Author Archives: scottyloewenjr

You don’t own Blonde on Blonde?

That Lonnie Johnson sound

The chapter of “Chronicles” we have assigned for Monday is blissfully short. A delightful Sunday read. But you must look at the page count of chapter four. It is Griel Marcus long. Start now.

In this chapter he describes a technique of writing and singing taught to him by Lonnie Johnson and he mentions that Link Wray uses this technique on his song Rumble. Here’s a glorious video of him performing that song in the ’70s.

I think I have outlined here what Dylan was exactly describing, someone help me out if they know better. Rumble appears to be in the key of E minor even though the chords all have a major quality, (major quality being a bright happy sound, think of the first chord you hear in the Smashing Pumpkins’ Tonight, Tonight; minor quality can be described as dark, brooding and foreboding, see the last chord in the Smashing Pumpkins’ Tonight, Tonight). Here are the changes, each chord is strummed big so this shouldn’t be too hard to follow:

DM – DM – EM

DM – DM – EM

DM – DM – A9

DM – DM – EM

DM – DM – B7

E minor pentatonic starting on G

EM – DM – DM – EM

On page 158 Dylan describes how scales are put together.

The first scale he mentions is the seven note scale, the diatonic scale. Here is the E minor scale:

E F# G A B C D

Which you can express numerically like this:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

The second kind he mentions is the pentatonic, the five-note scale which is like this:


Numerically like this:

1 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 7 – 1

So Rumble adheres to Dylan’s description of the technique. If you map the numbers to the chords:

7 – 7 – 1

7 – 7 – 1

7 – 7 – 4

7 – 7 – 1

7 – 7 – 5

Lick (which is exactly five notes from the pentatonic scale descending)

1 – 7 – 7 – 1

So the system is there in a rudimentary form,  a majority of odd numbers, in threes. Here’s the album version of the song without all the glam of the version above if you want to read along:

Finally, here’s a guy who runs through how to play the song pretty well. You can watch this if you are having trouble following along:


My band has a show tomorrow. I wrestled with the idea of posting it here until I found a way to tie it to Dylan. Then it came to me.

If anyone pulls a Soy Bomb on us tomorrow night at Trailer Space Records at 7:00, I’ll give you something. Ten bucks, a beer, you’ll be as surprised as I am.

The Lost Land

He mentions so many names in this chapter, it is hard to keep up. This is the best I can do for now, I’ll try to update later:

Selling toothpaste

Dylan mentions the Colgate comedy hour in chapter two. Here’s one of the funnier clips I was able to find. Jerry Lewis, in a moment of onscreen nastiness, jabs at the crew that messed up the bit with a impish “Where are they working tomorrow?” The show was on from ’50 to ’55.

A Simple Playlist of Fate

A playlist that includes some of the touchpoints Mr. Smith mentioned today.

Bound for Google

I’ve started on a Google map plotting Guthrie’s trek out west. You can find it here. I’ll post a comment on this thread when it is complete, so far I’m up to the point where Wheeler is telling him which route to take. Also, let me know if you cant’ see it! GMaps are sometimes hard to wrangle.

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