ, and perhaps not many listeners noticed the switch. The next month Joan Baez released Farewell, Angelina, her first album utilizing the currently popular “folk rock” sound, i.e., light amplified accompaniment a la Bringing It All Back Home or The Byrds’ Mr. Tambourine Man. The album featured two new Dylan songs along with a mix of traditional tunes, songs by Woody Guthrie, Donovan and Pete Seeger, as well as two older Dylan compositions. The title track was a previously unheard Bob Dylan song with mysterious apocalyptic lyrics beautifully sung by Baez as a sad, resigned benediction.

Bob Dylan • Positively 4th Street • 1965

Joan Baez • Farewell, Angelina • 1965

Get ’em: Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits; Farewell, Angelina

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Wednesday, September 04, 2013


Between “Subterranean Homesick Blues” and the release of Blonde on Blonde the following year, the summer of 1965 provided a lot of nourishment for a just-born Bob Dylan fan. “Like a Rolling Stone” hit the airwaves in July and in August Highway 61 Revisited was released to mind boggling effect. The rest of the summer was spent playing catch up, discovering the five albums that preceded it. There were a few more songs on the radio that fall and the following spring to tide us over until the next album arrived. A lot of fun awaited a naïve, uncultured kid opening the door (or having it opened) into a whole new previously unknown world. Another Side’s “Motorpsycho Nitemare” was funny even if many of the cultural references (Psycho, La Dolce Vita) were missed, though the absurdity of the Fidel Castro/Barry Goldwater joke registered by virtue of quick glances at the newspaper headlines before heading for the comics page in years prior; “I Shall Be Free” from Freewheelin’ was similarly funny, and Bob’s response to President Kennedy’s “growth” query, “Brigitte Bardot, Anita Ekberg, Sophia Loren, country’ll grow” was pretty easy to figure out. “When the Ship Comes In,” however, seemed a little scary, was it about a commie takeover? “Something is happening here but you don’t know what it is, do you. . . .” Ultimately the dark imagery and gallows humor of songs like “Visions of Johanna” and “Desolation Row” won out until ever diminishing returns post-John Wesley Harding found the young acolyte pitching his tent more or less permanently in the blues camp. . . .

Bob Dylan • Highway 51 • 1962

Bob Dylan • Motorpsycho Nitemare • 1964

Get ’em: Bob Dylan; Another Side of Bob Dylan

Album cover: All Music