Sometimes aesthetics call for an “oh” instead of a “whoa,” as in the chorus of this forgotten Wings song. This overlooked album track is pretty good, with a good guitar riff, a decent enough hook, and some Stax horns. Far better than this album’s single, “Listen to What the Man Said,” which is just dishwater. The post-Beatles careers of Lennon-McCartney revealed that they needed each other, or at least assertive bandmates.
I was bored at a relative’s home over the weekend and noticed a copy of the Neil Young biography, Shakey. I started reading random passages and ran across something interesting. Someone (I forgot who) recalls a meeting between Stephen Stills and Bob Dylan. After the meeting, Stills mentioned to the narrator that although he admired Dylan very much, he didn’t consider Dylan a musician. The narrator was horrified. The great Bob Dylan, not a musician?
Stills was correct. Let’s look at the facts. As a guitarist, Dylan doesn’t display much that you couldn’t teach anyone. As for the harmonica (barely an instrument really, but let’s be thorough), his playing reminds me of why I hid our harmonica from my two sons when they were very young. As for his singing, you could argue that the younger Dylan’s voice gave an appropriate tone to some of his songs. But we’re talking about musicianship here, and his singing has never been good in purely musical terms. And as for his “mature” voice, it reminds me of the noise my stomach was making a couple of weeks ago after I ate too many ribs.
Then there’s songwriting. I won’t deny he’s written some good ones (hard not to do when you’ve written several million). At best, they are effective support for the main ingredient, his lyrics. Musically, there isn’t much going on in them. You can find great instrumental parts, but they’re the work of others such as Robbie Robertson, Al Kooper, et al. Well-known covers of his songs are always better than the originals. Well, maybe not always.
So is Dylan a musician? Nah.
Dylan’s talents lie in lyrics and self-promotion. But as a lyricist, he is not the infallible god of his most ardent fans. It’s been pointed out elsewhere that you can’t be “along” a watchtower. You can be in, on, around, or even buried under one (which might have been a better premise), but not along one. Nit-picking perhaps, but it has a reputation as a great song, and great writing must be precise, even where the meaning is obscure. Then, there are some real clunkers. “Mr. Tambourine Man” is just plain dumb. But to be fair, everyone has bad days, and you can’t write as much as he has without misfiring. I find the protest songs to be overly earnest and boring, but my anti-folkie bias might disqualify me as a judge of those.
His real genius has been in nurturing the cult of his own genius. I can’t think of an artist who has more deftly used aloofness and contempt to rope fans into a sort of narcissistic codependency. It has enabled him to carve out a career on his own terms, so good for him. It has also worked so well that there will be no clear-sighted reassessment of Dylan until most boomers have downsized to the cemeteries.
That said, I’ve always liked his Live 1966 album where he gave a middle finger to the folkies by going electric. There’s real rock’n’roll tension there, and The Band play like gods. I also enjoyed his Theme Time radio show back in the aughties.
Not really. But unintentionally funny? Yes!
“By now, you and I are very used to watching some of our most elderly and most British celebrities go insane. So allow me to introduce a new and oddly refreshing entrant into the English Boomer cinematic universe: Sir Rod Stewart. As far as I can tell, Rod isn’t against transgender people, or vaccines, or whatever Morrissey happens to be against at any given moment. He just wants to be horny… truly it’s an arse state of affairs when Rod Stewart — a 76-year-old man who has had eight children with five different women and marries a new supermodel once per decade — feels as if his resting libido is being held down. Luckily for us, the old geezer has decided to rebel against all of this millennial prudishness with a new album and a new video. AND WHAT A VIDEO.”
– Drew Magary, in a magnificent article.
I think he wrote a song for a certain Bastard’s birthday.
There are so many scenes I’ll probably never get tired of.
A childhood fave that I still annoy my familiy by singing. Why can no one make funny commercials any more? I know, I’m old, blah bah.
I hate the songs of Jimmy Webb. He won a jillion Grammy’s, and he’s regularly named as a great songwriter by people who really should know better (Bruce Springteen and some others). At his best, his songs are merely annoying, melodically vapid, and oozing with gooey sentimentality (his songs for Glen Campbell: Galveston, Wichita Lineman, By the Time I Get To Phoenix). At his worst, they are also pretentious (McArthur Park) and stupid beyond all description (Up, Up and Away, McArthur Park again). I once played Richard Harris’s original hit version of McArthur Park to my older son, who was certain I was playing him a comedy record. If you’re so inclined, above you can watch him perform what could be the worst song ever written with such bone-headed earnestness that you may find yourself wanting Anton Chigurh to walk up and do his captive bolt stunner thing on him. I didn’t even make it to the infamous “cake out in the rain” part (surely the dumbest metaphor ever devised). In a way it’s funny, but mostly not. My question to you bastards: am I incorrect? If any of you are Jimmy Webb fans, can you clue me in as to what’s good about him? Did he write some hidden gems I’ve never heard? Because based on his biggest hits, I don’t get his reputation as one of the greats at all.
What’s not to love?
High Score is a documentary series about the golden age of video games, when legends – from Pac-Man to Doom – were brought to life. Through ingenuity and sheer force of will, computer pioneers and visionary artists from around the globe spawned the iconic worlds of Space Invaders, Final Fantasy, Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat, Sonic the Hedgehog, MADDEN NFL, and beyond. Without rules or roadmaps, players and innovators alike pushed the limits of money to be made, rivals to be crushed, and hearts to be won. This is the story of the brains behind the pixels and how their unmatched innovation built a multi-billion dollar industry – almost by accident. High Score premieres on Netflix on August 19, 2020.
I completely missed this one when it aired. I don’t remember hearing about it at all. A little sad, by ’79 the Ramones should have been too big for the Sha Na Na show.
But I did happen to be watching the tube in ’68 when psychedelic proto-punks The Seeds (as The Warts) mimed their biggest hit, the classic pushy-girlfriend-fuck-off song, “Pushin’ to Hard” on a now-forgotten sitcom called The Mothers-in-Law. I bought the album soon after. Oddly enough, that album had been released two years earlier, and they’d released another since, but they were still pushin’ this song on TV. The second verse and guitar break were edited out.
Speaking of The Small Faces, here’s their take on Muddy Waters’ “You Need Love.” You’ll note that Robert Plant, who used to run errands for The Small Faces, later put this to use in “Whole Lotta Love.” Some music nerds give themselves wedgies over all this, but you’ve gotta concede that Jimmy Page improved it by adding one of the all-time greatest rock riffs. Fun Fact: when JP was forming what would become Led Zeppelin, Steve Marriott was high on his list of singers until The Small Faces’ manager threatened to break his hands.
By the way, below is the single version of “Whole Lotta Love” which cut out the free-form middle section of bongos, theremin, and Robert Plant gearing up for a sneeze that never comes. Atlantic did originally put out the whole song as a single, but radio stations would create their own versions without the middle part. Atlantic responded by re-releasing its own edited single over the objections of the band. So if you didn’t own the lp and listened to AM radio, this is what you usually heard: