Tag Archives: bob dylan

[Today] Bob Dylan’s Lost 1970 Gem ‘Pretty Saro’ – Premiere

Bob Dylan’s Lost 1970 Gem ‘Pretty Saro’ – Premiere

August 7, 2013 – By Andy Greene

“Bob Dylan ran through the 18th century English folk song “Pretty Saro” six consecutive times during the Self Portrait sessions in March 1970, but none of those versions made the final cut for the album and the song remained in Columbia’s vault for the past 43 years. The track never even leaked onto bootlegs, but on August 27th, it’s finally coming out on Another Self Portrait, a 35-track box set of songs cut for Nashville SkylineSelf Portrait and New Morning…”

Click the link above to read the whole article from the Rolling Stone!

Earlier this morning, a friend of mine sent me this link and I thought it was incredible to listen to a song that has never been released until today. I just can’t believe how beautiful and simple the song is and I wonder what other songs of Bob Dylan has yet to “see the light of day.” There’s probably a lot of unheard music when you think about it. It’s just crazy to think about an alternate universe full of music that was scrapped or simply not chosen to be released by artists. I think it would make for a really funny episode of Futurama if there was a scene or a planet where all the rejected music was found in what looked like a giant musical junkyard. Most of it might be bad, but who knows, you could strike upon a “gem” just by digging around!

[Disclaimer] I didn’t make it to class today, so it’s beyond me as to whether or not this was mentioned already. I was at home when I came across this and felt it was necessary to post about it! That’s all I have to say about that.

Lay Lady Lay

This is my favorite Dylan cover (though truthfully I haven’t indulged in many Dylan covers.) The lyrics of “Lay Lady Lay” are so dreamy and ethereal and I think that Magnet and Gemma Hayes here do a better job, vocally, than Dylan of conveying so.

August 1, 2013 Not Dark Yet; Subterranean Homesick Blues; Visions of Johanna; Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands;


Here is a short summary of what we covered in class today. The class looks at ‘existential’ or ‘meaning of life’ questions raised by three Dylan songs.  The fourth song is a love ballad, the imperative to procreate being one of the things that give life meaning. The attachment is of interest as the starting point for who the persona Bob Dylan is.

Discussion of “Subterranean Homesick Blues” lyrics and “Not Dark Yet” lyrics 32 years later (1965-1977).

—”Subterranean Homesick Blues” in the style of Chuck Berry’s “Too Much Monkey Business.”  Music itself announced song as hip, fun, outside of “Pat Boone” sanitized and bowdlerized status quo. The song addresses some of the themes of “Summertime Blues” and “The Wall”:

Individuality of the young developing person stripped away: “Join the army if you fail” will soon have big consequences; “wants eleven dollar bills, you only got ten”; “please her, please him”; ” try to be a success”; “twenty years of schooling and they put you on the day shift.”  Truth in humor about existential question: Who am I? What is my life? Why are they trying to make me do and be what they want me to do and be? (This is Yossarian’s dilemma in Joseph Heller’s Catch-22: people who have power or authority and operate with truly insane, thoughtless or evil motives have good human beings trapped within systems; cf. “Maggie’s Farm”:  “Well, I try my best / To be just like I am / But everybody wants you / To be just like them / They say sing while you slave and I just get bored / I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more.”) Big appeal coming out of the McCarthyist, Wonder Bread 50’s and early 60’s.

—”Not Dark Yet” (1997) Live version 05/24/2000.  Comments:  each line offers a discrete thought in two parts; gnomic; facing the big question about life posed by death; darkness of death; cf. Harold Owen’s (poet Wilfred Owen’s brother) memoir Journey from Obscurity volume 3  about being, through a horrible oversight on the part of those in charge, left alone on a freighter in Antarctic waters in a  howling storm at night” with 6 matches, eventually five used; sense of pervasive and threatening evil; only the ‘song of the family’ and the will to hold onto and not strike the remaining match against the darkness kept Owen alive.

