Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Bob Dylan - Thin Wild Mercury Music


Bob Dylan, Thin Wild Mercury Music

Bob Dylan, "Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window (1)" (YSI link)

Bob Dylan, "Just A Glass Of Water (2)" (YSI link)

Man, those "Visions of Johanna" posts really knocked me out. I've been listening and thinking about that song so much lately, I haven't really been able to do anything else on Bob Dylan.

It seemed like a good follow-up to those posts to upload this CD, Thin Wild Mercury Music, which compiles the recording sessions of 1965. What a year that was for Dylan, evidenced by the legendary songs worked on in these sessions. "Visions of Johanna," "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue", "She Belongs To Me," "Love Minus Zero/No Limit" all came to being during this time. The seeds of three albums are here - Highway 61 Revisited, Bringing It All Back Home and Blonde On Blonde. It's a creative period unequaled in any medium, even more stunning considering that Dylan was only 24 and 25 years old.

The title of this bootleg comes from Dylan's description of the sound he and his band created during this period. I'm sure that you've all heard the quote from the 1978 Playboy interview, but it's deep connection to this blog can only be understood if you get the whole passage.

Dylan: The closest I ever got to the sound I hear in my mind was on individual bands in the Blonde on Blonde album. It's that thin, that wild mercury sound. It's metallic and bright gold, with whatever that conjures up. That's my particular sound."
Rosenbaum: Was that wild mercury sound in "I Want You"?
Dylan: Yeah, it was in "I Want You." It was in a lot of that stuff. It was in the album before that, too.
Rosenbaum: "Highway 61 Revisited"?
Dylan: Yeah. Also in "Bringing It All Back Home." That's the sound I've always heard...

Dylan: Those were exciting times [the time of Highway 61 Revisited]. We were doing it before anybody knew we would-or could. We didn't know what it was going to turn out to be. Nobody thought of it as folk-rock at the time. There were some people involved in it like The Byrds, and I remember Sonny and Cher and the Turtles and the early Rascals. It began coming out on the radio. I mean, I had a couple of hits in a row. That was the most I ever had in a row- two. The top ten was filled with that kind of sound-the Beatles, too-and it was exciting, those days were exciting. It was the sound of the streets. It still is. I symbolically hear that sound wherever I am.

Rosenbaum: You hear the sound of the street?
Dylan: That ethereal twilight light, you know. It's the sound of the street with the sunrays, the sun shining down at a particular time, on a particular type of building. A particular type of people walking on a particular type of street. It's an outdoor sound that drifts even into open windows that you can hear. The sound of bells and distant railroad trains and arguments in apartment buildings and the clinking of silverware and knives and forks and beating with leather straps. It's all--it's all there. Just lack of a jackhammer, you know.

This quote gets at what I've been trying to say all along about Dylan's music. To me, it's city music, energized, neurotic, tough, dark, cynical, it's the streets. It's probably why I have no interest in Dylan as some 60s icon, a hero to protestors. Dylan may have been born in Hibbing, but he became Dylan in New York City, in Greenwich Village. The Dylan I hear is as urban as they come, all sneer and attitude, yet lying awake at night in his loft unable to sleep thinking of the lover he lost. His songs have that sneer that can only come from time in the city, as far from the hippie/folk icon that so many want to pigeonhole him into. And yet, one could easily argue for an entirely different Dylan (the activist/folkie, the bluesman, the Rolling Thunder showman). In some ways, that's the most urban thing of all, that restlessness, that multplicity of meanings.

The music on this CD is simply amazing; I've been listening to its on repeat for the past few days, it gives you a chance to hear Dylan at work, putting his music together, gives you a few tunes that never made it on to record and a chance to hear a few masterpieces. Pay special attention to the various versions of "Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window," which I kept returning to more with each listen. Also, the solo piano version of "Just A Little Glass of Water," later renamed "She's Your Lover Now," gives you the final verse in its entirety.


Anonymous said...

Same here, I just can't get enough of that 1965-66 period. Say, I just got the new Don't Look Back reissue, and the extra stuff was pretty nice, BUT THEY STILL LEFT ALL THIS GREAT PERFORMANCE FOOTAGE ON THE CUTTING ROOM FLOOR!!!!

It kills me that this sublime performance footage remains in the can. THANK GOD FOR BOOTLEGGERS.

Kenneth Lockerbie

Denver Stew Pot said...

Thank you, that's great stuff!