FMF Episode #11 – Bob Dylan

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DJ: Welcome to Feel Me Flow! Today we celebrate the greatest songwriter to ever grace this Earth, Robert Allen Zimmerman, Jack Frost, Bob Landy, Robert Milkwood Thomas, Elston Gunnn, Blind Boy Grunt, The Voice Of A Generation; Bob Dylan.  Born on May 24th, 1941 in Duluth, MN, Robert Zimmerman spent his childhood in nearby Hibbing, MN listening to rock and roll AM radio coming out of the South.  After performing at his high school and a couple dates with Bobby Vee, Bob moved to Minneapolis to attend the University Of Minnesota.  Bob would circuit the Dinkytown folk scene for under a year before moving to New York City.  There, he would dive headfirst into the Greenwich Village folk scene; carousing with acts like Dave Van Ronk, Odetta, and The Clancy Brothers.  The folk singers would borrow tunes and chord progressions in those days, and Bob was no exception.  Bob’s even been accused of stealing chord progressions from other Greenwich artists and using them for his own financial gain.  “The House Of The Rising Sun” is a great example of this.  Dave Van Ronk developed a new descending chord progression for the old traditional tune, which Bob used for his first LP.  The Animals would then go on to use the same progression and score a massive hit with the song.  Once the song became popular, people would accuse The Animals of stealing Bob Dylan’s song; all while Dave Van Ronk is sitting back exclaiming that Bob actually stole his song!  Speaking of stolen songs, let’s get into a cover-laden show of everything Dylan.

We’re gonna play all kinds of Bob Dylan covers, songs about Bob Dylan, songs with lyrics referencing Bob Dylan, Bob Dylan himself, and even a Set 4 Score from Bob Dylan’s home state of Minnesota.  Beginning and ending the show will be two versions of Bob’s “All Along The Watchtower”.  The first comes from Twin Cities rapper P.O.S.  Part of the Doomtree collective, Marijuana Deathsquads, Building Better Bombs, Gayngs, and so many other groups and artists collectives, Stef Alexander is a highly talented individual.  From punk rock to hip-hop he’s among the best in the business.  Check out this tune from the Doghouse Records Bob Dylan covers album Paupers, Peasants, Princes & Kings: The Songs Of Bob Dylan.

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DJ:  In 1979, The Flamin’ Groovies were about to split up.  The band released their 6th LP Jumpin’ In The Night and it flopped.  It featured five cover songs, though; including this and a version of “Werewolves Of London“.  The band would break up after the failure of this album, only to reunite in the 2000s to tour.

L.A. punk band X would help launch the second wave of Sunset Strip rock in the 80’s.  While the 60’s gave the Strip hippies, the 80’s would bring a new wave of hardcore punk, drugs, and sex.  The L.A. punk scene would eventually lead to the growth of the metal scene, and soon the hair metal scene of the late 80’s before imploding due to the grunge movement.  Bands like X, Black Flag, Bad Religion, Agent Orange, and more would help create an entirely new world of music.  The Doors’ Ray Manzarek, a fellow strip troubadour, would produce X’s first LP Los Angeles and feature a cover of “Soul Kitchen”.  We played a cover of Bob’s “Positively 4th Street”; the b-side from their “4th Of July” single.

Another L.A. punk band, Social Distortion (technically from Fullerton), got their start in 1978 and would ride the Los Angeles punk rock wave of the 80’s.  Lead singer Mike Ness put out a solo album in 1993 called Cheating At Solitaire, and it features this alt-country cover “Don’t Think Twice (It’s Alright)”.

Before Mike, we played yet another L.A. punk band; Minutemen.  If you’re a fan of Sublime, you may have recognized D. Boon’s line “Punk rock changed our lives.” sampled on their “40 Oz. To Freedom” track.  The track comes from Minutemen’s magnum opus Double Nickles On The Dime.  You can also hear D. Boon reference John Doe on the track; that would be the same John Doe from X.  John contributed to the I’m Not There soundtrack, which we’ll hear from later.

Up next is a cut that alludes to taking acid by way of Timoth Leary.  Here’s The Who looking for answers with “The Seeker”.

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DJ:  The Who’s Roger Daltrey asked Bobby Dylan, The Beatles, and Timothy Leary if they could help find what he was looking for, to no avail.  “The Seeker” was released as a stand-alone single in 1970 and would appear on the compilation Meaty Beaty Big And Bouncy.  The track features legendary Stones piano man Nicky Hopkins on the keys.

Wilco gave us “Bob Dylan’s 49th Beard” from their Alpha Mike Foxtrot: Rare Tracks 1994-2014 compilation.  The song originally appeared on the More Like The Moon EP in 2003.  The song title is a play on all of Bob’s songs about his “dreams”.

Hootie & The Blowfish exploded onto the music scene in 1994 with the release of Cracked Rear View.  After the singles “Hold My Hand” and “Let Her Cry” made waves, “Only Wanna Be With You” would catapult the band into mega-stardom.  The downside of this, of course, is the exposure to a larger audience, including Bob Dylan.  In the song’s second verse Darius quotes Dylan’s songs “You’re A Big Girl Now” and “Idiot Wind” along with singing “ain’t Bobby so cool” and “yeah I’m tangled up in blue”.  Bob’s people didn’t appreciate the piggybacking and sued the band.  They settled out of court.

Scottish band Belle And Sebastian took their name from a French cartoon but never got sued over it.  In 1996, they released their sophomore album If You’re Feeling Sinister to positive critical acclaim.  We heard “Like Dylan In The Movies” from the album, a reference to how cool one could possibly be.

Wrapping up the set was Billy Preston doing Bob’s “She Belongs To Me”.  The track comes from Billy’s fourth album That’s The Way God Planned It.   The album features Keith Richards on bass, Ginger Baker on drums, and George Harrison on guitar.  Wow, what a lineup!  The album was released right after Billy’s collaboration with The Beatles on “Get Back“.

Alright, let’s turn up the blues a bit with Josh Homme and Queens Of The Stone Age doing “Outlaw Blues”.

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DJ: From the 2007 Todd Haynes biographical musical drama film I’m Not There, we heard The Black Keys’ version of “The Wicked Messenger”.  Being the big Dan Auerbach fans that we are, it’d be hard not to play that during this episode.  The soundtrack features four LPs of Dylan covers by popular indie rock musicians and includes the Dylan lost track “I’m Not There”.  It comes highly recommended from us here at Feel Me Flow, check it out sometime!

Before the Keys, we heard Hamilton Leithauser and The Walkmen doing “Subterranean Homesick Blues” in the style of Harry Nilsson and John Lennon.  During John Lennon’s separation from Yoko Ono (his “Lost Weekend“), he and Harry Nilsson would record an album together in L.A. under the influence of all kinds of drugs and alcohol titled Pussy Cats.  If you look at the LP cover for Pussy Cats you can see a children’s letter block of “D” and “S” with a rug in between them under the table.  The joke is alluding to “drugs under the table”.  The Walkmen would go on to re-record the entire album in 2006, giving us this chugging cover of a cover.

Nina Simone’s 1969 album To Love Somebody could almost be seen as a covers album, with only two tracks out of nine being original compositions.  She covered Leonard Cohen, Bee Gees, and three Dylan tracks!  We heard “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” from that record.

Leading off the set was a couple of tracks from Dylan tribute records.  The lead track was Queens Of The Stone Age doing “Outlaw Blues” from the Chimes Of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International album, and the second song was Built To Spill doing “Jokerman” from the ATO Records compilation Bob Dylan in the 80’s: Volume One.  Built To Spill has been an indie rock staple since the release of their debut 1993 album Ultimate Alternative Wavers.  The band released Untethered Moon in 2015.

Bob wrote this next song and sold it to other artists before using it himself on his solo album Self Portrait.  The song would be a much larger hit for Manfred Mann and others than Bob himself.  Here’s “Quinn The Eskimo”.

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DJ:  The Dead Weather was the second side group Jack White started while in The White Stripes, after The Raconteurs.  He decided to drum instead, as being another guitar player in another band would seem redundant.  When The Dead Weather released their debut LP Horehound in 2009, they decided to include a wailing version of Dylan’s “New Pony”.

Jack White had previously done Dylan covers before, including one on The White Stripes’ debut album.  They ended up covering Robert Johnson, Son House, and of course Mr. Dylan’s “One More Cup Of Coffee”.  The White Stripes would go on to launch a revolution in rock music, bringing the alternative world back to a blues-based medium.  Jack has spearheaded the vinyl resurgence as well, being named Ambassador of Record Store Day in 2013.