Dylan’s lines are powerful: soul turned into steel; scars (physical and psychological) not healed by the sun’s light and rays; taking river to the sea and then to the bottom of a world full of lies; no expectation of connection or altruism or help or companionship when looking into the eyes of other people; sense of humanity gone down drain; pain behind everything beautiful (cf. “Silvio” : “Since every pleasure’s got an edge of pain / Pay for your ticket and don’t complain”); not even room enough to be anywhere; in the end not even hearing the murmur of a prayer.

absolutely no trace of humor (even cynical or hip or sarcastic) of the sort found in “Subterranean Homesick Blues” and “Maggie’s Farm”

pacing of song slow, like waves coming into shore; not too unlike “Sad-Eyed Lady” in its languorous delivery.

vocabulary simple and direct; as in war poetry and stories; “there it is!”; delivery in concert with drawn out phrasing of last syllables of each line

—”Visions of Johanna” each stanza a scene in itself; atmospheric; “Inside the museums” also raises the existential question of life’s meaning: infinity on trial > museum = a fossilization of human achievement, a frozen time period; raises question of what ‘salvation’ must be if it is a static (and monotonous?) state of being; wry and hip: Mona Lisa musta had the highway blues (tour of Mona Lisa in USA from December 1962 to March 1963) but other paintings: frozen wall flower; jelly-faced women; mustached figure cut off (in picture frame) therefore without knees; the figures in paintings themselves are trapped as we are. Cf. Hank Williams’ (whom Bob Dylan venerates) “I’ll never Get Out of This World Alive.”

Vignette of all night girls: street prostitutes in area around Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea Hotel.

—”Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands”  Dylan’s first wife Sara Lownds; married on November 22, 1965; according to Trager: “a long, languid, surrealist love ode”; in 1975 writes “Sara” for Desire album as marriage coming apart: “Stayin’ up for days in the Chelsea Hotel / Writin’ ‘Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands’ for you.”  Ricks on connection to Swinburne. Why do we seek out sources, influences?

Take a look at it for next Monday. Receive it as a love poem in a Teiresias-like way.

Bobby Zimmerman

As a longtime biker, any mention of motorcycles, riders, clubs, etcetera, intrigues me, so when Dylan mentioned late Hells Angel Berdoo President Bobby Zimmerman (Chronicles, pg. 79), while explaining his own renaming, I went looking for more info.  First, I located a photo of the deceased, posted on the Berdoo chapter’s Memorial page:


Dylan had the date of death wrong: He said Zimmerman died in 1964, but he actually died three years earlier. 

Then I dug a little further, and found this article, a human-interest item by John Weeks of the San Bernardino Sun, published last fall, in which Dylan claims a spiritual bond with the soul of the dead Angel:

A surprise addition to the local family


Ladies and gentlemen, let’s put our hands together and give a warm hometown welcome to a local boy who has made good, who has distinguished himself as one of the most influential singers and songwriters of all time, a living legend, a Presidential Medal of Freedom honoree, a recipient of multiple Grammy, Oscar and People’s Choice awards, the one and only, the Inland Empire’s own … Bob Dylan!

Whoa, hold on here. Let’s check our notes.

Says here that Bob Dylan was born Robert Zimmerman in 1941 in Duluth, Minn., that he grew up in Hibbing, Minn., that he went to college in Minneapolis, that he moved to New York and became famous, that he later lived in both New York and Minnesota, and that for the last couple of decades he has made his home in Malibu. There’s no mention here at all of the Inland Empire.

Oh, wait, there’s more. Wow, this is new. Says here that Bob Dylan had a bonding experience with the soul of a dead San Bernardino biker, also named Robert Zimmerman, in the 1960s, and that he was transformed into a different person at that time.

An Inland Empire person, evidently.

Is this a joke?

If it is, it’s Bob Dylan himself who is telling it. In public.

Here are his own words, in an interview with Mikal Gilmore that appears in a recent cover story in Rolling Stone magazine:

“When you ask some of your questions, you’re asking them to a person who’s long dead. You’re asking them to a person that doesn’t exist. But people make that mistake about me all the time. … Transfiguration is what allows you to crawl out from under the chaos and fly above it. That’s how I can still do what I do and write the songs I sing and just keep on moving.”

That Bob Dylan! What a card! What a kidder!

No, wait. Later in the interview, he starts talking about transfiguration again, and he presses the point. He brandishes a dog-eared copy of the book “Hell’s Angel: The Life and Times of Sonny Barger and the Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club.” He cites a chapter in the book that recounts how Robert Zimmerman, the 21-year-old president of the San Bernardino chapter of the Hells Angels, who lived on Walnut Street in San Bernardino, was killed in a 1961 motorcycle accident in Madera County. That accident was a precursor, Dylan believes, to his own motorcycle accident in 1966 near Woodstock, N.Y. The two events were directly related and they completed Dylan’s transformation into a new person, he says.

He can’t be serious about this, right?

Wait, he really is. He goes off on it for a third time during the course of the interview. “I’m showing you a book that’s been written and published. I mean, look at all the connecting things: motorcycles, Bobby Zimmerman. … And there’s more to it than even that. … I’d always been different than other people, but this book told me why. … I didn’t know who I was before I read the Barger book.”

Well, if he really means it, we should start now to prepare for that hometown concert in the Inland Empire that now seems inevitable. We’ll put up banners. “Welcome home, Bob!”

He can perform in the giant San Manuel Amphitheater in Devore, or perhaps he would prefer a smaller arena show, at the Epicenter, say, in Rancho Cucamonga, or the San Manuel Stadium in downtown San Bernardino, or Coussoulis Arena at Cal State San Bernardino. Or, he could do a series of small, intimate shows in theater settings, such as the Glass House in Pomona, or the Fox Riverside, or the historic California Theatre in San Bernardino.

Many towering figures in the music industry do have strong roots in the Inland Empire. The list includes Tennessee Ernie Ford of San Bernardino, Kris Kristofferson of Claremont, Frank Zappa of Rancho Cucamonga, Jimmy Webb and Jim Messina of Colton, Sammy Hagar and Travis Barker of Fontana, and Liberace, Dick Clark and Herb Alpert, all of whom had homes in Lake Arrowhead.

Jazz legend Pearl Bailey, in her retirement, ran a popular guest ranch in Apple Valley.

Singers Bonnie Raitt and Joan Baez both have University of Redlands connections, thanks to their fathers. Raitt’s father, the Broadway star John Raitt, was a University of Redlands graduate. Baez, whose father taught there, writes about living in Redlands in her autobiography, “Daybreak.”

Now, it appears, we must add a new name to the list of musical hometown heroes.

Bob Dylan.

Of course, unlike the others, Dylan neither was born nor raised here, nor did he ever work or go to school here. No, he’s here only in spirit, as the result of transfiguration.

That means he is in a category of his own.

But we knew that already, didn’t we?


The story is addressed in greater detail by author Grant Maxwell, in a post he describes as “a (slightly modified) excerpt from my forthcoming book, How Does It Feel?: Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and the Meaning of Rock and Roll,” which may be seen here:


In that post Maxwell delves deep into the chronology of events, and how Zimmerman’s death ties in not only with Dylan’s own motorcycle crash, but with the entirety of Dylan’s professional career!  So, I guess that would make Zimmerman Dylan’s “guardian angel,” right?

Food for thought, if you’re inclined to think along those lines.

Mapping out Lyrics

Here is a map of every place Dylan has ever sung about. It’s pretty interesting. Just click on the marker and it’ll show you the lyric and give you the song info. Be warned, it’s addicting.


Another Side of Bob Dylan (1964)

My first Bob Dylan record album.

Hey guys! So I was out in my natural habitat yesterday (vintage shops), and I came across this Another Side of Bob Dylan vinyl record. I decided to start collecting records back when I was sixteen on a birthday trip I’d taken to the Freemont area of Seattle. It started with a Beatles and a David Bowie album. When I got back to Texas, I got myself a record player!

On this occasion, I wasn’t particularly looking for Dylan records, but since I’ve been so wrapped up in all things Dylan with this class, it got my attention.

What sold me on it was that “To Ramona” was on the track listing and I really like that song. But also, this song I’d never heard before called “Motorpsycho Nightmare” was listed and well, wow, what a title for a song! I’m listening to “Motorpsycho Nightmare” right now and tells quite a story. You should give that song a whirl if you haven’t before! Anyway, the details I could gather so far about this album is that it’s his 4th studio album from 1964 and that he had premiered a bunch of these songs at the Newport Folk Festival in 64′ which you might know about having had rather controversial reception. It makes me wonder how Dylan felt when it was coming out to the masses.

I think it’s a great start to the Bob Dylan section of my collection! On this vintage shopping escapade, I also bought my second Grateful Dead album – the very first one they put out in 1967! For seven bucks too and in great condition.

I haven’t even had time to listen to it yet since I’ve been caught up with school and stuff.

But em, yeah! Thought I’d share this. 🙂