Mike Bloomfield Revisited

Reading through part two of Like A Rolling Stone, I couldn’t shake how much Mr. Marcus really REALLY bags on Mike Bloomfield, especially going as far as claiming that he couldn’t even play the songs anymore when he joined Dylan on stage in 1980. I’ve been trying to find a bootleg of that, and if anyone has it please send it to me, but these accusations struck me as particularly unfair coming from a critic who had just spent 100 pages talking about music in a way that was markedly unmusical.

I realize that especially with lyrically driven music like Dylan’s, criticism is likely to delve far away from the actual music and more into the ethos, lyrical inspirations and so on, but I am sort of suspicious of Marcus’ knowledge of blues guitar playing, to be so qualified as to totally rip on everything that Mike Bloomfield did after that record with Dylan.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_X0MR6mSqyA

Here’s that super session album that Marcus seemed to dismiss pretty readily, with Al Kooper and Stephen Stills (formerly Buffalo Springfield, CSNY etc.). It may be formulaic harmonically (as if Dylan wasn’t most of the time), but it’s pretty killer guitar playing and pretty interesting organ playing coming from a dude who wasn’t an organ player three years prior.

Again, if anyone can find footage of that 1980 San Francisco performance, please let me know, but so far I’m deeming Marcus’ treatment of Mike Bloomfield to be a little unfair at the very least.

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2 responses to “Mike Bloomfield Revisited

  • dohertys115thdream

    It seemed like one of old Greil’s odd comments–like, he couldn’t play the song, he could only play the song like he played the song?! Now, it does sound like Old Mike had a rough time of it though, and I imagine that some of his brilliance may have been dimmed by junk and the star-train leaving without him.

  • scottyloewenjr

    I haven’t finished part 1 yet (yipes!). What I’ve read so far is like Marcus writing as hard as he can; the prologue, for instance, is as ham-fisted as Christmas dinner. I can only say that if I was asked to write a book about Dylan (I would never pitch such a thing) the edits would be a bloodbath.

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