Before the Jack White double dip, we played our only non-Dylan track of the day “Honeybee” by Minneapolis band Ahem.  Now we know we try to stick to a theme around here (although we do branch out plenty), but this track was too good to leave out; plus we needed a Set 4 Score! Bob’s from Minnesota anyway, so there’s your connection!  Ahem put out their debut EP Just Wanna Be on Forged Artifacts in October 2016.  The cassette is sold out, but keep an eye out for more releases and support this band.  I like to think of their sound as the New Pornographers if Bob Mould joined the band.

David Bowie sang an ode to the man of the hour on his 1971 album Hunky Dory.  Bowie wanted there to be a leader in the rock world, and since Dylan was temporarily on hiatus due to his motorcycle crash, there was no leader.  Bowie sought out to be that leader.  I think he succeeded.

We’re gonna speed things up a bit with a punk cover of Dylan’s “The Man In Me” from Say Anything.  Okay, speed it up. Go!

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DJ: The Jeff Beck Group released their self-titled fourth album in 1972 after reforming the band two years prior.  Jeff Beck originally comes from The Yardbirds, and the original Jeff Beck solo recordings feature Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, Keith Moon, and Nicky Hopkins.  We heard a cover of “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You” from their final album.

Chan Marshall, AKA Cat Power, knocked out two birds with one homage in her “Song To Bobby”.  Honoring Bob Dylan with the song’s subject matter, and David Bowie with the idea to write him a song in the first place.  Cat Power has released two covers records in total; 2000’s The Covers Record and the album this comes from, Jukebox.  Chan’s latest album Sun brought her to the Billboard Top 200 for the first time in her career in 2012.  She found out the album made the charts while in the hospital for hereditary angioedema, an immune disorder that causes sporadic swelling of the face and throat.

 The Specials were forerunners in the 80’s second wave of ska.  In 1980, they released the “Do Nothing” single with “Maggie’s Farm” as the b-side.  The song would make it onto later pressings of More Specials, namely the deluxe versions.

The Ramones put out the garage rock based covers album Acid Eaters late in their career in 1993; it was the second to the last album from the group.  The Dylan-penned, Byrds-popularized hit “My Back Pages” played before our lead-off track from Say Anything.

Frontman Max Bemis started Say Anything in 2000 and recorded demos by himself.  In 2006, Max and Saves The Day frontman Chris Conley teamed up to record a cover of “The Man In Me” for the Dylan tribute album Paupers, Peasants, Princes & Kings: The Songs Of Bob Dylanthe same album we lifted the P.O.S cover from.

And now for the man of the hour doing a song that no one can really cover; nor should they try.  How does it feel?!

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DJ: Bruce Springsteen has been quoted likening “Like A Rolling Stone” to “a snare shot that sounded like somebody’d kicked open the door to your mind”.  I can relate, Bruce.  Varying reports tell us that early versions of the song were as long as 20 pages, and a lengthy nine+ minutes of music.  We’re of the belief that the song would be just as great and if not better had it been released in a full version, but that’s beside the point.  “Like A Rolling Stone” would begin the journey to legend status for Bob.

Sonic Youth gave us a cover of the rare deep track “I’m Not There” from the movie of the same name.  The original song was recorded in 1967 during The Basement Tapes sessions at Big Pink.  It made the rounds on various bootlegs throughout the 20th century before finally getting an official release on the soundtrack.  Sonic Youth did the song justice, capturing the feel Dylan was going for.

Another song from Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus made its way into the show; this time in the form of his first solo effort.  Stephen Malkmus was technically a solo record, but the Jicks did indeed provide backing instrumentation.  “Jo Jo’s Jacket” name checks Yul Brynner, Westworld, and references lyrics from “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding).   Ok, he pretty much uses some of them line-for-line.  Stephen also contributed quite a bit to the I’m Not There soundtrack, performing on four tracks.

Lions gave us “Girl From The North Country” from the Sons Of Anarchy soundtrack.  The show is known for covering famous rock songs, either with new artists or by the in-house band Forest Rangers.  Lions is an indie rock band from Austin, TX channeling bands like Nada Surf and Toadies.  They haven’t released anything since 2009’s Let No One Fall EP.

Capping the show off was perhaps the most famous Dylan cover of all, “All Along The Watchtower” from Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland LP.  Bob was quoted as saying “I liked Jimi Hendrix’s record of this and ever since he died I’ve been doing it that way… Strange how when I sing it, I always feel it’s a tribute to him in some kind of way.”  Damn fine job, Jimi.

Alright Zimmyheads, that wraps up our Dylan show!  Happy birthday to the legend himself, and enjoy the rest of this beautiful May day!  Join us next time on Feel Me Flow!

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