Monday, January 21, 2008

Bob n Studs

Reading matter
Originally uploaded by Southcoasting

mp3s Bob Dylan and Studs Terkel in 1963

The above link is to tracks from this 1963 radio show where the great Studs Terkel is interviewing a young Bob Dylan, who also plays songs live on the show. Wonderful stuff.

In 'Chronicles', Bob describes his early style as "hardcore folk songs backed by incessantly loud strumming". Perfect. But he wasn't writing.

The template for his early songwriting style came together in New York in about 1961/2 and got him to move from obscure folk cover versions into producing his own songs:

- Woody Guthrie's "Hopped up union meeting sermons... There was so much intensity, and his voice was like a stiletto. He was like none of the other singers I ever heard, and neither were his songs... They had the infinite sweep of humanity in them..."

- Robert Johnson's "dark night of the soul". Bob's first
hearing came from an acetate given him by his produceer John
Hammond of the long lost RJ songs before thy were re-released
by Columbia, and before Dylan had recorded his first album.

- Arthur Rimbaud's french symbolist poetry, such as 'Je suis un autre'.

- Bertolt Brecht's Pirate Jenny, from an avant garde theatre
troupe performance he was taken to by his then girlfriend
Suze Rotolo.... "a wild song. Big medicine in the lyrics. Heavy action spread out. Each phrase comes at you from a ten foot drop... It demanded to be taken seriously."

Bob Dylan's first proper song was the song he wrote for Woody Guthrie, which was included on his first album.

Helpless helpless helpless

I love this latest cover of the British satyrical magazine Private Eye, mainly because it is so irreverent. Clearly it is untrue, and wouldn't possibly be dared by any American magazine, but it is so obviously untrue that I find it hilarious. The two Democratic candidates are neither rude nor stupid nor malicious. Either one would make a good President, and lord knows American needs a new one.
So why do I like this cover so much? I think it's just because it is funny because it can be. Sometimes the powerful need to be brought down to earth whoever they are.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Reading matters

Reading matter
Originally uploaded by Southcoasting
BERTRAND RUSSELL to STUD TERKEL (Quoted in 'Talking to Myself')

Q. Bertrand Russell, what is the world you envision?

BR. I should like to live in a world where children were brought up as free as possible, freely, so they shouldn't be filled with rebellious impulses. I should like to live in a world where those of men's impulses that are not possessive hould have free scope.

BR. I divide impulses into possessive and creative. If you write a poem, you don't prevent another man from writing a poem. If you eat food, you don't prevent him from eating food. If there is a shortage, you get conflict. Naturally, material comfort must be sufficiently supplied.

BR. What has happened in all societies that have ever existed is that creative impulses are cramped by politicians or churches. The man who has a new idea or a new way of feeling is punished, although it might be a solution for a great many of our troubles.

BR. I should like to see our impulses go into creativity - poetry, music, in lesser ways, gardening. There is always something creative a person can do...

Q. Is it possible in our time?

BR. Hardly, I think. IN our time, we can move towards it. It's a matter of degree. In some ways, things are better than they used to be. People used to be burned alive. Today they're only slowly starved. I suppose that's slightly better, but I don't know. You take steps. You can't get very far in our world. There is such a lot to do.