Tuesday, November 10, 2015

little whirlwind


How does it feel
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?


-------------------- [excerpt] ------------

October 5, 1965

"Like a Rolling Stone" had hit number two on Billboard over the summer; now, following successful concerts at the Hollywood Bowl, and in Austin and Dallas, the booing furies of Newport and Forest Hills seemed to have receded, at least temporarily.  Dylan's new sound

initially went over much better with audiences down south, where rock and roll was born, than in most other places....  --------------------- [excerpt, Bob Dylan In America, by Sean Wilentz] ---------

[excerpt 2]

Two years later, back at Newport in 1965, Dylan would pay his notorious homage to the old song "Down on Penny's Farm" by changing Penny's name to Maggie, plugging it all in to a primitive sound system, and describing wholly new arcs of complication that nobody, not Pete Seeger, not Joan Baez, and maybe not even Dylan himself, fully understood....

And the complicated circles returned to Newport, like a little whirlwind, when Dylan returned to Newport, almost forty years later.

--------------------- Some notes on Bob Dylan, the 2002 Newport Folk Festival, and the modern folk process:

In advance of the 2002 festival, the New York Times (among others) wondered if Dylan would hit the stage the same way he did in 1965, playing electric, and maybe even playing "Maggie's Farm." 

Although Dylan did, of course, play rock and roll during his set, he did not play "Maggie's Farm," and sticking to his concert format, at the time, he opened with an acoustic number, "The Roving Gambler."


Now the rovin' gambler, he was very bored

He was tryin' to create a next world war

He found a promoter who nearly fell off the

He said I never engaged in this kind of thing before

But yes I think it can be very easily done.

We'll just put some bleachers out in the sun

And have it out on Highway 61.

[excerpt 3] ------------------- In 1986, with [Tony] Glover assisting on harp, ["Spider" John] Koerner released a solo album that included another gambler song, "The Roving Gambler," descended from an ancient English tune.

"The Roving Gambler" had been a favorite in Minneapolis's Dinky-town folk-song circles since the late 1950s.  (An eighteen-year-old Bob Dylan sang a version into a tape recorder at his friend Karen Wallace's apartment in May 1960.) 

It was first recorded commercially, as far as anyone knows, in 1930, by a popular cowboy singer, Carson Robison.  Woody Guthrie's sidekick Cisco Houston also sang it, as did the Stanley Brothers, as did, years later, Marty Robbins, Jim Reeves, Frankie Laine, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, the actor Robert Mitchum, and Woody's son Arlo Guthrie,

(Coming into Los Angell - eez

Bringin' in a couple of keys

But don't touch my bags if you please

Mister Customs Man)

among dozens of others.  ...Tennessee Ernie Ford, of "Sixteen Tons" fame, hit the middle of the pop charts with his "Roving Gambler" in 1956.  Two years later, the rock-and-rolling Everly Brothers included a slow, reflective version on an acoustic album of old standards called Songs Our Daddy Taught Us. ...


Comin' in from London from over the pole
Flyin' in a big air - liner
Chicken flying everywhere, around the plane
Could we ever feel much finer?

Coming into Los Angell - eez
Bringin' in a couple of keys
Don't touch my bags if you please
Mister Customs Man

{"Like A Rolling Stone," Bob Dylan, 1965.  Highway 61 Revisited.
Bob Dylan In America, by Sean Wilentz.  2010.  Doubleday.
"Highway 61 Revisited," Bob Dylan, 1965.  Highway 61 Revisited.
"Coming Into Los Angeles," Arlo Guthrie, Running Down the Road}

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